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Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the site. The Language and Communications Training Unit (LCTU) is committed to providing high-quality language learning and communication advisory services in the six official languages for staff members at UN Headquarters in New York and in the Global Secretariat. Below, find answers to frequently asked questions organized by subtopic. These questions are also designed to highlight information in the Terms and Conditions of Service and serve as entry points to the resources on this site.

Eligibility

Am I eligible to take courses?

  • In general, UN staff, retired UN staff members, UN volunteers working at any Secretariat entity and delegates of Permanent Missions and Observer States may take classes, as well as staff members of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS and UN Women in New York. Eligible participants also include spouses and local staff at Permanent Missions. Please visit our eligibility webpage for more information regarding eligibility and which categories are non-paying and paying (with prices for paying students.) Consultants, interns, UN volunteers at Agencies, Funds and Programmes are not eligible. Please visit our eligibility webpage

Am I "an external learner"? 

  • "External learner" refers to everyone who is eligible to take language courses but who is not a United Nations Secretariat staff member. External learners should verify their eligibility and any applicable restriction before using elearning.un.org to register for a course. The registration page offers specific guidance for external learners.

Placement

What are the levels of language courses?

General language courses are offered from basic to advanced levels of instruction, with courses for native-level speakers as well. Specialized courses are offered at various levels. All the general language courses offered are aligned with the United Nations Language Framework.

How do I know my level?

If you are not sure of your 'level' in a language, you must take a placement test in most cases. No test is needed if you are an absolute beginner, a native-level speaker, or a high-level learner of the language who has a recent diploma or test score showing your proficiency in the language. Please check the requirements of your preferred course in the Course Brochure, as many courses do not require a previous placement test.

What is the United Nations Language Framework?

The United Nations Language Framework (UNLF) is the reference for learning and assessment in the six official UN languages. The Framework standardizes how languages are learned, taught and assessed in the international context of the United Nations. More information about the United Nations Language Framework is available here. Since September 2020, the LCTU is gradually redesigning the courses content to align them to the UN Levels, as defined in the UN Language Framework. You will notice in the Course Brochure the new course titles and the UN Level.

Is the placement test required? Where can I find more information on placement tests?

Some courses, especially the courses for general language acquisition, require a placement test to ensure group homogeneity and effective learning for all participants. Some other courses do not require a placement test, especially if the duration is shorter. Please consult the Course Brochure, as the description for each course includes the UN Level, the placement test information or the required previous learning experience. More information on placement tests, such as inspira codes, schedule, and requirements, can be found here.

Registration

How do I register for courses?

Please verify first if you are eligible and whether you need to pay. Visit our Eligibility webpage for more information, including prices for paying students and details for non-paying students. Then, view the brochures for the prerequisites and the period to enroll in each course/training activity. Finally, visit our registration page for information and instructions. You may need to submit supporting documentation on Inspira when you enroll.

Do I have to pay for courses?

Please visit our eligibility webpage to see prices for paying students and further details for non-paying students.

How many courses can I take?

Plan your learning and the time you can allocate. You may consult Dates of the Upcoming Terms for an overview. Eligible participants may register for courses in one or more languages in the same term, up to 50 hours and for a maximum of four courses. You may register for one general course in one language in the same term, and you may register for only one section of a course. UN Volunteers working at any Secretariat entity can register for only one course in the same term. Staff from UNDP, UNCDF, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS and UN Women are required to obtain internal clearance and/or approval by their entity. No restrictions on the number of hours or courses apply for registrations in self-study courses.

I am a "global student" but I don't see any "general language courses" in the Global Brochure.

Contact your learning manager/training focal point about local language learning opportunities that are available at your duty station. Information for all learning managers/training focal points for language learning licenses is available here.

How do I register for the Language Proficiency Exam (LPE)? And how do I register for an LPE Preparation Course?

  • The information and registration page for the LPE exam is available here. LPE Preparation Courses are designed to orient exam candidates and other interested staff to prepare for the new LPE. You will find more information about the preparation courses by watching this short video. Information about the examination process can be found here.  
  • The LPE preparation courses become available several months before the exam date and are open to anyone, with no eligibility restriction. Information and instructions can be found here

Courses

What is the schedule and duration of language courses?

  • General language courses are scheduled to meet for 10 weeks for 2 live sessions each week. Specialized courses vary in duration and length. For more specific information about course schedules, see our brochures
  • For more specific information about the yearly schedule, see Dates of the Upcoming Terms 

Where will my classes take place?

  • In-person and hybrid courses will take place at our United Nations Learning Centre for Career Development and Multilingualism, which is located in the 3rd basement of the General Assembly Building. (GA-3B).
  • Safety is our priority: Our main goal continues to be offering a high-quality programme, in a combination of online and in-person offerings, targeted to the needs of our clients, and adapted to current circumstances. 

May I attend a class as an observer?

If you assist someone who has a disability or if you need any kind of assistance during classes, contact dos-cdots-lctu@un.org. Otherwise, we do not allow anyone who is not officially registered to sit in a class, including those in waiting lists. 

Who teaches the courses?

Teachers for all six languages are highly qualified and experienced experts in the field of language teaching. All teachers hold at least a Master’s degree in applied linguistics (or a related field) and have a minimum of 5 years of teaching experience. Meet the team!

What can I do if I don’t find the class or if the class is full?

  • Always plan your language learning ahead of time and avoid registering last minute. Consult the Dates of the Upcoming Terms.
  • If the registration period is closed, the “last day to enroll” has passed, inspira.un.org (or elearning.un.org for external learners) will not you display the course for registration. You may decide to register for an alternative course or wait a few weeks until the next registration period starts.
  • If the course is full, you may decide to enroll and be placed on a waiting list. will not find the course.

Additional Support

  • For general enquiries and information, participants may contact the Language and Communications Training Unit via e-mail: dos-cdots-lctu@un.org.
  • If you require registration support, please fill out the Registration Assistance Form (RAF) and a team member will respond to your request within 3three business days. 
  • Do not use the registration assistance form in the following cases: 
    • If you forgot or you do not know your log-in credentials; instead, use the "Forgot User ID" or "Forgot User Password" options, or the "Contact us" option in Inspira or elearning.
    • If you have any kind of technical issue (e.g., login error, black screen, system running too slow, system shutting down unexpectedly, not being able to print, etc.); instead, please use the "Contact us " option in Inspira or elearning. 
    • If you follow the guidance at the Registration page, you will be able to register and receive a confirmation via e-mail.