Looking for an even more comprehensive list of language courses abroad? Visit our language school section.

If you only ever want to live in a place surrounded by English-only speakers, think only in terms of your own culture and never step outside your linguistic comfort zone, then a gap year language course abroad is not for you. But if you want to sit with friends in a Mexico City eatery and order in perfect Spanish or have a chat en francais with your stylish 3rd arrondissement neighbor in Paris, then taking a language course during your gap year is just the thing for you.

Sure you could just learn a language at home, but there are so many reasons why learning a language online is not enough. Nothing beats full immersion, and your gap year is the perfect time to take that leap into fluency. You’ll come away not only having acquired new vocabulary but also a rich life experience you’ll look back on with nostalgia for years to come.

Students interested in gap year language study have a number of options. However, these options fall into two basic categories.

Group Language Courses: Group language courses, where multiple students share one instructor, are typically the most popular language program option. Particularly if one is traveling alone on one’s gap year, these are a great choice, as they offer a built-in social network. Language schools often arrange group activities, such as museum visits and day-long excursions after school and on weekends. To enroll in a language school, you can either do so directly or enroll as part of a more comprehensive gap year program. For example, some au pair programs offer a language school component, where participants split their time between language study in a class with other au pairs and taking care of the host family’s children.

Private Lessons: Private language lessons are a great option for gap year travelers who may be working or interning and not have several hours a day to dedicate to language study in a classroom setting. Per hour private lessons can be more expensive than group language courses, but they provide the opportunity for students to both spend less time in the classroom and receive individual attention. Particularly if you are interested in expanding your vocabulary in a very specific area (for example business French or medical terminology in Spanish), individual lessons are the way to go, as they provide the ideal forum for extensive 1-on-1 role play.

Europe: With 23 official languages within the EU’s borders, Europe, particularly Western Europe, is a hot destination for language study. Popular countries include Spain, France, Germany, Italy and (for non-English speakers) England. In addition to offering the opportunity for full immersion, Western European countries have the added allure of placing gap year language students a relatively short train ride or flight away from a number of additional exciting destinations beyond their host country.

Asia: As the world’s top language in terms of number of speakers, Chinese is naturally one of the world’s most studied languages. Add to that the country’s rich history and culture, renowned cuisine and stunning natural landscapes and you’ve got a winning destination for gap year language students. Another top foreign language study destination in the region is Japan. In addition to Japanese being a useful second language for a number of careers, the country also boasts a long, rich history, enticing culture and incredible must-see sights.

Latin America: Encompassing South America, Central America and parts of North America, Latin America is a favorite destination for students of the Spanish language (and in Brazil, Portuguese). American students in particular are drawn to gap year language courses here, as Spanish is the most popular foreign language class in American universities. From large bustling cities like Buenos Aires, Mexico City and Caracas, to pristine natural landscapes and remains of ancient civilizations, the region offers something for everyone.

There are definitely a number of great resources out there for students seeking gap year language courses. Here are some leading language course providers which either cater specifically to gap year students or have programs that are perfectly suited for gap year students in search of immersive language courses.

  • Alliance Francaise: The Alliance Francaise operates around the world and is sponsored in part by the French government. Its Paris campus hosts nearly 12,000 students a year and its administrative offices provide students with accommodation help as well as offering a range of cultural activities.
  • First Abroad: First Abroad offers programs for gap year students in Latin America including Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and Argentina. Homestays with local families are most common, but students can also opt to share accommodations with fellow students. In addition to language courses, the programs offer other fun activities including cooking lessons and salsa dancing lessons. In certain countries, like Costa Rica, students can also combine their studies with volunteering with wildlife.
  • Goethe Institut: The Goethe Institut is actually the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute and offers programs all over the world. However, what better place to learn German than in Germany? Gap year students interested in taking German language courses via the Goethe Institut can choose from 13 German cities, including Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt and Hamburg.
  • Greenheart Travel: Greenheart Travel offers programs in Peru and a number of Western European countries, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain. Typically participants stay with host families, which is ideal for most gap year travelers. However, alternate accommodations can be booked upon request.
Contributed by Anis Salvesen

Gap Year Language Courses Abroad

Want to learn a language on your gap year? Check out these programs!
Displaying 1 - 15 of 256 programs
Maximo Nivel
Gap Year Program — Work, Study, & Travel in Latin America
Multiple Countries
10 •2 reviews

Work, study, and travel. Connect, learn, and grow. Discover something...

API Gap Year in Spain
9 •1 review

API offers study abroad programs for those who want to take their gap...

API Gap Year in France
7 •1 review

API offers a wonderful opportunity for students to take a gap year in...

API Gap Year in Argentina
7 •1 review

API offers students a wonderful opportunity for students to take a gap...

Thinking Beyond Borders
Gap Year Opportunities Around the Globe with Thinking Beyond Borders
Multiple Countries
9.71 •49 reviews

We believe that a gap year should offer more than just travel or...

South America Explorer with Gapforce
Multiple Countries
9.06 •33 reviews

Discover the lost lands of the Incas! Whether the awe-inspiring...

Thinking Beyond Borders
Gap Year Semester in Latin America with Thinking Beyond Borders
Multiple Countries
9.68 •22 reviews

Explore solutions to critical global issues in communities throughout...

112 reviews
Warriors Academy
Warriors Academy Gap Year Program in South Africa
South Africa
9.71 •112 reviews

The Warriors Academy Gap Year program is aimed at developing each...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | Central America Semester: Sustainability & Spanish Immersion
Multiple Countries
9.64 •22 reviews

Learn about Sustainability and immerse yourself in Spanish language...

Pacific Discovery
Pacific Discovery | Peru Summer Program
9.71 •7 reviews

Follow in the footprints of great explorers on this incredible 4-week...

LoPair Education
LoPair Education: Au Pair Cultural Exchange Program in China
8.55 •89 reviews

Nǐ hǎo! LoPair offers an award-winning cultural exchange program which...

Thinking Beyond Borders
Gap Year Semester in Asia with Thinking Beyond Borders
Multiple Countries
10 •7 reviews

Are you ready to make a difference? Then this may be the program for...

Carpe Diem Education
Carpe Diem Education | East Africa Semester: Community Development and Education
Multiple Countries
9.8 •15 reviews

Practice community service and international development in the...

EF International Language Campuses
EF Language Year Abroad in Lisbon, Portugal

Travel to Lisbon for a semester or year and learn Portuguese in Europe...

EF International Language Campuses
EF Language Year Abroad in Dubai
United Arab Emirates

Travel to Dubai for a semester or year and learn Arabic in a city an...

What People Are Saying

I always wanted to travel to China and see the culture from inside so this program was like a golden ticket to me. Of course I felt a little bit uneasy moving 7000 km away but the agency did its best...

My baby

My case is a little unusual, I decided to take a gap year after already completing a year of college. I didn’t know what I wanted to do until I stumbled upon this program and knew it was something I...

Me in front of the Eiffel Tower.

My gap semester was tailored to my interests and exceeded every expectation I had of living and studying abroad! I went into the semester not sure where my path after high school was headed, and left...

In front of tower bridge, London

Related Gap Year Articles