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. 

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.

On Your Own Language Programs
  • Mango Languages
    Mango uses semantic mapping to help you learn languages through conversations, movies, and other exercises. Access Mango Languages with your Pennkey and password.

  • Duolingo
    Learn a language by translating webpages. Duolingo provides free language courses; you provide the web with translations while you learn.

  • BBC Languages
    BBC Languages offers courses, interactive videos, pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, and exercises. Listen to the BBC World Service news in 27 languages.

  • Visual Link Languages - Learn a Language
    Created by the U.S. Institute of Language, Visual Link courses offers free language lessons, games, vocabulary, and cultural information.

  • See additional language learning resources from Penn Libraries.