SPI host student with Costa Rican family (summer language immersion opportunity #2). Photo by Gabby Mattes.
Are you interested in improving your French or Spanish? Or learning a new language entirely? If so, you should consider participating in a language immersion program over the summer. Here are a variety of ways to improve your language comprehension through cultural and conversational immersion:
1. Concordia Language Villages
Concordia Language Villages offers the study of over 15 different languages in Bemidji, MN. Run by Concordia University of Chicago, native language speakers are hired as counselors for all 15 of the camps, or “villages,” giving a true cultural immersion to a camp atmosphere. Students who attend camp for 4 weeks receive high school credit for one language class. Imana Adogu and I stayed at the Spanish camp “El Lago del Bosque” for 2 weeks, and we highly recommend Concordia to anyone who would like an immersion experience without studying abroad. For more information, contact Imana or me or visit concordialanguagevillages.org.
2. SPI Study Abroad
SPI Study Abroad offers volunteer opportunities and language immersion classes in France, Spain, Costa Rica, Italy, and (depending on the year) China. Each trip is run by a US citizen affiliated with the company and a native language speaker who lives in the area. Students live with a host family and take regular language courses while experiencing the culture of the area. Last summer, Kamara Adogu and I stayed for 2 weeks at Flamingo Beach, Costa Rica and enjoyed the experience of volunteering around the area. To learn more, contact Kamara or me and visit spiabroad.com.
AFS-USA is a program run through the United States government and offers programs in language, culture, volunteering, and various careers in over 30 countries and 5 different continents. Since the variety of programs is so extensive, the activities vary extensively and a set schedule depends on the trip. Kamara Adogu participated in an AFS-USA program in Spain and recommends the program. For more information, contact Kamara or visit afsusa.org.
4. Projects Abroad
Strongly interested in a specific career and want hands on experience? Projects Abroad focuses on volunteer-based projects and internships in over 20 countries and 5 continents. Careers include various medical fields, childcare, conservation, journalism, and more. Students help volunteer around their selected nation while immersed in the language and culture. To learn more, visit projects-abroad.org.
5. Centro MundoLengua
Centro MundoLengua is a study abroad program based in Spain. Students stay with a host family and take Spanish classes while participating in cultural activities around the area. Last summer, Imana Adogu participated in a Centro MundoLengua program for 3 weeks, and she highly recommends it. Contact Imana or visit centromundolengua.com for more information.
6. National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
NSLI-Y is a scholarship program run through the US State Department in 8 languages. Students who are accepted into the program travel for free to their selected country and take intensive language classes for 6 to 8 weeks. If a student continues with the program into college, they are paid by the State Dept. to pursue the language. For more information, visit nsliforyouth.org.