Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

 

1. ELIGIBILITY

 

1.1. Am I eligible to take a language course?

People in the following categories are eligible for UNOG language courses:

ELIGIBLE FOR CLASSES

Payment required

*UNOG staff members

No

**All staff members of the following entities, agencies, funds and programmes with contracts through the end of the term and who have the authorization of their HR/Staff Development focal point: CERN, EC, EFTA, FAO, IAEA, ICRC, ICTY, IEC, IFRC, ILO, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITC, ITU, OCHA, OHCHR, TGF, UNAIDS, UNCC, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNECE, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIDIR, UNIDO, UNITAR, UNOPS, UNRISD, WFP, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO

Yes

***Staff of permanent Missions, including observer Missions
Staff of service organizations in the Palais des Nations
UNOG tour guides
Employees of NGOs accredited to the UN
Press corps
GAVI (Vaccine Alliance)
Consultants working with UN organizations and agencies
Spouses of international civil servants
UN Secretariat retirees
Interns (only considered if their internship covers the term. Interns have no priority over the above categories)

Yes

 

* UN Secretariat staff members who have the authorization of their supervisor and/or whose contract covers the duration of the term.

** Organizations are billed. Staff members of specialized agencies and other international organizations, entities, agencies, funds and programmes need their applications authorized by their respective HR/Staff Development office.

*** On a fee-paying basis. Proof of payment needs to be provided when enrolling.

 

 

2. ENROLMENT

 

2.1 When is the registration period for the upcoming term?

The enrolment periods normally fall in February, May and October and last for three weeks and two days. A broadcast giving the exact dates is sent by e-mail to all UN staff members at the start of each enrolment period.

Please note that if you are currently enrolled in a course, re-enrolment is your responsibility and is not automatic.

For the next or current registration period, please click here.

 

 

 

2.2. What should I know about the Language Training Programme enrolment procedures?

  1. There are three terms and three corresponding enrolment periods in the year.
  2. The enrolment periods normally fall in February, May and October and last for three weeks and two days. A broadcast giving the exact dates is sent by e-mail to all UN staff members at the start of each enrolment period.
  3. You should submit your enrolment through the appropriate channel - usually your focal point.
  4. Applications received outside the enrolment period, incomplete and/or without proof of payment of the applicable fees will not be considered.
  5. Enrolment forms are valid for one term only.
  6. You are responsible for re-enrolling and it is not automatic.
  7. Enrolments are considered on a first come, first served basis.
  8. You must obtain the authorization of your supervisor for all time choices you select in the enrolment form.
  9. If you expect to be absent during the enrolment period, you should notify the Language Training Programme secretariat in writing (clm_language@un.org), so that you can submit an application form in advance.
  10. Priority is given to students who are already in the Language Training Programme.
  11. The Language Training Programme secretariat cannot guarantee the opening of all courses offered, nor a place in your preferred time schedule.

 

 

  

2.3 How do I enrol?

Enrolment procedure:

You need to enrol during the enrolment period by going to the enrolment page and following the instructions below:

 For staff of UNOG:

Download the enrolment form, fill it in using Word and send a scanned copy and any additional documents (if needed) to: clm_language@un.org.

 For staff of ECE, OCHA, OHCHR, UNCC, UNCTAD, UNHCR, UNIDIR, UNEP, UNITAR, UNRISD and all other UN organizations:

Download the enrolment form, fill it in using Word, have it signed by your supervisor and submit it to the HR/Staff Development office of your organization/agency.

 For staff of permanent Missions, spouses, staff of service organizations in the Palais des Nations, employees of NGOs accredited to UN, press corps, GAVI (Vaccine Alliance), consultants and retirees (accepted on a fee-paying basis).

Download the enrolment form, fill it in using Word and submit it by e-mail to the Language Training Programme secretariat (clm_language@un.org) attaching all documentation required together as described below:

  1. enrolment form filled in using Word
  2. copy of your legitimation card or official certificate from your employer, and
  3. copy of proof of payment (bulletin de versement or debit notification of your bank account if you pay via e-banking).

 

 

 

2.4 What happens after I have applied for a language course?

  1. If places are available, a week before the start of term you will receive an official e-mail with information regarding class schedule and a link to where you can find the books needed for your course.
  2. If there are no places available, you will receive an e-mail informing you that you are on a waiting list. If a place has not become available during the first week, you will receive an e-mail informing you that unfortunately no spaces have become available. For self-paying students you will be reimbursed via an official procedure (please refer to point 5.1.2).

IMPORTANT: Priority is given to students who are already in the programme.

 

 

 

2.5 Where are the classrooms located?

Classrooms are located in Annexes le Bocage:  please see link to map of: the Palais des Nations

 

 

 

2.6 What shall I do if I forgot to enrol for the next term?

You cannot enrol in the Language Training Programme outside the official enrolment period. You should enrol during the next enrolment period.

 

 

 

2.7 What are my responsibilities as a student?

Students attending UN language classes must:

  1. Be on time, attend and actively participate in the classes.
  2. Participate in activities and continual assessment processes
    Complete homework outside class hours.
  3. Inform their teacher of their absences via e-mail.
  4. Purchase course materials before the end of the first week of term.
  5. Complete the online end-of-term evaluation.

 

 

 

2.8 What will happen if I miss the first week of class and if I have not notified my teacher or the Language Training Programme secretariat of my absence?

If you have not attended the first week of term and have not informed the secretariat or your teacher of your absence, you will be removed from the class list and your place will be given to a student on the waiting list. For fee paying students, course fees will not be reimbursed.

 

 

 

2.9 What should I do if I will be on mission for more than three weeks (more than 25% of the course) during the term?

If you know that you will be absent for more than three weeks during the term, we would advise you to consider postponing your registration until a time when you will be more available. If you still wish to enrol, you will work by yourself during the period when you are unable to come to class by consulting the online Moodle platform, where you can find your class programme and materials.

 

 

 

3. PLACEMENT TEST

 

3.1 Which level should I register for?

If you have previously studied the language in question outside the UN, you will need to take a placement test to be placed in the correct level. A test is obligatory for all new language students, unless they are complete beginners or post level 9. If you are not a complete beginner and you need a placement test, please indicate so in the enrolment form under point 16.

 

 

 

3.2 What should I do if I am returning to the Language Training Programme after an absence of two or more terms?

If you are returning to the language programme following an absence of two terms or more, you will be asked to take a placement test before resuming your studies. This is because during your absence, your level may have either improved or deteriorated.

 

 

 

3.3 What should I do if I think I have been placed in a level that is too easy/difficult?

Speak with your teacher as soon as possible.  We can make adjustments during the first two weeks of term.  If your teacher agrees with you following a reassessment of your placement test or other considerations, you will be placed in the appropriate level (if space is available).

 

 

 

3.4 What happens after I have taken a placement test?

 

  1. If places are available in the level assigned to you, a week before the start of term you will receive an official e-mail with information regarding class schedule and a link to where you can find the books needed for your course.
  2. If there are no places available, you will receive an e-mail informing you that you are on a waiting list. If a place has not become available during the first week, you will receive an e-mail informing you that unfortunately no spaces have become available.

IMPORTANT: Attending a placement test does not guarantee a place in our language courses. Priority is given to students who are already in the programme.

 

 

 

3.5 Why do I need to retake a placement test if I have repeated the same level three times?

If you have repeated the same level three times and failed, you will need to retake a placement test in order to be placed in the correct class to acquire the appropriate building blocks to enable you to progress in the language you are studying.

 

 

 

4. CLASS SCHEDULE AND COURSES

 

4.1 Where can I find all the details of the United Nations Language Training Programme?

An Information Circular with the full description of the Language Training Programme is published once a year.

 

 

 

4.2 How are the class schedules determined?

 The class scheduling depends on different factors such as room availability, the teacher's availability*, and students’ preferred schedule.

 

* Please note that in the Language Training Programme many teachers work on a part-time basis and they may have other commitments outside the Language Training Programme. They are therefore not always available outside of their teaching hours and the Language Training Programme cannot always offer a morning and a lunchtime class for all levels.

   

 

 

4.3 What time do classes take place?

The Language Training Programme can offer the following times: 

 

TIME OF THE DAY

 4 TIMES A WEEK

TWICE A WEEK 

Morning classes

08:00-09:00

8:00-10:00

Lunchtime classes

11:30-12:30

11:30-13:30

 

12:30-13:30

12:30-14:30

 

 

 

4.4 Which kind of courses and how many hours are taught per term?

The Language Training Programme offers different types of courses:

 

  1. General courses (levels 1 to 9): 48 hours per term for all languages (4 hours/week, 12 weeks a term). Courses are provided for 12 consecutive weeks with an additional week “consultation week” for student reviewing of examinations, pedagogical meetings and preparation for the following semester.
  2. Specialized courses: 48-hour courses per term (4 hours/week, 12 weeks a term) or 24-hour courses per term (2 hours/week, 12 weeks a term).
  3. Online courses: online modules and workshops or webinars.
  4. Blended courses: a combination of face-to-face classes, plus online learning activities.
  5. Full day workshops in Administrative and Report writing.

 

 

 

4.5 Why have I not been allocated my requested time?

The reasons why you may have not been given your preferred time schedule may depend on the following reasons:

  1. Teacher’s availability.
  2. Students preferred schedule.
  3. Number of enrolments in your level decreasing, resulting in the merging of two different time schedules (e.g. the morning and the lunchtime classes are merged to one).

 

 

 

4.6 What do I need to know about the Language Training Programme policy regarding allocation of classes and teachers?

We understand the request of some students to continue studying with the same teacher from term to term. However, from a pedagogical point of view it is also important to change teachers. While scheduling the courses, criteria such as room availability, the teacher's availability, students’ preferred schedule, etc. need to be taken into consideration, which may affect your allocated schedule/teacher.

Please be reassured that all the teachers working for the Language Training Programme do their best in providing high standard conditions for language learning.

 

 

 

4.7 What is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated in English as CEFR, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages. It was put together by the Council of Europe and published in 2001. Its main aim is to provide a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages. The six reference levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 – see details in the table below) are becoming widely accepted as standards for grading an individual's language proficiency.

 

Proficient
User

C2

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

C1

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

Independent
User

B2

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

B1

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Basic
User

A2

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

A1

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

 

 

 

4.8 What do I need to know about the levels in the Language Training Programme?

Our courses are aligned with the CEFR and cover levels of competences from A1 to C1.

In English, French and Spanish, it consists of nine levels divided into three cycles: elementary cycle (A1, A2), intermediate cycle (B1, B2) and advanced cycle (B2+, C1).

In Arabic, Chinese and Russian, it consists of eight levels. Please note that it takes two terms to complete one level (e.g. level 1 Regular, level 1 Advanced, level 2 Regular, 2 Advanced, etc.).

 

English

Arabic

CEFR levels

French

Chinese

Spanish

Russian

1

1 regular

A1

Beginner

1 advanced

2

2 regular

2 advanced

A2

Elementary

3

3 regular

3 advanced

4

4 regular

4 advanced

5

5 regular

B1

Intermediate

5 advanced

6

6 regular

6 advanced

7

7 regular

B2

7 advanced

Advanced

8

8 regular

8 advanced

9

 

C1

9 (English)

 

Specialized courses

Proficiency

C2

 

 

 

 

 

4.9 What is there to know about the specialized language courses?

The Language Training Programme offers a number of specialized courses each term. The courses we offer vary from term to term. In order to know which ones are on offer, you need to consult the programme for that term.

 

 

 

5. FEES

5.1 How do I pay or get reimbursed?

 

 

 

5.1.1 Who needs to pay tuition fees?

Students from non UN Secretariat organizations, staff of permanent Missions, spouses, staff of service organizations in the Palais des Nations, employees of NGOs accredited to UN, press corps, GAVI (Vaccine Alliance), consultants and retirees have to pay a fee which is based on the number of hours of lessons, as follows:

  1. 48-hour courses and equivalent special courses/term: CHF 590.-
  2. 24-hour courses and equivalent special courses/term: CHF 350.-

Payment and reimbursement procedures

 

  

 

5.1.2 Reimbursement

Reimbursement for fee-paying students:

A refund procedure is in place in case you are not given a place in our courses. If you need to be reimbursed, please send an e-mail to the Language Training Programme secretariat (clm_language@un.org). As soon as we receive your request we will send you the appropriate form for you to be reimbursed (bank information form).

Please note that to make a reimbursement, we will need a copy of the proof of payment, the bank information form filled in and a copy of the bank account holder’s passport. Reimbursements may take up to eight weeks after you have submitted all the documents required.

IMPORTANT: You can be reimbursed/your organization will not be billed only if you cancel your enrolment before the start of the term.  If you cancel your enrolment at any time after the start of the term, the fees of the course will not be reimbursed

 

 

  

6. WAITING LISTS

6.1 What happens if I have been placed on a waiting list?

When there are no places available in the course in which you have enrolled, you will be placed on a waiting list.

Students on a waiting list are informed by e-mail a week before the start of term. If a place becomes available during the first week, you will receive an official e-mail with information regarding class schedule and a link to where you can find the books needed for your course.

If no place has become available during the first week, you will receive an e-mail informing you that no spaces have become available and that your enrolment has been cancelled for that term.

Please note that the Language Training Programme secretariat tries to prioritize students who were on a waiting list the previous term over new enrolments. In order to increase your chances of enrolment, when enrolling the following term make sure to indicate in the "comments” box that you were in a waiting list the previous term.

For self-paying students your fees may be kept for the next term or they can be reimbursed. Please refer to point 5.1.2 for the reimbursement procedure.

 

 

 

7. CANCELLATION

7.1 What should I do if I have to drop out of/cancel my language course?

You can cancel your enrolment 4 working days before the start of the term and two weeks before the start of the summer courses.

You should download the cancellation form available on our website, fill it in and send it to the Language Training Programme secretariat (clm_language@un.org). When you cancel your course, your place is given to a student from the waiting list.

IMPORTANT: You can be reimbursed/your organization will not be billed only if you cancel your enrolment 4 working days before the start of the term or two weeks before the start of Summer courses.  If you cancel your enrolment at any time after the deadline, the fees of the course will not be reimbursed.

 

 

 

7.2 What can I do if my class has been cancelled due to an insufficient number of students?

If your class has been cancelled due to an insufficient number of students, you will be informed by an official e-mail.

For Arabic, Chinese and Russian, if your class is cancelled you can request to join the level below or you can re-enrol the following term.

The Language Training Programme secretariat makes all possible efforts to offer a class at the next level for returning students. However, when the number of students is not sufficient, the secretariat is obliged to cancel classes.

  • For Arabic, Chinese and Russian, classes are cancelled where there are less than six students.
  • For English, French and Spanish, classes are cancelled with less than eight students.

 

 

 

8. SPECIAL REQUESTS

8.1 What should I do if I have to change my class schedule?

You should contact the Language Training Programme secretariat (clm_language@un.org) requesting to change your schedule. If there is room in the class you would like to move to, you will be moved and if not, you will be put on a waiting list.

If you wish to change the schedule of your class, you should notify the Language Training Programme secretariat before the term starts or during the first two weeks of term. After the end of the second week of the term no more changes can be made.

 

 

 

8.2 What should I do if I need a certificate of attendance?

If you need a certificate regarding attendance or completion of language courses, please send an e-mail stating your request to the Language Training Programme secretariat (clm_language@un.org)

Please note that the level you have reached has no official value in the UN. Only the UN Language Proficiency Examination will provide you with official recognition of your efforts in learning a foreign language within the United Nations system.

 

 

 

 

8.3 What should I do if I cannot attend the end-of-term exam/final evaluation?

You need to notify your teacher as soon as possible as well as the Language Training Programme secretariat via e-mail. Please note that only work or medical related excuses are accepted: mission or certified sick leave.

If the reason is work or medical related, and if your absences do not exceed 25% of classes, you will be invited to attend a test during the 10th or 11th week of the term if a continual assessment course, or you may take the “Special Session” exam when a course with a final examination, which will take place on the second day of the following term (a place will be reserved for you).

If you are not available for the "Special Session", your course will be considered incomplete.

If you are also unable to attend the “Special Session” exams at the beginning of the new term, you will then need to wait until the official exam session at the end of this said term.

IMPORTANT: Any reason that is not work or medical related (e.g. home leave, holidays, etc.) will not be considered as a valid reason for taking the “Special Session” exam.

 

 

 

8.4 What should I do if I cannot be here for the oral part of the end-of-term exam?

You should mention this directly to your teacher, who will do their best to accommodate your request and organize an oral exam for you at a different time. Despite our efforts to accommodate these requests, please note that finding an alternate time is not always possible.  In such cases, your teacher may ascertain your level. 

 

 

 

8.5 What should I do if I have questions regarding the course material or the content of my course?

If you have questions about course material or the content of the course you are invited to discuss it with your teacher. In this way, you can allow your teacher to be aware of your specific challenges and needs.

 

 

 

8.6 Do I qualify for the Language Proficiency Examination (LPE)?

If you wish to enrol in the LPE you need to have successfully completed the highest level of the UNOG Language Training Programme. If you have not successfully completed the highest level at the time of the examination, you will not be allowed to sit this examination.

If you are a spouse or from a mission, you may only enrol on the LPE if you are currently enrolled in the highest level of the course. 

If the LPE enrolment period falls during the term you are attending the highest level (level 9), you will be able to enrol. Once registered, your enrolment will only be valid if you pass the exam at the end of your course. 

 

For more information regarding the LPE:

LPE website: http://www.un.org/exam/lpe/

Contact e-mail in Geneva: clm_lpe@un.org