Sometimes you have to play with the cards you’ve been dealt.
All you can do is go with the flow and hope to make the best of the situation.
This is true for learning a language and many other things in life.
But when you get the right hand, it’s time to go all in.
In language learning, taking an intensive language course is your “all in” option.
Intensive courses focus on teaching you a lot in a minimal amount of time.
These programs frequently apply language immersion techniques to get you the maximum dose of language learning possible in the time allotted.
Many of these courses are ones you attend in person.
However, if online language courses are more up your alley, some of the best online language courses and language immersion software can also be used for language immersion at home—and these tend to be cheaper.
The nice thing about intensive learning courses is that you don’t have to spend big bucks to get a huge amount out of them, and if you show up and do the work, they aren’t even that much of a gamble.
So if you’re looking to stack the deck for better language learning, check out the intensive language 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.
6 High-rolling 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.
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.
If you want a flexible learning option that can be just as intensive or as casual as you want, FluentU is a fun and engaging choice.
FluentU makes it possible to learn languages from music videos, commercials, news, inspiring talks and more.
With FluentU, you hear languages in real-world contexts—the way that native speakers actually use them. Just a quick look will give you an idea of the variety of FluentU videos on offer:
FluentU really takes the grunt work out of learning languages, leaving you with nothing but engaging, effective and efficient learning. It’s already hand-picked the best videos for you and organized them by level and topic. All you have to do is choose any video that strikes your fancy to get started!
Each word in the interactive captions comes with a definition, audio, image, example sentences and more.
Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and easily review words and phrases from the video under Vocab.
You can use FluentU’s unique adaptive quizzes to learn the vocabulary and phrases from the video through fun questions and exercises. Just swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re studying.
The program even keeps track of what you’re learning and tells you exactly when it’s time for review, giving you a 100% personalized experience.
FluentU is currently available for nine popular languages: Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Russian and Spanish, with more on the way.
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.
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.
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.
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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