Carnegie Mellon University

Online Language Programs for Learners

Flexible and affordable online courses in Chinese, French and Spanish for independent learners. Designed by experts in Carnegie Mellon University's Department of Languages, Cultures & Applied Linguistics.

Are you an independent learner wanting to learn Chinese, French or Spanish? Are you finding it hard to get motivated or maintain consistency with learning through apps or other materials? Carnegie Mellon University's independent language courses from the Open Learning Initiative are a great tool to help you take your language skills to the next level.

There are two options for independent language learning through the Open Learning Initiative at CMU:  instructor-led courses and self-paced courses.

Please note: If you're a current Carnegie Mellon student, please explore our current course offerings to find out about language courses you can take for CMU course credit.

Option 1: Instructor guided language study ($97 per course)

Fall 2024 registration is now open!

With Fall (August-December) and Spring (January-May) options and a limited number of users per course, you will be part of a language learning cohort community led by an instructor. In addition to what you get for the self-paced language study (option 2 below), you will also receive: 

  • A 14-week course with auto-graded materials
  • A weekly live class (60 minutes) on Zoom with an expert language instructor
  • Weekly cohort emails with suggested pacing and links to external resources
  • Access to an instructor to email for any questions you may have about grammar, vocabulary and/or culture
  • A certificate of completion or certificate with distinction (based on your progress through the course)
  • Access to a private Duolingo classroom where you can compete with your peers for a language-themed prize
  • 5 year access to the OLI course materials
  • Recordings of the weekly Zoom classes, in case you have to miss or would like to review

Option 2: Self-Paced Language Study ($10 per course)

Access our independent learner online language courses for only $10. This auto-graded course is a great opportunity if you:

  • Already have some knowledge of the language you would like to study
  • Are a self-starter and are looking to improve your listening and reading skills
  • Have a plan to pace yourself through the materials 
  • Have already learned other languages and feel comfortable figuring out grammatical patterns on your own

Student Feedback

"I took the instructor-led French I class in the Fall and learned so much and was so motivated by the end of the course that I knew I had to sign up for French II. By the end of instructor-led French II, I am confidently an A2+ level student. Practicing speaking with my peers and having a live class built in to the course each week has helped me gain confidence and kept my interest in learning French."

"Whether you want to brush up on French or are brand new to the language, this is an excellent class that starts with the basics and builds quickly. The weekly Zoom sessions are a wonderful way to get real-world practice as well as extra instruction from the professor. This is an amazing resource and an incredible value. I strongly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn French and fit college-level instruction into a busy schedule."

“The professor was supportive, understanding, always prepared. Excellent communication and felt like she really wanted her students to succeed and learn."

"The course was well organized, I learned more than I expected, and the professor was great. I am a satisfied customer!"

Screenshot of Spanish vocabulary exercise
Spanish vocabulary exercise
Screenshot of Spanish cooking lesson with text, audio, and images
Cooking lesson in Spanish
Screenshot of French intonation activity
French intonation activity
Screenshot of French Listen & Type activity
French "Listen & Type" activity