Virtual NSLI-Y

Virtual National Security Language Initiative for Youth (Virtual NSLI-Y), a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), introduces U.S. high school students to languages critical to U.S. national security in an interactive online format. Launched in 2019, Virtual NSLI-Y is a 10-week, beginner-level foreign language and culture experience in line with the ACTFL World Readiness Standards. In addition to language learning, Virtual NSLI-Y introduces participants to the people and culture of places where the target language is spoken and fosters intercultural understanding, with program components designed in line with Asia Society’s Four Domains of Global Competence.

Virtual NSLI-Y participants are placed into a virtual classroom of approximately 10 students and meet two times per week for 90-minute sessions with an experienced language teacher.

“I realized how much I enjoy learning about cultures different from my own, my love for language and how it connects us, and the logic behind learning a new alphabet.”

-Virtual NSLI-Y Hindi alum

Apply for the Fall ’23 Virtual NSLI-Y program now!

Watch the Fall ’23 – ’Winter 24 webinar to learn more about Virtual NSLI-Y and how to apply.

Review our answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Virtual NSLI-Y.

Share our program flyer with interested students!

Explore stories about Virtual NSLI-Y participant experiences on NSLI-Y Interactive.

Available Languages for Beginner-Level Virtual Language Learning: 

Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Hindi, Korean, Russian, Turkish

Language Level Goal: 

Novice Low. This program is designed for true beginners, so don’t worry if you have no prior language-learning experience! All you need is a strong commitment to language-learning and an interest in other cultures.


Please refer to the FAQ for details on what the scholarship covers.


10 weeks


Virtual NSLI-Y will be offered in Fall 2023 (Sept – Nov) and in Winter 2024 (Jan – March). See the Application + Timeline web page for details.


Please check the eligibility requirements on the Eligibility + Participation Requirements tab.

Schedule Options:

  1. Mondays and Wednesdays: 6:30 – 8:00 PM Eastern Time
  2. Tuesdays and Thursdays: 7:00 – 8:30 PM Eastern Time
  3. Wednesdays: 6:30 – 8:00 PM Eastern Time and Saturdays: 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM Eastern Time
  4. Thursdays and Sundays: 7:00 – 8:30 PM Eastern Time

Program Components:

Virtual NSLI-Y operates in the spirit of the long-standing NSLI-Y goals. Virtual NSLI-Y programs may include the following elements:

  • Interactive target language instruction from an experienced language teacher via live videoconference classes
  • Instruction and class participation on a collaborative online learning platform
  • Listening/speaking practice and video recitations
  • Worksheets for reading, writing, vocabulary, and grammar
  • Homework, quizzes, and language assessments
  • Skits, roleplays, video entries, and final projects
  • Cultural and language learning opportunities, including featured guests such as:
    • NSLI-Y alumni
    • U.S. government representatives or private sector employees who use language and cultural skills
    • Peers, professionals, or guest speakers in countries where the target language is spoken
  • Virtual tours of sites of historic or cultural significance like museums or markets
  • Videos related to cultural learning or grammatical concepts in the target language

Time Commitment:

  • At least 30 hours of formal, live instruction
  • 3 hours of pre-program preparation before the first session (student orientation, pre-program assignments/surveys. , and a test session)
  • Up to 3 hours of assignments or homework per week outside of language classes. Additional optional meetings for student community-building and cultural opportunities will be offered outside of regular class times.

Sessions will be 90 minutes each, twice per week. Attendance requirements will apply.

Virtual NSLI-Y applicants will indicate their preferences for class times in the application by ranking all schedule options. Preferences are not guaranteed as class placement will depend on teacher availability and other factors. Selected participants will receive class placement information in the finalist notification.

Virtual NSLI-Y sessions will not take place on U.S. federal holidays. Required schedule adjustments will be communicated to students in advance.

The Virtual NSLI-Y Fall 2023 application is now available! 

Click here for information about how to apply.


Questions? Please contact