If you have elected Spanish, German, French, or Italian as your chosen foreign language, in 4 to 6 months of immersion study abroad, you could learn enough to meet your entire foreign language requirement.
And it’s not limited to just those foreign languages…
At most in-country language schools and foreign university immersion or intensive language programs you will cover as much foreign language learning in just 4 months as you would during a 2 years of study at your home college or university. Ok, that’s not totally accurate – you’ll actually cover a heck of a lot more…
Before we start, here’s a sneak peek at our little course comparisons (we used Spanish as our example):
At a typical US university –
Summary: 192 class-hours of Spanish over 2 years / 4 semesters
At foreign language school abroad –
Summary: 320 class-hours of Spanish in 4 months!
How is it that in 4 to 6 months of language study you can meet your foreign language requirement at home? Quite easily, in fact, and all the while having a lot of fun and an incredible international experience abroad. (We know…we’ve done it!)
WHAT IS AN “IMMERSION PROGRAM ABROAD” OR “INTENSIVE” LANGUAGE STUDY ABROAD?
Different in-country language schools and universities have different names for their immersion courses: “Intensive Course,” “Standard Intensive Course,” “Immersion Course” etc.
Different programs tend to offer similar types of intensive classes, but put different names on them. An Immersion course at one school or university may consist of 20 class-hours per week, while the Immersion course offered at another school abroad or program abroad may consist of 25 class-hours or even 30 per week. Keep that in mind.
The core of most immersion courses, however, consists of an intensive language course in which students take 20 class-hours per week of conversation, writing, grammar, and speaking.
WHAT IS “20 HOURS A WEEK”?
Firstly, it’s surprisingly easy … and even fun, considering your “classroom” may be Rome, Berlin, Salamanca, Barcelona, Madrid, Cusco, Buenos Aires, Tokyo … or wherever you decide to go. 20 hours a week is a mere 4 hours per day…
Yes, it’s “only” four hours a day. When you learn a language abroad, especially at an in-country language school or foreign university intensive language program, you will not only be smack in the middle of a new and exciting culture, you will also be surrounded by other international students, friends, your roommates. It is nothing like studying a foreign language at home and there is always a certain “fun factor” present.
Your 4 language classes daily will cover speaking, writing, grammar, vocabulary and will also expose you more to your host culture. Every day after class you walk out into a whole new world, where you will hear, read, and speak the language you are learning.
WHAT ELSE IS 20 HOURS A WEEK? IT’S 80 HOURS A MONTH…
At 80 hours of language classes per month, in 4 months, you will have completed 320 hours … yes, three hundred and twenty hours — of language learning abroad.
If you stay six months you will have packed 480 hours of foreign language learning into your resumé and “fluent in Spanish” (for example) onto your future job applications.
A TYPICAL FOREIGN LANGUAGE REQUIREMENT
We looked at the website of a college in New York. The foreign language requirement consists of 4 semesters of a foreign language, at which point students are expected to obtain an intermediate level in that language.
If you studied Spanish (for example) at this particular college to fulfill your foreign language requirement, these are the courses you would be required to complete:
- Spanish 101 Elementary Spanish I
- Spanish 102 Elementary Spanish II
- Spanish 201 Intermediate Spanish I
- Spanish 202 Intermediate Spanish II
- Each class meets 3 times per week over 16 weeks (per semester)
- You would have a maximum of approx. 48 classes during the semester
- Over 4 semesters (2 years) you would have a maximum of approximately 192 class-hours of Spanish
- Remember, you must also complete your language-lab requirements
=> Summary: 192 class-hours of Spanish over 2 years / 4 semesters.
NOW A LOOK AT A LANGUAGE SCHOOL ABROAD OFFERING INTENSIVE SPANISH COURSES
The school we looked at, like many such language schools abroad, offers several different language course options. However, the core intensive Spanish course consists of 20-class hours of Spanish per week.
- Beginning and Basic Spanish – 40 classes during 1 month
- Elementary Spanish Levels 1 and 2 – 40 classes during 1 month
- Intermediate Spanish 1 – 40 classes during 1 month
- Intermediate Spanish 2 – 40 classes during 1 month
- There are 4 classes per day, 5 days a week
- Over a 4-month period, you will have completed 320 class-hours of Spanish
- During the 4-month period, you will hear and speak Spanish every day
- During the 4-month period, you will be living abroad, immersed in a foreign culture
=> Summary: 320 class-hours of Spanish in 4 months!
Imagine what an effective, eye-opening experience that must be!
How to get credit for your language study abroad
The easiest ways to do so are standardized exams such as CLEP exames (College Level Examination Program). You take a not-so-difficult (after your language study abroad) language exam that costs less than $100.
1. You register for the CLEP exam you want to take.
2. You score in the required percentile required by your school for credits.
3. You then have your CLEP test report sent to your school.
Some 2,900 colleges and universities grand credit for CLEP – make sure yours in one of them first.
Other standardized tests exist, depending on where you go to school. Look ’em up.
Less ideal, but still of value, is to place out of language classes by taking a placement exam. If you can demonstrate knowledge of “foreign language 101, 102, 201, and 202”, you will be exempt from those courses, and you will have fulfilled your language requirement.
The downside of placement exams is that you may not get credit for your study abroad – which means you still have to take x number of classes and credits towards the completion of your degree – and you’ll have to pay for those courses.