Teach Abroad with SPI

Educators Guide


Since 1996, world language teachers and college counselors alike have inspired their students with SPI’s authentic language immersion, leadership, and volunteer service experiences abroad. Our program model was created by educators for educators with 100% linguistic and cultural immersion at the forefront. Transform your students’ lives outside the classroom this summer with IMMERSION!

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Making the world your classroom since 1996!

Master teacher and SPI Co-Founder, Rose Potter, on why language immersion study abroad for college credit outside the classroom is essential for building young global leaders.

We hire qualified and passionate bilingual educators to work as directors for our language immersion programs. All director serve as mentors, caregivers, motivators, and model language immersion students while working together with the local partner school and the SPI home office.

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Recommend SPI Language Immersion Programs!

SPI programs are primarily comprised of academically minded students who enroll independently with us from across the world. As a leader in high school immersion, feel confident recommending SPI’s homestay immersion travel to your students. They will be led by our master on-site directors, and return with greater fluency and inter-cultural experiences to share. Make a world of difference in your student’s lives!

Dynamic Multilingual Teams Abroad

> Each SPI program consists of 1 Lead Director, 1-2 other directors, and typically 1-2 Teacher Travelers.

> Lead Directors manage the budget and serve as the primary liaison to the local partner school. Other directors help to organize and supervise afternoon activities, morning check-ins, weekend excursions, and blog/social media updates.

> All staff members work carefully with SPI during the planning year to help build the entire program.

Qualifications for On-Site Directors

> Genuine love and passion for working with teenagers of diverse backgrounds, language levels, and personality types

> Professional command of English as well as fluency in Spanish, French, Italian, or Mandarin

> Previous experience working with high school student groups (preferably on study abroad international programs)

> A high level of maturity, patience, energy, reliability, dedication, and interpersonal skills

Applying for SPI’s Summer Positions

STEP 1: Learn More about the Summer On-Site Director Positions available and complete the Summer Staff Application.

STEP 2: SPI’s senior leadership team will review your application and will email you to schedule a phone or Skype interview.

STEP 3: We ask that all potential staff be involved in our student recruitment process. This process starts in August and lasts through April. Applicants who can recruit students are more likely to be selected for the position.

We speak your language!

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Philippe Lacoste

French 1-3 Instructor
“I believe in study abroad and SPI summer programs. SPI is a fantastic organization and their attention to detail makes traveling with your students easy. With such good organization, you get to spend more time enjoying the places you visit, while teaching your students and spending less time worrying about travel logistics.
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Manuela Baranda

Spanish AP/IB Instructor
I HIGHLY recommend SPI. You, as a teacher, will grow so much from this experience. SPI created a well-organized and thought-out itinerary that just made sense to what the students needed. We actually had enough time to appreciate the culture and really be immersed, rather than running from city to city.”
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Derryl Lee

Spanish 3 Pre-AP Instructor
“SPI programs provide the most enriching cultural experience I’ve ever found for high school students. Their programs are top rate. The SPI team provided support from start to finish. I watched my students grow not only in their language skills but also from teens into mature young adults. If you use a different program – switch to SPI!”

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.

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

Our Screening & Selection Process

Students live with roommates in a 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.


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.

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 depending on location and group dynamic. 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 well supported in all housing options and are provided with: meals, a 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!

Although SPI homestays come in all shapes and sizes, the majority are older couples or single/widowed women 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.

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.