Study abroad language programs

5 Best Cultural Exchange Programs for Language Learners

Forget about just using textbooks and sitting in classrooms. The fastest way to become fluent is by chatting with locals and experiencing everyday life in a community where everyone speaks the language you’re learning.

Cultural exchange programs are great for this because they put you right in the middle of the action, where you can learn the language by living it.

1. Arcos Journeys Abroad

Arcos Journeys Abroad, under Arcos Learning Abroad, organizes summer and gap year trips for 14 to 18-year-olds. The goal is to transform lives through educational travel. Here are the program options:

  • Active Discovery: Outdoor adventures for those who love to move and explore.
  • Spanish Immersion: These help teens get better at Spanish by living and interacting in a Spanish-speaking place.
  • Cultural Discovery: An interactive way to experience and understand different cultures.

The reviews I found for this one are all positive. One user described its trip to Costa Rica:

“I loved my trip to Costa Rica with Arcos, I found the activities such as zip lining, cooking, dancing, etc. super fun and helpful to appreciate the culture. The family I stayed with for the majority of the trip was super sweet and accommodating to me even though communication was a challenge(I don’t speak Spanish).

The trip was very well organized, with the group leaders Catalina and Laura always being on top of everything and perfectly timing activities. The volunteer work was rewarding in itself and felt productive.”

2. AFS Intercultural Programs

Language immersion programs

AFS Intercultural Programs provides a study abroad option in France, aimed at language proficiency and cultural understanding. Students are encouraged to begin French studies before their trip using tools like Duolingo, Memrise, and the BBC French Language Guide.

The program includes detailed guides covering healthcare, daily life, and cultural exposure, including media and literature, to support a comprehensive educational experience. It’s designed to enhance language skills through practical application during the stay in France.

And again, I will highlight that real experience is what matters the most, so I checked some reviews. I have to say, all of them are positive. This is the experience of one participant:

“I went to Cap d’Ail and Monaco for a month, living at Le Centre mediterranean d’Etudes Francaises. The campus was gorgeous, I met hundreds of students my age from different parts of the world and I was immersed in the culture. After the program I was fluent in French.”

3. Absolute Internship

Cultural exchange opportunities

Absolute Internship offers students the chance to develop professional skills through internships that can be done in person or online. These programs are available in major cities around the globe.

Program Highlights

  • Remote Internship Program: This program allows students to undertake internships in their field of choice from any location, using just their laptops.
  • Live and Intern Abroad: Students can choose to work in cities throughout Europe and Asia, including Barcelona, Beijing, and many others.
  • Life-Changing Experiences: The program’s blog features stories from alumni, explaining how their international internships have boosted their resumes and career readiness.

When it comes to real experiences, I will first mention that there are some negative reviews. However, all of them are related to 2019 and 2020, when the pandemic caused a lot of problems with restricted or even banned traveling to many countries. So, I guess it caused a lot of people to be frustrated.

And for the positive ones. Well, most of them indeed show that this is an incredible experience. This is an example from a person who went to South Korea:

“I went on the Seoul Program with Absolute Internship in June 2023. It was away to experience Korea before going on my study abroad to France the September after. After completing both programs, I can safely say that I very much prefer the structure and opportunities Absolute provide.

Whilst in Korea, I was able to see so many different things with amazing new people, all while taking part in some amazing career opportunities. It really is an experience I cannot recommend more!”

4. Where There Be Dragons

International language learning experiences

Where There Be Dragons offers travel programs that focus on cultural understanding and ethical travel. They have a history of providing experiences that allow participants to engage with local communities in Asia, Latin America, Africa, and the U.S. without the trappings of typical tourism.

Program Highlights

  • Responsible Travel: Where There Be Dragons designs travel experiences that reflect the true nature of each destination, with a focus on authentic interactions free from digital distractions.
  • Diverse Offerings: The organization provides programs for various age groups, featuring activities like family stays, treks, apprenticeships, and language classes. They also offer tailored trips for adults and professional development programs for educators.
  • Values-Driven: With a B Corp certification, Where There Be Dragons is committed to social justice, environmental sustainability, and making their programs accessible to a broader audience.

Many participants describe it as a life-changing experience. Here is a review of one that went to India:

“In 6 weeks, Dragons opened my eyes to the world and its opportunities; to the infinite amount of things to see and do and learn that exist. I learned invaluable lessons that I cannot explain on paper, from about my innermost self to the history and plight of Tibetan refugees.

The depth of my experience, the people I met, the places I saw, and the things I learned both solidified and changed me as a person. The program components include home stays, trekking, rugged travel, language study, learning service, focus of inquiry on comparative religion, development studies, and independent study projects.”

5. Go Abroad China

Go Abroad China (GAC) offers programs for learning Chinese and understanding China’s culture through internships and academic studies. They collaborate with top schools and companies to provide meaningful experiences that contribute to career growth.

Key Features of Go Abroad China:

  • Internship Abroad China: A professional internship program that helps with career development and personal growth.
  • Study Abroad China: Customized Chinese language learning tailored to individual preferences and objectives.
  • Comprehensive Support: GAC ensures participants have a supportive experience with around-the-clock assistance.
  • Diverse Program Options: GAC has a variety of internship and study programs in cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Why Choose Go Abroad China:

  • 4000+ Participants: A large network of alumni who have advanced their careers through GAC’s programs.
  • 800+ Companies: A broad range of businesses providing substantial internship opportunities.
  • 600+ Housing Options: A variety of living arrangements to enhance the experience in China.
  • High Satisfaction Rate: A 96% satisfaction rate among participants, indicating the effectiveness of GAC’s programs.

GAC promises a fulfilling experience with competitive prices, assured placements, comprehensive services, and the opportunity to experience life in China authentically.

What impressed me the most is the fact that I haven’t found at least one review with a score of under 5/10. People are highlighting this program as an amazing experience, and here is one great example:

“I joined 3 month internship program in China. GoAbrodChina internship program provides an opportunity to work with a leading foreign company, Evalueserve in China. Without GAC ‘s assistance along the way, finding the right employment in my relevant field would not have been that simple. Working for Evalueserve not only allowed me to carry out one of my greatest passions in life but simultaneously enriched me with the cultural experiences of working together with Chinese people.

Through my colleagues and GAC staff, I have seen and learnt so much about China’s language, culture,habits, lifestyle and all this has helped me to better understand China. I was very fortunate to have this door of opportunity open to me. It was extremely useful to have the support of GoAbroadChina!”

So, these are the programs I found most interesting. Keep in mind that there is no better way to become fluent rather than traveling to a place where everyone speaks the same one.

And what makes it even more incredible is the experience. You will meet new people, make a lot of friends, improve your skills, and become independent on your way to learning a new language. An option I recommend to everyone.

Table of Contents

Recent Posts