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.

Don’t Miss Another Big Story—Get Our Weekend Newsletter

Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday.

Or, see all of our newsletters. By signing up, you agree to our terms.