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World Language students are immersed in other cultures and taught new reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. The beginning levels emphasize the language’s alphabet, vocabulary, and grammar with the help of basic written and spoken sentence and paragraph structures as well as short listening and reading cultural activities. In the intermediate level, students will continue to develop their reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills at a more complex level, which will help them progressively develop their communication skills by producing longer and more expressive sentences and paragraphs. Both levels of language learning incorporate small-group discussions, written and oral partner activities, individual work, compositions, and readings.

We offer a rich selection of seven world languages including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Taking a language class immerses you in another culture and opens your eyes, ears and mind to new sounds and words, as well as new ways of thinking. You will learn new skills and acquire knowledge that will last a lifetime.

We invite you to explore one of the seven languages we offer and delve into a new and interesting culture. Learning a new language and appreciating other cultures is advantageous to your career whether your interests are in global affairs, business, technology, science or the arts. We offer face-to-face, hybrid and online classes in multiple week sessions to meet a variety of work and life schedules.

Transfer Opportunities

World Languages are part of the Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts degree. In addition, some of NOVA's courses can be used as General Education Electives (see below in the Programs and Degrees question).

Credit for Prior Learning

Northern Virginia Community College accepts industry-standard certifications, credentials and/or professional courses for credit. Broadly, licenses, credentials and/or certifications must be current and valid for consideration. For more information regarding the status of the certification and its eligibility for credit, please see an advisor or faculty members in the discipline area that awards CPL credit.

The most current information can be found here for CPL: Certifications and Credentials.

Where to Begin?

Associate in Arts degree. Students seeking the Associate in Arts degree in Liberal Arts are required to show proficiency in a world language at the intermediate level (201 and 202). Because language classes are sequenced, some students may need to start at the 101 level according to their proficiency while others might be placed at a higher level. We highly recommend not waiting until your last year to start your language and culture learning.

Professional Development and/or Personal Interest. Students working to complete other degrees and/or interested in taking language and culture classes for professional development or personal interest can also benefit from the wide variety of languages we offer.

Our language courses are designed to develop the skills required for communication and cultural understanding in our vast global society. Whether you are interacting with others face-to-face or having conversations through social media with people from another country, you have an advantage if you can use and understand their language.

We look forward to seeing you in one of our many language classes!

Learning Resources

All NOVA campuses have Tutoring Centers. These centers are available for World Language students to reinforce their learning.

How Do I Know What Course to Sign Up For?

The following guidelines will help students with their initial placement in a language class depending on their prior knowledge of the language.

Never Studied a World Language. Students who have never studied a world language start their studies with a Beginning 101 language and culture course followed by a Beginning 102 course. After successfully completing the beginning level sequence (101 and 102), students may advance to intermediate classes (201 and 202).

Previously Studied a World Language. Students who have formally learned the language at a prior educational institution should take the placement test. High School language class levels are different from college levels. Usually, two years of a world language class in high school equals one semester in college, therefore, it is very important that students in this category take one of our placement tests (offered in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian, and Spanish) in order to register for the appropriate level. Click on the Placement Test tab below for more information. 

Heritage Speakers. Students who grew up learning the language from family members but did not study the language formerly at school are typically considered to be Heritage Speakers. If a student falls under this category, they should take one of the placement tests we offer. The Annandale Campus offers placement tests in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish. Click on the Placement Test tab below for more information. 

Native Speakers. Beginning and Intermediate language courses at NOVA are designed for learners of the language and culture. If you are a native speaker of a world language, meaning that you grew up in a country whose language of instruction was something other than English, and have the equivalent of a high school diploma from that country, you may be eligible for a language waiver for your degree. For more information contact: AsktheCRO@nvcc.edu

For more assistance, you may contact: worldlanguages@nvcc.edu.

How Can I Get Involved on Campus?

Look for International activities and events scheduled throughout the fall and spring semesters. We also have a variety of student clubs where you can practice your language skills and gain more cultural exposure and knowledge.

Arabic is the language of a rich culture and civilization dating back many centuries. Qur’an and Islamic artists have used Arabic script as their principal art form for centuries.

Arabic is spoken in many countries including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen and by millions of people of Arab origin in the United States and Canada.

Knowledge of the language can lead to careers in fields such as communications, international finance, government, law and academia.


101 Beginning Arabic I

102 Beginning Arabic II

103 Basic Spoken Arabic I

104 Basic Spoken Arabic II

111 Conversation in Arabic I

112 Conversation in Arabic II

201 Intermediate Arabic I

202 Intermediate Arabic II

For course descriptions, please see the Arabic discipline page.

China is one of the most ancient countries in the world and has a 6,000 year history and civilization. It is the third largest country and is emerging as an important force in our world. Knowledge of the Chinese language has become more and more valuable to prospective employers as economic and political interaction increases between the U.S. and China. 

Those with Chinese language skills are in great demand by corporations, service groups and the government.


101 Beginning Chinese I

102 Beginning Chinese II

103 Basic Spoken Chinese I

104 Basic Spoken Chinese II

121 Beginning Chinese Reading and Writing I

122 Beginning Chinese Reading and Writing I

201 Intermediate Chinese I

202 Intermediate Chinese II

For course descriptions, please see the Chinese discipline page.

French is one of the most spoken and used languages in the world. It is the third most used language on the Internet after English and German and it is the second most frequently taught world language after English. French and English are the official working languages of the United Nations, UNESCO, the International Monetary Fund, the International Olympic Committee and the European community.

Studying French will increase your English vocabulary, as 30% of English words come from French. Your understanding of U.S. culture and history will be improved by learning about the history and literature of French speaking countries and the more than 200 million people who speak French around the world. Knowledge of French Those is helpful to those interested in the fields of art, dance, film, law and music. French is the official language of 32 countries and is spoken in Canada, Switzerland, Belgium, and North and sub-Saharan Africa.

French courses at NOVA focus on speaking, understanding, reading and writing all in a cultural context. Students also learn practical vocabulary and basic sentence patterns and correct pronunciation. Annandale has an excellent Language Center featuring computer software to reinforce learning and tutors available in all eight languages.


101 Beginning French I

102 Beginning French II

103 Basic Spoken French I

111 Conversation in French I

112 Conversation in French II

201 Intermediate French I

202 Intermediate French II

211 Intermediate French Conversation I

212 Intermediate French Conversation II

233 Introduction to the Culture and Literature of France I

234 Introduction to the Culture and Literature of France II

For course descriptions, please see the French discipline page.

The German Department offers courses in a variety of formats, including on-campus and hybrid during the day or evening year-round in order to meet the needs our diverse community.

German courses in 16-, 14- and 6-weeks sessions ar offered at Annandale Campus. In addition to the four core courses, Beginning German I (GER 101), Beginning German II (GER 102), Intermediate German I (GER 201) and Intermediate German II (GER 202), we offer specific content courses such as conversation and civilization. All of our courses are designed to assist German learners at every stage of their quest for proficiency in German. Our curriculum helps students build a linguistic and cultural toolkit for discovering and navigating the German-speaking world.

We invite you to explore the many fascinating aspects of the German-speaking world and to engage your intellectual curiosity! 

  • Do you want to prepare for a career in business, science, engineering or banking with an international focus in the German-speaking world? 
  • Are you fascinated by German history, art, film, literature, culture and in exploring how German thought has influenced the development of Western society to its contemporary state?
  • Do you need to learn German to advance your present career or prepare for a career change?
  • Do you want to learn German to prepare for a business or pleasure trip to a German-speaking country?

German is the second most widely used language in trade and tourism in the world and on the Internet. The key German-speaking countries of the world -- Germany, Austria and Switzerland all have booming pharmaceutical, food, chemical, engineering and manufacturing industries. One need only think of the German automobile industry (ex. Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen and Porsche), German, Austrian and Swiss pharmaceutical companies (ex. Bayer), chemical companies (ex. BASF), engineering and manufacturing firms (ex. Siemens), and Swiss chocolate manufacturers (ex. Lindt and Toblerone). Germany plays a significant role in international politics, diplomacy and economics as the leading economy in the European Union. Frankfurt am Main, for example, is considered the financial and banking capital of Europe.

Please take a few moments to explore our courses!


101 Beginning German I

102 Beginning German II

103 Basic Spoken German I

104 Basic Spoken German II

111 Conversation in German I

112 Conversation in German II

201 Intermediate German I

202 Intermediate German II

For course descriptions, please see the German discipline page.

Welcome to the Japanese page of the World Languages Department on the Annandale Campus. Every semester during the year we offer beginning and intermediate Japanese classes in both face-to-face and online formats. Enroll in one of our classes and develop your proficiency in a new language while at the same time experiencing some of its rich culture.

By studying the Japanese language, you will join over 120 million people in the world who speak Japanese while learning about the second largest economy in the world.


101 Beginning Japanese I

102 Beginning Japanese II

103 Basic Spoken Japanese I

104 Basic Spoken Japanese II

201 Intermediate Japanese I

202 Intermediate Japanese II

For course descriptions, please see the Japanese discipline page.

Explore the exciting culture and history of Russia while learning the Russian language, the native language of many great names from the world of music, science, and the arts. Join us in a class where you will have the opportunity to not only improve on your language and communicative skills but also broaden your knowledge of one of the world’s most important areas.


101 Beginning Russian I

102 Beginning Russian II

201 Intermediate Russian I

202 Intermediate Russian II

For course descriptions, please see the Russian discipline page.

Since the late 1960s, the Spanish Department has served students and members of the community and helped them to learn about the cultures of the 21 nations around the world that have Spanish as their official language. We offer courses at all levels of learning from beginning and intermediate; including civilization, conversation and specific content courses for health professionals. We also offer Honors classes. Spanish courses focus on building a strong foundation for reaching everyday proficiency and communication all in a cultural context.

Why Study Spanish?

  • Spanish is the second most spoken language, after Chinese, in the world.
  • About 328 million people in the world speak Spanish.
  • The Hispanic culture has influenced architecture, art and literature.
  • About 35 million people in the U.S. use Spanish at home, making the U.S. the fourth largest Spanish-speaking population in the world.
  • It is the most commonly taught world language in the U.S.
  • It serves as one of the official languages of the United Nations, the European Union, World Trade Organization, and North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Whether you are interested in seeking a degree or want to improve your job skills, or are just learning a language for personal reasons, we offer a class that will fit your schedule including face-to face, hybrid, and fully online modes in 16-, 14-, and 8-week sessions during the day, evening, and weekends.


101 Beginning Spanish I

102 Beginning Spanish II

103 Basic Spoken Spanish I

104 Basic Spoken Spanish II

111 Conversation in Spanish I

112 Conversation in Spanish II

163 Spanish for Health Professionals I

164 Spanish for Health Professionals II

201 Intermediate Spanish I

202 Intermediate Spanish II

205 Spanish for Heritage Speakers I

206 Spanish for Heritage Speakers II

211 Intermediate Spanish Conversation I

212 Intermediate Spanish Conversation II

233 Introduction to Latin American Civilization and Literature I

For course descriptions, see the Spanish discipline page.

Get Started

Want to get started with this program? Speak with an adviser to start shaping your educational journey at NOVA.

Contact an Advisor


All students who wish to enroll in one of our world languages courses and have prior exposure to the language (either formally or by listening to it at home) need to take a placement test.

All these placement tests are FREE, take about two hours, and are given at the Testing Center on campus or remotely. Placement tests are given on a walk-in basis and can only be taken once. For more information about the Testing Center and to see their office hours, please visit the Testing website. Tests for French, German, Russian and Spanish can be administered remotely by arrangement with the Testing Center.

Being placed in the correct level of language learning at NOVA is important because reaching language proficiency starts with building a strong foundation from the beginning level on to the intermediate level and beyond. 

If you are a native speaker of a world language, meaning you grew up in a country whose language of instruction was something other than English, and have the equivalent of a high school diploma from that country, contact AsktheCRO@nvcc.edu or worldlanguages@nvcc.edu to learn more about the language waiver or credit for your world language.

The Language Center at the Annandale Campus is located in the CG Building, room 408. Academic resources available to students outside the classroom include:

  • Supplemental Software Programs
  • One-on-One Language Tutoring
  • Dictionaries
  • Conversation Groups
  • Individual or Small Group Study Space