CHOOSING A SPANISH PROGRAM
What type of program can I afford?
The range of tuition and fees for Spanish language programs will vary from school to school. Keep in mind that a lower price does not necessarily mean a lower quality of education. Prices are typically determined based on a number of variables; intensity of the program, group size, school reputation, city, location within city, extra facilities, housing. You can find great opportunities on a tighter budget by participating in a program with fewer activities and available facilities included in the package.
What length of time am I interested in studying for?
The duration of time you spend abroad will determine your level of comprehension and ability in Spanish once the program has finished. The best way to decide how long you would like to spend learning Spanish abroad is to determine your speaking and listening goals. Since you will most likely be using Spanish for a great portion of the day outside of the classroom, the longer you stay the more fluency you will gain. It's that simple! Also consider when is the best time for you to study. Latin American countries have una estacion lluviosa (a rainy season) and una estacion seca (a dry season). If you can't bear the very heavy rains of the rainy season; the dry season might be a better choice. Typically it rains at least five out of seven days per week during the rainy season. Nevertheless, the temperatures in Latin American countries do not vary much between seasons.
Where is the best place to study?
Explore your interest and take the time to find the city that's right for you. Start doing research on the different countries within Latin America to determine what it is you want to see and experience, as each country has something different to offer. Be realistic and choose the best option for your lifestyle and your needs. Some students prefer to study in a more tranquil setting near the scenic rainforests and peaceful mountains of Latin America, whereas other students prefer the hustle and bustle of her major cities.
What type of courses am I interested in taking?
Are you looking to obtain a career where you handle business and negotiations in Spanish? Are you looking to continue Spanish instruction once you return to your university? Maybe you simply want to gain basic conversational skills purely for traveling Spanish-speaking countries? Whatever your goal may be, there is a school out there for you.
First, you must consider your current level of Spanish comprehension. If you already have a basic knowledge of Spanish you might prefer a more advanced course. If you have little or no previous knowledge, you may learn more or be more comfortable with fellow students at the same level. Some language schools also offer specialized language courses for specific professions, such as medical care.
When choosing courses, make sure to look at the class size, as there can be large differences between language schools. Small groups tend to make more progress than larger groups.
Not only should you consider the intensity and size of the language program, but also other cultural courses to supplement your time abroad. Many schools offer classes in cooking, dance, arts, and other social aspects of life in the country you are studying in.
What type of living arrangements would I prefer while abroad?
There are several different options offered to students looking to study abroad. Typically, students live within dorm communities with other students studying at the same school. This can be a drawback, as you will not have authentic interaction in Spanish. Some student's dorm with native Spanish speakers who are studying other course material within the university; this option is more beneficial. There is also the option to live with a host-family in the community near your school. Keep in mind that students tend to learn a foreign language faster when they consistently experience hearing and speaking in it's natural setting when making your decision. Lastly, you can venture out and rent an apartment. This is a riskier step, but some schools offer valuable assistance in finding the right apartment to fit your needs.
What do other people say about the school? School Reputation?
While word-of mouth is at times a biased way to make a decision, it is fairly reliable. Talk to other students or friends that you know studied or spent time in Latin America in a country you have an interest in and ask what they thought of the school they attended as well as their adaptation to the culture. Also, read reviews online from other students who have studied abroad. If you are currently in school, talk to your study abroad advisors and see what they have to say.