Language Schools: Alternative to Traditional Travel

I was a foreign language major in college so going away from time-to-time to brush up my on language skills or acquire new ones is something I’ve done quite a few times.  Travel study is a great way to travel.  It allows one to stay in one city and get a feel for the place.  One tends to frequent the same restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and shops during the course of an extended stay.  This builds a familiarity with the people with whom one comes in contact and one develops a feeling a belonging within days.  Having classmates makes it easy to make new friends as well.  Below is a description of the language schools I’ve attended.

  • French–University of Quebec a Chicoutimi–A six week intensive program with a homestay.     When I did the course I paid around $630 for the course.  I’m sure the cost has gone up by now.  This is a “for credit program” and I believe I earned eight undergraduate hours in French.  In addition, I lived with a French-speaking family.  If you have the time and want to learn French, I recommend it.  The beauty of this program is that it is within a day’s drive for many, thus one isn’t financially burdened with expensive plane fare to Europe.  Don’t listen to what they say about it not being the “same French.”  That’s snobbery.  We don’t speak the Queen’s English, and it’s still English.  I have used my Quebecois French all over the world, and no one ever told me I wasn’t speaking the real thing.  Here is a link University of Quebec French Program
  • Japanese–Accelerated Language Program (ALPs) at Dartmouth College–I went for Japanese instruction, however, many languages are offered at ALPs.  This was a ten day program.  The cost included a dorm stay and three meals a day.  I received a scholarship which helped with the program costs.  I encourage you to apply for the scholarships since I was the only one who had at the time I attended.  ALPs summer program
  • Italian–Il Sasso in Montepulciano, Italy–I can’t say enough good things about this school.  I loved it and the instruction was top-notch. In addition, the town of Montepulciano is a gorgeous place to live.  (A scene from “The English Patient” was filmed there).  I stayed for two weeks when I attended. The cost ($700+/-) included instruction and a private apartment.  Il Sasso  I flew from Detroit to Milan on United using miles so the flight was basically free.  From Milan, I took the train to Montepulciano.

Having dinner with classmates, below.


The view from my bedroom window.


  • Spanish–Queretaro Language School–Freddy and I attended this school together in Queretaro, Mexico.  This was a very organized school and high quality.  It was run by an American and his Mexican wife. I heard they’ve since sold the school.  Many other language schools exist in Queretaro though.  Much of Queretaro is UNESCO World Heritage Site so spending time in this city is a photographer’s dream come true.   Freddy and I each paid $410.72 for a two-week course with accommodation in a house owned by the language school.  We had full use of the living room and kitchen and our own private room and bathroom.  Here is a link to other schools in Queretaro  Spanish Language Schools-Queretaro.  We paid $67.52 and used 50,000 miles each on Delta Airlines to fly to Mexico City.  From Mexico City, we took a bus to Queretaro.

Night scene in Queretaro, Mexico


  • Spanish-Adelita Language School-Guanajuato, Mexico–Freddy and I attended this school together as well.  The school was a bit out of the way, but the instructors were nice.  We were responsible for finding our own accommodations.  We paid very little for the two-week course.  I think around $120 each.  We stayed at the Casa Mexicana Hotel which was $45 a night.   Adelita Language School  We used 35,000 miles and paid $84.97 each to fly from Detroit (with a lengthy stopover in Monterrey) to Leon.  From Leon, we took a bus to Guanajuato.

Guanajuato is a beautiful city as well.


  • Spanish–Nicaragua Mia, Granada, Nicaragua–This was a small language school.  I paid for a group class, but ended up with private instruction due to the lack of students.  The teacher I had was very attentive and I enjoyed working with him.  I learned a lot.  The school was very inexpensive I think I paid $120 for one week of instruction.  Nicaragua Mia    I flew to Managua from Detroit on American Airlines using 17,500 miles and spent just $10.  From Managua, I flew back to Detroit on Spirit for $242.84.  I arranged for a private driver to meet me at the airport and drive me to Granada. While in Granada, I stayed at a nice boutique hotel within close distance of the language school and downtown.  The name of the hotel was La Islita and I paid $184 for four nights. The owners were the nicest people and they really made my stay there memorable.  By the way, Granada is a beautiful town and it’s also a retirement community for many North Americans.  I can see why.  It’s safe, beautiful, inexpensive, has a great night life and wonderful restaurants.

View from the top balcony of La Islita Boutique Hotel


Granada’s main square


  • Spanish–Casco Antiguo Spanish School, Panama City, Panama–Very friendly school located within walking distance of the Casco Antiguo.  The manager is American and is extra helpful.  The instruction was intensive.  Highly recommended.  For one week of private lessons (three hours a day) I paid $229.  My airfare on Spirit Airlines from Detroit to Panama City was $351.98.  I booked a private room with a private bath at the Panamericana Hostel; a five night stay cost me $166.  The hostel was in a great location in the center of the historic Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo Spanish School

Casco Viejo Spanish School





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