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Languages, Cultures and Communication short courses

Discover a new language, explore different cultures or learn more about the power of communication. They’re open to everyone, you can learn at your own pace, and our specialist Learning Advisers will support you along the way.

Choose from our range of flexible short courses in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Welsh, artificial intelligence and intercultural competence.

Open up your world with a short course

Our short courses in languages, cultures and communication are designed to fit around your life. They’re entirely online and flexible; you can study for as many hours as you like each day, week or month.

When you successfully complete 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.

A short course gives you the perfect opportunity to learn the language you've always wanted to speak, develop a better understanding of the countries where these languages are spoken, or enhance your communication skills which learning at your own pace.

Our languages short courses also follow 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 to get started.

Already an OU student? Contact us to register today.

Benefits of short courses


  • Flexible study
  • Suitable for beginners
  • No exams
  • Earn a digital badge


Arabic script

Introduction to Arabic language and culture

Learn to speak, read, write, and understand basic Arabic language and culture.



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).

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).

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).

Skyscrapers in business district in China

Chinese business
culture essentials

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

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).

Mixed group of friends eating Chinese street food

Elementary Chinese 2:
入门了 rùmén le!

Take your Chinese up a level with our second elementary course (CEFR level A2).

Close up of a older person handing a red envelope to a child

Elementary Chinese 3:
入门了 rùmén le!

Develop your Mandarin vocabulary, including apologising and giving presents (CEFR level A2).



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).

French road sign

Beginners French 2:
bien sûr!

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

Couple in cafe in Paris

Beginners French 3:

Enhance your knowledge of French to prepare for further language study (CEFR level A2).

man walking through French street

Elementary French 1:

Take your French to the next level on this new elementary course (CEFR level A2).

young black woman looks out across the Seine

Elementary French 2:
en avant!

Explore exciting new subjects in our second elementary French course (CEFR level B1).

Group of mature women doing Yoga outdoors in France together while on a wellness vacation. They are all standing holding their mats ready to get started

Elementary French 3:
vous y êtes!

Learn to talk about your health and use past, present and future tenses (CEFR level B1).



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).

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).

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 A2).

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 A2).

Three young people taking selfie in front of skyscrapers

Elementary German 2:
sprich weiter!

Take on more complex conversations with an elementary 2 level course (CEFR level B1).

Three young people taking selfie in front of skyscrapers

Elementary German 3:
weiter geht’s

Hone your German language skills with our third and final elementary level short course (CEFR level B1).



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).

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).

Venice canals

Beginners Italian 3:
stai andando bene!

Delve further into Italian language and culture by exploring geography, food and festivals (CEFR level A2).

Italian deli

Elementary Italian 1:
in campo!

Step up your progress in Italian with new vocabulary and key expressions (CEFR level A2).

Two women stroll down Italian street with takeaway coffee cups in hand

Elementary Italian 2:
avanti tutta!

Develop your Italian skills including talking about the past and childhood (CEFR level B1).

A middle-aged man sits on a sofa using a tablet

Elementary Italian 3:

Explore more complex topics, including social media and Italian migration (CEFR level B1).



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 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).

Four wine glasses with red wine

Beginners Spanish 3:

Begin conversing in this popular language using new topics to build your vocabulary (CEFR level A2).

woman in red flamenco dress

Elementary Spanish 1:
¡en camino!

Build on your beginners Spanish with new topics including sport and grammar (CEFR level A2).

Three young women smiling and dancing on rooftop

Elementary Spanish 2:
¡vamos a seguir!

Step up your Spanish skills with new topics, situations and phrases (CEFR level B1).

Festival decorations hang across Spanish street

Elementary Spanish 3:
¡muy bien!

Develop your Spanish further, including learning to use the past tense (CEFR level B1).


Cinema in the Spanish-speaking world

Discover the cultural impact of the cinematic landscapes of Spain, Argentina, and Chile.



Sandcastle with Welsh flag

Discovering Wales and Welsh

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


Communication and Cultures

AI language technology in the workplace

Explore Language Technology, a rising form of Artificial Intelligence, and its impact in our working lives.

Mother and son leaving the house and locking the door using an automated security system

An introduction to artificial intelligence

Examine historical, ethical and social issues around Artificial Intelligence technology.

Two men greet in the street

An introduction to intercultural competence

Improve your intercultural communication skills in the workplace.

Young black woman in a pink top stands on bus wearing pink face mask

The languages of crises


Examine the role of languages and cultures in situations of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crime fiction book

Introduction to European crime fiction

Discover new ways of looking at crime fiction texts by European authors.