LITA: A Unique Approach to Language Immersion in Spain

LITA

About

LITA is a unique language immersion program offering students a comprehensive exploration of rural Spain, a dynamic experience far removed from English-speaking tourism. Through small, intimate groups of 12-14 students and two group leaders, extensive homestay experiences in small towns, internships, research projects, and other more rural adventures off the beaten path, LITA participants advance their language skills while acquiring a genuine understanding of the diverse nature of Spanish culture as a part of a safe, structured, and personalized immersive experience.

The name LITA alludes to the philosophical foundation of our program: a Spanish word ending with the diminutive “ita” often denotes something that is small, personal, and is something or someone toward which one feels great affection. This informs all elements of our programs.

Founded
2010
Headquarters

1806 Treadwell Street
Austin, TX 78704
United States

Summer 2020 Dates

LITA has four program options for summer 2020:

Five-week programs
North Group: June 22nd - July 28th
South Group: June 22nd - July 28th

Three- week programs
North Group: June 29th - July 20th
South Group: June 29th - July 20th

Reviews

Default avatar
David
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I've had the privilege of participating in four international summer camps, and I can say that LITA was, without question, the best in all senses. The program is perfectly structured so that students can quickly develop strong and close relationships—with the Spanish language, with Castilian culture, and with other other people.

1. I learned more Spanish in five weeks with LITA than in five years of classroom education. English was a rarity throughout the course, and I was constantly asked to step up, converse, and stretch my Spanish ability. I now have conversational Spanish abilities, and the difference it's made returning to America is staggering. I feel like a different person, and I've been able to talk with so many more people and take so many more opportunities thanks to Spanish.

2. I now feel a warm connection with Spanish culture; thanks to LITA's numerous tours of museums, castles, and the Spanish countryside, the distinctive three-week homestay, and the utter immersion of the experience, I feel like Spain is a second home. I still miss it today—late-night talks with my host family, seeing traditional folk concerts, extravagant lunches with extended relatives, and, of course, siesta.

3. Finally, the connections I made with the members of the program were some of the strongest I've ever made. LITA's small groups meant that it was possible to make quick friends, and that it was possible to speak out and be heard by the whole collective. Our assemblage of a dozen teenagers was filled with so amazing students fully-committed to the process of helping each other learn Spanish. I would say that the quality of the students was unparalleled and unmatched, except that this would be a lie. It's rare to meet one group of such amazing people, but with LITA I had the privilege of meeting two—the students, and the massive support network. I still text my host parents regularly, who showed me love and attention throughout an intensive and immersive month. All of the tour guides we worked with were excited, passionate, expert Spanish-speakers, and masters of their specific craft—singing, cooking, photography, etc. I miss the banter and rapport of our two group leaders, who helped bridge the gap between Spain and America and kept our group cohesive. And, of course, LITA director Jordan Romm showed immense generosity and kindness before, during, and after the program.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Jump in. LITA is an immersion program; be willing to immerse yourself. Part of what made the program spectacular was everyone's willingness to commit to Spanish, to immersion, and to five weeks spent together. The time truly flew by for me.
Default avatar
Cecile
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Lita was not only five of the most fun weeks of my life, but my language skills improved exponentially and I returned with the confidence to approach anyone. Lita pushed me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to talk to strangers, live in a totally different environment, and explore my surroundings. I made countless friends that I remain in touch with, including my amazing host family. The program was the perfect balance of spending time with the Lita group as well as the Spanish community. There was absolutely no English with my host family, which really pushed me to improve. Lita made me eager to continue immersing myself in a foreign language. if you are looking for a small, academically-focused, insanely fun summer program, Lita is the one!

Default avatar
Addy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I cannot express enough how much this program has influenced me as a person and how it helped to cultivate my passion for speaking Spanish. From the very beginning, Jordan’s communication with my parents and I was seamless and he was always at the ready to answer any and all of our questions. From the minute we landed in Madrid, every aspect of the trip, down to the most acute details, was planned and thought out with such precision and care. Olivia and Ilan took special note to our group’s needs, both individual and collective and made sure that we felt safe while still being pushed out of our comfort zones. One aspect of this program that truly stands out to me that defines LITA and the core of its mission is the homestay. My host family are some of the most caring, genuine and thoughtful people I have ever met. From the very beginning, they instilled a sense of belonging and made me feel like I was truly a member of their family. We still talk frequently and love to reminisce about the jokes and the laughs we shared. Before we arrived in our host town I was extremely nervous to meet my family and live with them for the next 3 weeks. Yet from the minute I stepped off the bus, my host family spotted me immediately and ran over to give me a big hug. We began talking and as soon as I got to know the wonderful people they are, my nerves were instantly put to rest and I knew that these people would always have a special place in my heart. The homestay is the heart and soul of this fantastic program and I cannot recommend LITA enough! I walked away from this experience with a sense of pride, accomplishment, excitement, yet sadness that I would have to leave such an amazing place that helped to foster my love for Spanish language and culture. I cannot express my gratitude enough to such a wonderful program and the truly impactful experience it provided me. I will never forget my summer with LITA and I hope to continue to stay involved in this influential program.

Default avatar
Aubrey
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

LITA helped me make memories that I will treasure for my whole life. I grew so much as a spanish speaker and even more as a person. I went into this experience pretty nervous about being abroad, my language and being with people that I had never met before, but LITA went above and beyond. I gained so many new skills, had a BLAST with my host family and absolutely adored being in Spain. I enjoyed the fact that the program was small and personal. I really got to meet and get to know everyone in the program. It also gave us the opportunity to travel all around Spain together and go to many more places. One thing that was super positive about my summer was the homestay. We were in a super small town, which was super cool because we could walk all around the town and meet tons of new people and speak tons of spanish!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be nervous about how good your language skills are. Everyone supports each other and you gain so many new friends.
Default avatar
Nadia
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I’m Nadia
This summer I went to spain with LITA It was the most amazing experience of my life time and I learnt so much. Words can not express how much I love and support this program. On my trip we had the best teachers Olivia and ilan then helped me so much and we’re always looking out for our best interests and pushed us to speak in Spanish and it really helped me and the other students learn. We were always in groups which made us always feel safe. The 3 weeks with my host family was one of the best times of my life, my family was amazing and I am hoping to come back and see them, they are truly apart of my life. It was such a fun experience we had many laughs, jokes and good times and did so many exciting things like kayaking, hiking singing, dancing, , shopping, cooking and so much more. I highly recommend this program because it taught me so much and I made life long friendships and I can strongly say that I feel apart of this amazing famiLITA

Programs

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Marlie Golden

Marlie Golden is a 16-year-old from Philadelphia who works hard in school, plays multiple sports, is has a very extroverted personality, and fights for social justice whenever possible.

Why did you choose this program?

In all honesty, my sister had done it the year before. It all sounded enchanting, and so I wanted to go and experience it myself. I was also looking to travel over the summer anyway, so this was an amazing opportunity to learn while having fun.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

My program providers, Jordan Romm and Michela Corcorran had everything organized down to the T before the trip. As applicants, we needed to fill out multiple surveys to see what family we should match with and what group we should be put with. Each student attending the trip was given a binder full of logistics and necessities in preparation for the trip.

During the home stay, since I took classes instead of doing an internship, I needed to plan ahead for the project I wanted to do. In this case I researched women's rights in the working world of Spain. The main things I organized consisted of a few interviews with different members of the town.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

This trip will give you everything you could ever hope for in terms of quickly advancing your Spanish skills if you give it everything as well. In the beginning of my trip, one of my monitors, Olivia who I am currently in touch with, told us, "There are those who will leave this trip and have had an amazing time, and then there are others who will leave this trip having had an amazing, life changing experience."

It really matters how much effort you are willing to commit towards bettering your Spanish. If you put in the work, and try your best to speak Spanish even in the moments when it's the last thing on Earth you want to do, you will return from Spain a different person.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

There are four different types of days/weeks you might have in this program. The first week will most likely consist of easy hikes, frequent group chats, amazing food, and the longest, yet most entertaining bus rides of your life. I can't even begin to explain how much fun my group had jamming out on the bus!

In the home stay, you will either have a class/internship day, or possibly a group outing. The group outing could be just the LITA students, or all of the families too, and will be filled with activities. A day with a class/internship consists of attending the class, eating a snack right before lunch, lunch, siesta, going to the pool or playing sports, dinner (at 9-10), and then going out with friends until late at night. We returned home most nights at 1:30 am which was hard to keep up with, but 100% worth the adventure-filled nights.

The Pyrenees are simple days. You wake up early, hike all day on very difficult terrain, and then find a "refugio" by around 6-8 pm where you eat and sleep. They are long, challenging days, but coming home from LITA I was so inspired by the hikes that I reached out to a hiking friend of mine and ended up going on a very nice hike!

In Barcelona the days are packed to the max with trips to the differing sections to interview the people, taste the food, take a dip in the Mediterranean sea, and shop a little.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had two main fears. I feared my Spanish wouldn't be good enough and I wouldn't be able to communicate, and I feared I would not like my Spanish family.

I conquered the first fear quickly. The first week of the trip prepped me well. My group made a pact to try and speak Spanish all of the time, so by the time I met my host family, I felt more warmed up with the language. The leaders of my group also reassured us that it is better to talk and mess up, then to not communicate at all. Sure my Spanish wasn't perfect, but the people I communicated with always understood what I was trying to say.

As for my family, I couldn't have been happier. Jordan and Michela went above and beyond when pairing me with my family. I had two sisters, a mother, and a dad who was abroad that couldn't have taken better care of me. In fact, my Spanish sister and I grew so close I plan on having her come and stay with me this coming summer.

What was your favorite part of the trip?

This is a question I am often asked, and my response is always the same: the people. This experience encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and be as sociable as possible. I chatted with tour guides, bus drivers, our photographer Ester, random people on the street, my sister's friends, grandparents, cousins, anyone I could talk to in order to practice my Spanish.

It didn't feel like a task to practice my Spanish because the people I practiced with made it enjoyable. Even the people in my LITA group were some of the most interesting, kind-hearted people I have ever met. My two leaders, Ilan and Olivia are some of my favorite people I have ever met.

One of the hardest things I've had to do recently is say goodbye to the people in my Spanish town and the people in my LITA group. I have made bonds this summer that will last a lifetime, and hope that anyone fortunate enough experience LITA, chooses LITA.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Jordan Romm

Job Title
Director
Jordan is the director of LITA. He taught Spanish at the middle and high school levels for several years prior to founding LITA. He is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont and resides in Burlington (VT) with his wife, Kate, and his children, Miles, and Ayla.

What is your favorite travel memory?

LITA Director Jordan Romm

Several years ago, I spent a week with one of our groups toward the end of their program. They had just finished the homestay portion of the trip, as well as having just spent a few days in the mountains hiking.

The group arrived in Barcelona for the final stage of their trip. By that point in their program, they had spent four and a half weeks largely in rural areas of Spain and this was the first urban experience they had. It was the first evening that the group was in Barcelona and we were walking together toward a restaurant in the Gothic quarter.

I was speaking with a few of the students toward the back of the group, when one of them said to me in Spanish, “this feels so strange being here. I feel like we have been on our own, all by ourselves in Spain for the past four weeks. It’s so strange to see all of this tourism and hear English. I have barely heard English since we arrived, and this just feels weird.” I am not sure that the student realized it, but for me, this was a total affirmation of the goals of our program.

We focus our programs in rural areas that are more removed from English-speaking tourism specifically so students feel that sense of immersion, of being away from what is familiar and comfortable. This off-hand comment that this student made illustrated to me exactly why our programs are unique. I don’t think the student realized that her particular comment made such an impression on me, but it is something that has stayed with for a long time.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

I was a teacher at an independent school here in Vermont for many years prior to establishing LITA. I loved teaching and the school was a wonderful community in which to work. I am fortunate to have been able to maintain strong connections with the faculty and alumni there. Leaving that position to focus on LITA full-time was a big decision for me; a leap of faith of sorts, and a big decision both personally and professionally. I had run several LITA type programs specifically for students from that school during the years that I was teaching.

Many of my favorite moments professionally during those years occurred on those programs in Spain, watching the students grow and seeing their Spanish skills take off in a true experiential learning context.

I realized during one of those early programs that what I most valued as an educator was being able to pair two of things that I loved most, Spain and my passion for the language with time spent with motivated and enthusiastic high school students. Since LITA was established, the lasting connections I have made with our students has been the biggest reward and has made my decision to leave the classroom one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

As an educator, I believe that I have evolved most by being witness to the growth and maturity of our student as a result of their time with LITA. I have learned so much from them about how to best design meaningful learning experiences. I have come to realize that learning occurs most fluidly when a student makes meaningful connections with a place, a language, and with their peers in an engaging, hands-on environment.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

There have been countless students over the years that have returned to visit their LITA host families during subsequent summers, but what is most rewarding is seeing how Spanish has become a true passion of so many of our alumni, many who go on to college with language goals in mind and incorporating their experience with LITA into their college level studies.

In the end, one of the true goals of our programs is not how much Spanish a student learns, but rather cultivating a love of the Spanish language and facilitating connections that last.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

Spanish language programs by LITA

I think there are several unique curricular elements of our programs. Specifically, the fact that we focus our programs in more rural areas of Spain, in smaller pueblos, that are more removed from English-speaking tourism, is something that sets us apart from other programs. This allows our students to learn in a truly immersive environment and to forge lasting connections that sometimes can be a bit more challenging to create in larger cities.

I also love that we are a smaller program and that Michela (LITA’s Assistant Director) and I are truly able to get to know each of our students well, both during their application process and during the programs in the summer. Above all, however, I think that our students are what makes LITA so special. We attract such motivated and enthusiastic students each year. They are genuine, kind and academically curious students, who bring a true desire to learn to our programs.

Our programs cater to students who are truly interested in growing their Spanish in a total immersion environment, with like-minded teenagers who embrace the experience of learning outside of their comfort zone. Our students are amazing! And I also feel very privileged to work closely with my Assistant Director, Michela. She has been a wonderful partner for the past several years and brings boundless enthusiasm to our programs and our students’ experiences.

More Interviews