mardi 25 janvier 2011

What is a Language School?

A class at our partner school in Peru.
Okay, in some ways the answer to this question maybe obvious: a language school is a school dedicated to learning a language! But how do they work? Why are they special? What’s the point in enrolling in courses at these types of schools? The purpose of this article is to give you some practical information, clear up some of the mystery surrounding this type of school; and give you a little taster of what the experience is like studying there.

What’s the difference between a language school and a high school language department?

Language schools are institutions set up in the native country of the language to provide formal courses for people wanting to improve a target language. They are built around the concept of language immersion. Language immersion is the idea that surrounding yourself in the target language will lead to the fastest and most effective progression in said language. What’s so exciting and unique about language schools is that they essentially extend your language immersion stay into the classroom. Travelling to a country where the native language is your target is one of the best ways to gain language proficiency. In the classroom you will be forced to practice the language because most of your classmates will be from non-English speaking countries. This is a major bonus, as you will gain your oral confidence much more rapidly working with other people whom are trying to speak the same target language and who are struggling just as you do. When I studied French in France, speaking with other foreigners in French helped immensely. It taught me that everyone, across every nationality, struggles when learning a new language. It's a process, but there is nothing more fun than sharing the experience with others abroad.

The schools design their programs around teaching you a language at a much more rapid and intense pace. You will spend a lot of time working in the language, learning in the language, and at the same time, being forced out of your comfort zone. Language schools are a perfect choice in setting yourself apart from the crowd and become a better, more confidant individual. It is a given that you will encounter several ‘language hurdles’ along the way. Language schools are there to help you with that. Check back in this space as we post more about these hurdles over the next few days.

Update: There is a Wikipedia article that covers this subject found here.

Have you ever been to a language school? Tell us about it in the comments!