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Department of Languages

Department of Languages

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The Department of Languages is dedicated to the study of nine languages and their respective literatures and cultures, with courses ranging from introductory language skills to upper-level courses on specific topics. Our courses focus on the many different facets of literary, cultural, and linguistic expression found in the spoken and written languages featured in our department. More than 50 faculty members guide undergraduate students in understanding the issues involved in approaching another culture through the language of that culture. All languages majors experience this alternative world first-hand through study abroad.

BA in Language and International Business BS in Language and International Health BA in Modern Languages Minors
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The Clemson Polyglot

Languages Events

Upcoming Events

    The Forty-Eighth Annual Declamation Contest

    The 2021 event format is changed to online submission of students' videos, instead of in-person performance on the event day, to protect the safety and health of all participating parties. # subject to change.

    DIRECTOR:  Su-I Chen, 864-656-2852,

    • Rules and Guidelines


      The contest is open to students regularly enrolled in middle and high school language courses. Students may compete only in languages and levels for courses in which they are currently enrolled (except for Native Level where students do not have to be currently enrolled in a course--see below). In the case of block scheduling, a student who has completed a language course in the spring (e.g. Level II) and who is not currently enrolled in that language may compete at the level most recently completed. 


      Contest competitions are offered in the following languages: American Sign Language, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish. Students may participate in multiple languages.

      • For French and Spanish contests, a limit of only two students per teacher per category may register.
      • For Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Russian contests, a limit of only four students per teacher per category may register.
      • For ASL contests, there is no limit of students per teacher per category.

      CATEGORIES (for all languages except ASL)

      These categories are for Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Russian and Spanish.

      Entrants must specify their Language, Level, and Class, as described below, except for students with native language speaking ability. Native speakers, regardless of their year level in school or in a foreign language class, must compete in the "Native" category AND must recite Level IV poems.

      LEVEL - This indicates the year level of the foreign language course the student is enrolled in.

      • Level 1 = Students in First Year courses
      • Level 2 = Students in Second Year courses
      • Level 3 = Students in Third Year courses
      • Level 4 = Students in Fourth Year courses, AP courses or higher

      CLASS - This indicates experience. 

      • CLASS A = Students whose contact with the foreign language has been limited to the classroom only
      • CLASS B = Students who have had significant contact with the foreign language either at home or abroad, but who are not fluent 
      • Note: Students enrolled in the 5th year courses or higher and students enrolled in AP language courses should compete in Level 4B.

      NATIVE CATEGORYStudents at ANY language level, who have a speaking proficiency equivalent to that of a native speaker, must enroll in the Native Category AND recite Level IV poems. This is regardless of their year in school or their year in a foreign language class. Native entrants must be current middle or high school students, but not necessarily enrolled in a language course.

      BACKGROUND: Teachers should make a careful distinction among Classes A, B, and Native categories. Students may be disqualified if, in the opinion of the judges, they are in the wrong level or class. If there are questions, please call 864-656-2852 or e-mail Dr. Su-I Chen (


      CLASS A: Students of ASL and CODAs (children of deaf adults) who are not fluent.

      CLASS B: Native ASL users and CODAs with proficiency equivalent to native users.


      1. Each participant will recite one poem from memory. No change or variation of the text as given will be accepted. Students must recite the selections as they are posted.

      2.  The sponsoring teachers are responsible for making the video(s) of the students' recitation. One video per student per language should be made. If a student participates in multiple languages, then multiple videos should be made, one for each language. It is important that the teachers and the students follow the guidelines for video preparation listed in the file below:

      2021 Declamation Video Preparation Guidelines

      3. The language teachers will serve as the prompters. Please follow the prompting instructions listed in the file below:

      2021 Declamation Prompting Instructions

      4. Scoring criteria: Judges base their decision on pronunciation, interpretation of text, smoothness of delivery and textural accuracy. All results are final.

      Scoring for all languages except ASL:

      • Textual Accuracy: How accurate is the recitation of the poem text? Does the contestant leave out words or lines, or does he/she confuse the order of the lines / stanzas?
      • Pronunciation: Does the contestant have clear pronunciation?
      • Text Interpretation: Does the contestant use appropriate phrasing, pauses, tone of voice to interpret the poems? Gestures are permitted but they should not detract from the presentation of the poems. No props are allowed. No singing of the poems is allowed.
      • Smoothness of Delivery: How smooth is the delivery of the poems? Does the contestant break the continuity of the poem? Does he/she call on the prompter? Calling on the prompter would be considered a break in continuity.

      Scoring for ASL:

      • Accuracy: Presents entire poem; Includes 5 ASL parameters of poem; Uses correct rhythm and tempo
      • Non-Manual behaviors: Uses grammatical and emotive facial expression consistently and correctly; Appropriate eye-gaze, body movements, role shift and non-manual markers (eyes, eyebrows, lips, head, body/shoulders) 
      • Clarity: Contestant produces signs clearly and artistically; Correct use of 4 parameters (handshape, palm orientation, location and movement)
      • Smoothness of Delivery: Smooth flow of communication with confidence. ASL grammar vocabulary is used correctly; Does not hesitate, and poem is practiced and polished

      5. An attempt will be made to place students of the same teacher into different contest groups. However, this placement is not always possible and students of the same teacher may compete against each other. The placement into contests is dependent upon the number of students registered for a level.

      6. First, second and third place prizes will be awarded at the discretion of the judges. Award certificates will be mailed out to the schools. We greatly appreciate that each school presents the certificates to their students on our behalf.

    • Contest Registration and Video Submission


      All contestants must be registered by the deadline. Complete the Registration Form by DUE DATE.

      To register, download the Excel file and fill out the information listed in the spreadsheet.

      Please email the completed form to: 

      For Class B or Native category, please provide the language background information. We need to properly place students in the correct category.

      Any teacher can register (or sponsor) any student; students do not need to be in the teacher's class.

      You may use this form to register multiple entrants in different categories, but remember that:

      • For French and Spanish contests, a limit of only two students per teacher per category may register.
      • For ASL, Chinese, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, and Russian contests, a limit of only four students per teacher per category may register.
      • For ASL contests, there is no limit of students per teacher per category.

      IMPORTANT: We ask that registration forms be completely filled out, including language background for Class B and Native students. Incomplete forms will be returned to the teacher. 

      Fee: There is no required registration fees for 20232 but a donation of $5 or $10 per contestant is suggested.

      Due to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, we waive the registration fees for 2021. However, we would like to suggest a donation of $5 or $10 for each contestant to support the event. We appreciate it if you could mail the check to us before the video submission deadline, October 15, 2021.

      Make check payable toClemson Declamation

      Mail check to:
      Su-I Chen, Director, Declamation 2022
      Department of Languages 
      717 Strode Tower
      Clemson University
      Clemson, SC 29634-0535



      Submit the students' videos by DUE DATE. No late submission will be accepted.

      To submit, download the WORD file below and fill out the information. The file includes two parts: Video Submission and Contract for Video Preparation. Both parts must be properly filled out.

      Please email the completed form to: 

      It is very important that you follow the guidelines for video preparation and instructions for prompting when preparing students' videos. Please refer to CONDITIONS AND GUIDELINES in Rules and Guidelines mentioned above.

    • Poems

      Poems are only available in PDF version. This format provides you with a printable page. The PDF version requires Adobe Acrobat to open. This software is free. Download Acrobat here.

      Poems for 2021: 

      IMPORTANT: No change or variation of the text as given will be accepted. Students must recite the selections as they are posted. For 2021 contest, students recite only one poem per language.









      ASL Poetry

      Class A: Non-Native ASL users
      Swan (Debbie Rennie)

      Class B: Native ASL users
      Lone Sturdy Tree (Clayton Valli)

      Poems by Debbie Rennie and Clayton Valli are from Poetry in Motion: Original Works in ASL, published by Sign Media. Due to copyright protection, we are not allowed to post the poems on our website. However, if you are a registered contest entrant, teacher of the registered entrants, or judge, we can send you, upon request, the password for you to view the poems. Please contact poetry_declamation to obtain the password.

      Videos of ASL poetry (password required)


    • Declamation Program

      The program for declamation is ready for you to view. The program is subject to modificaton after the video submissions.

      2022 Declamation Program  

    • Results

      Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who participated in 2021!

      The results of the Declamation Contest for 2021 are listed here.

      The declamation 2021 was hosted online. We apologize that we were not able to present the medals to the winners at the awards ceremony in person. Instead, we will mail out the awards certificates along with the participation certificates to the coordinator of each school in two weeks. We appreciate that the coordinators present the certificates to the students on our behalf. Thank you so much!

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    Department of Languages
    Department of Languages | 717 Strode Tower, Clemson, SC 29634