News & Politics

Have More Fun: Learning a Language

Learn a Language -- and Enjoy a Culture

Todd Ponzio, a neuroscientist, and Jim Delloso, a computer-project manager, wanted to know more about their heritage, so they got down to basics—basic Italian.

A course at the International Language Institute fueled their interest in Italian culture while providing a stimulating intellectual outlet. “It’s nice to acquire a skill completely outside of work,” Delloso says.

Side discussions, from the cultural differences in handshakes to translation requests for nontextbook words like “treadmill” and “tipsy,” lent the class a social atmosphere.

The institute (1337 Connecticut Ave., NW; 202-362-2505; teaches languages from French and Spanish to Farsi and Hindi. Ten-week introductory group classes cost $320.

The International Center for Language Studies (727 15th St., NW, Suite 400; 202-639-8800; offers more than 80 languages. Groups meet over two months and cost around $425. The center offers private, semiprivate, and small-group classes as well as intensive training.

Public-school adult-ed programs offer language instruction. In Alexandria (703-706-4618;; click on “community”), a beginning Russian or Spanish class costs $130 for residents, $150 for nonresidents. Arlington (703-228-7200; and Fairfax counties (703-227-2377; also hold basic courses. Montgomery County offers classes through Montgomery College (301-279-5188; ).

Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies (202-687-5942; has introductory courses in Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese.

Alliance Française (2142 Wyoming Ave., NW; 202-234-7911; , Casa Italiana Language School (595½ Third St., NW; 202-638-1348; , and the German School (8617 Chateau Dr., Potomac; 301-767-3824; teach their languages at all levels.

The USDA Graduate School (888-744-grad; offers courses in some two dozen languages.

Berlitz Language Centers (1 Thomas Cir., NW, 202-775-5863; 11300 Rockville Pike, Rockville, 301-770-7550; and 2070 Chain Bridge Rd., Vienna; 703-883-0646; host classes in more than 50 languages.

The Web site has links to online classes, translation services, and places offering classroom instruction.