If you’re thinking of taking a trip to Central or South America to study Spanish abroad, you want to find the best study abroad program to help you on your travels. Given all the study abroad programs out there, how can you choose the best one for you? These 4 questions will help you on your way!
1. Are the Costs Fair and Transparent?
Find out what your trip is going to cost you and watch out for hidden fees. Read reviews from past participants–are there complaints about hidden “service charges”? Last-minute “processing fees”? These extra fees can add up to 15% to your total program cost. Additional fees to watch out for include registration fees, payment processing charges, and additional fees for changing classes. The best study abroad programs will make their fees available up front. Look for a company that provides absolute transparency.
Also, you should know what the cost of your program includes. Some program fees cover the cost of in-country tours, trips, and extracurricular activities, while others let you choose your travel options individually. All-inclusive programs can help you to save money you would otherwise spend on independent travel, but can also cost you more if they include options you’d rather not attend.
2. Is the Program Flexible?
If you’re spending thousands of dollars to study Spanish abroad, you want to be able to personalize the trip and make it exactly what you need. The best study abroad programs let you select options to compliment your experience. In addition to Spanish courses, they may have additional certifications like surf school, scuba certification, and yoga instructor training. Maybe you prefer a volunteer program like teaching English, construction, or working with local children which allows you to give back to the community that’s hosting you. Is there something you’re eager to explore or try while studying abroad? Ask the organization about it. A great program will do its best to help make your experience perfect.
3. What Support Does the Program Offer in-Country?
If a problem arises while you’re studying Spanish abroad the last thing you want is for help to be three time zones away, in another part of the world. Does the program have an in-country presence? Is there a multilingual staff member available to help answer your questions and concerns 24/7?
Find a program known for effectively handling logistics and coordination. Will someone meet you at the airport, or will you be expected to navigate an unfamiliar public transportation system alone? What sort of orientation does the program offer? Will someone provide clear instructions for travel to your homestay, hostel, and study location? A walking tour of your new home town or city? Finding out what support system the program provides can go a long way toward easing pre-trip jitters!
4. Are the Language Classes High Quality?
Not all Spanish language learning programs are created equal. Sometimes a low-cost program can offer discounted rates by skimping on the quality of its instructors. Look for a program that uses an accredited curriculum proven to maintain the highest academic standards in its language classes. This also makes getting credit for your study abroad experience a simple, straightforward process.
Another thing to look for when checking out the Spanish language program is how much say you have in customizing your program. Can you change levels if you start off in a class that turns out to be too easy or too difficult? Does the program offer the option for private tutoring in addition to its standard classroom setting? What about a tandem conversation program? This will allow you to converse with native Spanish language speakers which is the best way to improve your fluency
Some programs even offer Spanish classes tailored for specific fields or industries, so if you’re looking to focus your Spanish language courses on your profession, you can choose Maximo Nivel’s “Spanish for Special Purposes” courses, including courses for Medical Spanish and Spanish for Business. These courses are specifically designed for traveling doctors, nurses, and business people who need Spanish language skills for their work or volunteering.