Language Programs

There are a variety of language programs and opportunities at Penn, whether you are looking to learn a new language, strengthen your written or verbal proficiency, or chat with others who are fluent in a common language. 

The Grad Center’s language chats are moving online! If you are interested in facilitating a chat, please fill out this form and we’ll connect you with other students for informal conversation and language practice in your selected language! Please read more about about participating in or facilitating language chats below. 

Register for upcoming sessions on our events page. 

  • English: 
    • Wednesdays 3:00 - 4:00 PM (Graduate Student only) 
    • Thursdays, 2:00-3:00 PM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
       
  • French: 
    • Mondays, 6:00-7:00 PM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
    • Wednesdays, 6:00-7:00 PM (Undergraduate only) 
    • Fridays, 5:00-6:00 PM (Graduate Student only) 
       
  • German: 
    • Thursdays, 5:00-6:00 PM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
    • Fridays, 4:00-5:00 PM (Graduate Student only)  
       
  • Hindi
    • Fridays, 10:00-11:00 AM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
       
  • Japanese 
    • Fridays, 6:00-7:00 PM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
       
  • Mandarin: 
    • Wednesdays, 8:00-900 PM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
    • Fridays, 1:00-2:00 PM (Graduate Student only) 
       
  • Spanish: 
    • Tuesdays, 9:30 - 10:30 AM (Graduate Student only) 
    • Fridays, 10:00-11:00 AM (Graduate & Undergraduate) 
    • Fridays, 3:45 - 4:45 PM (Graduate Student only) 

** Please note that due to high levels of interest, we do not have designated facilitators for every chat. We encourage you to engage one another and discuss topics of interest in the target language.

*Note: All times are listed for the Eastern time zone. You can look this up and compare it with your local time at https://greenwichmeantime.com/time-zone/usa/eastern-time/ 

Please be patient when joining virtual language chats! All of our chats currently have multiple registrants, however, others may log in a few minutes after you. We encourage you to keep the chat open and wait for others to join you!

Due to higher than normal levels of interest this semester, we do not have designated facilitators for every chat. We encourage you to engage one another and discuss topics of interest in the target language.

We encourage you to use the icebreaker questions below - or your own - to help get the conversation flowing!

    • What is your most used emoji? Why do you think that is? 
    • Would you rather have invisibility or flight as a superpower?
    • Cats or dogs?
    • Would you rather be invisible or be able to read minds?
    • If you could be an animal, what animal would you be and why?
    • If you could bring back any fashion trend what would it be?
    • What’s your best scary story?
    • If you had 25 hours a day, how would you use your extra time?
    • If you could commit any crime and get away with it what would you choose and why?
    • How would you spend a million dollars? How about a billion?
    • If you could be any supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
    • If you could change places with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
    • If you could kill any fashion trend forever what would it be?
    • If you had to delete all but three apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?
    • What skill do you think everyone should have?
    • What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
    • What is your favorite item you've bought this year?
    • What’s the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
    • If you could be guaranteed one thing in life (besides money), what would it be?
    • Would you rather lose all of your money or all of your pictures?
    • Would you rather be the funniest or smartest person in the room?
    • If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
    • What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
    • What is your absolute dream job?
    • How would your friends describe you?
    • What would you like to be known/remembered for?
    • What sport would you compete in if you were in the Olympics?
    • Do you collect anything?
    • If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
    • What is your favorite time of  day and why?
    • If you could live anywhere on this planet, where would you choose to live?
    • If extraterrestrials landed on earth and offered to take you with them, would you go?
    • If you could go to Mars, would you? Why or why not?
    • If you could have the power of teleportation right now, where would you go and why?
    • Would you rather live in the ocean or on the moon?
    • If you were stranded on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you?
    • What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
    • What is your favorite season of the year and why?
    • What is your favorite holiday and why?
    • What’s your favorite place of all the places you’ve travelled?
    • If you could meet any historical figure, who would you choose and why?
    • What is the meaning of your name?
    • As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
    • If you had a time machine, would go back in time or into the future?
    • What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
    • What’s your favorite family tradition?
    • Who had the most influence on you growing up?
    • What’s your earliest memory?
    • If you had to lose all your memories which one would want to lose last?
    • If you could choose any historical figure to be your imaginary friend, who would it be and why?
    • If you could hang out with any cartoon character, who would you choose and why?
    • If you could add a word to the dictionary what would you add and what would it mean?
    • If you could choose your age forever, what age would you choose and why?
    • If you were to change your name, what name would you change to and why?
    • If you could meet any living person for dinner, who would you pick and why?

    Language Chats

    The Language Chats Program at the Grad Center provides opportunities for students to practice a foreign language in an informal social setting. Language chats are not a class, but are instead a fun way for students to strengthen their language skills and meet other native and non-native speakers. 

    Participate in Language Chats

    Language chats run throughout the entire academic year. All chats are one hour long and offered on a weekly or biweekly basis. 

    Spring 2020 Language Chats

    Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish.

    Check our events page for scheduled times and to register! 

    All participants should have at least basic conversational proficiency in the language of the chat they attend. While participants do not need to attend every session, we ask that you register in advance for those sessions you plan to attend

    Facilitate Language Chats

    Language Chat Facilitators lead informal conversations in a specified language among small groups of interested students. Facilitators commit to a scheduled weekly or biweekly meeting time and are responsible for leading the chats for the entire semester. 

    We recruit facilitators at the beginning of each semester. Interested in volunteering? Let us know!

    Benefits

    Leading a language chat is a great way to practice facilitating discussion and gain hands-on experience with language learning. It is also a great opportunity to meet people from other schools with similar interests and explore the language and culture together!

    Facilitators are provided with resources and guidance to help them create an environment for informal learning, linguistic conversation, and cultural exchange.

    Requirements and Expectations

    Language facilitators should have native or advanced, near-native fluency in the chosen language. Once the facilitator makes a commitment to a scheduled time and day for the semester, he or she is responsible for the chat for the whole semester.

    Since these are informal sessions, the chat facilitators are not required to prepare lesson plans. However, especially if most chat participants have beginner-level proficiency, we encourage the facilitator to brainstorm some topics for each session as well as key phrases or idioms that might be covered in a first year language course. 

    Language chats run once a week or once every other week depending on the facilitator's availability. Each session lasts for one hour. If a conflict arises, facilitators are responsible to contact us at least one week in advance so we can notify participants and/or make alternative arrangements. 

    Participate in Language Chats

    Language chats run throughout the entire academic year. All chats are one hour long and offered on a weekly or biweekly basis. 

    Spring 2020 Language Chats

    Italian, Mandarin, and Spanish.

    Check our events page for scheduled times and to register! 

    All participants should have at least basic conversational proficiency in the language of the chat they attend. While participants do not need to attend every session, we ask that you register in advance for those sessions you plan to attend

    Facilitate Language Chats

    Language Chat Facilitators lead informal conversations in a specified language among small groups of interested students. Facilitators commit to a scheduled weekly or biweekly meeting time and are responsible for leading the chats for the entire semester. 

    We recruit facilitators at the beginning of each semester. Interested in volunteering? Let us know!

    Benefits

    Leading a language chat is a great way to practice facilitating discussion and gain hands-on experience with language learning. It is also a great opportunity to meet people from other schools with similar interests and explore the language and culture together!

    Facilitators are provided with resources and guidance to help them create an environment for informal learning, linguistic conversation, and cultural exchange.

    Requirements and Expectations

    Language facilitators should have native or advanced, near-native fluency in the chosen language. Once the facilitator makes a commitment to a scheduled time and day for the semester, he or she is responsible for the chat for the whole semester.

    Since these are informal sessions, the chat facilitators are not required to prepare lesson plans. However, especially if most chat participants have beginner-level proficiency, we encourage the facilitator to brainstorm some topics for each session as well as key phrases or idioms that might be covered in a first year language course. 

    Language chats run once a week or once every other week depending on the facilitator's availability. Each session lasts for one hour. If a conflict arises, facilitators are responsible to contact us at least one week in advance so we can notify participants and/or make alternative arrangements. 

    Culture Chats

    Are you an international student new to Penn? Interested in learning more about cultural practices in the U.S.? We offer free lunchtime sessions each summer on a variety of topics related to transitioning to life at Penn and in the United States.

    Recent topics include: Making friends and forming relationships; Small talk and effective communication; and Penn and Philadelphia traditions. 

    Join us for fun and conversation for all sessions, or just attend those more relevant for you. Lunch is provided. Please check our events page for upcoming sessions and be sure to register in advance. Lunch will be provided.

    Advanced English Language Lessons

    The Grad Center offers a non-credit Advanced English Lessons, in partnership with the Penn Teaching English to Students of Other Languages (TESOL) program.  Advanced lessons are appropriate for students whose native language is not English. The lessons will build control of advanced grammatical structures, develops ability to communicate by using various forms of expressions in different environments and discover the American culture.

    Advanced registration is required, space is limited. Be sure to check our events page for upcoming sessions. 

    Additional Language Programs at Penn

    There are a number of opportunities to practice your language skills at Penn.

    • Penn Grad Christian Fellowship sponsors an English Conversation group. You need not be religiously affiliated to attend.

    • Gregory Modern Languages House sponsors Chinese, Italian, French and German.

    • La Casa Latina often sponsors a Spanish Language Chat.

    • Check out the many student groups on campus. If any of them are cultural or language-based, you may find opportunities to practice your language skills.

    • Penn's English Language Programs (ELP) offers fee-based English language instruction.

    • Do you have children or spouses/partners that you would like to attend the lessons? The Family Resource Center provides English language lessons for Family Center members, where your family can enjoy the play center with adult supervision.  

    • Keep an eye out for other free programs on campus and in your neighborhood. Sometimes the Graduate School of Education English as a Second Language Program offers free instruction, or churches and charity organizations may offer language help in your neighborhood.