Public Engagement

Foreign Languages

  • The study of languages is a crucial part of navigating national and global cultures. Knowledge of foreign languages and international cultural literacy are often requirements for students seeking international jobs, for those hoping to acquire global skill sets, and in order to be qualified for opportunities abroad. Internationally oriented careers in the United States and many advanced degree programs require knowledge of one or more languages besides English. In essence, learning a second or third language is an invaluable asset for life in the 21st century. Fluency in another language and its associated culture fosters success in a wide range of careers including design, international relations, entrepreneurship, management, and academics. Courses offered through the Department of Foreign Languages also foster language competency for community engagement initiatives throughout New York City and beyond.

    The Department of Foreign Languages offers courses on campus and online 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 in which those languages are spoken. Class sizes are kept small to ensure opportunities for all to participate 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, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Portuguese, Spanish
    • Open to any student matriculated in an undergraduate degree program of the university
    • Introductory-, intermediate-, and advanced-level courses are offered in several languages.
    • Advanced-level courses are often devoted to reading and conversation about a specific cultural topic, such as literature, film, and other popular media. 

    Open Campus (Continuing Education) Curriculum

    A foreign language continuing education curriculum is open to anyone on an open-enrollment basis through The New School's Open Campus. 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. Explore courses in American Sign Language, Arabic, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish

    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.

    See upcoming semester offerings.

    Chinese (Mandarin)

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

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    The official language of France, several other European countries, and many regions in the Americas and Africa, French attracts a large number of second language learners. The New School offers courses in French at the beginning through the advanced level. 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.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    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.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    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 the beginning through the advanced level. Italian is a popular language of study among people interested in literature, art history, food studies, and fashion.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    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 the beginning through the advanced level. There is a minor in Japanese Studies.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    Korean language and culture courses are offered in support of a growing interest in Asia and its diverse politics and culture. Northeast Asian countries, including the two Koreas within the Korean Peninsula, have garnered attention and importance given recent political and cultural developments. Korean popular culture has become a global export in relation to a wide range of genres, including pop music, cinema, and fashion.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    Latin (history and language) is offered to support general studies of classical languages and literature. The Department of Foreign Languages offers a selection of courses reflecting contemporary approaches to Latin in relation to the histories of modern languages.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    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.

    See upcoming semester offerings.

    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.

    See upcoming semester offerings.


    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 the beginning through the advanced level. There is a minor in Hispanic Studies.

    See upcoming semester offerings.