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How to Learn a Language While Volunteering Abroad

Programs are Available for Teens and for Any Age

At a time when many Americans may find themselves wanting to try to help dispel accusations of national insularity and supremacy, going abroad to learn or improve a foreign language may have special appeal. Classroom learning has its place. But it is axiomatic that the fastest progress comes when you are forced to use a language in every-day situations. Programs that combine the structured study of a language with volunteering are a paradigm of the kind of foreign travel experience advocated by Transitions Abroad. Many organizations can arrange such placements, often in conjunction with a homestay to maximize exposure to the language.

A typical combination program might include an intensive language course consisting of 20 hours of classes per week for at least four weeks followed by a 4-week placement in a center for street children or in a wildlife sanctuary. Often such placements can be extended on an ad hoc basis.

Using a mediating agency simplifies the selection process since agencies tend to deal with well-established schools and programs. Agencies also provide a useful back-up service if something goes wrong.

Examples of language course agencies and exchange organizations in the U.S. can be found below.

Language Learning and Volunteer Abroad Resources

For one example, read Why Study Another Language Abroad? 10 Immersion Schools Where You Can Study AND Volunteer in Latin America for more information on fine combination programs in Latin America.

Read Ten Reasons Why High School Teens Should Volunteer Abroad for more.

See Transitions Abroad's directory of language learning organizations abroad for many options worldwide for all ages. Many of the language schools listed also offer volunteer programs for all age groups.

Likewise, many volunteer organizations abroad offer the opportunity to learn a language for all ages.

There are also many organizations geared towards teen language learning and volunteering for teens where learning and volunteering are offered as combined options.

Sample development organizations that are active in a range of countries include:

The Experiment in International Living, an organization that offers many language programs including "Language and Cultural Diversity," available to High School students.

Inter-Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) offers iInternational exchange organization that sends students to spend a year abroad with a host family and undertake voluntary work placements after an orientation including intensive language study. Placements are worldwide.

SUSAN GRIFFITH is author of many classic books on working, teaching, and gap years abroad. See her Bio for more.

Related Topics
Language Study and Vacations Abroad
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