Language Courses

Language is the principal means through which humans communicate and a major vehicle in the development of thought, culture, and aesthetic expression. Studying language makes one aware of other conceptual and cultural worlds and enables one to reach more effectively into those worlds and bridge cultures. NYU Abu Dhabi language courses are structured to increase competency at every level in speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills. Every language course introduces cultural material that highlights the connectedness of language, culture, and thought.


The way everything is globalizing … it’s really vital to be able to communicate. The source of most of the conflict in the world is that we’re in such proximity but don’t understand each other. Learning to speak a language is the first step in learning culture.

Benjamin Marcus-Willers, won a Critical Language Scholarship from the US State Department

Students are strongly encouraged to study a language other than English while at NYUAD. Language study opens a window into other cultures and ways of conceiving the world. Students who choose to acquire a new language or to pursue advanced study of a language with which they are already familiar, are better poised to realize their potential as 21st-century global citizens.

Language Minors

NYUAD offers language minor programs in Arabic and Chinese. Students are strongly encouraged to study Arabic, which is the first language of Abu Dhabi. Classroom learning is enhanced by opportunities to apply language skills in the community and to travel to other Arabic-speaking countries in the region. Students of Chinese are strongly encouraged to spend at least a semester at NYU's program in Shanghai and to attend courses in NYU New York.

Students who wish to advance their proficiency in languages other than Arabic and Chinese may take French, Japanese or Spanish courses at NYUAD or take advantage of the immersive language instruction offered at NYU's global sites in Accra, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Madrid, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Prague.

English Language Support

Many of our students are multilingual; English is a second, if not a third language. All students graduate from NYUAD with a mastery of English. NYUAD emphasizes sophistication not just in writing, but in all aspects of communication. We recognize the close connection between culture and language: the cultural background of students influences their style of expression and class participation, and we work with them to thrive in the interactive approach to learning at NYUAD.

The foundation course is a First-Year Writing seminar, which develops critical thinking in tandem with written and verbal expression. Students seeking further support, whether to refine their writing skills, enhance their verbal fluency, or improve their articulation and accent, will find it at the Academic Resource Center, where instructors are trained in English as a second language. Periodic language assessments monitor the progress of students to assure they are on track to reach the goal of advanced proficiency in English.