College students have long dreamed of spending a year studying abroad or taking a year off before or after college to just travel the world. Some have hesitated due to the language barrier. They want to be able to talk to the locals when they travel.
Now there are programs that allow students to learn a language while they travel.
These programs are based on a total immersion model, where students will learn a language by being forced to communicate in it at all times. The difference is that the immersion doesn’t take place in a lab, but out in the real world, as students travel the country or region of that language.
Imagine learning Italian while traveling across Italy with a group of like-minded students. Or conversing in French in Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, and Cannes. The ability to travel, be a tourist, and socialize with other students, all while learning a new language is quite appealing, and more and more language students are choosing this option.
The standard model places students with a local host family. Between talking with the family, participating in guided tours and living day-to-day, there are countless opportunities to practice the language. Students only spend a few hours a day in the classroom and the rest of the time using their new language.
Allowing for eight hours of sleep, students get to communicate in their chosen language over 100 hours each week. That’s hard to match in regular language programs. Another advantage is the opportunity to learn local accents and be immersed in another culture. Perhaps best of all is the chance to bring the daily practical experience of communicating in the chosen language.
Any student who wants to travel the world but lacks the language skills, should investigate these types of programs.
Lyssa Zanders is an educator and blogger. Her posts have appeared on news, lifestyle, and educational webpages like this one where she writes about language, K-12 education, and teaching.