One of the school goals today is for children to have an easier time with languages and end up being bilingual to boost their careers and opportunities in the not-so-distant future. For a few years, most public schools have offered bilingual education, but is it enough? Many parents consider the option of sending their children abroad in the summer to “settle” the language in question, have a dose of reality and get out of their comfort zone. However, there are many options available and each has its own pros and cons:
1. LANGUAGE COURSES
Language courses, lasting about three weeks in most cases, are an excellent way to study a language while making friends from all over the world and enjoying a beautiful experience. These courses are aimed at both minors and students or professionals, since the reasons for taking these intensive courses may be different: a few weeks of summer vacation while English is activated , a short stay in a destination such as London or New York at the same time to get to know the city, a professional need to improve the language or to prepare for the official Cambridge or Trinity exams.
These exchange courses to learn languages are expensive, but there are many scholarships for students that can help you if you are thinking about this option for yourself or your children. The price will vary depending on the accommodation chosen: you can live with a host family or in a student residence. The host family option is recommended if your children are younger: the family will take care of the meals, will have more rules of coexistence and will be more content. They can also stay in a residence with other students. Fun there is guaranteed, but maybe they don’t practice the language as much as they will tend to go with other Spaniards.
In the camps , the children will be much more controlled, since there will always be a pending monitor who will be responsible for their care. Therefore, they guarantee to learn languages in a safe and fun environment, where they will make friends from very different countries . In these camps, you learn in a practical way, since they have from class lessons to specialized immersion programs in different types of subjects, such as art, sports, excursions …
Classes in these camps are usually taught by local teachers and the lessons include group work, role plays, discussions and tasks such as ordering in shops or bars and learning through interactive games in the real world that will encourage this exchange of cultures to be satisfactory.
The only negative of this type of camp is that they do not interact with children from their own country , so they end up in a group with people who speak their language and limit themselves to practicing only in the activities proposed with the monitors. Of course, as a first dive abroad, it is highly recommended.
3. AU PAIR
Going to work as an au pair or internal nanny abroad is a good way to fully immerse yourself in the culture of the country. Living with a native family and working taking care of children in exchange for food, a house and a small salary , allows anyone to have a unique experience in another country without spending practically no money.
The au pair (usually girls) tend to stay at home 3, 6 or 12 months, and their functions are usually basically look after the children, take them to their various after school and play with them. For children it is also beneficial, since the cultural exchange provides them with a unique teaching . Some au pair programs also include house cleaning, although this is not the norm.
These programs are limited to girls between the ages of 18 and 26, although there are exceptions. If you are thinking of going to work as an au pair , we recommend that you look for a family that lives in a central area, that before leaving you establish the contract conditions (daily hours of work, days in the week, specific functions and salary) and that Also, look for an English academy to attend.
4. FARMS ABROAD
These programs, called WWOOF (World-Wide Opportunities in Organic Farms) aim to put farms in contact with people who want to live an experience in another country, being in continuous contact with nature. Basically, it consists of working on these farms for a specific period of time in exchange for food and accommodation.
These programs are not only for learning languages, but also for learning a very interesting lifestyle, related to organic farming and animal husbandry .
The fact is that these programs are more focused on young people of at least 16 years old. Keep in mind that on these farms there is a wide spectrum of ages, as there is an impressive variety of WWOOFers: young people looking for a first experience abroad , exchange students, recent graduates, adults looking to learn languages, married couples, retired …
Going abroad is always a good decision, but it is important to do your research and become well informed about the agencies and the courses that are offered.