Language & Culture

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Learn a Language, Unlock the World  

Don’t just visit. Get the communication skills and cultural savvy you need to soak up more of the amazing places you explore, with a four-week Language & Culture program. Our Global Navigators join local communities, pledge to adopt their chosen language, and make new friends as they improve their language skills. That’s the difference between learning a foreign language at your high school and living it abroad with CIEE.

Jump a level in one of 7 world languages

There’s nothing like a full immersion to master a foreign language. Not only do you grow new vocabulary at lightning speed, but you also gain invaluable insights into a local culture and will pick up all the little things that make human interactions more authentic and that simply can’t be taught in a classroom: from how your host mom greets you in the morning, to how people form a queue at the bus stop, or what music hit people hum in the streets these days.

Our programs combine language classes with a homestay and cultural activities and excursions, to help you gain fluency in 1 or 6 languages (while having the time of your life).

Arabic

French

German

Italian

Japanese

Mandarin

Spanish

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Action-Packed Days

From sunrise to sunset, each day of your CIEE Language & Culture program is chock-full of new learning, experiences and cultural surprises – each one a chance to sharpen your language skills and global competence.

MORNING LANGUAGE & CULTURE CLASS

Your Language & Culture class is designed to help you:

  1. Grow proficiency in a language other than English and,
  2. Develop intercultural or global competence, which is the ability to communicate with respect and cultural understanding in more than one language.

To accomplish these goals, CIEE has specially designed a curriculum for its Language & Culture programs which follows a communicative approach. Student talk is at the heart of each lesson, so get ready to hone your speaking skills! From simple tasks like introducing yourself or ordering a meal to advanced skills like engaging in a debate or presenting the pros and cons of an argument, at all levels of proficiency our classes focus on meaningful, real-world communication. 

Your daily lessons will integrate culturally-rich, authentic resources—real world texts and multimedia written by native speakers for native speakers—so get ready to interpret videos, songs, poems, texts, infographics, blogs, and more, all in the local language! 

This approach cements learning gives you a foundation to connect with locals learn more about the culture you’re exploring – discoveries tourists often miss. 

Download our Sample Curriculum

 

COMMUNITY CONVERSATIONS

Get ready to apply what you learn in class in the community and talk it up with locals! During the Community Conversations, you will have conversations with locals in the community in which you apply the vocabulary and language that were taught that day in class. Practice the day’s lessons with real people, in real time, maybe ordering coffee in an outdoor café, buying fruit at a market, or interviewing locals about an issue that impacts their community. You can’t do that in your U.S. high school language class!

CULTURAL ACTIVITIES, WORKSHOPS & EXCURSIONS

Cultural activities, workshops, and weekend trips vary by program location but here are common examples:

  • Cultural activities include visits to sites of historical or cultural significance, often with a local guide. Think monuments, markets, architectural gems, museums, palaces, plazas, gardens, temples, cathedrals, ruins, and the like!
  • Workshops highlight different aspects of the local culture such as dance, the culinary arts, ceramics-making, street art, regional music, and much more!
  • Longer weekend trips allow you to experience exciting destinations outside your program location in the host country. 

FOOD & FUN AT YOUR HOMESTAY

You will live like a local—not a tourist—by residing with local hosts who have chosen to host a participant to enrich their life, welcome a new culture into their home, and create a new relationship. Compare football soccer teams with your host sibling. Talk politics with your host parent(s). Whatever the topic, you’ll practice fresh words and skills and get to know each other better, while you dig into a home-cooked meal.

See For Yourself

JOIN US FOR A DAY IN BERLIN

Sometimes a video speaks louder than words. Follow a student from breakfast through bedtime and see what makes our Language & Culture programs so unique!

Advanced programs for French and Spanish

These programs offer an exciting and challenging alternative for more proficient language learners! While all our Language & Culture programs offer intensive immersion, these two “Advanced” programs are designed to group students who have intermediate to advanced fluency in French or Spanish and the drive to take their language and cross-cultural understanding to the next level.

Our Advanced cohort will:

  • Take a language proficiency pre-test to ensure all participants have the fluency required to stay in target language at all times. No novice learners can be accepted on these programs.
  • Strictly adhere to the CIEE Global Navigator Language Pledge to always use the target language in and out of class for a grade.
  • Provide feedback on your language course every week through a survey, so that our local teachers can adapt lessons to meet the group’s needs.
  • In the context of Madrid, where we run both Standard and Advanced Spanish Language & Culture programs, students can expect to:
    • Be paired in homestays with other students in the Advanced program.
    • Go on all excursions and cultural activities separately from participants who are concurrently attending our regular Language & Culture program in Madrid. 

Leaders That Make Every Day Awesome

Your Local Language Teacher

We hire and train our teachers to make sure you get the experience of learning from a native speaker who sees things from a different perspective, yet teaches in a comfortable, familiar way.

Expect YOUR INSTRUCTOR to:

  • Provide ample opportunities for you to use the target language in class
  • Introduce you to the host culture through communicative activities, games, hands-on learning, and use of authentic materials
  • Activate and expand your knowledge of the local language and culture
  • Carefully structure each activity with visual supports and examples to help you process information in different ways
  • Assess and provide feedback on your language growth each week

Your instructor expects YOU to:

  • Interact and communicate in different contexts (in pairs, in groups, as a whole class, etc.)
  • Reflect upon cross-cultural themes and topics, including your own life and culture
  • Participate actively and talk A LOT!
  • Strive for progress, NOT perfection

YOUR HIGHLY-QUALIFIED PROGRAM LEADER

So much more than chaperones, our leaders are handpicked U.S. high school language teachers, eager to help you apply what you learn each morning in class to what you experience in the community. They understand how you learn languages, making them the ideal guides to help you maximize your learning abroad.

If you are a U.S. high school teacher and interested in learning more about program leader job opportunities or custom-trip options with your own students, don’t miss the Teacher Opportunities section of this site.

Your Homestay

Whether your host is a family with kids, an empty-nest couple, or a single parent, you can be confident that they’ll be happy to welcome you. Each host meets our health and safety requirements, and is carefully screened by our local staff. This includes an application review, interview, reference check, background check, home check, and homestay training. For more information on homestay screenings, check out this page.

What Will You Bring Home?

  • 1 Month = 1 Year

    With total immersion and 60 hours of instruction from a native-speaking teacher, **1 month with CIEE is equal to 1 year of high school foreign language instruction (**based on averages of Avant STAMP pre- and post-test data).

  • PROGRAM CERTIFICATE

    This official certificate of completion shows you’ve studied your language of choice – and that you’ve got the pre- and post-program language proficiency tests to prove it.

  • COLLEGE CREDIT

    Earn four college credits to put toward your future degree, prove your ability to do college-level work, or test out of a college language class. In 2018, our students earned a total of 3,232 college credits!

Did You Know

Seal of biliteracy

Did you know that—depending on your STAMP score and your state and district requirements—you can use your STAMP results to earn the Seal of Biliteracy? The Seal of Biliteracy is an award given by a school, district, or state in recognition of students who have studied and attained proficiency in two or more languages by high school graduation. It appears as a gold seal on the transcript or diploma of the graduating senior and is a statement of accomplishment for future employers and college admissions. Some universities wave foreign language requirements and/or grant course credit for students who have earned the Seal of Biliteracy.

 

Want to Earn College Credit?

Learn how you can earn four college credits towards your future degree while abroad with CIEE

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Bring High School Language Learning to Life

Your foreign language classes have given you a great start. Here’s how four weeks of total immersion in a different country can help you optimize those skills:

CONFIDENCE-BUILDING EXPERIENCES

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When you’re out of toothpaste or unsure of your metro stop and you can’t use English to fix things, a surprising thing happens. You realize you know more French (or Spanish or German . . . .) than you think – and your confidence soars.  

BUILD ON FAMILIAR GROUND

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Because our lessons align with standards followed by U.S. foreign language teachers, you won’t be lost. Instead, you’ll be ready to take skills to the next level by experiencing fun, real-life situations based on your location.

We take language learning seriously! That’s why we’re the only study abroad provider that develops and vets our curriculum with a team of U.S. high school teachers and college professors.

Learn more about our approach to language learning: Download Sample Curiculum

PROGRESS YOU CAN POINT TO

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Tests before and after your CIEE program make it easy to see just how far you’ve come. That’s how we know most participants learn as much in four weeks as the average U.S. high schooler does in one academic year. And when they return to school, students often report back that they’ve tested out of a language requirement or moved up a level in class.

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What People are Saying

  • “The biggest benefit of learning German here is how much immersion you have and how much German you hear on a daily basis. You start thinking in German!”

    --Christian S., [Midwest/Oak Park and River High School]