by Toby Lior Carmel
A great way to spend part of the summer is to learn a new language at a summer school in a foreign country. There are opportunities in an astounding number of countries to participate in a 2-6 week course over the summer, to study the language you prefer, where it is spoken.
Don’t limit yourself to Paris for French – you can also study it in many other cities in France, as well as in Belgium. You can study German in the heart of Berlin or in the Austrian Alps, and of course, you can also learn Hungarian in Budapest, Estonian in Tallinn, Catalan in Barcelona. You can find summer courses for practically any language you are interested in.
The language you’ll be learning is spoken everywhere in the country and you will also be introduced quickly to the informal, everyday style of talking. Also, language courses usually allow you to have some free time, so you will also get to enjoy your holiday.
These are not the only reasons why you will soon be glad about your decision. Here are a few more reasons that you might not have thought about, but which will shape your view ion learning a foreign language during June, July or August.
How to begin your exploration
Many decide to learn German in Berlin, French in Paris, even Japanese in Tokyo. These are destinations with a high potential, plenty of opportunities and unique features. Having strong cultures, country capitals and major cities are magnets to foreigners, for good reason.
However, there also are exotic and unknown destinations, where you can discover touristic treasures or study at your own pace. Imagine staying for a few weeks in Nantes, France or Tolo, Greece! You will be charmed by the surroundings and the pure, natural accent that you will hear.
After discovering some unknown yet attractive destinations, you will soon realise language schools are characterized by internationality. There are high chances that your colleagues come from different countries all over the world. Prepare to meet people for whom language schools mean a natural way of having fun during summer.
Finding the right summer language school
The structure of summer classes includes, by default, a large amount of lessons, so that you can quickly build the base of your knowledge. You may choose between traditional and intensive classes, that take place in the morning, evening or in weekends. Either way, the amount of information will be high and so will be your vocabulary in the new language.
Participating in a summer school is the perfect way to kick-start your language learning experience. A typical week at a language school will consist of 3-5 hours of language training in the morning, 4-5 days a week, followed by culture classes, walking tours, or leisure activities in the afternoon and evening. During the weekends there are usually excursions organized to nearby surroundings or other cities in the country you are studying in.
Also, international summer schools include not just the actual lessons, but complete services. Most of them offer accommodation or assistance in finding housing, social activities and cultural trips. Besides learning a foreign language, you will also develop communication skills, flexibility towards a new environment and you will look at your employment opportunities from a new perspective.
Costs of a summer language school
One of the concerns that language learners have is connected to the budget. The cost of a summer school depends on many factors – how many weeks you plan to stay, what type of accommodation will be available, etc. Prices can range from 300 EUR to well over 1,000 EUR, so it’s worth looking at some options and choosing what suits you best.
A summer school may or may not offer accommodation at an extra charge, but if it’s located in a major centre, it should be easy to book a cheap hostel bed or maybe even couch-surf for the duration of the course. However, a summer school can normally accommodate its students either in university dorms, or with a host family, or even offer different options to suit each taste and budget.
Consider financial aid for your summer language courses
You might also try to apply for a scholarship from the country you intend to study in – one that will pay for your tuition as well as accommodation and meals.
The availability of such scholarships depends on many factors, so it’s best to look for that information on the websites of your national ministry of education or foreign affairs, or even contact the embassy of the country that you plan to visit.
This way, you can find out if there are any scholarships available, and learn details about the application process. In some cases, scholarships are intended for university students only, or they have an age limit, but often they are open to everyone.
Don't forget your holiday spirit at home
A summer school is an ideal way of getting to know a country and its language, and a great idea for a holiday. Of course, being summer, you will not be stuck in the class all day long – there is more than enough time to enjoy your time in the foreign country. Nevertheless, keep in mind that you will be paying a lot more for a few weeks’ accommodation and tuition in London or Barcelona, than, for example, in Bratislava or Istanbul.
You can study English in Malta for a cheaper price than in London, or you could choose to study Romanian over Italian for a fraction of the price it would cost to stay in Rome or Venice for a month. There are dozens of languages in Europe and a lot more around the world, so you have many adventures to choose from. Your first summer school experience will very likely be the first of many.