7 Intensive Language Programs (Online and In-person) to Fast Track Your Learning
It’s possible to learn a language quickly on your own, but what if you want more support?
Taking an intensive language course might be the solution.
Intensive programs frequently apply language immersion techniques to get you the maximum dose of language learning possible in the time allotted.
Below, we’ve got online courses and in-person options, so keep reading for seven of the best intensive language programs out there.
- Online Intensive Language Programs
- In-person Intensive Language Courses
- Why Attend an Intensive Language Program?
Online Intensive Language Programs
One great thing about online courses is that you can typically start anytime. All three of the courses below are ones you can leap into right now.
Languages available: Chinese, Italian, Brazilian/European Portuguese, Castilian/Mexican Spanish, Icelandic, Mongolian and 16 more.
Price: Free; Memrise Pro available from $8.99/month
You can access Memrise’s 200+ courses in your web browser or through one of the Memrise apps.
The program is tailored to each learner and features a leveled experience, so you can set your own learning goals and progress at your own rate, choosing to make Memrise an intensive program.
Don’t worry—there’s plenty of learning content by expert linguists to help fuel your fire and stay your intensive track.
Memrise also includes chatbots, games and over 30,000 videos featuring native speakers. 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 iOS and Android devices) will make it easier to fit in all your study time.
For more information, you can read our full Memrise review here.
Languages available: French, German, English, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Price: Free trial available; subscription plans from $29.99/month
FluentU lessons are based on its large collection of authentic media clips, categorized by level, topic and format.
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.
Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)
Languages available: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Arabic, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Korean and 22 more.
Price: Available upon request (expect $300+)
The private, intensive language programs available via Berlitz include 40 hours of instruction a week with your own language tutor.
If you really want to get ahead and have the money to spare, this might be the course for you. You get extended, direct interaction with a native-speaking instructor who will give you personalized feedback to help you improve your skills.
You can tailor your Berlitz program to your needs by setting distinct language goals with the help of your teacher. During lessons, they’ll present the necessary material to you, guide you through practice exercises and help you produce the language on your own.
This program is fully immersive, so you’ll only be communicating in your target language.
Most language options are available online, but if you don’t want to learn virtually, Berlitz also offers in-person intensive courses in select locations.
In-person Intensive Language Courses
The following courses are particularly great for college students who want to study a language or supplement their education with one.
Even if you’re not a college student, however, these intensive language programs can almost all be tailored to fit your needs and experience level.
4. Middlebury Language Schools
Languages available: Abenaki, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.
Price: Depends on language and length of program; usually $3,000+ (includes tuition, room and board)
When it comes to intensive language programs, 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. Middlebury also 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. The programs range from one-week “refresher” courses to eight-week-long programs, with offerings for beginning through advanced language students.
Languages available: English, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Chinese and Arabic.
Price: Programs typically start around $200 per week
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 classic programs offer six lessons a day, over 22 hours of weekly instructional time.
But if that’s not hardcore enough for you, Sprachcaffe also has “super intensive” courses of eight lessons a day, over 30 hours of instruction per week.
Sprachcaffe has classes available for beginning through advanced learners, and courses run year-round.
Online programs are available, but most classes are offered on-site in locations where the target language is widely spoken. For instance, you might study Spanish in Cuba, Mexico or Spain.
The bonus of these on-site intensive language programs is that you can keep yourself immersed in the language during any downtime from the course itself.
6. Berkeley Summer Sessions
Languages available: English, Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Scandinavian, Spanish and Urdu.
Price: Depends on language and class hours; starts around $2,500 per summer term
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.
Berkeley 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 typically have four hours of class each weekday, while the 10-week programs usually have three.
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.
7. University of Washington Summer Programs
Languages available: American Sign Language, Arabic, Chinese, German, Ancient/Modern Greek, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Russian, Spanish and Swahili.
Price: Depends on course hours; 15 credit hours starts around $13,500 for non-residents
Like Berkeley, the University of Washington (UW) offers summer language courses that promise a year’s worth of instruction in only nine weeks—talk about intensive!
More popular languages like German and Spanish usually have multiple levels available, but always check the current catalog for up-to-date info on the levels and language courses UW is offering.
Sometimes courses are available in-person or online, so you can choose which works best for you. The professors focus on making the class immersive so you can make the most of your time and improve your language skills quickly.
This is another place you can earn college credits. If you’re currently enrolled at another university, you should talk to a transfer specialist about if and how you can take one of UW’s intensive language courses to receive credit.
Why Attend an Intensive Language Program?
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 taking an intensive language course for its powers of immersion.
Further, intensive language programs 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 program 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.
Of course, if you don’t need to learn quickly, there’s still plenty of language courses available to you.
But these intensive language programs might be just what you need to get you to fluency!