SOAS, University of London, founded in 1916, is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. We live in a world of shrinking borders in which cultural differences and regionalism increasingly manifest themselves. It is a world that SOAS is distinctively positioned to analyse, understand and explain. Our academic focus on the languages and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Middle East is unique in the UK and attracts students from very diverse backgrounds and with varied previous learning experiences.
SOAS is, above all else, an intimate single community, one that celebrates diversity and is respectful and collegial. SOAS’ diverse population is one of its greatest strengths. Equality of opportunity is at the core of all the School’s activities. SOAS is committed to fostering broad cultural understanding in the UK and in the world at large. As well as benefiting clients from the private sector, government agencies, industry and commerce, SOAS provides learning opportunities for London's diverse, multi-lingual and multi-cultural local communities and opportunities for Londoners to participate in a wide range of activities associated with Africa, Middle East and Asia.
The Language Centre is a department of the Faculty of Languages and Cultures at SOAS with proven expertise in making the learning of languages practically useful, highly enjoyable and accessible to people from all walks of life. It offers tuition in a huge and continually expanding range of languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Hindi, Swahili and many other languages of Africa, Asia, MENA region, as well as languages of European origin, such as French, Portuguese and Spanish, all of which may be studied without any prior knowledge.
The Centre was awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2009 for the excellence, breadth and depth of its language teaching. A team of over hundred highly-qualified and professionally trained native speakers in the Language Centre provide language training for individuals, companies and government agencies to acquire, develop and use a wide variety of language skills across the languages of Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
The School hosts the London Confucius Institute which supports Chinese language learning, teaching and teacher training to enhance understanding of Chinese culture and the King Sejong Institute which teaches Korean language and culture to the worldwide public. The Language Centre also works in partnership with the Japan Foundation to promote the learning of Japanese and international cultural exchanges with Japan.
Learn a Language
Select your chosen language from its region below where you will find a course description followed by information on how to apply.
SOAS Language Centre provides a range of learning support activities and resources for its students
Language Centre students are given usernames and passwords at the beginning of their course. The Language Centre ID card will allow you to use the SOAS library online sources and print and photocopy anywhere on the SOAS Campus. All cards are valid until your course finishes.
SOAS Language Centre offers a wide range of learning materials online through the Bloomsbury Learning Environment or Moodle.
Download your choice of online language learning materials here. Then play them, on the move, on your mp3 player. You need your SOAS username and password to access these resources.
Your teacher will also recommend supplementary materials that you can easily access from a variety of sites through Google or similar search engines.
The different languages also have their own specific links to sources of language support, tips and advice for learners of the specific language. For example, for Japanese, you can access:
Award-winning reports from SOAS Language Centre learners of Japanese talking about their joys and frustrations in learning the language. Lots of useful study tips.
How We Learn Languages
Inspired by the ‘Jinrikisha - How We Learnt Japanese' project, we asked more language learners to share their do's and don'ts with us. Click on each student's name to read more about their learning experience, including their most embarrassing faux-pas!
Learners are encouraged to do out-of-class learning to back up their time in class.
Short Course students are allowed only reference access to the Library, whilst Certificate and Diploma students are granted full access.
SOAS Campus Maps
Postal Address for both Campuses
Russell Square Campus Visiting Address
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
Vernon Square Campus Visiting Address
School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
What Our Students Have to Say
Every year, students leave the language centre having received extensive professional tuition in a language, learned more about the life and culture of another country and most importantly having had a thoroughly enjoyable learning experience and made new friends.
Here, students tell us how they have benefited from their time at SOAS Language Centre.
This is what Ahmed, a former student, had to say about his Arabic language diploma course:
"Whether it be in learning a language or baking a cake, when looking to create success, one must have a recipe to follow. The Diploma in Communicative Arabic is that recipe. From incredibly motivating and inspiring teachers who go far beyond what can ever be expected of them, to a course curriculum that could not have been better structured - the foundations of excellence are very well laid. And then you add course materials which seem to understand the difficulties of Arabic learners, and last but not least an amazing group of class mates to keep that motivation going. Blend together with a year of solid personal effort and there you have it - success." (Ahmed Bobat)
This is what Philippa, a recent graduate from the Chinese diploma programme, had to say about the course:
"Chinese is undoubtedly one of the most useful languages in the modern world, but also an exciting challenge. Although this course has been very intensive, I have learned so much more in this year than I thought I could. Seeing yourself grow into a more confident Chinese speaker after every lesson is deeply rewarding. The teachers give so much of their time to help to support us in furthering our language learning, both inside and outside of class." (Philippa Marriott)
Some of our students take up a language not because they want to speak it fluently but because they want to study the grammatical structure of the language and appreciate its literature.
"I have always been interested in ancient Indian culture and history. SOAS has given me the opportunity, through studying Sanskrit, to combine this interest with a long held ambition to learn a classical language. I have enjoyed all aspects of the classes and, in particular, found reading the literature and philosophy fascinating." (Michael Iossif)
Our proven expertise in language teaching enables us to run high quality Teacher training programmes and our teacher trainees are also always very positive about the quality of the teacher training programmes at the Language Centre. This is what Sarah, a recent graduate from the Chinese Teacher Training programme, had to say about it:
"This course is unique and down-to-earth; it will equip you with all the practical and realistic knowledge you need for you career in teaching Chinese. I am really glad I enrolled on this course and it has been an amazing experience for me to study at SOAS Language Centre." (SarahShu Qing Liu)
How To Contact Us
The Language Centre is at the SOAS Russell Square campus. We are happy to talk to you in person at our walk-in reception which is open, Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm at:
The Language Centre
22 Russell Square
Please use the standard SOAS, University of London address of:
We also answer queries by email or by phone, Monday to Friday, 11am to 6pm
Languages of Africa - 020 7898 4828
Arabic and Languages of the Near and Middle East - 020 7898 4595
Languages of South Asia - 020 7898 4860
Languages of South East Asia - 020 7898 4828
China and Inner Asia - 020 7898 4860
Korean - 020 7898 4828
Japanese - 020 7898 4828
Fax (for all languages): 020 7898 4009