Language immersion tours are a wonderful way to gain in-depth knowledge of a language, a country, and a culture. Taking classes each day, participating in cultural activities and excursions each evening, chatting with locals during every free moment…it's a linguistic and cultural dream come true! Every time you buy a cup of coffee, every time you haggle with a street vendor, every time you visit a museum or a festival, you'll be learning. You may be surprised how quickly your language skills progress!
Whether you’re a beginning language student looking to jump-start your speaking ability, or you’re a more advanced student looking to develop linguistic and cultural fluency, there’s a program somewhere in the world that’s perfect for you. Choose a language and a region and get started finding it today!
Where To Go
Where to go for your language immersion tour depends a great deal on which language you’re interested in learning. The overall popularity of the language may determine how many places in the world offer immersion programs. Spanish, French, Arabic, and Chinese are some of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Because they’re so widely spoken, there are numerous options for where to study each one.
If you’d like to learn Spanish, you could go certainly go to Spain. However, you might also just as easily immerse yourself in the Spanish language in Chile or Costa Rica -- many countries in South and Central America are Spanish-speaking, which means that you have a wide array of potential countries to choose from.
In Europe, you can study French in France, Belgium, or Switzerland, but there are also numerous other French-speaking countries all over the world. Morocco and Tunisia are both French-speaking countries, as are many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. And in the Caribbean, you can find French immersion programs on the islands of French West Indies.
To immerse yourself in Arabic, the Middle East/North Africa region is the best place to go. Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia are all excellent destinations learn Arabic. Though these countries are all in the same region, each one has a distinctive culture!
If you’re interested in learning Chinese, China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan could all be destinations for you. China as a country is huge, meaning that you could have a very different experience depending on which city or province you decide to study in. The two main dialects of Chinese are Mandarin and Cantonese, and most programs will focus on one of these two dialects, so it’s important to choose which one you’d prefer to study, as well as where you’re most interested in spending your time.
One thing to be aware of with any language is that you will find different accents and figures of speech in different countries that speak the same language. Just like native English speakers sound different in Texas, South Africa, and Scotland, you’ll find similar differences in other languages spoken in multiple countries or regions around the world. These differences may or may not affect your preferences in terms of country of study, but they are worth keeping in mind.
Planning Your Trip
What to Look for in a Language Immersion Tour
Language immersion tours are a wonderful way to develop or increase your fluency in a foreign language. With this goal in mind, you should look for an immersion trip that includes daily language instruction, as well as opportunities for conversation inside and outside of class. Most language immersion programs will also include cultural activities to help you experience as much of the local language and culture as possible.
Many but not all programs include a homestay component, in which you will live with a family of native language speakers -- an excellent way to build your communication skills!
Average Language Immersion Trip Length & Cost
Language immersion trips can last anywhere from 2 weeks to several months, but 2-4 weeks is the average duration. Pricing depends partly on the program’s location and whether or not housing is included. On average, you can expect to pay about $1,000 per week of language immersion.
You don’t need any special equipment to participate in a language immersion trip -- just pack the same things you’d pack for any other type of international travel, being mindful of the climate of the country you’ll be visiting.
If you know that you’ll be staying with a host family during your language immersion tour, it’s appropriate to bring a small gift that’s representative of the place you come from. (When in doubt, bring chocolate).
Qualifications & Training
If you’re planning on taking a language immersion trip, it’s a good idea to have a basic foundation in that language before your departure. Different programs cater to students at different levels of proficiency, so if you’re unsure of whether a specific program is right for you, it’s always a good idea to ask! Program staff should be able to guide you to the level that’s appropriate for your level of experience with the language.
There are no particular risks associated with language immersion programs (beyond the occasional headache from studying!). That said, for an immersion trip you’ll want to take the same health and safety precautions that you would for any international trip -- check on your visa and immunization requirements before your departure, and utilize the same street smarts that you would use in any large city in your home country.
Language immersion travel is pretty safe! Following the instructions of your program staff, practicing basic etiquette, and being mindful of your surroundings are pretty much the only safety tips you’ll need.