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Language and culture short courses

Languages and cultures
short courses

Discover a new language and explore different cultures with our online short courses. They’re open to everyone, you can learn at your own pace, and we’ll support you all the way.

Choose from our range of flexible short courses in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Welsh.

Female traveller reading map on street in Asia

Open up your world with a language short course

Our language and culture short courses are designed to fit around your life. They’re entirely online and, over 16 weeks, you’ll learn to hold conversations on everyday topics in your chosen language. You’ll also develop a better understanding of the countries where these languages are spoken. All in only a few hours’ study each week.

When you have successfully completed one of our short courses, you'll receive a digital badge. This can be shared on social media, added to email signatures or act as a certificate.

Each course also follows the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This way you can confidently choose the right course for your level of knowledge; from absolute beginner (A1) all the way to being practically fluent (C2). Discover your starting point on the CEFR Global Scale and get started today!

Already an OU student? Contact us to register on a languages and cultures short course.

Benefits of short courses


  • Only a few hours' study each week
  • Suitable for beginners
  • No exams
  • Earn a digital badge


Street lights of a Chinese high street

Beginners Chinese 1:
开始吧 kāishĭ ba!

Start learning Mandarin Chinese on our course that’s perfect for beginners (CEFR level A1)

View LXC001
Backpacker walking the Great Wall of China

Beginners Chinese 2:
开始吧 kāishĭ ba!

Expand your basic Chinese vocabulary in topics like food and leisure activities (CEFR level A1)

View LXC002
Cyclist riding past traditional Chinese building

Beginners Chinese 3:
开始吧 kāishĭ ba!

Ideal for those with a grasp of beginners’ Chinese to improve their language skills (CEFR level A1)

View LXC003
Skyscrapers in business district in China

Chinese business
culture essentials

Build positive, long-term business relationships using knowledge of Chinese culture and values.

View LXC050
Red Chinese lantern

Elementary Chinese 1:
入门了 rùmén le!

Step up your basic knowledge of Chinese with an elementary level course (CEFR level A1)

View LXC004


Eiffel Tower on a sunny day

Beginners French 1:
eh oui!

Kick-start your learning journey with this introduction to French, designed for beginners (CEFR level A1)

View LXF001
French road sign

Beginners French 2:
bien sûr!

Continue to build your French skills for communicating in everyday situations (CEFR level A1)

View LXF002
Couple in cafe in Paris

Beginners French 3:

Enhance your knowledge of French to prepare for further language study (CEFR level A1)

View LXF003
man walking through French street

Elementary French 1:

Take your French to the next level on this new elementary course (CEFR level A1)

View LXF004


Large crowd with German flags

Beginners German 1:
fang an!

It's time to say 'ja' to learning one of Europe's most widely used languages (CEFR level A1)

View LXG001
Woman looking out over German town

Beginners German 2:
mit Vergnügen!

Study new topics like food, seasons, dates and time, to build up your vocabulary (CEFR level A1)

View LXG002
Image of Brandenburg Gate

Beginners German 3:
richtig so!

Further your knowledge of German by learning to give your opinion on different topics (CEFR level A1)

View LXG003
Three young women dressed in traditional German outfits for Oktoberfest

Elementary German 1:
sprechen und verstehen

Build on your basic German vocabulary with this elementary level course (CEFR level A1)

View LXG004


Two women looking at the Coliseum in Rome

Beginners Italian 1:
primi passi

A perfect 'aperitivo';  learn Italian starting with simple topics such as reading menus (CEFR level A1)

View LXI001
Group of friends having dinner outside

Beginners Italian 2:
in cammino

Build on your study and learn to talk about time, work, transport, and holidays in Italian (CEFR level A1)

View LXI002
Venice canals

Beginners Italian 3:
stai andando bene!

Delve further into Italian language and culture by exploring geography, food and festivals (CEFR level A1)

View LXI003
Italian deli

Elementary Italian 1:
in campo!

Step up your progress in Italian with new vocabulary and key expressions (CEFR level A1)

View LXI004


La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Beginners Spanish 1:

Discover one of the world's most widely spoken languages with this introductory course (CEFR level A1)

View LXS001
View of Gaudi buildings in Barcelona

Beginners Spanish 2:
¡En marcha!

Learn to talk about time, your daily and weekly routine, work, interests and hobbies (CEFR level A1)

View LXS002
Four wine glasses with red wine

Beginners Spanish 3:

Begin conversing in this popular language using new topics to build your vocabulary (CEFR level A1)

View LXS003
woman in red flamenco dress

Elementary Spanish 1:
¡en camino!

Build on your beginners Spanish with new topics including sport and grammar (CEFR level A1)

View LXS004


Welsh high street with flags

Discovering Wales and Welsh

Learn basic Welsh language skills while exploring key aspects of Welsh culture.

View LG001