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The Directed Independent Language Studies Program

MSU Denver Department of Modern Languages

Interested in learning Korean, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese or another less commonly taught language?

The Directed Independent Language Studies (DILS) program matches self-motivated MSU Denver students who want to learn a Less Commonly Taught Language, not currently offered at MSU Denver, with partners who speak the language in independent study sessions. The goals for learning the target language are personalized, and the coaching sessions are organized primarily around active conversation exchange.

Information for Students:

Coordinator Contact: Koko Moore (

Program Specifics

  • The DILS program is only for languages that are not taught at MSU Denver. Languages currently taught are Spanish, Japanese, French, German, Italian, and Chinese.
  • The DILS program is open to all MSU Denver students.
  • The DILS program is free for all MSU Denver students.
  • The DILS program is non-credit bearing: in its basic form this program does not award academic credit, and is free.
  • The DILS program can be used as a component of an Independent Studies course for up to 3 credits: If a student has a faculty member who will direct an independent studies cultural research project related to the respective culture, DILS language component can be included in this project with the faculty's approval. The credit(s) will most likely go into electives or will be related to a program within the department of the professor conducting the independent studies. Tuition will be charged at the regular rates. Option is available depending on faculty availability.

Student Eligibility

  • Must be self-motivated and capable of studying independently.
  • Must be in good academic standing.
  • Must have completed at least one semester at MSU Denver.
  • Must commit to 2 hours per week with the coach and minimum 2 hours per week studying on your own, and take a midterm and a final examination.
  • Must attend an orientation session in the beginning of the semester and sign a learner's contract.
  • Must complete an exit questionnaire online.
  • Must set own goals for studying the language, for example:
    • For international travel
    • For study abroad
    • For field work abroad
    • For cultivating intercultural and international relationships with people from around the world

I am a Global Business Major at MSU Denver. I am moving to Seoul, South Korea for a year-long program beginning in the fall. I am building an IDP minor in Korean Language and Culture. I was a participant in your DILS program. It gave me the confidence to dive into formal language courses, and I want you to know that the program had a strong impact on my educational goals. Thank you for that contribution to the MSU students like myself who were interested in languages outside of the programs offered at the university. The free resource gave me encouragement and confidence to go deeper. –Aisha Ayers Fall 2017, Spring 2018

This semester I learned the different styles of music and songwriting in the Portuguese language and in the Brazilian culture including Fado, Samba, Rock and Bossa Nova. (...) I liked everything about this experience because it really opened my eyes as to how in-depth studying a language can really go. (...) It was a pleasure participating in this program and working with Josh was great! I have gained confidence in my speaking as well. Thank you! –Gardenia Martinez, Portuguese learner, Spring 2018

Information for Language Partners/Coaches

Eligibility and Benefits

  • Native or near-native speaker of the target language. A thorough oral and written command of the language is expected.
  • Teaching experience is not required, but is considered a preferred qualification.
  • Generous per hour rate for 30 hours/15 weeks
  • Preference is given to MSU Denver students, but anyone qualified can apply to be a coach.


  • Attend an orientation session with the DILS Director at the beginning of the semester.
  • Sign a "Language Partner Contract"
  • Confer with the DILS Director after the first meeting with the student(s) to determine the scope and pace of the material to be covered.
  • Spend 2 hours per week in active conversation with the student.
  • Must create and administer a midterm and a final examination and send the results to the DILS director.
  • Maintain class attendance records and provide early alert to the DILS Director if a student has not attended and failed to reschedule more than one session.
  • Provide students with interactive practice in the target language, for example:
    • Engage students in dialogues avoiding the use of English.
    • Provide students with an accurate model of the language and speak at a natural pace.
    • Guide students through practice of the material they are studying
    • Devise a variety of activities, such as:
      • Oral skits
      • Spontaneous role play
      • Interviews
      • Task-based conversations
      • Use multi-media materials (internet, videos, movies, music, etc.)
    • Provide prompt feedback by correcting student responses on pronunciation and grammar
    • Assign homework if/when appropriate
    • Provide insight into the people and cultures of the language being studied

This program is great, I love that both coaches and students have the freedom to choose how and what material will be covered. Teaching through DILS made me realize that I want to go into linguistics and continue teaching Russian. This was my first “official” experience teaching Russian, and it has honestly been the most exciting part of my time at MSU Denver. I wanted to share that I just got a job teaching Russian to Special Forces, and I think I was able to get it mostly because of my work experience through DILS! So I just wanted to say a HUGE THANK YOU for creating and managing this program at MSU Denver! I am so excited to continue to learn and thrive through teaching my native language. –Kari Naumova, Russian coach, Spring 2018–Spring 2020


MSU Denver Department of Modern Languages Provides:

  • Materials:
    • Textbooks may be borrowed
    • Language lab use on campus
  • Language Partner stipend

Application Procedure:

  • Regular Deadlines
    • For fall semester: August 1
    • For spring semester: January 1
  • Fill out an application form online (see below)
  • Interview: Students will be informed as to the status of their applications within two to four weeks after the application filing deadline, and may at that time be invited for an interview.
  • Acceptance: DILS program staff will research the languages of the strongest applications to determine the availability of the appropriate instructional materials, language partner and examiner. Students' final acceptance will depend on the availability of these components.
  • Students will meet their native speaker Language Partners at Orientation to set up a lesson schedule/time

Expectations for the Practice Sessions:

  • Interaction should be conducted in the target language. At the first session the coach can provide learners with a few utterances expressing basic directives on how to ask simple questions, in order to avoid the use of English. If students ask questions in English, coaches will reply in the target language. From the beginning, students should get in the habit of using the target language.
  • Grammatical or linguistic explanations will be limited to a minimum. Students are responsible for studying grammar on their own. Practice sessions are for language use, not for language explanation. If it is absolutely necessary, coaches can give explanations during the last 10 minutes of the session.
  • Coaches prepare for each session by being sufficiently familiar with the materials used by the student(s), and will focus primarily on the features in the text that include an interactive use of vocabulary and structures.
  • A session is intended for intensive practice. The use of props, role-play, and other activities can be incorporated to give the students the opportunity to contextualize the language features they are studying.
  • Faulty pronunciation will be corrected.
  • Language partners do not read from a text, but rather speak in a conversational manner, at their normal rate. In every session students should try to contribute at least 60% to 70% of the speaking.
  • Additional recourses may be added to the basic text/audio/multimedia once students have assimilated the required materials.

Absences are not allowed. If the students need to be absent from a session, they may do so only with special permission. If a student is absent more than once a week, coaches must inform the DILS Director right away. It is the student’s responsibility to remain current with the materials.


Coordinator Contact: Koko Moore

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