Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales

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File:Logo inalco.svg
Motto Reach out the world
Established 1669
Type Public
Endowment 14M€
President Jean-François Huchet
Academic staff
Students 8,000
Location Paris, France

Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (English: National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations),[1] abbreviated as INALCO, is a French university specializing in the teaching of languages and cultures from the world. Its coverage spans languages of Central Europe, Africa, Asia, America, and Oceania.

It is also informally called Langues’O (IPA: [lɑ̃ɡz‿o]), an abbreviation for Langues orientales.


  • 1669 Jean-Baptiste 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 (ENLOV)
  • 1971 The school is renamed the Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales or Inalco (National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations)
  • 1982 Études Océan Indien (Indian Ocean Studies) journal begins publication; ISSN 0246-0092
  • 1985 Inalco is recognized as a grand établissement
  • 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[2]

Teaching and research


The undergraduate, graduate and continuing education courses offered at Inalco allow students to gain:[3]

  • 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.

Success and failure

Compared to other French universities, many programs at INALCO show high failure rates, i.e. high proportions of students failing the course in their end-of-year exam.[4][5] This is particularly true among students specializing in Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Russian and Arabic, historically the largest departments of INALCO.

As an example, here is a table[citation needed] with approximate student numbers, indicating rates of success and failure in the first, second and third year of the Department of Japanese Studies.

Level Total number Successful students Failure rates
First year 650 250 66.7%
Second year 300 120 60.0%
Third year 150 110 26.7%

An explanation sometimes given[by whom?] is the difficulty of these courses, or the high level required by INALCO. A more likely cause is the absence of any entrance examination: any student can register in any course, regardless of their true motivation or academic level. Many students select a language out of a superficial interest in a country or culture, or due to individual connections, yet without the commitment to thoroughly learning those difficult languages. This issue is particularly acute for first and second year students; those who reach the third year are much more motivated, and thus show much higher rates of success.


Research at Inalco combines area 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 research 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.

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.

  • 270 faculty members
  • 300 PhD students
  • 14 research teams
  • 100 scientific events per year

Presidents (from 1914 to 1969, Administrators)

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 in 2014
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) Died in 2020
2005–2013 Jacques Legrand Mongolian language
2013-2019 Manuelle Franck Geography of Southeast Asia Vice-president from 2007 to 2013
Since 2019 Jean-François Huchet Economy of Eastern Asia Vice-president from 2013 to 2019


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).

Inalco is an active member of Sorbonne Paris Cité, 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.

The foundation strives to develop the preservation, study, transmission, development and interaction of languages and cultures in France and around the world with projects involving the institute's expertise: education, research, advancing knowledge and skills in a globalized world.

More than 120 nationalities are represented by Inalco faculty and students. The institute, along with its teachers, students and partners, organizes over a hundred cultural events a year.[6] Inalco also participates in several international film festivals and makes every effort to share its knowledge and expertise with society.

Notable professors and alumni

See also


  1. "welcome to Inalco website". Inalco. 7 March 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2020.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. See map.
  3. "Débouchés professionnels". Inalco (in français). 4 December 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales - INALCO (Report) (in français). High Council for Evaluation of Research and Higher Education. 2018.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Hcéres, Rapport (15 January 2014). Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales - INALCO (Report) (in français).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "L'Inalco en chiffres". Inalco (in français). 25 September 2013. Retrieved 16 April 2022.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Template:Consortium for Asian and African Studies

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