Language study trips

by Terence MacNamee

A language trip can be a unique experience to be remembered for a lifetime. But it does call for a certain investment – of money, time and energy. You have to be well prepared. You have even to be inwardly prepared. Are you ready for a language study trip? Ask yourself the following questions:

Have you learned enough of the target language yet?

To benefit by an intensive course, you probably should not be a complete beginner.

Do you like this target language?

To benefit by a course, to enjoy it, you need to love that language already. You have to be motivated.

Have you already spent time abroad?

A bit of foreign experience is helpful – even a short time spent experiencing a foreign language and culture. Otherwise you might find yourself overwhelmed with “culture shock” if it is your first time abroad when you go on a language course.

Have you got an open and accepting attitude towards other peoples?

You need to be open – open to all the things that will be coming at you. Otherwise it is all too easy to get into a defensive position as regards the foreign culture and the target language itself.

Have you budgeted enough money?

You will need to pay for the trip itself (including the school, accommodation, etc.) and you will know at an early stage what these amounts are. But don’t forget that you may want to take holidays in the country you are studying in, travel around, or take in cultural events. When these opportunities come up, you won’t want to be troubled by lack of money.

I hope these questions will help you as you make your decision about a language trip abroad. You can certainly work at improving your weak points – for example, becoming culturally more open or working intensively on the target language before you travel. And if you are thinking of sending a son or daughter on one of these language trips, or if you are a teacher of young language students, you might do well to discuss these questions with them.