Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales

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Motto Reach out the world
Type Public
Established 1669 by Colbert
Endowment 14M€
President Manuelle Franck
Academic staff
Students 8,000
Location Paris, France

Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (English: National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations) is a famous French institution teaching languages that span Central Europe, Africa, Asia, America, and Oceania. It is often informally called Langues O’ (pronounced [lɑ̃ɡ.z‿o], an abbreviation for langues orientales) or more recently by the acronym Inalco.


Key Dates
  • 1669 Colbert founds the École des jeunes de langues language school
  • 1795 The École spéciale des langues orientales (Special School for Oriental Languages) is established
  • 1873 The two schools merge
  • 1914 The school is renamed the École nationale des langues orientales vivantes.
  • 1971 The school is renamed the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales or Inalco (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations)
  • 1985 Inalco is recognized as a grand établissement, the mark of France’s most prestigious research and higher education institutions
  • 2010 Inalco becomes a founding member of Sorbonne Paris Cité
  • 2011 Inalco centralizes all of its taught courses under one roof at 65 rue des Grands Moulins in Paris[1].

About Inalco[edit]

A hundred languages and civilizations

The language and civilization courses are taught by world-class academics who are specialists in their fields and by native-speaking tutors of the languages studied at Inalco. From the undergraduate to the doctorate level, the Inalco's research-led teaching is open to inquiring minds from all backgrounds, be they fresh out of high school, undergraduate or graduate students, or adult students in continuing education.


Degrees and diplomas to serve differing needs

The undergraduate, graduate and continuing education courses offered at Inalco allow students to gain

  • mastery of a language and a thorough knowledge of the corresponding civilization over a degree program;
  • specific expertise to complement other qualifications.

These courses lead to career paths in international business, international relations, communication and intercultural training, language teaching and multilingual computing.

  • Bachelor’s degrees: courses by language and region that can include a professional specialization.
  • Master’s degrees : regional programs targeting a research discipline or professional direction.
  • Doctorate : PhD research at Inalco’s Doctoral School.
  • Diplomas: certificates, introductory diplomas, language and civilization diplomas, professional master's degrees.
Career Prospects
  • International business : import-export, marketing, logistics, finance, corporate consulting.
  • International relations: diplomacy, defense, communications, humanitarian work, intercultural mediation, business intelligence, journalism.
  • Languages: multilingual engineering, SEO specialist, language processing, translation and interpreting.
  • Culture and tourism : cultural activities, tour guide, transportation companies, cultural heritage conservation, audiovisual.
  • Education and research

Difficulty of programs[edit]

INALCO is considered as being the most difficult institution in which to learn oriental languages in France. Although the Institute does not make any selection by exam, endemic failure rates every year show the difficulty of most programs. Failure rates are particularly significant among students studying Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Arabic, historically the largest departments.

Below is a table with approximate students numbers, successful students numbers and failure rates in the first, second and third year of the Department of Japanese Studies.

Level Total number Successful students Failure rates
First year 650 250 66.66%
Second year 300 120 60%
Third Year 150 110 26.66%


Research at Inalco combines aera studies and academic fields. Researchers study languages and civilizations that are increasingly in the spotlight — Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and as far as the Arctic — and are central to the major issues of the 21st century. Fourteen teams, often partnered with other research organizations, PhD programs, and a publishing service form the backbone of research at Inalco. Inalco also has a project management and knowledge transfer service.

Strong support for PhD students
Inalco supports doctoral students from their enrollment to the defense of their dissertation, offering advanced courses on areas studies and in the main disciplines of the humanities and social sciences. In concert with Sorbonne Paris Cité’s College of Doctoral Schools and Career Development Training Center for PhD students, the Institute also work to enhance the prestige of doctorates among employers and develop PhD students’ transferable skills and adaptability.

An organizational structure to facilitate research
The research teams, administration offices and doctoral school are housed in a building dedicated entirely to research, with access to a full range of support functions: assistance in preparing research proposals and grant applications, organizing scientific events, looking for partnerships and funding, publication support, internal funding, and communication.

  • 200 faculty members
  • 300 PhD students
  • 15 research teams
  • 100 scientific events per year

Presidents (administrators from 1914 to 1969) of Langues O'[edit]

Dates Name Discipline Comments
1796–1824 Louis-Mathieu Langlès Persian language Died in 1824
1824–1838 Antoine-Isaac Silvestre de Sacy Arabic Died in 1838
1838–1847 Pierre Amédée Jaubert Turkish language military interpreter during the Egyptian campaign 1798
1847–1864 Carl Benedict Hase modern Greek Died in 1864
1864–1867 Joseph Toussaint Reinaud Arabic Died in 1867
1867–1898 Charles Schefer Persian Died in 1898
1898–1908 Charles Barbier de Meynard Turkish, Persian Died in 1908
1908–1936 Paul Boyer Russian language Died in 1949
1936–1937 Mario Roques Romanian language Died in 1961
1937–1948 Jean Deny Turkish Died in 1963
1948–1958 Henri Massé Persian Died in 1969
1958–1969 André Mirambel modern Greek Died in 1970
1969–1971 André Guimbretière Hindi Died
1971–1976 René Sieffert Japanese language Died in 2004
1976–1986 Henri Martin de La Bastide d’Hust Middle East civilisation Died in 1986
1986–1993 François Champagne de Labriolle Russian Vice-president from 1971 to 1986
1993–2001 André Bourgey Middle East civilisation
2001–2005 Gilles Delouche Thai language (Siamese)
2005–2013 Jacques Legrand Mongolian language
Since 2013 Manuelle Franck Geography of Southeast Asia Vice-president from 2007 to 2013


An international institute
Thanks to over 200 partnership agreements, Inalco conducts research projects in over one hundred countries and offers joint programs with foreign universities. This allows Inalco students and the students of international partners to complement their studies with an immersion experience. Inalco offers distance courses via videoconferencing and online learning content: Inuktitut (Inuit language), Estonian, and soon Swahili (African language).

Founding member of Sorbonne Paris Cité
Inalco is an active member of Sorbonne Paris Cité, a major player in higher education and research worldwide with 120,000 students, 8,500 faculty members, and 6,000 technical and administrative staff. Branches have been opened in Singapore, Buenos Aires and São Paulo.

Inalco Foundation – Langues O’
The foundation strives to develop the preservation, study, transmission, development and interaction of languages and culturess in France and around the world with projects involving the Institute’s expertise: education, research, advancing knowledge and skills in a globalized world.

A cultural center
More than 120 nationalities represented by Inalco faculty and students.The Institute, along with its teachers, students and partners, organizes over a hundred cultural events a year. Inalco also participates in several international film festivals and makes every effort to share its knowledge and expertise with society.


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°49′39″N 2°22′35″E / 48.82750°N 2.37639°E / 48.82750; 2.37639

  1. ^ See map.