Raking in Fluency: 6 Intensive Language Courses That Pay Off

When you’re dealt the right hand, it’s time to go all in.

In language learning, taking an intensive language course is your “all in” option.

Intensive programs frequently apply language immersion techniques to get you the maximum dose of language learning possible in the time allotted.

Whether you’re looking for in-person classes or the best online courses for language immersion at home, you’ll be stacking your language learning deck with these intensive courses below!


Why Take an Intensive Language Course?

One of the top reasons to take an intensive language course is that it will often immerse you in the language. Immersion is a popular and useful technique that involves surrounding yourself with the language you’re studying. In language learning, it’s highly coveted for its effectiveness, so you might consider using an intensive language course for its powers of immersion.

Plus, intensive language courses can yield quick results. Since they give you a heavy dose of language learning, you can often learn more quickly than you can with less intensive courses.

Another great benefit is that you can use an intensive language course to catch up or surge ahead in your language education. If you’ve fallen behind in your coursework or simply want to leave your classmates in the dust, an intensive language course can help propel you to your desired level.

Conveniently enough, intensive language courses also often fit comfortably into school breaks. If you’re currently in school, you might be able to go back after break with new language skills.

3 High-rolling Online Intensive Language Courses

One great thing about taking the online option for intensive courses is that you can typically start anytime. All three of the courses below are ones you can leap into right now.

As in-person courses often require planning ahead (with application deadlines, fees and other official business) you may want to start out with an online intensive course and then consider planning for one of the in-person courses below within the next year or so. This will give you a chance to get a jump on intensive learning and reach fully fluency faster.



If you’re looking for an intensive learning option you can enjoy from your computer or favorite mobile device, Memrise has your back.

That’s because you can use Memrise’s 200+ courses online or through its apps.

Since Memrise is tailored to you, you can set your own learning goals, meaning you can choose to make Memrise an intensive experience. There’s plenty of learning content by expert linguists to help fuel your learning fire.

Memrise offers a leveled experience in which you can progress at your own rate, learning more vocabulary as you go. However, to make the experience more intensive, Memrise also includes chatbots, games and over 30,000 videos featuring native speakers that you can use to round out your education experience. You can even record yourself and compare your pronunciation side-by-side with that of a native speaker.

Intensive learning usually requires a greater time commitment, but Memrise’s offline mode for its iOS and Android apps will make it easier to fit in all your study time.

Memrise offers a nice array of language options, including Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Brazilian and European Portuguese, Russian, Castilian and Mexican Spanish, and some less common options like Icelandic and Mongolian.


FluentU lets you set your pace, so you can use the program for an immersive learning experience that’s as intensive or as casual as you want.

Lessons on FluentU are based on its large collection of authentic media clips, categorized by level, topic and format. Videos range from fun clips from movies and series, funny commercials and music videos to news segments, educational talks like TED talks and business insider tips. This variety means that you’ll be able to find the right content to suit your personal likes and language learning goals.

These native language videos are paired with interactive dual-language subtitles that supply contextual definitions, pronunciation and video references for each word, allowing you to dissect the content and understand the language as spoken by natives.

The program also comes with audio lessons for beginners and additional learning tools for language practice, such as audio transcripts and multimedia flashcards. To work on all language skills, the personalized quizzes test your typing (writing) and speaking abilities, along with listening and reading.

For those of us who need an extra push, streak trackers help keep you motivated to come back and learn. You can determine your own intensity by setting your daily goal anywhere from 1 to 50 minutes of study.

FluentU currently offers the following languages: French, German, English, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Living Language


Living Language is one of the more intensive online language learning options available. It aims to teach learners practical language skills and get them speaking immediately.

The program uses a building block approach to teach you to put words into sentences and then turn sentences into conversations, all while reinforcing and building on what you’ve already learned.

Living Language also focuses on retention by using multiple senses, such as through written material, audio and interactive practice. When used regularly, this sort of comprehensive language course can be intensive.

Plus, Living Language also offers specialty courses focused specifically on business, other fields (like law enforcement and healthcare) and travel.

There are over 20 languages available, including popular options like Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish. However, there are also less common offerings, like Swahili, Tagalog and even Dothraki.

3 In-person Intensive Courses to Place Your Bet on

If you’ve just started college and think you might want to supplement your regular schoolwork with additional education during breaks, now’s a great time to start considering the programs below. But don’t worry, these resources include a wide range of options that expand far beyond your typical college-age experience.

Middlebury Language Schools


When it comes to intensive language learning, Middlebury is a big name and with good reason—Middlebury Language Schools have offered intensive programs for over 100 years.

These programs employ complete, 24/7 immersion. In fact, they have a language pledge in which you agree to communicate exclusively in your target language for the duration of the program.

The programs include coursework in addition to co-curricular cultural activities to provide even greater immersion.

One particularly unique feature of Middlebury Language Schools is that they offers programs specifically for graduate students, giving you more specialized language education.

Middlebury Language Schools’ immersion programs are offered on their Vermont campus during the summer and range from one-week “refresher” courses to eight-week-long programs. There are offerings for beginning through advanced language students studying Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.



If you’d like to combine your intensive language course with some international travel, Sprachcaffe might be the program you’re looking for.

Sprachcaffe courses last for a minimum of one week. The programs offer six lessons a day, totaling over 22 hours of weekly instructional time.

But if that’s not hardcore enough for you, Sprachcaffe also has “super intensive” language courses that offer eight lessons a day and over 30 hours of instruction per week.

There are programs available for beginning through advanced learners, and courses run year-round.

Sprachcaffe offers Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German and Italian.

Most courses are offered in locations where the target language is widely spoken. For instance, you might study Spanish in Cuba, Mexico or Spain. Would you rather learn Chinese? Give it a go in the hustle and bustle of Beijing. This is a helpful way to keep yourself immersed in the language during any downtime from the course itself.

Berkeley Summer Sessions


Looking to shave some time off your busy school schedule? Berkeley Summer Sessions can help you cram a semester or year’s worth of language classes into one summer.

Berkley Summer Sessions offers language classes for beginning and intermediate language students on its campus in California.

Courses tend to be 8-10 weeks long and cover essential reading, writing, listening and speaking skills. The 8-week long courses tend to have four hours of class each weekday, while the 10-week programs usually have three hours of class each weekday.

Course descriptions also list the equivalent course offered during the school year. If you’re hoping to get college credit, a transfer specialist at your school might be able to use this information to see if and/or how your credits can transfer.

Berkley Summer Sessions offers intensive programs for Arabic, Chinese, Filipino, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin and Spanish.


These intensive language courses might just be the ace up your sleeve you need to propel you towards fluency.

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