About Hills Learning

Who We Are

Hills Learning started in March 2009. The center has over 40 teachers and programs for over 300 students. The languages offered are Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Cantonese, Thai, Arabic and Vietnamese. Our client list includes fortune 500 companies, schools (private and universities), and various happy individuals.

Our Mission

"We inspire the confidence to communicate in a foreign language, stimulate motivation to achieve each individual’s goals, and encourage a lifetime of language learning." Please also see our Core Values and Profile of Graduates.  


  • Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English programs since 2009.
  • Other languages from 2010 (Thai), 2011 (Cantonese), 2019 (Arabic), 2021 (Vietnamese)
  • Fully accredited since 2016.
  • Teaching online since 2017.
  • Using our own learning management system since 2018.
  • Teaching with our own curriculum since 2019.

Our Teachers

We spend lots of time and energy recruiting some of the best native speaking teachers for the languages we offer. The school also invests in our teacher’s growth through our ongoing training programs. 


Hills Learning has been fully accredited since May 2016 by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. We passed our midterm report in 2019, and are up for re-accreditation in 2023.

SWIRL Method

Hills Learning has its own unique teaching method, SWIRL, that focuses on the speaking and listening components of the language for a highly interactive learning experience.


We have our own curriculum that our students use to develop their language skills. It is reviewed yearly, and updated based on teacher/student preferences, and current best teaching practices.

Our History


Hills Learning is co-founded by Jon Hills, Director of the center. It starts as a tutoring service for Japanese and Chinese languages. By the end of the year the center has added Korean and English, and, started to conduct group classes as well as private classes. The center opens at the Chanin Building next to Grand Central, New York.


Hills Learning grows from a small learning center of one room to a larger learning center with five rooms. Thai is added in 2010 and Cantonese is added in 2011. In 2012, Jon Hills is interviewed by PBS for a having a unique learning center focusing on Asian languages and CBS New York writes an article citing Hillls Learning as "One of the best places to learn a foreign language."


Hills Learning starts to work with the accreditation team at MSA to start the accreditation process. Hills Learning revises its curriculum to fit in with accreditation standards, including developing a unique assessment system to track student progress. In 2015 the decision is also made for Hills Learning to move to permanent space with six room capacity at 315 Madison Avenue (next to Grand Central).


As 2016 starts, Hills Learning starts to put all the changes in their educational program in place. Assessments are offered in every group class, both for speaking and writing & reading. A new teaching philosophy of "target language only" is implemented across all classes, and teachers are trained accordingly. After an almost 3 year process, Hills Learning is finally accredited on May 1, 2016.


Hills Learning starts online classes in 2017, so that students not just in the New York area but anywhere in the US (and the world) can take online classes. The online program starts with private classes being taught on Adobe Connect and Skype. In 2017 for the first time Hills Learning staff attend the ACTFL conference in Nashville, TN to learn best practices in teaching and attend multiple workshops. Also for the first time using the new space at 315 Madison Avenue Hills Learning hosts a holiday potluck party in December for all teachers and students. Spanish is added as a regular language.


In 2018 the new Hills Learning website goes live after over a year of development with our website company. The website is a redesign on the outside, and in the inside it is a learning management system for both teachers and students. After being in business 8 years Hills Learning puts in practice automating lesson notes, reminders, welcome notes, feedback forms, calendars, and other learning tools. Hills Learning staff also attends NECTFL for the first time, an event that is more local than ACTFL and has multiple workshops for best teaching practices.


Hills Learning starts offering group classes online through zoom in 2019. Previously, only private classes were available through skype or adobe connect. The group classes attract students from outside the New York area, and give a unique opportunity for learning languages online. Hills Learning also creates its own curriculum in 2019 independent of textbooks, spearheaded by "course plans" which detail out the main points of each semester. Also for the first time in 2019 Hills Learning starts to record all spoken assessments at the end of the semester, and puts into place a review process for all assessments submitted into the system. The Arabic program also starts in 2019.


Everything happens in 2020 when the month of March begins. Although already starting in February the center is being disinfected, rumors begin to circulate that colleges could be closing in New York City due to COVID-19. Even though Hills Learning policy is to follow the NYC Dept of Education, the decision is made to preemptively close in person learning on March 13. After multiple training sessions and efforts from our students and teachers, all classes are effectively online within a week, and running regularly by the end of March. The online classes offer great benefits to students in person classes don't, for example, having the ability to review full recordings of classes.


With the online programs in 2021, Hills Learning starts to develop a student base from around the world. Teaching online also gives the flexibility for our teachers to teach from anywhere, not just when they're in New York City. To facilitate online learning, Hills Learning develops an integration with zoom where recordings are automatically detected and pulled into student and teacher accounts. Hills Learning also develops its own homework system, where students can submit homework assignments and assessments and teachers can grade and give feedback directly through the website. A flashcard system is also developed called Course Links, so students can have access to premade flashcards for vocabulary and phrases per class level in their accounts. 


Excitement builds at Hills Learning with the announcement of our newest language: Vietnamese. Vietnamese is an easy transition for the learning center as Hills Learning has been teaching Thai for a number of years already and is familiar with the challenges and methods to learn a Southeastern Asian language. Vietnamese is offered online and has both group and private classes for mainly adult students.


With the initial accreditation of Hills Learning in 2016, anticipation builds for the re-accreditation in 2023. Every 7 years the Middle States Association sends members to evaluate Hills Learning's educational programs, staff, resources. This reaccreditation in particular is special because it is the first time Hills Learning's programs are evaluated for online offerings only. Even though it's a reaccreditation and not an accreditation, the same process has to be followed where a 178 page report is written about the programs, stake holders are surveyed and the objectives are set for the learning center. Fortunately Hills Learning was approved in March 2023 and then officially accredited in the fall accreditation cycle.  

Employment Opportunities

We are always looking for talented individuals to join our team who teach our core languages. Please click the link below for more details and our application form.