Family vacations are a great way to escape the routine of everyday life and bond with your loved ones. But while you’re away, why not take the opportunity to learn something new?
Many language schools in countries around the world are now offering special programs for the whole family. So if you’re headed to Mexico, why not spend a week brushing up on your Spanish skills?
Or if you’re traveling to France, you and your kids can perfect your imperfect tenses while immersed in the French culture.
These family-centered programs are tailored to match the style of your vacation, so whether you want daily intensive classes or a week-long intro course, there is something for everyone.
At The Language Immersion School in Veracruz, Mexico, families can learn the Spanish language while enjoying an ocean side vacation on the eastern coast of Mexico.
At this school, parents and children can enroll in different levels of Spanish courses. For the parents, the classes may be more intensive and a little more straightforward. However, in the kids’ classes the intensity and content is toned down to create playful lessons. Everything included in the course is pre-screened and approved by the parents.
The Language Immersion School also organizes cultural excursions such as trips to dance performances, visits to nearby ruins and even snorkeling or scuba diving for the whole family. If your family isn’t skilled at speaking Spanish yet, don’t worry – the school provides each family with at least one cell phone, so English help isn’t more than a phone call away.
If you’re really a beginner, they will even provide with you emergency flash cards to help you communicate in a sticky situation. Families at The Language Immersion School can stay in the family suite of the school’s traditional Mexican home, which is complete with live-in English-speaking staff.
For $500 a piece for the first two family members and $350 for any additional family member per week, families can enjoy two meals a day, laundry service and any sort of organizational help they require. 520-903-0574, www.veracruzspanish.com
It’s often said that to travel to France and be treated respectfully, you need to speak French (or at least make an attempt at the language). So what to do if you and your family don’t speak any French? Enroll in a family program at a language immersion school in France and combine a vacation with a learning experience.
At Coeur de France Ecole de Langues (Heart of France School of Language) in Sancerre, France, families can enroll in total immersion courses set up to match their level of knowledge of the French language. The program is more than just memorizing irregular verbs and vocabulary lists – the lessons feature excursions to unique French experiences like authentic folk festivals, goat cheese farms and family-owned wineries.
The school, located in the small winery town of Sancerre, France, is housed in the 16th century La Thaumassiere mansion, which features classrooms on the ground floor and luxury apartments upstairs exclusively for student rental. Families can choose to stay in one of these on-site apartments or in a range of nearby rental houses or apartments located within a short walking distance to the school.
Instead of providing local French families to host the students, you can choose to participate in the Family Dinner program, which allows you to be a guest in a local family’s home for dinner one or two times a week. The family program costs about 250 euros a week per person. 33 2 48 79 34 08, www.coeurdefrance.com
Families traveling to Italy can now learn Italian beyond deciphering menu items at their favorite restaurants. At the Centro Culturale L’Olmo in Portico di Romagna, Italy, families can participate in language courses designed to incorporate language acquisition with the Italian way of life.
Classes are located in the small town of Portico di Romagna, a picturesque and historic town between Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. The area is famous for its homemade pasta, a favorite among young children and the local specialties include truffles and wild mushrooms which the more sophisticated palates will love.
In addition to the language courses, families can join in on outdoor activities such as horseback riding, kayaking and hiking or cultural activities like the Harvest Festivals. For a two week stay, the cost is around $900, including accommodations and some meals. www.academyolmo.com/
In South America, families can learn Spanish at the Centro Linguistico Internacional in Antigua, Guatemala. With the Learn Together program, parents and children can sign up for language lessons.
Monday through Friday, each family member receives three hours a day of individual study and at least one hour working with each other to better than Spanish. The program also includes extracurricular activities like soccer matches, bicycle tours, museum tours and much more.
The best part is – these activities are all included in the price of the program. Families can chose from several different types of accommodations, including on-site apartments or living with a Guatemalan family. The price of the program is approximately $225 a week, plus $90 a week for each additional family member. 502-7832-1039, www.spanishcontact.com
AND … MINNESOTA?
Looking to stay a little closer to home? You can even take part in a language immersion program right here in the United States. A program called Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota allows families and groups to enroll in a language immersion week. Each week features a different language and culture.
This winter, Spanish Holiday Week includes language lessons and cultural activities for the whole family. Families camp for a week at a lake in Minnesota while bettering their language skills. If Swedish is your thing, this winter you can pack up your family and head to the North Woods of Minnesota for a complete Swedish immersion program—from the family-style meals to games, story-telling and sports.
Families can also try language immersion programs in Finnish, German, Chinese and more without ever leaving the country. Programs cost $560 for each adult, $450 for children ages 4-17 and anyone 3 years and under is free. 800-222-4750, http://clvweb.cord.edu
By Carly Goldsmith for PeterGreenberg.com
Want some more vacations where the entire family can work together toward a common goal? Don’t miss Taking the Kids: Family Voluntourism.
Looking for other immersive experience to really show you what a culture’s about? Why not try Fighting For Your Vacation?
Got kids? Get advice on Traveling With Tweens–including great programs and fresh vacation ideas.