CLS Spark is a virtual initiative for U.S. undergraduate students to learn languages essential to America’s engagement with the world. Designed to leverage best practices in online language learning developed by the CLS Program during the pandemic, CLS Spark provides American students the opportunity to study critical languages virtually when they may not have access to studying these languages on their campuses. Participants will spend the summer learning either Arabic, Chinese or Russian through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a host institution abroad.
A program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program and CLS Spark are part of a U.S. government initiative to expand the number of Americans studying and mastering foreign languages that are critical to national security and economic prosperity.
Applicants to CLS Spark can choose one of three languages that are critical to America's national security and economic prosperity when submitting their applications:
- Arabic for students with no formal classroom experience learning the language;
- Chinese for students with no formal classroom experience learning the language;
- Russian for students with no formal classroom experience learning the language.
Applicants may only apply once per application cycle for a single
language. Applicants who submit multiple applications will be considered
As a virtual program, CLS Spark allows students to have immersive language and cultural experiences with international communities. With inclusive support provided by CLS Program staff, students will improve their command of all four modalities in these languages (listening, speaking, reading, writing), learn about the culture of their host country, and make connections with members of the host country’s community and their peers across the U.S.
CLS Spark participants spend approximately 8 weeks during the summer learning either Arabic, Chinese or Russian through online classes and activities facilitated by native speakers at a CLS partner institution abroad.
- 10 hours of intensive live group instruction a week;
- Cultural activities and individual consultations with language instructors at host institute; and
- Monthly professional development workshops and inclusive support.
Participants in CLS Spark will receive automatic consideration as semifinalists for the CLS Program’s 2025 overseas summer institutes, if they choose to apply.
Participants of CLS Spark will receive:
- Language instruction and cultural programming;
- Textbooks and language learning materials
- Language gains certified using the widely-recognized ACTFL OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) assessment
- Non-competitive eligibility for U.S. government employment for up to three years after the program completion;
- Academic credit issued through Bryn Mawr College; and
- A stipend towards equipment and connectivity costs (for example, a web camera or microphone).
The following costs will not be covered:
- The cost of necessary equipment (for example, a new laptop);
- The cost of phone or internet connectivity plans
- Living expenses; or
- Physical and mental health expenses.