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 NIU Signing Huskies Facebook and Instagram pages.


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 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.


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 a competitive edge in the workplace. Being able to speak Spanish and understand the culture not only makes you more employable, but it also unlocks a world of travel destinations. Our Spanish courses will immerse you in the language, literature, and culture of both Peninsular Spain and Latin America and will challenge you to explore diverse ideas.


Swahili class provides you with an intellectual experience and the opportunity to learn about a variety of indigenous Bantu cultures as well as the evolution of the language. The course invites you to experience world possibilities and helps you build valuable skills applicable to research and study abroad. Learning Swahili will prepare you for an array of tourist opportunities in 15+ countries located throughout southeastern and central Africa where it is a lingua franca for over 150 million speakers.


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.