SPI Study Abroad

Work Abroad this Summer

SPI hires highly qualified bilingual and dynamic educators to serve as summer staff for our language immersion programs. All staff members serve as mentors, caregivers, motivators, and model language immersion students while working together and with the local partner school to operate the entire program.


How To Apply

STEP 1: Complete the Summer On-Site Director Application or email any questions about the positions to [email protected]

STEP 2: SPI’s senior leadership team will review your application and will email you to schedule a phone or Skype interview. Please do not call SPI regarding the status of your application.

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 recruit students are more likely to be selected.

We confirm Lead Director positions in DECEMBER & all other staff positions in APRIL

Join Our Dynamic, Multilingual Team Abroad!

Each SPI program consists of 1 Lead Director, 1-2 other Directors, and often 1-2 Teacher Travelers (who have referred SPI students.) 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 program from recruitment through program operations.

Mentoring & Inspiring Students with

Your Passion for Language

Copy Of HRP 12161
Play Video

SPI Program Team Abroad

1 Lead Director
1-3 Directors and Teacher Travelers

SPI directors commit to conducting the entire program in the language of study (English when necessary or for College Prep programs) and providing 24-hour support to students and Teacher Travelers. Summer staff members understand working with SPI is not just a summer vacation, but a serious job that is a lot of fun and very rewarding. Directors guide each program with safety, education, and personal growth at the forefront of their role.


View Qualifications

General Qualifications

SPI Directors are extraordinary, natural leaders with a passion for educating students using a hands-on, experiential approach. Strong interpersonal skills are essential, as is a deep interest in working with teenagers, teachers, and parents in an international setting. Most directors have a background in education with a strong understanding of what students need in an international study abroad program.

Required Qualifications for Directors:

> Essential: Genuine love and passion for working with teenagers (14-18 years old) of diverse backgrounds, language levels, and personality types.

> Language Fluency: Applicants should be able to hold a fluid conversation in complex situations in the program’s target language. Directors will handle program logistics, work with homestays, communicate with language school partners, and attend to student well-being/emergency situations in the target language. Strong command of English is required for international staff.

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

> Possess a high level of maturity, patience, energy, reliability, dedication, interpersonal skills, and confidence to handle the complex situations that international travel warrants within a team environment.

> Ability to work well with other adults/teachers of different ages, origins, and personalities in a team environment. On-Duty hours are often long and require some late night and early morning hours “on-call.” 

> Understand that SPI Director housing will be primarily with local homestays in a single/private room. Apartment accommodations may be available for additional fees. 

> Have a strong desire in mentoring and fostering cultural and linguistic immersion by following SPI’s program methodology and policies as stated on our Director Training portal and in all Director print guidebooks.

> Pass a thorough background check and agree/sign SPI Director Contract.

Director Duties Abroad:

> Use the language of study throughout the entire program.
Work as a team with other directors, teachers, and partner school staff.
> Check in DAILY with students during morning classes & lead all afternoon activities.
> Be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
> Be responsible for all parent communication.
> Take photos & videos of your group throughout the program.
> Ensure resolution of any medical, emotional, and behavioral issues.
> Oversee and manage the program budget as instructed.
> Expect to effectively handle challenging situations.


View Schedule

Schedule Abroad

> US Based Directors Arrival Abroad: 3 days prior to program start date.  Return: 1 day after program ends.

> On-Site Training Abroad: Full team orientation and preparation 1-3 days prior to program start date.

Sample Daily Schedule. Exact schedules vary per program. 

8:30 AM – 1 PM – Morning check-in at school, respond to any parent emails, update blog and social media, work with local partner school for any concerns, and staff meeting (not all days). Students have morning classes with a break. Prepare for afternoon activities/excursions and enjoy time exploring!

1 PM – 3 PM – After class meeting with students, lunch, potential elective activities/excursions (those that require leaving directly from school).

4 PM – 7 PM – Coordinate afternoon elective activities (T, Th) and language & cultural activities (M, W, F). Prepare back-up activity plans, work with other directors to facilitate all aspects of activities. Costa Rica – classes are held in the afternoons and activities and volunteer work in the mornings.

8 PM – 11 PM – Dinner, respond to parent emails, upload pictures, update social media.
Saturdays – All day travel excursion
Sunday – Optional activities/excursions or free day (on-call)


View Compensation

Director Compensation & Travel Benefits

> SMALL GROUP COMPENSATION: <16 students participating, Directors will earn -$200 LESS per two-weeks.

Program Country Regular Group Compensation
(Per 2 Weeks)
Large Group Compensation
(Per 2 Weeks >26 Students)
(Per 2 Weeks)
Lead Director Bonus
(Per 2 Weeks)










Payment Schedule for Directors

50% Salary Payment + Program Expenses: Transferred 1 – 7 days prior to program start date
50% Salary Balance: Transferred 1 – 5 days after program completion
*6 Week staff members will have their salary divided into 3 payments and receive an intermediary payment after the first month of work abroad.

SPI Study Abroad Costa Rica 029 1024x640

What Is Included for Directors

  • Transportation Flight/Train/Bus to and from the Program Arrival/Departure City (ie. Biarritz, Guilin, etc). Directors may travel before or after the program, but are responsible for any difference in transportation costs. We prefer you travel AFTER the program so you are well-rested prior.
  • For U.S. based directors, housing with a local homestay (with 2-3 meals daily) is included by SPI. If you elect to rent an apartment or stay hotel (not recommended), SPI will provide a comparable housing stipend equivalent to that of a homestay. Most directors already live in the program destination city therefore housing is not needed.
  • Directors will use their Personal Cell Phone during operations and receive a Cell Phone Stipend ($50-100/per two weeks depending on your cell phone provider and position, Lead Director vs. Regular Director).
  • Everything that’s included for students; Ground Transportation, Afternoon Activities/Excursions (except some optional elective activities like surfing), Excursion Entrance Fees.
  • Basic Medical & Travel Insurance for Directors traveling from the U.S. with ITIC Card (Local Staff Do Not Qualify.)
SPI Study Abroad Biarritz France 010 1024x640

What Is NOT Included for Directors

  • Personal Expenses (Souvenirs, shopping, etc.) Personal spending varies greatly, but plan for $200 weekly.
  • Extra Local Transportation Outside of Stipend (Getting to/from school, activities, excursions, etc.)
  • Optional Afternoon Elective Activities (2 per week – most of these will be included for at least one director, but are not guaranteed).
  • Flight Deviations or Difference in Fare for Traveling Before/After Program (SPI may not be able to accommodate your exact flight deviation request, but we make every effort to try!)
  • Additional Meals Outside Accommodations or Homestay

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.