Carnegie Mellon University

Woman works on a laptop

June 21, 2022

Department of Modern Languages launches online language courses

By KellyAnn Tsai

The Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University is proud to announce the launch of its new online language programs for Chinese, French, and Spanish. Offered as part of Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI), the online courses provide innovative, flexible, and affordable options for students, independent learners, and instructors looking to enhance their language education. 

The online programs have been developed by experts in Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Modern Languages and are designed to ensure student engagement through the best pedagogical practices of second language learning. They provide the same high-quality instruction as traditional in-person offerings and feature engaging cultural content that centers the diversity of the Spanish-speaking, French-speaking, and Chinese-speaking worlds. Best of all, the programs are open to all: no CMU affiliation is required to enroll and courses start at just $10. 

“We believe that language learning is essential to nurture truly global citizens who can engage thoughtfully with people from all walks of life,” said Anne Lambright, Head of the Department of Modern Languages and Professor of Hispanic Studies. “By providing more people with access to high-quality language education, our online language programs help support our department’s mission.”

Students, independent learners, and language instructors can use the online programs to support their language learning and teaching goals.

“Our online courses showcase the best of modern-day language learning,” said Natalie Amgott, Associate Director of Online Language Learning in the Department of Modern Languages. “The courses are affordable, accessible from anywhere in the world, and backed by pedagogical best practices. These courses can be easily tailored to in-person teaching or teaching online synchronous or asynchronous language courses.”

For independent language learners

Independent language learners seeking to improve their language skills on their own schedule can choose from two options depending on their preferred method of study:

  • Self-paced independent study for learners who want to work on their own ($10)
  • Instructor-led program with weekly meetings and a small group of peers. Certificates will be awarded for successful course completion ($50)

Both options have been designed to help learners maintain consistency and motivation, a common challenge when using language learning apps and other materials. The self-paced courses can begin at any time; the next instructor-led session will begin in the Fall 2022 semester. Participants of the upcoming instructor-led program for Fall 2022 will receive a special price of $40. 

Learn more and sign up for the courses

For language instructors

Language instructors can integrate the online language programs into their curricula at the university and community college levels. Lessons feature videos with speakers of the target language and include a variety of interactive student activities, such as listening, reading, writing, grammar, culture, and vocabulary. The materials can be easily integrated for online, face-to-face, and hybrid courses, and can be customized to fit individual institutions’ needs and learning outcomes.

Instructors have found the online materials to enhance their teaching:

  • “My students love the surveys and discussion, the authentic materials that give my students a challenge, but more importantly, incentive/motivation. I love this program!” - Dr. Betty Facer, Old Dominion University, Instructor of Beginning French I and II
  • “The Open Learning Initiative (OLI) French course definitely stands out from other methods found in the U.S. and addressing American learners, including its student-centered, authentic supplemental materials, and methodology. I highly recommend it." - Jeanne Tonelson de Montlaur, PhD, Reviewer of French I and II courses
  • “I enjoy and love the OLI, [especially] the interaction, the vocabulary, the dialogs, the grammatical experiences, and the cultural part…. I believe it is a great tool [and] a great resource for the students.” - Dr. Ericka Martinez, University of Maryland Global Campus, Instructor of Elementary Spanish Online 

Learn more about the instructor programs

Future plans

Moving forward, the Department of Modern Languages is excited to continue developing the online programs to offer more advanced levels, including French 3, as well as additional languages, such as Arabic and German. 

“Our hope is that these courses will help to reduce barriers to language learning while still giving students, learners, and instructors the tools they need to succeed,” Amgott said. “Our online programs are accessible and effective, and help us share the work of the Modern Languages department with more learners around the world.”

Learn more about the online language programs