We’re big advocates for making a Spanish Immersion Program abroad a part of your schooling years.
You’ll gain broadened perspective by being exposed and immersed within a foreign culture. Your taste buds will thank you for many years to come. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll find a second home amongst your homestay family and new local friends.
However, and arguably the best perk yet, you’ll watch your Spanish language ability grow in leaps and bounds.
Here’s our tricks of the trade to improve your Spanish before, during and after your Spanish Immersion program:
Before Your Program:
1. Study Up!
Focus on grammar at home by taking classes, using apps like DuoLingo, or reading online, so that when you arrive to your foreign destination, you are able to focus on putting your theory into practice. Programs like El Nomad offer pre-program online classes with the same professors you’ll be learning from on-site.
2. Schedule a Regular Spanish Meet Up
Join a conversation club at home to start practicing for your trip abroad! There are several websites that allow you to find a Spanish exchange partner or group near you, such as Conversation Exchange and MeetUp.
3. MAKE A WISHLISt
Whether you’re looking to navigate the fruit market with ease or know the streets of your city like the back of your hand, coming up with specific Spanish goals can help you work on your Spanish skills in an area you are most passionate about.
During your Time Abroad
1. Keep a list of new words.
Keeping a pocket-sized notebook or a running note (apps like Evernote and Simplenote make this even easier!) on your phone of new words can really come in handy next time you forget how to ask for extra silverware (cubiertos).
2. Listen to Spanish music!
From reggaetón playing in nightclubs to local traditional instruments such as the marimba or the pan flute, music is crucial to Latin American life. Check out J Balvin, Calle 13, and Enrique Iglesias!
3. Don't be afraid to ask questions.
A crucial part to making the most out of your program and absorbing as much as you can from the local culture and people is to ask questions. Why is everyone setting up for what looks like a festival tonight? How can I find a local cooking class? What do families do here on weekends for fun?
4. Spend time with locals.
Connect with locals by going to the market with your host family, meeting up with your host sister and her friends on a Saturday for a hike, or joining the Spanish/English conversation club! There’s no better way to immerse yourself in a culture than to connect with it’s people.
After Your Program
1. Watch Spanish television, news, or soap operas.
To keep up with your Spanish skills, why not add some Spanish shows to your Netflix list? I recommend El Internado, a drama about a haunted Spanish boarding school, or Rebelde, a suspense-filled telenovela!
2. Become an abroad ambassador.
Alumni of many abroad programs, alongside others, have the opportunity to connect with future abroad students on campus and online as a Spanish immersion ambassador! Programs like these include professional development and networking experience, alongside some great perks!