Virtual NSLI-Y

Applications are closed for the 2019-20 Virtual NSLI-Y program.

Virtual NSLI-Y is a new NSLI-Y program component launching in Fall 2019 to increase the reach and scope of the NSLI-Y program.  Two different models for novice learners -- the In-School Program and the Digital Classroom Program -- will be piloted during the 2019-20 academic year. 

Virtual NSLI-Y will operate in the spirit of the long-standing NSLI-Y Goals, with additional goals to:

  • Introduce U.S. teens to language and culture of Virtual NSLI-Y target languages
  • Spark an interest in international travel, study abroad, language study, and intercultural learning


Virtual NSLI-Y participants will engage in class activities that are led by an experienced language teacher virtually that will include age-appropriate content in speaking, listening, reading, and writing in the target language in a group learning environment.  Activities may include:

  • Conversation practice
  • Worksheets for reading/writing
  • Quizzes
  • Interactive games: charades, trivia, skits, etc.
  • Audio and video clips
  • Featured virtual guests: NSLI-Y students and alumni, U.S. Embassy staff, native/in-country speakers, or others
  • Homework
  • Capstone projects – research, ePortfolio, posters, video, or others!

Participants are expected to achieve the following outcomes: 

Virtual NSLI-Y: In-School Program

The Virtual NSLI-Y: In-School Program is a new initiative launching in Fall 2019 at up to 8 host high schools/secondary schools in the United States or U.S. territories. For 10 weeks, a virtual teacher will conduct beginner-level foreign language and culture classes 2-3 times per week for students who have not had the opportunity to learn the language at school or abroad. Schools selected to be host sites will provide a staff proctor, receive a $1,500 honorarium, and recruit 10-20 students to participate. School communities with fewer foreign language/culture resources will be given priority.

Available Languages: Arabic, Korean, Mandarin, or Russian

2019 Program Locations: Selected host high schools in United States (application below)

Host School Eligibility Requirements:

  • U.S.-based high school not offering classes in the selected language
  • At least 30% of school’s student population are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch
  • In-school space for 10-20 students to meet 2-3 times per week (60-minute meetings) to take place during or after school hours
  • Staff proctor to recruit/supervise students and serve as designated host school contact
  • Ability to provide necessary supplies to facilitate virtual activities (see application)

Program Timeline:

  • Application deadline: Monday, May 6, 2019
  • Selection notification: May 2019
  • Sign Host School Agreement + School/Teacher Match: end of May 2019
  • Orientation Webinar: June or August 2019
  • Periodic Check-ins: August-December 2019
  • Virtual NSLI-Y In-School Program: October-December 2019
  • Post-Program Assessment: February 2020

Virtual NSLI-Y: Digital Classroom Program

The Virtual NSLI-Y: Digital Classroom Program is a new initiative launching in October-December 2019 and January-March 2020 that will allow high school students from across the United States to join as digital participants in a 10-week, beginner-level foreign language and culture course. Selected participants will be placed into a language cohort of 10-20 students to meet virtually with one another and the selected teacher 2-3 times per week. Student applicants who do not have foreign language curriculum at their school will be given priority.

Available Languages: Arabic, Korean, Mandarin, or Russian

2019-2020 Program Locations: Online

Participant Eligibility Requirements:

  • Current U.S. high school student between the ages of 15-18 at start of program
  • Not a previous participant of NSLI-Y
  • Able to access the necessary supplies to participate (see application)

Program Timeline:

  • Student application deadline: Wednesday, June 5, 2019
  • Selection notification & Cohort Match: June-July 2019
  • Periodic Teacher check-ins: September 2019-March 2020
  • Orientation webinar(s): August-October 2019
  • Virtual NSLI-Y Digital Classroom Program: October-December 2019 & January-March 2020
  • Post-program assessment: February-May 2020

Student Participant Expectations

U.S.-based student participants of the In-School and Digital Classroom Programs will be required to:

  • Submit biographical information to American Councils and the U.S. Department of State
  • Complete pre-program survey as requested
  • Attend 90% of scheduled virtual sessions
  • Complete homework/virtual assignments during the course of the program (outside of class hours) as required by teacher
  • Complete post-program language test and post-program survey
Student participants who successfully meet above program requirements will receive a Virtual NSLI-Y certificate of completion certified by the U.S. Department of State.  Participants are able to apply to travel with the NSLI-Y Scholarship in the future should they meet eligibility requirements. 

Why Virtual? NSLI-Y was begun to promote and facilitate critical language learning among U.S. high school students through immersive study abroad academic programs. Not every student will be able to study language abroad on NSLI-Y or similar immersive programs, but Virtual NSLI-Y provides another opportunity for U.S. students to experience the academic, cognitive, and cultural benefits of foreign language study whether or not it is offered in their school curriculum. Read the research on language study benefits. Language learning can also serve as a foundation “to build bridges of understanding” and become more competitive in the 21st century globalized labor market. Read more about international exchange.

Good to Know: An American Academy of Arts & Sciences report, “America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century” for its Commission on Language Learning project, stresses the value and importance of increased “access to language education for all U.S. citizens, irrespective of geography, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background”. Some of the challenges that schools face in meeting this goal (lack of language teachers, little additional resource capacity, large grant focus on STEM curriculum, etc.) can be addressed with virtual, synchronous classrooms. Besides “virtual”, there are many different terms to describe online learning environments and methodologies. Read more about of the vocabulary of digital learning spaces and designs.

Resources on digital learning:

Explore multimedia stories about NSLI-Y experiences on NSLI-Y Interactive.

Receive NSLI-Y Application Updates!


Questions? Need more info? Contact us at 866.790.2086 or

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