Immersion Programs to Learn Languages
Welcome to the Language Immersion Program page!
This is where I’ll be collecting information about as many language immersion programs as I can find. This is a work in progress, and as I won’t be able to vouch for all of these personally, I’d love to get your input to expand this for all of my readers.
If you have experience going to any of these programs (or know of others that really enforce immersion, rather than just hanging out and speaking English most of the time), let me know and I’ll let everyone else know by posting your experience, good or bad, here.
US-Based Programs with lots of languages:
Middlebury: Middlebury’s language schools are phenomenal. I’ve been 4 times, I’m probably going to go back at least once for Japanese next year, and I just love them. They offer a level of strictness and rigor that is hard to beat. They have two campuses, one in Vermont and one in California.
- Middlebury, VT Campus: Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish
- Oakland, CA Campus: Italian, Arabic, Korean
Concordia Language Villages (Moorhead, Minnesota): Intensive programs in Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish and Swedish. I haven’t heard personal reviews about these folks, but I do notice that their programs are relatively short (generally 1 week), which I find somewhat problematic, as you really get a lot when you spend a protracted amount of time in a language, and that doesn’t seem to be an option here. Still, if it turns out that 1 week is something you can realistically fit into your schedule (and 7-8 weeks, à la Middlebury is just madness), you’re certainly going to get something pretty significant from these programs. Just don’t expect a massive leap into fluency in a week.
Specific Language Programs (Often abroad)
- Die Neue Schule (Berlin, Germany) – While I can’t recommend this one personally, I’ve had a friend go here and like it.
- German Language School (Berlin, Germany) – This was a tip from one of our readers. You can start your German course at the GLS German language school every Monday – on all levels, including absolute beginners. All courses are complemented by after-class activities in Berlin.
- Università per Stranieri di Perugia (Perugia, Umbria, Italy) – I went here in 2008. Wonderful teachers, affordable classes, heavenly location. The only challenge is that folks really do speak English whenever there’s a break, and you take breaks very often (it’s Italy, after all!)
- There is a tremendous thread about immersion programs in Latin America up at Reddit. Check that out.
- The first suggestion is pretty awesome, at $750 for an entire month of private lessons and lodging in Costa Rica.
- Here is a site with information on immersion programs in Guatemala and their rankings.
- Also this program in Peru is pretty neat. They’re an NGO that teach single mothers how to be Spanish teachers. In general, you’re looking at ~$7.50-9.50/hour for private classes, $90/week for homestays (food included), which works out to around $1000/month for 20 hours of weekly private classes, food and lodging. (See this post for details)
- Also check out the Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas in Spain. Every little community has its own and they’re public (i.e., cheap).
I’m unclear as to whether these programs are full immersion, but I’ve heard they’re quite good:
- YIVO Institute in New York
- Vilnius Yiddish Institute (Vilnius, Lithuania)
- Steiner Summer Yiddish Program [for College Students] (Amherst, MA)
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