Frequently Asked Questions


How many courses can I take?

During each term you may register for one or two courses - or up to three courses if two of them are 'short' (up to 36 total classroom hours). It is possible to take a ‘general language’ course in one language and a specialized course in another language in the same term. Normally it is not possible to take a ‘general language’ course in two different languages in the same term.

Do I have to pay for courses?

UN staff, retired UN staff members, UN Volunteers working at any Secretariat entity and delegates of Permanent Missions and Observer States may take classes at no charge. Staff members of UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, UNOPS and UN Women in New York are also eligible at no charge (the Secretariat is reimbursed by the Agency, Fund or Programme). There are other eligible participants such as spouses, local staff at Permanent Missions... who can enrol in language and communication skills courses for a fee. Please see further information on our eligibility webpage.

What time do classes take place?

Classes are usually offered before work, at lunch time, or after work in each thirteen-week term.

Where shall my classes take place?

If it is not an online course, you can come directly to our United Nations Learning Centre for Career Development and Multilingualism, which is located at the 3rd basement of the General Assembly Building. (GA-3B)

May I attend a class as an observer?

No. There is often a waiting list for our courses and we are unable to allow anyone who is not officially registered to sit in a class.

Who teaches the courses?

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

What are the levels and the duration of language courses?

General language courses are scheduled for languages from beginner to advanced, and meet for 10-12 weeks for 3 hours each week. Specialized courses vary in duration and lengh.

How do I know my level?

If you are not sure of your 'level' in a language, you must take a placement test. No test is needed if you are an absolute beginner, a native speaker, or a high-level learner of the language who has a recent diploma or test score showing your proficiency in the language. If you fit one of these categories, please email the Programme Head.

Where can I find information on placement tests?

More information on placement tests can be found here.

What are specialized courses?

Specialized courses are intended to develop specific cultural and professional skills in listening, speaking and interacting, reading or writing.