(credit: Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

Ever since the Tower of Babel, speaking more than one language has been a mark of the cosmopolitan and a definite social advantage. You may be interested in expanding your linguistic horizons just for the fun of it. Or perhaps it will be good for your business or if you plan to travel so you can interact with people from different cultures. If you want to learn a new language, you are in the right place. Here are some suggestions on how you might get started.

ABC Languages
101 Spear St., Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 738-7383

ABC Languages is a good place to start your research because it offers an astonishing collection of classes in over two dozen languages. It even offers classes in American Sign Language. The founders are each multilingual and are constantly learning new languages themselves. They have worked with students in almost any industry you can think of, including coaching film actors when a part calls for the convincing use of a foreign language or accent.

Mesoamerica Institute
2121 West St.
Berkeley, CA 94702
(510) 849-3434

912 Clay St., Suite A
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 849-3434

The Mesoamerica Institute is a well-established school that has been offering classes in the Bay Area since 1988. Its programs range from beginning Spanish to very advanced professional level courses. It also has immersion-style month-long intensives where classes meet for two hours a day five days a week. Founder Arturo Sosa has decades of teaching experience in both the United States and Mexico and personally trains every teacher at the Institute.

870 Market St., Suite 701
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 362-6025

Italingua boasts the slogan: “Discover the Italian in you!” Not just a language school, it is all about the culture of Italy. If Roma is the city of your dreams and you ache for the Mediterranean, perhaps this is the language school for you. Italingua has been in business since 1991 and offers a range of classes from beginning to advanced conversation. Most unusual for this type of school, it also offers classes in contemporary and classic Italian literature. More than just a school, Italingua is a rich cultural community.

The French Class
500 Sutter St., Suite 310
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 362-3666

The French Class was founded by Dominique Brémond in 1992, after years of teaching experience. Among other institutions, she has taught at the Alliance Française. The French Class offers group courses, private lessons and intensives at all levels of study. The French Class is passionate about French culture and community, not just language classes. It even hosts a free French conversation group every week, open to any members of the public who wish to practice their French.

Pacific Arabic Resources
55 New Montgomery St., Suite 713
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 644-0110

If you wish to move beyond the romance languages and attempt something more challenging, you might consider Pacific Arabic Resources. It teaches not only Arabic but a range of languages from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Along with regular classes, it offers eight-week summer intensive programs. The instructors boast impressive resumes and a wide range of interests. Their backgrounds include degrees from Juilliard, the University of Pennsylvania, Damascus University, Swarthmore, Columbia University and other high-ranking institutions.

Charles Kruger is well known in the Bay area as “The Storming Bohemian” ever since he entered the Bay Area cultural scene in the summer of 2009, attending 90 cultural events in 90 days and blogging about it. This project was successful enough to warrant a mention in The New York Times. His coverage of Bay area theatre can be found at Examiner.com.