Resolution - Learn a New Language: Washington Area Language Classes

(Photos By Ellen Mccarthy -- The Washington Post)
  Enlarge Photo    
Friday, December 26, 2008

Jamie Williams, an 18-year-old student who lives in the District, really wants to learn a new language next year.

How do you say "broaden your horizons" in Hindi?

I don't know, but a great way to find out might be to enroll in an introductory Hindi class at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School. It's just one of several foreign languages that the school offers to rank beginners -- along with Arabic, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

Wait. The USDA has a grad school? Yeah, it does. Language is just one department among a varied curriculum of adult continuing education. Hidden among such wonky career-advancers as courses in accounting and conflict management, you'll find such surprising subjects as meteorology and photography. (Full disclosure: I took a cartooning class there years ago and loved it.)

The under-$400 fee for 10 lessons compares favorably with other language schools. Berlitz's "Ticket to French" program, for instance, is $175 for five 90-minute classes. Plus, the USDA school's evening and weekend hours make it easy to schedule lessons around your job.

¡Qué práctico!

That's Spanish for "how convenient."

-- Michael O'Sullivan

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School's next sessions of introductory classes begin in late January and February. Classes are at 600 Maryland Ave. SW and cost $375 for 10 three-hour classes. Call 202-314-3300 or visit

© 2008 The Washington Post Company