Foreign Languages Programs | School of Language Learning

Foreign Languages

  • The study of foreign languages has always been an important part of the liberal arts curriculum. It is more relevant than ever in the global community of the 21st century. Knowledge of a foreign language is often a requirement for students seeking an advanced degree. It is an invaluable asset for anyone seeking international employment or any career that involves global partnerships. For everyone, learning another language enriches communication skills, deepens cultural understanding, and gives an edge in business, academic research, and social engagement.

    The Department of Foreign Languages offers courses in many languages (including American Sign Language). All courses are designed to help students communicate in a language as quickly as possible and to offer insight into the cultures where those languages are spoken. Class sizes are small to ensure opportunities for all to engage actively in learning activities.


    The New School does not offer degrees in foreign languages, but matriculated undergraduate students (whose programs permit a minor) can minor in Chinese Studies, French Studies, Hispanic Studies, or Japanese Studies. Each minor curriculum combines practice in reading, writing, speaking, and listening with courses that introduce the cultures associated with a language. Students complete four designated core language courses and two elective cultural courses, which may be taught in the target language or in English.

    Study Abroad Opportunities

    One of the best ways to acquire proficiency in a foreign language is to study in another country. There are increasing opportunities for New School undergraduates to study abroad. Follow the links below to learn more.

    The University's Foreign Languages Curriculum

    Undergraduate Foreign Languages Program

    • Arabic, Chinese, French, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Spanish.
    • Open to any student matriculated in an undergraduate degree program of the university. Four-credit courses meet twice a week for 100 minutes per session
    • Courses are offered in a three-year sequence and designated as elementary (Introductory 1 and 2), intermediate (Intermediate 1 and 2), and advanced (Advanced 1 and 2). Use the Courses link on this page to open the University Course Catalog.
    • Advanced-level courses are often devoted to reading and conversation about a specific cultural topic, such as literature, film, and other popular media.

    Undergraduate degree students are expected, whenever possible, to take the 4-credit courses in the undergraduate module. Matriculated degree students who wish to study a language not offered in the four-credit module (German, Portuguese, Russian, Sign Language) can, with advisor approval, take courses for credit in the continuing education module.

    Continuing Education Curriculum

    A foreign language curriculum open to anyone on an open-enrollment basis. All courses can be taken on a noncredit basis. Most can also be taken for undergraduate credit as part of a New School degree program or for transfer.

    • Two-credit courses meet once a week for an hour and 50 minutes.
    • Intensive four-credit courses meet twice a week or on Saturday for a total of three hours and 45 minutes per week.
    • Weekday classes are conveniently scheduled in the late afternoon or evening.

    For most languages, courses are offered in a five-term sequence. Each level corresponds to one college semester of study. Levels 1, 2, and 3 represent introductory stages of language learning; Levels 4 and 5, intermediate stages. Beyond level 5, advanced-level courses are taught entirely in the language and involve readings and discussion devoted to a particular topic, including sociopolitical studies, literature, film, and other aspects of popular culture.


    Languages like Arabic, Chinese, and Japanese, require more contact hours to achieve advanced proficiency, and therefore the levels of fluency achieved at the end of the sequence might differ from acquired in a European language in the same sequence. Note also that Sign Language courses do not follow this structure.

    On the Go

    An intensive two-day, noncredit language immersion experience (with four levels) designed for travelers or anyone wishing to acquire or refresh basic practical communication skills in a short time.

    Choosing the Proper Course

    The Department of Foreign Languages offers self-administered placement tests in most of the languages taught at The New School. The test can be taken at home or in the Foreign Languages office.

    Undergraduate students should consult with their advisors and may also contact the language curriculum coordinator for an oral assessment.

    To learn more about placement exams or to contact a language coordinator about an oral assessment, email or call 212.229.5676.

    Tutoring services are also offered to students currently enrolled in foreign language courses through the University Learning Center.

  • Languages Available


    Arabic speakers are in demand in a wide range of professions. At The New School, Arabic is taught as a living language, with instruction in both Modern Standard Arabic (the language of formal discourse and correspondence, contemporary literature, and the mass media) and colloquial spoken Arabic (regional dialects used in everyday discourse and popular cultural media such as music and movies). This innovative approach enables students to communicate in Levantine Arabic (the spoken language in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine) as well as read and read modern Arabic.

    Chinese (Mandarin)

    Mandarin Chinese is used by more than 800 million people in China, Taiwan, Singapore, the United States, and across the world. People who can read, write, and converse in Mandarin Chinese are eagerly recruited for many fields and industries. The New School offers courses in Mandarin at beginning through advanced levels. There is a minor in Chinese Studies.


    The official language of France, several other European countries, and many regions in the Americas and Africa attracts a large number of second language learners. The New School offers courses in French at beginning through advanced levels. There is a minor in French Studies. Many people study French to support planned careers in art or art history, fashion, international affairs, or food studies.


    The German language is spoken in Germany, Austria, and in other communities across Europe and in the Americas. The reunification of Germany in 1990 renewed interest in contemporary German culture, from the thriving art and music scenes of its epicenter in Berlin to notable innovations in architecture, design, and engineering. Courses in German are offered through the continuing education module, including a reading course for graduate students.


    The standard Italian language used today is based on the 14th-century writings of the poet Dante. The New School offers courses in Italian at beginning through advanced levels. Italian is a popular language of study among people interested in literature, art history, food studies, and fashion.


    Japanese culture has become popular throughout the world due to the influence of Japanese technology, cuisine, and art forms such as animé, manga, harajuku, and ikebana. Business professionals frequently study Japanese language and culture. The New School offers courses in Japanese at beginning through advanced levels. There is a minor in Japanese Studies.

    Portuguese (Brazilian)

    Beyond its home country in Europe, Portuguese is the language of millions of people in Brazil, Africa, and East Asia. Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo are among the world's largest urban centers. Portuguese is studied by people interested in business but also by soccer fans, music and dance aficionados, and environmentalists. Courses in Brazilian Portuguese are offered through the continuing education module.


    Russian is spoken by some 400 million people in the world, in Russia proper but also in Ukraine, Central Asia, and the Caucasus region, and by a vibrant community in the metropolitan New York area. Russian is often studied by students interested in international affairs, political history, and Russia's rich literary and musical traditions. Courses in Russian are offered through the continuing education module.

    Sign Language

    The completely visual language of the deaf is an expressive, versatile mode of complete communication, not a hodgepodge of charades. The New School offers courses in American Sign Language (ASL), the system used in the United States and Canada, through the continuing education module.


    Spoken by millions in Spain and throughout the Americas, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States. Many employers look for Spanish proficiency when hiring or promoting. Learners also choose Spanish from an interest in history, literature, and the arts. The New School offers courses in Spanish at beginning through advanced levels.There is a minor in Hispanic Studies.