By Anthony Martinez
Language enthusiasts, good news: There have never been more digital resources available to learn a second language. From the lavishly structured Rosetta Stone ($229.00) to the cheeky, incentive-driven Duolingo (free as the air you breath), language software has enabled any motivated person to acquire a language from the comfort of home. However, the most effective way to learn a language remains total immersion. If you are serious about the pursuit, here are some of the best immersion programs that teach three of the fastest-growing languages in the world. Each has a minimum stay of one week (except for CLI, which has a two week minimum).
1. Maximo Nivel (Spanish)
Maximo Nivel translates to “highest level” in English. True to its brash name, Maximo Nivel contends to be the best language acquisition program in Latin America. The organization’s most highly rated campus is located in Antigua Guatemala, one of the architectural gems of Latin America. Because of its designation as an UNESCO World Heritage site, Antigua’s vibrant colonial architecture is aggressively preserved. It is also one of the safest cities in Latin America, touting a “Tourist Police Squad.” The lessons in this program are highly personalized, and those entering for intensive acquisition are paired with a person learning English.
2. CLI (Mandarin)
Short for the Chinese Language Institute, CLI is one of the top language immersion programs around. Beloved by its alumnae, CLI capitalizes on a similar strength to Maximo Nivel: its stunning location. Namely, Guilin – one of China’s most scenic cities. Hemmed in by the iconic karst mountains, Guilin is one of the cleanest and most affordable cities in China. The location choice is also highly calculated: Few locals speak English in Guilin, forcing attendees of CLI’s program to use Mandarin outside of the classroom. Students learning through CLI receive 20 hours of one-on-one language instruction each week, not including CLI’s arsenal of alternative resources for engagement.
3. Dar Loughat (Arabic)
Renown for its excellent instructors and its ability to make a complex language highly accessible, Dar Loughat is set in Tetouan, Morocco. Similar to Antigua, Tetouan is an UNESCO World Heritage site, replete with gorgeous architecture. Legendary for its generosity and tolerance, Tetouan is ideal for immersing one’s self into the fabric of a foreign community. Like the previous two programs, Dar Loughat entrenches its students in intensive, small classes (eight people maximum) and offers a wide array of cultural engagement opportunities, including free outings every afternoon.
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Photograph of Guilin, China, via Shutterstock