Languages We Offer

We offer courses in many languages. Some of the languages are associated with an undergraduate major or minor, or a graduate degree or certificate. These courses will expand your communication skills, as well as your knowledge of culture and history.

American Sign Language

There are between 500,000 and 2 million American Sign Language (ASL) speakers in the U.S. alone. Our ASL courses include grammar, literature and conversation, as well as the history of ASL. To learn more about sign language at NIU, visit the FLSL program Facebook page or the Deaf Pride student organization.


As a beginning student of Burmese, you'll converse with native speakers and watch Burmese films. You'll learn from John Okell's Burmese text and the Burmese SEAsite. As you advance in your studies, you can choose readings relevant to your interests and practice your skills with the local Burmese community.


With 270 million speakers, French is the preferred language of countries across the globe. Studying French will open exciting career opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. Through near-complete immersion, you'll advance quickly in your learning as you explore cultural and linguistic topics in depth.


A key language in the European Union, German plays a critical role in today's cultural and business worlds. In fact, Germany is America's largest European trading partner. Our German courses focus on language studies, business terminology, linguistics, cultural studies, politics and film.


Indonesian may appear to be an easy language to learn, but it gets complicated quickly. In addition to textbooks, you'll learn from the Indonesian SEAsite and more course-specific SEAsite, allowing you to get a fuller exposure to Indonesian language and culture.


Studying Italian, la bella lingua, opens the door to one of the world's richest cultural traditions as well as to the vibrant world of contemporary Italy! Home to the Renaissance, Dante, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Galileo, Italy is a world leader in engineering, manufacturing, cutting-edge technologies, automotive and interior design, fashion and the culinary arts.


Studying Japanese will broaden your worldview and make you more marketable to employers. Many organizations in the Chicago area are searching for people with some Japanese experience. Join us to open the door to a new world in East Asia.


As you learn the Khmer language, you'll also learn the Khmer culture. We use the Khmer SEAsite to access the rich sounds and images from authentic Khmer sources. As you progress in your studies, you'll focus on your own areas of interest by learning from Khmer materials such as movies and short stories.


Knowledge of Latin grammar increases understanding of the way in which any language works. By studying Latin, you'll improve your vocabulary and improve your comprehension of scientific terminology. You'll learn how to translate increasingly complex passages from Latin literature.

Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is the most widely spoken language on earth. By the end of your first year studying Chinese, you'll be able to engage a native speaker in simple conversation. With further study, you'll develop creativity and initiative as you explore the wisdom and eccentricities of this ancient culture.


Portuguese is spoken by more than 200 million people in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia. It's one of the top 10 most commonly spoken languages in the world. Our courses emphasize the richness and variety of the cultures united by this influential language.


About 150 million people speak Russian, a language of international importance. Many U.S. government agencies hire graduates with knowledge of Russian. It's also an asset in a variety of jobs in other sectors. Our Russian courses are small and highly individualized, ensuring personal attention to your success.


By studying Spanish, you'll gain the knowledge and skills to excel in our multilingual, globalized world. As you progress through our programs, you'll gain a greater degree of fluency and accuracy, as well as a larger vocabulary and better cultural and historical understanding.


Tagalog is the second most commonly spoken Asian language in the U.S. Beginning Tagalog classes emphasize the Filipino culture with small-group, student-led language activities. Subsequent classes blend autonomous online learning with face-to-face instruction.


Learning Thai is enjoyable and life-enriching. Our classes use the Thai SEAsite to make available the rich images and sounds from authentic Thai sources. As your study of Thai progresses, you'll focus on learning from Thai materials such as folk tales, pop music and movies.