Want a Family Vacation That Never Ends? 4 Immersion Programs to Travel and Learn Spanish
At first, it seems like a typical day.
You wake up, wash your face and put on a pot of coffee.
You call for the kids to get out of bed.
You pick up the paper and start reading the headlines.
But there’s something decidedly not typical about this day, too.
It’s all happening in Spanish!
Do you dream of waking up beside Costa Rican volcanoes? Taking tango lessons in Buenos Aires? Chatting it up in Spanish with your spouse and kids?
Then a Spanish immersion program might be for you! It’s an excellent way to learn a language—and there’s no doubt that becoming fluent in Spanish will definitely enrich your whole family’s life.
Wait. I’m feeling some doubtful vibes coming off you.
Oh, I get it.
You think it’ll be too tough to find Spanish immersion programs that welcome toda la familia (the whole family)?
Think again. There are lots of Spanish immersion programs that’ll take care of all of you, and they’re located in amazing places!
Let’s check some out!
Why Spanish Immersion Works
Spanish immersion works because it provides an ideal setting for language learners.
Imagine being surrounded by Spanish language and culture, day and night. Most immersion programs provide a combination of coursework and cultural activities so learners get focused language practice as well as natural, spontaneous practice in their daily lives.
You’ll find your language skills will grow rapidly when they’re needed for basic communication—like ordering food in restaurants or asking basic street directions.
Many programs even offer homestay options, which means your family becomes part of a bigger, Spanish-speaking family! The family welcoming you into their home becomes your “adopted” family for the duration of your stay. Many of the host families speak limited English, so you’ll be using and hearing Spanish 24/7.
Sounds great, right? But perhaps a little intimidating, too. If you want to give your family a leg-up before a Spanish immersion experience, FluentU is a helpful tool. It lets you immerse yourself in authentic Spanish from home, on your schedule. The program is designed with adult learners in mind, but it also has many features that will appeal to younger learners.
For instance, you can watch Spanish-language cartoons, children’s songs, animated short stories and more on FluentU. Each video has interactive subtitles, which give you an instant contextual definition for any word used in any video. Flashcards are multimedia for maximum context and engagement, and review quizzes use text, video and images to reinforce what you’re learning.
Plus, the quizzes on FluentU are adaptive, so every family member will get an experience that’s personalized to their learning speed.
Spanish Is a Family Affair! 4 Immersion Programs for the Whole Family
CPI (Costa Rica)
CPI (Centro Panamericano de Idiomas, or “Pan-American Language Center”) is a private language school with three locations in Costa Rica: Heredia, Monteverde and Flamingo.
The Heredia campus is situated in a suburban setting surrounded by volcanoes. It’s picturesque and gives a clear idea of what daily life in a small Costa Rican town is like.
Monteverde is a nature-lover’s paradise. It’s a center of biodiversity and ecotourism, and offers mountain hiking, butterfly watching, horseback riding, zip lining and lots of other outdoor activities in addition to Spanish language learning.
Flamingo is on the Guanacaste coastline, where white-sand beaches and mangroves beckon learners as soon as classes are done for the day!
There are Spanish classes for every age group. Young learners (4- to 6-year-olds) attend a program teaching elementary vocabulary and age-appropriate topics. For older children, up to 12, classes teach basic communication, vocabulary and grammar. Adolescents and parents spend their classroom hours in adult learner classes while the younger kids are in their classes.
They’ve got everyone covered!
Local host families can accommodate families of up to six members. If you want a more independent arrangement, there are furnished apartments available for families as well.
La Mariposa Spanish School (Nicaragua)
La Mariposa (the name translates to “butterfly”) provides intensive instruction in an eco-lodge setting. This immersion experience provides one-on-one language classes, organic meals and the opportunity to volunteer while on-site. There are also cultural lessons (such as dancing and cooking) in addition to language lessons.
Plus, a special building project made it possible for the school to accept students with disabilities at this small school set in the countryside.
Accommodations include the eco-hotel (an environmentally friendly space relying on solar power, organic gardening, rain water collection and more) or a homestay with a local family.
The campus is an hour from colonial Granada, Pacific Coast beaches and the Masaya volcano. There are so many interesting spots to visit when classes aren’t in session—including exploring the nature reserve five minutes from the main building. It’s home to native flora and fauna—and indigenous wildlife including bats, iguanas and parakeets.
Ailola’s Spanish for Families Program (Argentina)
This program is located in bustling Buenos Aires. Native speakers teach not only the language but also local culture and they customize each program for every individual family.
There are 20 hours of Spanish lessons each week. If parents and children aren’t on the same language level, then separate lessons are provided.
Buenos Aires is a city so there are cultural activities in abundance for immersion families! When classes aren’t in session, take a city tour or visit Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aries)—called MALBA by the locals. Try some tango classes, bike tours or scout out the ecological reserve.
Your family is welcome to homestay with an Argentine family for the full immersion feel or has the option to stay at a local hotel.
Intercultura Costa Rica (Costa Rica)
Intercultura Costa Rica has an excellent program that’s designed for families with kids. Adults participate in Spanish classes with other adults while kids, ages eight to 17, attend language classes and take part in activities with other children.
The children’s program encourages conversational fluidity in an authentic, relaxed setting. There are lots of activities for children outside the classroom, as well. All take place in Spanish and include environmental hikes, treasure hunts, sports, storytelling and crafts. It’s geared like a Spanish camp for young learners, but if you desire more traditional study, there’s also an option for private classes.
Homestay is available with local families who have their own children. This option is encouraged so children can get the true immersion experience. However, there are hotels, apartments and vacation villas that’ll also accommodate families.
So you see, study abroad isn’t only for college students. A Spanish immersion abroad program can be an epic experience for families, too!
Go for the Spanish. Go for the food. Go for the culture.