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LANGUAGE IMMERSION THAT WORKS!

Because Your Future Needs a Life-Changing Experience Abroad…

Studying abroad will be a defining period in your educational experience — a journey that will transform you into becoming a global citizen with international perspectives that puts you ahead of your peers. Students gain self confidence, independence, and maturity, as well as increased fluency in a foreign language — skills that enrich their lives forever. In 1996, SPI programs were founded by language educators to provide students an authentic homestay immersion experience coupled with a cross-cultural leadership and community service component.

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OUR MISSION…CHANGING LIVES.


Globalizing Thousands of Students' Lives Since 1996

On SPI Study Abroad programs, the traditional classroom takes a back seat to exciting activities around the city, conversations with locals, and weekend journeys to places where history, art, and culture come to life! All SPI programs are designed to provide full cultural and language immersion for students by placing them in safe and easy-to-manage cities with caring homestays or fully-supported student residences.

INTERACTIVE LANGUAGE COURSES


SPI Interactive Language & Conversation Courses

Each SPI program has an interactive language course component taught by certified native speakers that hold advanced degrees in teaching foreign students. Students are broken up by skill level (beginner through AP/IB) and classes are held 3-4 hours per day. The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

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Language Course Overview

The language courses focus on developing communication skills by simulating real-life situations through interactive class activities that include writing, oral expression, film, music, food, and literature.

> 2 Hours – Grammatical Concepts

> 1-2 Hours – Conversation, Culture, Literature, Film, etc.

> Small class sizes with levels 1 through AP/IB

College Credit Opportunity

SPI uses foreign universities and accredited language institutes for coursework abroad. These institutions provide high school students, upon successful completion of their courses, with an official transcript that they may use to petition college credit from their future university or college. Official transcripts are first sent to SPI in September, and then we will mail an official copy of the transcript in a sealed envelope to each participant. You will mail the official transcript packet directly to your U.S. university once you are enrolled.

Credit Hours vs. Credit Granted

Most SPI language immersion programs give 30-80 contact hours, or classroom hours, enabling for a potential of up to 1-6 semester college credit hours by your university. Contact hours are treated differently at every school. Some schools will grant specific class credit for the hours (e.g., Spanish), although most give a general foreign language or elective credit. Normally, 15 Contact/Class Hours = 1 College Credit Hour.

IMPORTANT:  Due to the nature of college credit granting by each individual U.S. university, it is impossible for SPI to guarantee credit for any student.

YOUR HOME ABROAD


The SPI Housing Experience In-Depth

Everyday life takes a new form as students gain maturity, responsibility and respect as they navigate living in a new language and culture. In both our homestay and student residence accommodations, students will encounter situations, such as the pre-college experience of living with a roommate, that will expand their horizons and encourage them to grow.

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Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a caring local homestay or student residence that is experienced in hosting foreign students. SPI has worked with most participating homestays and student residences for a number of years, and they understand students are there to learn the language and experience the culture. SPI diligently screens each homestay and student residence facility with the following in mind: safety, location, cleanliness, and previous experience hosting students.

HOMESTAY
Most homestays have hosted students for many years and take their jobs and duties as cultural ambassadors very seriously. Our foreign schools also work with each family on a year-round basis to ensure a positive experience is had by each student. It is critical to understand that most homestays come from humble means and different dynamics.

STUDENT RESIDENCE (CHINA)
Our student residences are staffed with resident director “moms” (RDs) that live along side the students in the same facility. We maintain a low RD to student ratio to ensure that students are always well supported. RDs serve as mentors, model immersion students and caregivers to help each student take full advantage of their experience.

Location of Housing

All housing options are located within a 10-30 minute commute from the school. Students will walk or take the local bus, which is a safe and normal way for students their age to get around in our host cities. The majority of our housing options are located in the same areas where students will be close to each other.

Evening Curfews

Student curfews are set based on what a culturally appropriate weekday and weekend curfew would be for teenagers in the country of study. This is normally between 10 PM – 11 PM on weekdays and a little later on the weekends. As an important safety measure, program staff diligently monitor student curfews. Specific curfews are listed on each program page for your reference. 

Typical Housing Dynamics

Students are very well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a clean living and study space, laundry service or facilities, linens and towels. It is fundamental that students have an open mind to trying new foods and living in an environment different than “home” to benefit from this transformative experience!

HOMESTAY
Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or singles in their 50s – 60s who have extra room in their home and are eager to host students. We have found this dynamic provides the best support, the most interaction, and the most culturally rich experience. Some homestays do have children, but students should keep in mind that homestays with children are busier and often offer less interaction — much like a busy American family.

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Student residences vary slightly per program but are typically university dorms, private apartments, or hotel-type accommodations. SPI students will share a room with other SPI students of the same gender, though most facilities will also host additional international students in other rooms. This is another culturally enriching opportunity for students to interact with their peers from around the world!

INSPIRING TRAVEL EXCURSIONS & ACTIVITIES


Education Through Exploration

SPI study abroad programs incorporate both classroom academics and travel exploration. From visits to world-class museums to magnificent hikes through lush mountains and tropical rain forests, SPI students explore the most important monuments, cities, and natural wonders each country has to offer. Weekend and cultural day excursions help students dynamically use the language of study and immerse themselves within the local community.

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Afternoon Elective Activities

Our meaningful afternoon elective activities make local culture, art, architecture, museums, sports, and attractions come to life! Each program offers a variety of engaging activities designed to combine serious fun with truly inspiring “once in a lifetime” experiences. Electives are not included in the program price, and we suggest students budget $100 per week for participation in these incredible learning experiences.

Common Afternoon Electives

CULTURAL: Cooking, Dance, Art & Architecture, Museum & Theater Visits, Local Sporting & Cultural Events

SPORTS: Surfing, Volleyball, Soccer, Kayaking, Snorkeling, Hikes & Walks

ENRICHMENT: Photography, College Prep (Essay Writing, Admissions Prep), Photography, Guest Speakers

Sample Travel Excursions

SPAIN: Bilbao, Pamplona, Santander, San Sebastian, Guernika, Biarritz (France), Comillas, Picos de Europa

FRANCE: Bordeaux, Bayonne, Anglet, San Sebastian (Spain), St. Jean de Luz, Pyrenees Mountains

COSTA RICA: Liberia, Cloud Forest, Puntarenas, Rincon de la Vieja, Tamarindo Beach

ITALY: Florence, Orvieto, San Gimignano, San Vincezo, Castiglione della Pescaia

CARING SUPERVISION & SAFETY ABROAD


Caring On-Site Supervision Abroad

Safety is always our number one priority when selecting program sites, homestays, excursions, activities, and on-site directors. Our programs are designed for mature high school students motivated to participate in an experiential learning experience abroad. All program sites are selected based on several factors: size, safety, low crime rates, location in the country, caliber of institutions abroad, quality of local homestays, and many others. As our priority is to ensure safety and guarantee personalized attention for each student, we maintain small group sizes with a staff to student ratio of one to eight.

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On-Site Supervision Team Abroad

We hire bilingual high school teachers, university professors, and caring local staff who, as a team, serve as international “moms and dads” throughout the program. Directors actively participate in all aspects of the immersion experience: helping with housing adjustments, checking in on classes, and making sure students are taking advantage of the wonderful excursion and activity opportunities. All SPI staff go through extensive reference checks.

Training & Experience

Directors are selected based on their experience working with teenagers in an international setting, their ability to communicate fluently in the language of study, and their academic & professional background. All on-site staff go through an intensive training process.

Daily Supervision

Students are expected to be respectful of their directors’ guidelines and abide by the SPI standards of conduct at all times. SPI directors and program staff are available 24 hours a day. Directors check in with students on a daily basis in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings; they also frequently monitor all aspects of each student’s progress. Homestays and residence directors are contacted to learn how students are adjusting, and to handle any concerns. Daily curfews are enforced.

Student Behavior Expectations

Since 1996, we have proudly attracted an academically-minded student body focused on improving their language skills and growing from cultural experiences. At SPI, we take our role as teachers seriously — we recognize that we are responsible for guiding students through one of their most life-changing experiences. We expect students not only to abide by our standards of conduct at all times, but also to serve as ambassadors of their local communities, schools, and cities.

No Alcohol Policy

SPI maintains a strict policy against the use of alcohol. Directors check in with students in the evenings; however, parents are expected to review our standards of conduct with their children and set clear family expectations prior to the start of the program with regards to their behavior abroad.

Information for Parents on SPI Study Abroad Programs for Teenagers

Study Abroad Programs for High School Students

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