Common Adult Education Courses in Foreign Language Studies

Courses in foreign language studies are available if you are interested in learning a few phrases in a foreign language before you go on vacation, or would like to immerse yourself completely in the culture and literature of another country. Read on to learn more about foreign language studies available.

Courses and degree programs in a wide variety of foreign languages are available to learners of all experience levels. Here you can explore the different programs available and some of the coursework you may take.

Program Information

From beginning classes offered at community centers to home study programs offered online to graduate studies programs offered at colleges and universities, it has never been so easy to study hundreds of different languages. Students may choose from Spanish, Italian, French, German, and many more. Programs often include study of the written language, in addition to teaching students how to speak it. Students in these programs may be interested in study abroad opportunities to immerse themselves in the culture and language they choose to study. Outlined below are the types of courses available, as well as where you can find them.

Programs at a Glance

Introductory courses

  • The length of these continuing education programs vary from anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months.
  • These introductory courses can be found on-campus and online.

Conversational courses

  • The length of these courses also varies, but is typically short-term, such as 8 weeks long.
  • These courses are for beginners through advanced students and are offered on-campus, but may be available in the evening.

Undergraduate degrees

  • Associate's degree programs typically take 2 years to complete while bachelor's programs take about 4 years.
  • These programs can be found on-campus and online.

Graduate degrees

  • Master's and Ph.D. degree programs are available and usually take 2 to 3 years or more to complete.
  • Both programs are available on campus, and some master's programs can be found online.

Introductory Foreign Language Courses

Night and weekend courses are offered at many community centers (including high schools, libraries and churches) and community colleges where the beginner can pick up introductory-level knowledge of a language, such as Spanish, French, Italian, Arabic, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, and Russian.

You can find a class in just about any language that is spoken in your community. And, if there is a language you would like to learn but no classes are available, you can always study online or through CDs or DVDs you can purchase or borrow from the library. Berlitz programs are an old standby, and a popular online language learning program, Rosetta Stone, can be found online and at many public libraries. These self-paced programs develop listening, reading, writing and speaking skills in the language.

Conversational Courses

The slightly more advanced language learner may wish to sign up for a conversational course in the language they wish to study. A conversational course may take place in a classroom setting, but many such courses also tend to involve a number of 'field trips'. A class of Spanish learners, for example, may wish to practice their language skills by eating at a tapas bar or a Mexican restaurant or by going salsa dancing. These classes may require a placement test so students can be grouped with other learners around the same level of experience. Classes are often small, with less than ten students.

Earn a Degree in a Foreign Language

Should you wish to pursue yet more advanced studies of your chosen language, you may choose to pursue a degree at an associate's or, more commonly, a bachelor's level in the subject. Students in these programs may begin to learn about the culture that aligns with their chosen language, as well as advanced skills like teaching or interpreting the language. A language major prepares you for a career in education as a foreign language teacher at an elementary or secondary school; in government perhaps the Foreign Service; in law enforcement especially in an area where your target language is spoken; in international business or in any industry where speakers of your language are valued as customers or business partners.

Advanced Degrees in Foreign Languages and Literature

Should you really develop a love of the language, you can of course go on to pursue a master's degree or even a PhD in that language. This level involves immersion not only in the complexities of the language but also in its history and literature. Students in these programs often need to pass qualifying exams and complete a thesis or dissertation. They also are likely to specialize and take electives geared toward a particular area of their language, like literature or linguistics. This degree will prepare you for a career in academia where you will be prepared to instruct in the language at a college or university level. Grads can also work as translators or interpreters.

Students interested in studying a foreign language can take introductory or conversational courses, or pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree program, many of which are offered online. Language options vary significantly, and programs prepare students for a variety of careers, such as teachers or translators.

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