Let Language Study Take You to a New World

Senior Editor, Porter Sargent Handbooks

Dec   2012



When you think about exotic places, you may also be intrigued by different cultures and languages. Summer programs offer all kinds of opportunities for travel and exploration. A terrific way to satisfy your wanderlust and beef up your academic credentials at the same time is to sign up for one of the many language-immersion programs abroad. Enrolling in one of these programs is the ideal way to either learn an entirely new language or further develop your skills in one that you’ve studied a bit already.

Studying a foreign language in a native setting truly is an immersive experience. Not only will you be receiving daily classroom instruction, but you’ll have plenty of chances to hone your language skills around town. In many cases, you’ll also have the opportunity to live with a host family—one that, no doubt, will speak the native language. All of this practice really speeds up the learning process. After completing one of these programs, you’ll feel as though you learned next to nothing during that year of French I.

All Spanish, all the time

Spanish flagWith the abundance of choices, you’ll have to decide not only which language you wish to study, but also where you’d like to study it. You can hardly choose a more practical language to learn than Spanish, and there are many, many places to study it abroad. The Center for Study Abroad operates Spanish-immersion programs in Spain, Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico. Depending upon the location, language courses are held at colleges or language institutes. Living arrangements are flexible, with students able to reside with a host family, on campus, or in a hotel. Located in Honduras, Ixbalanque Spanish School combines four hours of daily language instruction in an individualized setting with the rare opportunity to check out the Mayan ruin of Copan and its archeological structures and sculptures. Those wishing to study the language in Spain have various options, including TASIS Spanish Summer Program, Letra Hispanica Intensive Summer Programs, and DILE Cursos Internacionales de Espanol in Salamanca; Enforex, Hello Spain, and don Quijote Summer Camps in Madrid; and Sotogrande Camps in Sotogrande.

Catch the (Chinese) wave

Mandarin Chinese is showing up in more and more high school language departments. If you’re not lucky enough to have Mandarin as a language choice at your high school—or even if you are—perhaps you’d like to study the language while getting a taste of an entirely different culture. Michigan State University China Adventure certainly lives up to its name, as it blends introductory Chinese study with cultural and academic courses relating to China. Rising high school juniors and seniors spend a week on the MSU campus before embarking on a two-week touring and studying excursion that spans several Chinese cities. Choate Rosemary Hall Summer Study Abroad Programs comprise five weeks of complete immersion in Mandarin and the local culture, with day trips and extended excursions to historical and cultural sites, adding further depth to the experience. Those with an interest in the business world may wish to check out EF International Language Schools. As a complement to language immersion, you’ll be able to take business classes or take part in an internship.

Take a stand—head off to Switzerland

Maybe you’re tired of hearing everyone tell you how beautiful Switzerland is and you’re ready to see what all the fuss is about. If so, that multilingual country offers lots of choices when it comes to language study. Take 20 lessons per week in French or follow a combined program of French and German (also featuring 20 weekly lessons) at Study Centre C & L Summer Programme. If you’re happiest exploring the great outdoors, why not enroll in a three-week session at John F. Kennedy International School Summer Camp? Not only will you immerse yourself in the French language, but you’ll embark on two overnight excursions in the Swiss Alps, in addition to other trips to various parts of the country. College du Leman Summer Campus combines six days of intensive morning instruction in French each week with afternoon sports and artistic pursuits.

Okay, daydreaming time is up! Time to find that perfect Christmas gift for Uncle Charlie.

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About Dan McKeever

Dan McKeever

Dan McKeever, Porter Sargent Handbooks’ veteran senior editor, has worked with a lifetime of details during a tenure that has lasted nearly a quarter of a century. Over the years, he has witnessed quite a few changes in the world of summer programs through his work on the Guide to Summer Programs (which was first published as the Guide to Summer Camps and Summer Schools way back in 1924). Many of today’s cool summer programs didn’t exist back when Dan was growing up, so he filled his summers with retail jobs and fun along Boston’s South Shore. Away from the office, Dan is a big fan of hockey, independent films, good chocolate (the darker the better), and album rock (the more obscure the better).