Friday, April 27, 2012

Learn a New Language through a Summer Student Exchange Program

Are you a high school student, at least 16 years old and looking for a great way to spend your summer vacation this year?  Are you the type of person who enjoys a challenge, relishes the idea of experiencing new things and are frankly quite tired of doing the same types of things every summer—experiences that leave you bored, unchallenged and no better off for the experience?  If so, a summer student exchange program may be right up your alley.  To help you get started, below we will provide a brief definition of a summer student exchange—what it entails and what you can expect—and give you some basic information on things like housing and how to apply.

What Is a Summer Student Exchange?

Does the notion of spending a summer in a foreign country appeal to you?  Would you be willing to spend some of your time studying in exchange for the opportunity to explore the sights, sounds and tastes of your host country?  If so, you could be one of the thousands of students this year to take advantage of a summer student exchange program.

From a learning standpoint, a summer student exchange program can take on many forms.  Some programs focus on new language acquisition—a full-immersion language learning technique that helps students master a second language exponentially more rapid than they would through traditional language courses—and others programs focus on one or two subject areas, such as studying Art in France or Physics in Germany.  If you successfully complete one of these accelerated programs, the best part is you can usually get full high school or even college credit for the course, which means a course that would have spanned a full semester at your home school can be completed and out of the way in just a few short weeks.

I know what you may be thinking:  “This sounds like an awful lot of work, especially for the summertime, which is supposed to offer me a break from my studies.” Actually, you may be surprised to learn that the traditional classroom instruction portion of your summer student exchange program will represent only a small fraction of what this wonderful experience fully entails.  Most summer student exchange programs, whether they are language-based or teaching particular subjects, conduct classes only in the morning, typically divided by two 2-hour sessions.  This means that the rest of the day and evening can be spent visiting the various sites and attractions the country has to offer, either with an organized group or independently.

Summer student exchange programs are the perfect way to learn all about a new and completely foreign country; its customs, traditions, language and people.  As a participant you’ll see things you’ve never seen before, taste the local cuisine and meet and make friends with numerous people from around the world, including local students and fellow study-abroad participants. 

Summer Student Exchange:  Accommodations and How to Apply

Students will generally stay either in a supervised residence hall or with a host family—a family that will be able to show you around the country, take you to some of the most appealing places, and provide you with a close link to all the physical and cultural aspects of the country.  You’ll also be able to share information about your own country, simultaneously becoming the teacher and the learner.

If this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity sounds interesting, the first step is to check with your school’s guidance counselors, administrators and/or teachers.  Typically, they will have informational literature on how to apply (pamphlets, brochures, etc.), and will detail the various steps you will need to prepare for your trip.  Keep in mind these programs are very popular among students and they tend to fill up rather quickly, so don’t wait!  Check with your school early, at least several months before you intend to go, leaving plenty of time to complete the application process, gather your travel documents and other necessary items and reserve your accommodations.

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