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Judy Heflin assesses the option of teaching English in China while learning Chinese

China has been busy promoting its language and culture worldwide, and President Obama is hoping for a million Americans to learn Mandarin Chinese by the year 2020. But, while we know that learning Chinese is a great investment for the future, few of us have the resources to commit to truly immersing ourselves in the language. One of the best solutions is to teach English in China while gaining experience, traveling abroad, and being immersed in the language and culture. For those who are interested in teaching English in China, it is important to go through reputable programs to ensure a safe and positive experience. Here is a list of trustworthy organizations that have programs for teaching English in China. The requirements for each program vary, but all include competitive salaries, opportunities to travel throughout the country, and Mandarin Chinese language classes.

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March 7th, 2016 | Leave your comments

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Grants to Encourage Study Abroad in the Americas

blog2 image100,000 Strong in the Americas has announced that its Competition 6, the second funded with support from Santander Bank, will open January 15, 2015 and close March 6, 2015. Competition 6 is open to Higher Education Institutions in all countries in the Western Hemisphere without any thematic restrictions.

The last competition (#5: Promoting Study Abroad Focusing on Health and Nutrition) awarded eight 100K Strong Americas Innovation grants of $25,000 each.

There are several new and revised pages on the www.100KStrongAmericas.org website of interest to you to prepare for this competition:




The  Request for Proposal (RFP), or guidelines for writing the proposal, are now accessible. Click here or visit http://www.100kstrongamericas.org/educateand click the “Apply for a Grant” Button.

If you have questions once you have had read the RFP, submit them by January 29, 2015. Questions can be submitted here or by copying to your browser bit.ly/100KAmericas6Qs. Answers will be posted no later than February 5, 2015.

In addition to being able to ask questions there will be two informational webinars. The webinars were created for the Santander Universities network but will be open to representatives from all higher education institutions in the Western Hemisphere.

  • The first webinar will take place on January 22, 2014 at 12:30 PM EST and will be in English. To read more about it and to register click here.
  • The second webinar will take place on February 3 at 12:30 PM EST and will be in Spanish. To read more about it and to register click here.

Website: http://www.100KStrongAmericas.org


January 12th, 2015 | Leave your comments

Obama & Peña Nieto Agree to Boost Student Exchange

187014827Building on the recently announced 100,000 Strong in the Americas initiative, Mexico’s President Peña Nieto and U.S. President Obama agreed to boost student exchange between the two countries during last week’s trilateral conference with Canadian PM Stephen Harper in Toluca, Mexico.

Peña Nieto explained the plan, “Specifically, we talked about education.  We have set a goal of having more academic exchanges so that more Mexican students can study in the U.S. and, reciprocally, students from the United States come to study in Mexico.  The number of students so far is somewhat low, considering the potential that we have.  And, from the 14,000 students from Mexico that go to the U.S. to study, we plan to increase that figure year by year and reach 100,000 Mexican students a year that study in the U.S., and 50,000 students from the U.S. to Mexico.”

“We want more students from the United States studying throughout the hemisphere, and we want more students from places like Mexico and Canada studying in the United States — so that they’re developing familiarity and partnerships and friendships that will serve them and serve our countries well for decades to come,” added President Obama.

February 26th, 2014 | 2 Comments

Celebrate Spain’s Cultural Diversity

There’s never been a better time to take that much-anticipated study trip to Spain

The economy is on the rebound, so there’s optimism but prices are still relatively low. And a positive aspect of the recession is that it has led the people of the country back to the roots of their culture.

Spain announced last month that it has retaken the number-three spot in world tourism in 2013, overtaking China by welcoming a record 60.6 million international visitors. Foreign tourist arrivals surged by 5.6% in the year, the government said, boosting the economy after a long recession.

“The new figures for 2013 allow our country to retake the number-three position in this indicator after having overtaken China,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy boasted.

Spain now stands behind only France, with 83 million international tourist arrivals, and the U.S., with 67 million, Rajoy said.

Income from foreign tourists hit record levels, too, a significant contribution to the Spanish economy, which has just emerged from five years of stop-start recession that left the nation with a 26% unemployment rate.

Spending by international tourists in the first eleven months of 2013 surged by 8.7% from the same period last year to 55.9 billion euros, government figures showed.

Even without the official figures for the whole year, it is already possible to say that 2013 was a record in terms of tourism spending, Rajoy said. The tourism industry accounted for 10.9% of Spain’s total economic output in 2012 and 11.9% of all jobs, the prime minister said. Its tourism industry association Exceltur predicts the industry will grow by 1.8% in 2014.

Spain’s economy emerged from a two-year downturn by posting 0.1% growth in the third quarter of 2013, and it expanded by 0.3% in the final quarter, Spain’s prime minister said.

Spain’s diversity makes it a cultural powerhouse. Size doesn’t hurt. It’s Western Europe’s second-largest country (after France) in terms of area, and the world’s third-largest exporter of wine, fruits, and vegetables. And it’s the incredible diversity of its people and passions that holds the key to understanding Spain’s eternal appeal.

After the dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975, a new, ultra-liberal constitution broke up centralism by handing over sweeping autonomy to the country’s 17 regions. The result was a reinvigorated sense of regional pride that had a ripple effect on every form of culture. Each region has its own distinctive personality and characteristics, which can be seen in monuments and cities, during festivities, and in traditions and gastronomy.

Spain’s Most Popular Regions for Spanish Immersion
Andalusia is a land of culture, history, fiestas, nature areas, and excellent food. Along with its outstanding monuments and wide variety of different natural landscapes, the region offers visitors the chance to take part in several unique popular events and sample a range of delicious gastronomic products. One way to discover the culture of Andalusia is by exploring the sites which have been awarded the UNESCO World Heritage designation. In Granada, there’s the Alhambra palace, the Generalife gardens, and the mediaeval Albaicín neighborhood; in Cordoba, its historic center with its great mosque; in Seville, the cathedral, the Alcázar palace, and the Indies Archive; and in Jaén, the monumental sites of Úbeda and Baeza. There are also festivals such as Easter Week, the Carnival in Cadiz, El Rocío pilgrimage in Huelva, and the April Fair in Seville. Landscapes range from the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz, and Almería to the extensive olive groves of Jaén, as well as the Doñana National Park — also declared a World Heritage Site — and the snow-laden Sierra Nevada.

Castile-La Mancha is a land famous for its arts and crafts, for the unique monuments to be seen in its towns and cities, and for being the setting for the adventures of the famous literary hero Don Quixote of La Mancha. Any trip to this area in inland Spain should definitely include a visit to its World Heritage cities, such as Cuenca with its famous hanging houses and Toledo with its cathedral and Alcázar fortress. Some of the oldest examples of rock art in Spain can be found at Castile-La Mancha’s four archaeological parks, and the region is one of the territories in Europe with the largest number of officially designated nature reserves, nature areas, and national parks, including the Tablas de Daimiel and Cabañeros.

Castile-La Mancha hosts a wealth of traditional celebrations, including the Corpus Christi in Toledo, Easter Week in Cuenca, the Albacete Fair, and the Drum Festival in Hellín. And as befits a land of traditional customs, it also produces a variety of typical gastronomic products, such as honey from La Alcarria and marzipan from Toledo, as well as being home to numerous wineries where visitors can enjoy tasting a range of wines, including the world-renowned Valdepeñas.

Castile-León offers probably the greatest diversity of natural landscapes in Europe, as well as spectacular monuments and a varied and abundant gastronomy. It has a whole host of places well worth visiting, including towns like Avila, Salamanca, and Segovia (all three World Heritage cities) and unique attractions such as Burgos Cathedral and the Atapuerca archaeological site, which contains traces of the first settlers in Europe. The famous Way of Saint James also runs through the region and is one of the world’s most important pilgrim routes. There are nearly 40 protected natural spaces, such as the Picos de Europa National Park, with some of Spain’s finest Atlantic forests. All these areas are perfect for climbing, cycle touring, and kayaking.

The regional capital is the city of Valladolid, which is the setting for the Easter Week religious processions, declared of international tourist interest. The city also hosts a well-known film festival, the Seminci International Film Week. The province of Valladolid is also famous for being a land of castles. There are over 30 in total, including the castles of Peñafiel, Íscar, and Medina del Campo.

Each year, thousands of students come to Salamanca to learn Spanish, turning this city into a point of reference as far as language tourism is concerned.

Salamanca is a vibrant, friendly, dynamic, safe, and well-looked-after city. The prestige and tradition of its university, one of the oldest in Europe, along with its accredited teaching centers, make it the perfect destination to learn Spanish. It’s no coincidence, therefore, that the University of Salamanca is in charge of the DELE certification, an examination that is sat in over 50 countries and issued by the Spanish Ministry for Education.

Catalunya offers spectacular beaches in areas such as the Costa Brava, world-class gastronomy, and the works of famous artists such as Gaudí and Dalí. Culture abounds, from unique buildings in Barcelona (known as “the capital of Modernism”) like the Sagrada Familia Cathedral or the Palau de la Música Catalana auditorium to the outstanding archaeological site at Tarraco, the monastery of Poblet in Tarragona, the churches of the Boí valley in Lleida… all declared World Heritage sites by UNESCO. What’s more, visitors can opt to enjoy a whole range of events thanks to the programs of world-class museums like the National Art Museum of Catalonia and the Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres.

Visitors to this area in northeast Spain should also make a point of stopping off at the spectacular beaches of the Costa Dorada, Costa Barcelona, and Costa Brava, with such internationally renowned resorts as Salou, Sitges, Tossa de Mar, Cadaqués, Lloret de Mar, and Roses. Catalonia also has numerous marine resorts, and for outdoor types, there are the Catalan Pyrenees (with plenty of ski resorts) and the National Park of Aigüestortes i Estany de Sant Maurici.

Madrid is not only Spain’s capital city but also an autonomous region. The capital city is home to some of the most frequently visited museums in Spain, and its surroundings offer the chance to visit several outstanding monumental sites. The city of Madrid is open and welcoming, modern yet traditional, stately yet popular, lively yet peaceful… But more than anything else, it is a cultural paradise. It is home to what is known as the Triangle of Art, which contains within a limited area the Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía Art Center, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Tourists can also visit such impressive monuments as the Royal Palace, explore places with their own particular charm like the Plaza Mayor square or the grand avenue known as the Gran Vía, or enjoy what is considered the most exciting nightlife in Spain… as well as wander in large green spaces such as El Retiro Park and drop in to typical bars and taverns to sample a range of delicious tapas. The surrounding Madrid region offers more, such as the cities of Aranjuez, Alcalá de Henares, and San Lorenzo de El Escorial, all of which have been declared World Heritage sites, or small picturesque towns such as Chinchón, and charming mountain villages.

Spain’s other regions are just as inviting, and each offers visitors its own, unique flavor.

February 21st, 2014 | 1 Comment

Spanish Diversity

South America offers an array of immersion destinations to befit a continent of the future

The common language to more than 20 countries (in the Americas, Spain, and Asia), spoken by more than 400 million people, second only to Mandarin in its number of native speakers — with an additional 60 million speakers as a second language and 20 million students as a foreign language — Spanish is one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is used as an official language by the European Union and Mercosur. Ergo, Spanish is an asset in anyone’s career and cultural growth.

Latin America has gained significant world recognition for its capacity to strive out of an opaque past towards a brilliant future. Economic growth, innovation, cultural richness, biodiversity, fast-growing tourist destinations, and vivacious cities make South America a continent for the future.


Colombia, at the northwestern edge of South America, has the third-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, after Mexico and Spain. It is ethnically diverse, and the interaction between descendants of the original native inhabitants, Spanish colonists, African slaves, and 20th-century immigrants from Europe and the Middle East has produced a rich cultural heritage. This has also been influenced by Colombia’s incredibly varied geography. The majority of the urban centers are located in the highlands of the Andes mountains, but the country also encompasses Amazon rainforest, tropical grassland, and both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines.

In recent decades, Colombia has become a vibrant nation and an attractive destination for its consolidated economy and democracy, as well as its cultural relevance as an up-and-coming place to visit. Building on its natural wealth, the government, hand in hand with the people, has launched outstanding initiatives to make Colombia secure and attractive to foreign investment and tourism. An example of this is the launch of the website spanishincolombia.gov.co, which showcases all the options to learn Spanish in this magical country. To cite a recent campaign: “If you are wondering about the right place for an unforgettable Spanish-learning experience, choose Colombia, where the only risk is wanting to stay.”

As Colombia has grown, Berlitz has grown too. It opened its first language center in Colombia in 1982. Today, it has ten language centers across the country offering people a wide range of services including language instruction, cultural training, specialized language courses, exam preparation, and immersion courses. Berlitz has a strong position in both the consumer and corporate segments, offering clients a true solution for an increasing need in the country: speaking another language. Doors are open to those who want to work, learn, and live in a fantastic cultural experience. As the country continues to grow academically and economically, Berlitz is now broadening its horizons and offering Colombian and foreign clients a world of opportunities.

The Spanish World Institute in Bogotá has adapted its Spanish programs over the years according to the context of daily life in which the students learn how to communicate as natives, while looking for the best teaching tools.

Programs are designed for students of all levels, thanks to personalized learning plans and small-class sizes. The learning process is fast, due to the proper materials to develop each linguistic skill combined with the commitment of their highly educated teachers.
Through elective subjects and activities, the institute also offers the opportunity for students to get into Colombian culture, history, and customs.

In addition, there’s the cultural experience of getting to know Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, and its surrounding areas, renowned for their clear Spanish accent.

EAFIT University’s Spanish Program provides total immersion in Latin American culture and Spanish in Colombia.

EAFIT offers the chance to have daily intensive Spanish lessons at a vibrant university campus surrounded by the friendliest people. Living with a local host family helps students boost their command of the language and get to know Latin American culture. The EAFIT University program in Medellín is internationally accredited by the Cervantes Institute and ACCET, ensuring quality Spanish language training. Outside of class, students can connect with conversation partners who help with the acquisition of colloquial language.

Medellín is one of the world’s most exciting cities. Students get to know Colombia and its culture through mixing with the locals and traveling in the region. Studying there is an exhilarating way to improve Spanish proficiency and become a part of the local culture.

Founded in 1991, the language center offers high-quality language programs based on the communicative approach. Students can choose from classes that last two weeks, four weeks, or ten weeks. The center also offers a conversation program that provides participants with the opportunity to practice Spanish with native speakers on a one-to-one basis. The center’s cultural orientation programs also allow students to become familiar with Colombia’s diverse culture.

The Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar offers a communicative, content-based, four-skills approach to learning Spanish through three competency levels: basic, pre-intermediate, and intermediate.

Course design is based on adult learning principles and second-language teaching techniques. Materials include Protagonistas Student Activities Manual.

The program’s expert teachers are Colombian, are Instituto Cervantes certified, hold university degrees, and use the most up-to-date teaching methods.

The Open Access Language Center designed the Español para Extranjeros program to promote Spanish language learning and the Colombian Caribbean culture.

The basic program requires no prior knowledge of Spanish. Through a variety of learning modules, students will learn to describe basic needs and to understand and use common everyday expressions, along with simple sentences aimed at speaking in any location in the Spanish-speaking world.
The pre-intermediate program (120 hours) gives students sufficient linguistic competence to understand and appropriately respond to the most common situations of everyday life and to communicate wishes and needs in a basic manner. Students speak the language, read general texts and simple literary texts, and write letters and compositions on general aspects of everyday life.

The intermediate program (150 hours) enables student to get by in most everyday situations that don’t require any specialized use of language. Students are able to argue points of view, present arguments, and use idiomatic expressions or other stylistic resources that allow a creative use of the language. Students speak, write, and read comfortably.

Vive Español is a Spanish program run by Universidad de La Sabana´s Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures in Chia , Colombia. The main objective of the program is that students learn the language and improve communicative competences by working in the four language skills.

The program has eight different courses that students can choose from: General Spanish, Spanish for Tourism (conversational), General Spanish and Volunteer work, Spanish for Business Meetings, Spanish for Professionals (Business, Medicine, Law and Aviation), Tailor-made Spanish programs for companies, summer courses, and private lessons. The programs are flexible so students can choose when to start and for how many weeks.

All the facilities on campus such as the library, the university clinic, sports fields, and restaurants are shared with Spanish students. Accommodation and transportation assistance is provided by a dedicated support team. Students can take dance and culture classes at no additional cost.


With the Amazon rainforest occupying almost half of its territory and the nearby Galapagos Islands beckoning, Ecuador is a paradise for the adventurous types. The Yasuní National Park, declared an International Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1979, flourishes with thousands of tree species and over 600 bird species. Surfers can ride the wave of Montañita on the southern coast. Ecuadorians are known for their awe-inspiring artisanal crafts and friendliness.

Spanish teachers bring language to life when they travel to Ecuador with their students. Intercultural Student Experiences’ (ISE) educational travel program to Ecuador immerses students in the language and culture. The itinerary provides numerous and intentional opportunities for students to engage with Ecuadorians and speak Spanish. A local guide accompanies the group full time, providing valuable insights into the culture and language. After morning Spanish classes at Academia Guayasamín, students practice what they’re learning while exploring fascinating Quito, the capital city. With one foot in each hemisphere, students walk the equator line during an excursion to La Mitad del Mundo. A visit to Otavalo, South America’s largest handicraft market, is a treat for the senses and provides countless opportunities to speak Spanish, learn about Ecuadorian textile art, and sample the regional cuisine. Students deepen their experience of Quiteño culture and stretch their language skills while living with host families for five days, enjoying meals at home, and participating in a cooking class. An optional four-day excursion to the Galápagos Islands includes opportunities to snorkel and swim with sea lions, witness spectacular volcanoes, and visit the Charles Darwin Research Station.


Peru has long been a favorite destination of students and backpackers alike. With its iconic Machu Picchu ruins of the great Inca empire, breathtaking mountainous landscapes, and impressive coastline, Peru has much to offer.

Peru’s cuisine is becoming increasingly praised internationally, as quinoa has been dubbed a superfood and ceviche is a staple at many seafood restaurants around the world. Nikkei, a unique fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine also growing in popularity, is another reason to visit Peru.
Peru boasts a mixture of the modern and the ancient. Lima, the cosmopolitan capital, offers countless cultural events and attractions. Meanwhile, the Incan ruins and mountains tell of a pre-Colombian past. With Peruvian language schools scattered about the country, any student can find an ideal setting for language study abroad.

What country is home to one of the New Seven World Wonders, is the world’s number one culinary destination, and offers great surfing, mountain climbing in the Andes, and exotic Amazonian adventures? Answer: Peru. The most popular destination in South America for Hands-on Spanish Travel (HOST)’s secondary educational travel and study abroad programs, Peru has it all. HOST’s platform for meaningful culturo-linguistic immersion travel allows students and faculty to truly live the reality and royalty of Peru. HOST travelers live with top-ranked host families in Lima and engage in HOST’s signature Three-Way Collaborative Action Projects (3-Way CAPs), where they collaborate with a Peruvian sister school to advance projects at a third institution, usually a school or orphanage in need. HOST’s philosophy of travel revolves around an intimate abroad experience with purposeful culturo-linguistic immersion, sustainable tourism practices, and programming that fosters cross-cultural competence, resulting in educational travel that makes a difference.

Cross-Cultural Solutions is a nonprofit organization that enables volunteers to make a meaningful contribution to the community by working side by side with local people while gaining a new perspective and insight into the culture and themselves. The volunteer work is with carefully selected local organizations, all of which are dynamic and inspiring community-led initiatives. The CCS experience also includes cultural and learning activities so that volunteers can learn about the local culture. These include an in-depth orientation, language training, guest speakers, and more. There is also plenty of free time to relax, reflect, or explore the community. Volunteers enjoy the flexibility of choosing from twelve countries, start dates year-round, and programs from one to twelve weeks long. CCS offers international volunteer programs in Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Thailand.

You know about Machu Picchu and the Inca trail. Now, with Caminante Spanish School, say “hola” to the rest of this amazing country. They have eleven branches around Peru located in the jungle, on the coast, and in the mountains. Caminante Spanish Home School can offer students a unique fulfilling experience. Caminante believes in an immersion and cultural program in which students do most of their communication in Spanish; the program confidently states that living and studying with a host family is the most efficient system for learning a language. Their immersion program focused on living and studying in a host family or teacher’s house is the first school in Peru of its kind. Caminante Spanish Home School lessons are suitable for all ages from three-years-old and up. Students can choose the dates which suit them as the program operates all the year round; they can also choose the hours of teaching per week and stay as many weeks as they like. Caminante offers a variety of programs to meet students’ needs, including individual and group lessons. Their volunteer program is focused on helping students find volunteer projects where they can put their Spanish into practice, along with their professional knowledge and their desire to help others.

Peruwayna is a private Spanish language school in the bustling heart of Lima, Peru, that aspires to be the best language school in South America. Ninety percent of their teachers have completed a graduate specialization degree in teaching Spanish as a foreign language, all instructors are certified examiners for the DELE international exam in accordance with the requirements of the Instituto Cervantes, and all programs are in accordance with the European framework of reference for languages. Peruwayna offers a wide variety of classes, from survival Spanish for travelers to advanced courses for serious students, as well as extracurricular activities that make learning fun and help students appreciate Peruvian culture. Peruwayna has partnerships with numerous local businesses for the benefit of students, arranges various housing options for independent travelers, and organizes several events per week taking students to different cultural sites in and around Lima. Finally, what sets Peruwayna apart is the dedication and passion of its staff, and it is their goal to make sure that every student not only learns the most Spanish possible, but also becomes part of their warm and caring community.


Chile boasts an excellent university system, a seemingly endless coastline, and one of the world’s finest wine regions. It’s no wonder year after year thousands of students flock to Chile for studies and for fun. On a given day in Chile, some may be skiing and others may be surfing and sunbathing. The country’s interesting geography, ranging from the dry Atacama Desert to Patagonia with temperate climates in between, makes Chile a country where students can enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities regardless of the season.

Chile’s rich literary history and tumultuous political past will attract students who seek a striking cultural context for their Spanish language studies. Between its history, culture, and beautiful geography, Chile is an ideal place for all types of students.

The primary mission of the Instituto Chileno de la Lengua Instituto Chileno de la Lengua (ICHIL) is teaching Spanish to foreigners who come to Chile. To fulfill this mission, ICHIL is committed to the educational level of each teacher — all of whom have university degrees and significant teaching experience. For example, before being hired by ICHIL, each teacher must attend classes and then teach at all course levels at the Institute. This allows ICHIL’s management to see if students respond positively to their methods and approach — and thus ensures the quality of language education throughout the Institute. ICHIL offers the possibility to learn or improve one’s level of Spanish in the heart of Santiago, one of the most dynamic and attractive capitals in Latin America. The objective of all the Institute’s Spanish courses is to help students and professionals learn the basics or strengthen and improve their Spanish. ICHIL focuses on the challenges posed by grammar — addressing progressive degrees of potential difficulty, and ultimately giving all students the means to meet head-on the challenges they will face in daily life and work. To achieve these objectives, ICHIL offers four levels of teaching: elementary, intermediate, advanced, and confirmed.

Ecela operates two schools in Chile, one in Santiago, and another in coastal Viña del Mar. Clients can easily combine the schools as they use the same curriculum and schedule.

Ecela Santiago occupies a restored white and blue mansion on a quiet side street in Providencia. Conveniently located, students enjoy easy access to cultural hubs as well as social meeting points.
Ecela Viña del Mar is a smaller school and is located just a few blocks from the beach. It is also easy to get to neighboring Valparaiso, a little gritty but fabulous for photography.

Top-ranked instructors lean on the “intensive” side of the teaching spectrum. Those looking for a very relaxed experience can be intimidated by the pace and might prefer a more informal, “backpacker” option.

The student population breakdown is about 25% each of Americans, Brazilians, Europeans, and “elsewhere.” About half are under 25, 10% are seniors.

Academia de Idiomas del Norte (AIN) has been teaching Spanish as a Foreign Language in sunny northern Chile since 1980. The language school is Swiss-owned and located in the coastal city of Iquique, a summer resort and port in the north of the country.

The school has a list of carefully chosen accommodations. Students are picked up at the airport or bus stations and looked after throughout their entire stay. Students enjoy small class sizes or individual lessons, and afternoons free to tour the city, visit the beach, or head to the hills of the nearby Atacama Desert to sandboard.

October 28th, 2013 | Leave your comments

Brazil Beckoning

As the Brazilian economy booms, opportunities for Portuguese speakers abound, and picking it up may be easier than you think

While many think of Rio or the jungles of the Amazon when they picture Brazil, Bahia, located in country’s northeast, offers students a unique glimpse of Brazil. As the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture, Bahia is the ideal place to learn about the Candomblé religion and capoeira. Bahian cuisine is reknowned all over Brazil for its delicious African flavors and creative uses of seafood.

Salvador, the capital of Bahia, is one of the most popular destinations for students studying Brazilian language or culture. Salvador was the first capital of Brazil and houses some relics of its colonial past, such as old mansions turned into museums and the colorful and cobblestoned neighborhood of Pelourinho. A vibrant cultural scene with live music and theater keeps students stimulated while the gorgeous beaches and fun nightlife let them unwind. Salvador is home to many binational centers, such as ACBEU, the Cervantes Institute, and the Goethe Institute.

Bahia’s 600 miles of coastline are dotted with charming beach towns, and the state boasts over 100 islands, some of which can be easily reached by boat. Bahia also boasts some of the most interesting festivals and cultural events, such as the festival of the Order of Our lady of the Good Death in Cachoeira.

Bahia also contains a part of what many authors and songwriters have chosen as the mythical and magical heart of Brazil, the desert backlands known as the sertão. The sertão has inspired many of Brazil’s literary giants, such as Graciliano Ramos and João Guimarães Rosa. The interior of Bahia has the awe-inspiring Chapada Diamantina, a range of mesas, caves, and rock formations in the desert, and charming villages such as the nearby town of Lençóis.
Bahia’s colonial history and thriving Afro-Brazilian culture are a must for any students interested in Brazilian culture.

July 11th, 2013 | Leave your comments

Costa Rica Tuanis

Franny Brogan on the pura vida of Costa Rica

Because of the diversity of experiences it offers, Costa Rica is a sort of utopia for the outdoor enthusiast. Within the small country, travel from San José to any destination — prominent or secluded — is quick and easy. To the north, the cloud forest of Monteverde offers the classic Costa Rican activities of hiking, zip-lining, and bathing in natural hot springs with an unobstructed view of the nearby Arenal Volcano. On the Pacific coast, one encounters picturesque beaches and optimal swimming conditions. In the tiny town of Montezuma, you will hike to the water holes and waterfalls hidden in the posterior mountains or take a run along a beach path that extends for miles along the exquisite coast. A short bus ride away is Mal País, where surf is king and the juxtaposition of forest and expansive ocean is a sight to be reckoned with. The Caribbean coast offers a distinct experience, strongly defined by the town of Puerto Viejo — where Rasta culture reigns — and Tortuguero, the tiny island and key nesting home to various species of sea turtles. In the Caribbean, more than elsewhere, the pura vida mentality holds sway, and every other word seems to be tuanis, a term borrowed and adapted from the English phrase “too nice.” However, it is not just the perfect waves, water temperature, or breathtaking coastline that is ultimately unforgettable: each town has its own character and charm; each offers you a experience distinct from the one before or after.

Contrary to popular belief, English is not widely spoken in Costa Rica, especially in San José, Heredia, and other larger cities, making it an ideal site for Spanish-language immersion. While many locals in coastal towns speak limited English in order to cater to the tourist population, Spanish is always the initial and preferred method of communication. Students of all ages will find their cultural niches, from dance classes in traditional Costa Rican cumbia to the vibrant nightlife to the opportunity to join weekend running and cycling groups.

Here are some excellent options for study in Costa Rica

Nosara Spanish Institute
Nosara Spanish Institute (NSI) offers structured intensive Spanish and English language programs at the Playas of Nosara, a small, culturally rich and stunningly beautiful coastal surf town in the province of Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Home to the Nosara Yoga Institute, along with several other retreat centers, yoga studios, and restaurants offering raw and organic food, Nosara also draws an array of spiritual seekers and yoga enthusiasts. NSI offers Spanish programs for teenagers and adults in groups or individually. Local Ticos take English classes on the same campus. Classes are organized in small, efficient groups and are led by university-certified and experienced instructors in comfortable facilities. Lessons are always taught in the target language, providing a total immersion environment. NSI uses a communicative teaching methodology, where the main goal is the improvement of the student’s communication skills, encouraging spontaneous and creative use of the language, using real-life situations and activities that teach the language in the way that it is actually used in daily life. Depending on the intentions of the student, classes can also be customized around professional needs, such as business or medical terminology. The bilingual courses at NSI provide ample opportunities for intercultural exchange activities, which are consistently scheduled and frequently promoted at the school and around the area, providing students with unforgettable experiences and many new friends. Homestay programs and volunteer opportunities are also available through community, cultural, and environmental organizations of which NSI is a proud member.

Academia Columbus
Academia Columbus Costa Rica is located in the charming town of Santo Domingo de Heredia, situated between San José and Heredia in the heart of Central America. The town has a population of 60,000 inhabitants who are known for their friendliness and hospitality. With its park, beautiful churches, and quiet streets, Santo Domingo is a lovely little town where you will also find various bars, restaurants, and pubs to keep you entertained in the evenings. Santo Domingo is situated in the center of the Valle Central (Central Valley), but is a short bus ride away from the busy center of San José. The ideal location of the village of Santo Domingo makes it a great starting point for tours all around the country. The nearby university city of Heredia has a population of 180,000 inhabitants and a vibrant student community. There are plenty of bars, restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, cinemas, and shops all around this area. However, the city still manages to retain a small-town feel to it; it is not too bustling, and you can still find your way around with ease. Heredia is also famous for its many small, beautiful parks. The surrounding province has numerous coffee plantations and the Poas and Barva Volcanoes. Academia Columbus has a wide variety of Spanish courses that they offer students from all over the world, boasting over 28 different nationalities in a year at Academia Columbus. There is no maximum age limit. Every Monday, new courses start for all levels (except absolute beginners). Their general course is the Intensive Spanish course in mini groups (max. 5 students; average 3) of 20 lessons per week or their Super Intensive course of 30 lessons per week. They also provide individual classes for those students who want to learn at their own pace. The Intensive Plus course is a combination course of 20 lessons of general Spanish in mini-groups, plus ten lessons per week of individual lessons. Students can enroll for general Spanish or for specialized Spanish such as business, literature, law, or medicine. Academia Columbus also has Spanish and more, including Spanish and culture, Spanish and dance, and Spanish and cooking. The DELE (Diploma for Spanish as a Foreign Language) is an internationally recognized official qualification with permanent validity, and Academia Columbus offers prep courses. The DELE is very useful for any student who wants to have formal proof of their achieved Spanish level and especially for those who want to study at university or work in Spanish-speaking countries. Academia Columbus also affords the opportunity to book an internship or volunteering project with them. By doing this they can practice their Spanish in a work environment, and meanwhile they will gain a valuable item for their CV, which is ever more important in this competitive world.

IMAC Costa Rica
Costa Rica is becoming a growing location to study Spanish, and IMAC offers four exceptional schools located in San Jose, Alajuela, Jaco Beach, and Coronado. Every location has developed its own classroom methodology to develop the students’ communicative skills. These Spanish courses are customized for learners of all levels, from beginners to advanced, starting any Monday all year round. The students have the option of taking group lessons of 20 hours per week during the mornings in a classroom no larger than five students. Private lessons are also available and ideal for learners who have special learning needs. The courses can be arranged to follow general Spanish practice or can be customized to meet any particular area of interest for linguistic or professional development. Costa Rica, better know as the “Rich Coast” of Central America, is an adventure playground of tropical rainforests, active volcanoes, cascading rivers, deep blue lakes, millions of species of flora and fauna, and much more. Given this incredible natural diversity within such a small space, it is hard to see how any trip to Costa Rica can be anything less than a fantastic eco-adventure.

Centro Panamericano de Idiomas
Centro Panamericano de Idiomas (CPI) offers three fully equipped and staffed campuses in three select locations: the quaint traditional town of San Joaquin de Flores (CPI Heredia), the lush cloud forest (CPI Monteverde), and the spectacular Guanacaste coast (CPI Flamingo). Small classes organized according to linguistic level, accommodations including homestay and student residences, cultural activities, and touristic adventures provide for a complete educational travel experience. An additional available component is participation in CPI-organized volunteerships; since opening its doors 22 years ago, CPI has maintained a solid commitment to community involvement by directly organizing volunteer opportunities or working in collaboration with grassroot NGOs. Volunteerships are available at each CPI site for both individual students and student groups (primary, middle, high school, and university). Participants play a direct and active role in supporting local, marginalized populations by working on projects which benefit both communities and individuals; projects include but are not limited to beautification of community institutions, such as public schools and clinics, through painting, gardening and/or building playgrounds; literacy programs; home expansions for low-income families; trail maintenance of protected reserves; and free English tutoring.

Living Routes
Living Routes at the Monteverde Institute offers fully accredited and academically rigorous study abroad programs based in sustainable communities that also offer a service learning component as part of the program. The blend of hands-on academic learning and community work offers students a capstone project they can turn into a portfolio of their work, as well as employable skills from real-world experience. The Monteverde Institute is based in San Luis, Monteverde, in the bosque nuboso (cloud forest), a rare forest that occurs within tropical, mountainous environments where the atmospheric conditions allow for a consistent cover of clouds. It is also a sustainable community working towards becoming completely socially, economically, and ecologically sustainable. Their signature International Development and Social Justice program offers credits that are transferable from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At Monteverde, students become immersed in Tico culture as they engage in the point of intersection between issues of economic, environmental, and community sustainability.

Teach English in Costa Rica
Via Lingua provides international TEFL certificate courses in many of the world’s most popular teaching destinations. With courses in 15 countries, Via Lingua is one of the world’s largest global TEFL course providers. Via Lingua professional training programs are designed to reflect and support the current knowledge base and effective best practices in education. Via Lingua educates students for global citizenship and responsible leadership as teachers of English as a foreign language, empowering graduates to pursue meaningful lives and productive careers by sharing language and culture. Via Lingua is located in Tamarindo, Costa Rica. Once a quiet fishing hamlet, it has evolved to be the area’s most accessible town for visitors. Located on the central west coast of the Nicoya Peninsula, Tamarindo offers travelers a chance to experience the region’s unspoiled beaches and incredible biodiversity in an environment that still retains the natural, relaxed vibe so characteristic of the region. Separated from Tamarindo by the Río Matapalo is Playa Grande, where surfing is ideal — regardless of skill level. The town hosts several international surf competitions, a testament to the quality of surf available. Visitors will not want to miss the pristine white-sand beaches near the Río San Francisco.

Franny Brogan is a graduate student in Spanish linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles.

April 10th, 2013 | 3 Comments


Destinacíon Fantastico

Colombia is a fantastic destination for students wanting to experience South America. Although it is still working to shake a bad reputation from its tumultuous political past, policies implemented over the last two decades have made the country very safe. Now is the time to discover all Colombia has to offer.

Students who come to Colombia can choose to study in the hustle and bustle of Bogotá, Colombia’s capital, or in one of its smaller cities, like Cali, Medellín, or Shakira’s hometown, Barranquilla. Colombian Spanish is often considered to be clear and easily understood, crucial for students hoping to improve their linguistic skills. Colombia has rich cultural traditions and a growing economy, which makes it an attractive place to study for students of all majors.

Colombia also boasts impressive ecological diversity. From the rugged peaks of the Andes Mountains to the pristine beaches of the Caribbean Sea to the biodiversity of the Amazon Rainforest, there is no shortage of natural beauty to explore. After their time outdoors, students can dance the night away to the rhythms of salsa or vallenato.

For students looking to study in Latin America, Colombia offers an ideal mix of urban sophistication, colonial charm, and natural wonder.

The Universidad del Norte, accredited by the Colombian Ministry of Education, is known for its academic excellence, its contribution to scientific progress, and its role in the development of the country.

Its Instituto de Idiomas offers a Spanish program characterized by its innovative methodology and its well-qualified instructors, who are also accredited by the Instituto Cervantes.

“Colombia is a country of diverse regions renowned throughout Latin America for its excellent Spanish. The Universidad del Norte is located in the city of Barranquilla, on the Caribbean coast — a magical region full of beaches, pretty historic sites, and the epicenter of Colombia’s art and culture movement. Home to Shakira and Sofía Vergara, this is the place that inspired Nobel Literature Prize winner García Márquez to write many of his masterpieces,” enthuses the university’s Karen Sánchez Reyes.

The Language Center at the Universidad de La Salle offers flexible schedules and competitive prices, as well as four locations in the capital — including historic downtown and the commercial hub, so students can make the most of the city.
Spanish World Institute offers personalized Spanish classes (20 or 30 hours/week), DELE preparation, Business Spanish, Spanish with Colombian history and culture, Spanish with Salsa classes, and Spanish with Excursions.

Intensive courses are accredited by the German professional education body, Bildungsurlaub. Using the latest academic tools, programs are based on the guidelines of the Instituto Cervantes.

The school is located in Chapinero Alto, a quaint residential area of Bogotá, in a restored colonial house which offers an academic atmosphere without compromising its originality and style.

The Universidad EAFIT offers Spanish classes vibrantly taught according to a well-based curriculum, approved by the Instituto Cervantes and accredited by ACCET.

Their program is the only one to use their own materials — the Maravillas del español series (for more information, visit http://issuu.com/menujyc/docs/libro), which takes a panhispanic view of Spanish and presents the key elements of language in a multicultural context, taking into account all Spanish-speaking countries so that students can develop their Spanish locally with a global outlook.

Medellín has an urban infrastructure to rival any city in the world — in fact, it is considered, along with New York and Tel Aviv, to be one of the most innovative cities in the world.

Not only is the climate welcoming but so are the people. It is the ideal setting for language learning, with hi-tech labs and modern methodologies in small, personal groups (max. eight students), with air conditioning and soundproofing, in a vibrant university filled with warm people as well as impressive sports and cultural facilities.

March 20th, 2013 | 2 Comments

Spanish Fiesta

Salamanca may be famous for its tradition of educational excellence as well as the fun-filled fiestas that ignite the city in February

Salamanca is renowned for its university, which was granted a royal charter by Alfonso IX of León nearly 800 years ago in 1218. Soon, it became one of the most significant and prestigious academic centers in Europe. Now, Salamanca is probably the most important seat of learning in Spain and attracts one in six of the country’s overseas students of Spanish language, creating a wonderfully diverse academic environment.

However, residents of the city and its local region also know how to celebrate, and every year, Salamanca offers a considerable calendar of events, including the Muestra Nacional de Jazz (National Jazz Festival) at the beginning of March, the Holy Week festivities at Easter, and the Corpus Christi festival in June — which is based around the Old Cathedral.

Another local event is the Romeria de la Virgen del Castanar in September, which is held in El Castanar and attracts thousands of visitors from the Salamanca area.

Somewhat surprisingly, the most popular festivals in Salamanca are the lively carnivals held in February. The events include parades, fancy dress, and open-air dances. Everything is street-based and suitable for any age, but it is best appreciated at night, when the stylish Casino de Salamanca and the bars in the Gran Vía or Calle Bordadores put on entertainment, allowing everyone to give free rein to their imagination whether or not they are in fancy dress.

Events include:
• Las Candelas — early February, major folk celebrations in nearby Candelario, which stands around 72 km / 45 miles from Salamanca, with many local festivities, including a charity auction, gastronomic events and a vibrant atmosphere.
• Carnaval del Toro (Carnival of the Bull) — early February, a range of festivities involving young bulls, fancy dress and parades, in nearby Ciudad Rodrigo, around 89 km / 55 miles from Salamanca.
• Carnaval — early February, the popular Salamanca Carnival consisting of numerous parades and festivities in various regions of the city, together with concerts, dancing and plenty of evening entertainment.
• Las Calendas — early February, annual celebrations held in nearby Ciudad Rodrigo.
• Fiestas de San Juan — early February, with a varied program of events in and around Salamanca, including performances by magicians and general street entertainers, culminating in a fireworks display and evening bonfires.
• Muestra Nacional de Jazz (National Jazz Festival) — mid-February / early March, an impressive and extremely popular jazz event with concerts taking place all over the city. It features many international jazz musicians and attracts large crowds of visitors.

Schools in Salamanca

Founded in 1991 and located in the center of Salamanca, Mester’s mission is to develop students’ communicative and intercultural competency in Spanish so that they can express themselves in any Spanish-speaking country. Most of the students come to the school via recommendation from their Spanish teacher or from former students. Their enthusiasm and satisfaction is the best image of the school.

At Mester, education does not finish in class. The school organizes activities which offer the opportunity to see different aspects of Spanish life, such as visits to historic monuments, weekend excursions, salsa or guitar classes, and tapas tours. Staff are trained to help students find the most suitable program depending on academic, professional, or personal needs and objectives.

Tía Tula Colegio de Español
Tía Tula is a lovely Spanish school in the historical university center of Salamanca and accredited by the Instituto Cervantes as a centre of high-quality Spanish teaching.

Just like Salamanca — the city which is always referred to when talking about Spanish teaching throughout the world — Tía Tula combines its classical framework and facilities with the modernity of its people and their methods. Inside there are pretty and comfortable classrooms with views of the city monuments. Tía Tula also has excellent teaching staff with high qualifications and lots of experience and an amazing administrative team.

March 7th, 2013 | Leave your comments

International Students Add $23 Billion to U.S. Economy

The 2012 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, released today, finds that the number of international students at colleges and universities in the U.S. increased by 6% to a record high of 764,495 in the 2011/12 academic year, while U.S. students studying abroad increased by one percent. This year, international exchanges in all 50 states contributed $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy.

The report’s release marks the start of International Education Weekend and there will also be a briefing tomorrow to examine the key trends in detail, with a discussion of how economic factors and education policies affect global student mobility. more…

November 12th, 2012 | 3 Comments

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