Friday, January 9, 2009

Five places to find foreign language schools

The current online issue of The Atlantic Monthly includes an article by Lisa Abend on the charms of learning Euskera, the ancient Basque language that has no apparent links to any other tongue. Whenever I read about people studying a language--any language--abroad, I'm immediately gripped by a desire to run away to another culture. I picture myself perusing menus with fellow students in an Italian caffe, learning the spoken and unspoken language of tango in Buenos Aires, or graduating beyond "Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto" in Kyoto.

These dreams persist despite the fact that my earliest language immersion experience--a high school trip to the Laurentian Mountains of Quebec--involved me failing to learn the basics of downhill skiing in either of Canada's official languages and seriously bruising myself in the process.

If you share my dreams of counting to 100 and declining verbs in some exotic locale, here are five places to start your search for language schools abroad.
  • Transitions Abroad. The respected website for independent travellers, which began as a magazine, has detailed information on countless schools, as well as lots of articles about language immersion.
  • STA Travel. This worldwide travel agency, aimed mainly at the under-30 crowd, promotes a range of language-learning packages, including trips for U.S. and U.K. travellers, and trips for Aussie travellers.
  • This site is aimed mainly at American college students seeking credit programs overseas, but it also offers some good information on non-credit immersion programs for people of all ages.
  • Sprachcaffe International. This German-based company runs more than 25 language schools around the world offering instruction in eight languages, including Arabic and Chinese.
  • BridgeAbroad.This company, with offices in the U.S. and South America, offers language classes in almost 50 cities on five continents. The website is simple to use: just enter the language you'd like to learn, where you'd like to learn it, the type of classes you'd like (group, private or immersion), and the type of accommodation you'd prefer (homestays are available) to get an instant quote.

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