Frequently Asked Questions
It s good to ask questions! We spend an incredible amount of time advising our students (by phone and email), answering questions and comparing programs because we enjoy doing it. Asking questions will help you decide which location or program is best for you! We have tried to keep the structure of our programs as consistent as possible world-wide, however with over 150 programs in over 50 countries, there will always be slight differences. The following responses are more general, but are definitely a good guideline. After reading this, if you have more questions, please feel free to contact us: 1-800-219-9924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Questions About Travel Preparation
Q: What kinds of people take the course?
A: Our students are anywhere from 16 to 65 years of age. The average age is between 20 and 35 years. Our language students are university and college students, professionals, executives and adventure travelers. You will find a wide selection of international students studying on our programs. Our students take the programs to learn more about another culture and language...while having fun!
Q: What is the minimum age to attend a program?
A: We normally ask for students to be 18 years of age for our standard language programs but 16 year old students might be allowed to participate if they provide us with a signed parental authorization. We also have specific programs for children and teenagers. For details, visit Teenagers Abroad.
Q: When booking flights, when should I plan to arrive and depart?
A: Nearly all our programs start on the Monday morning so plan to arrive on the Sunday before your start date. Your Sunday evening accommodation is included in the price. When departing, all our programs finish on the Friday, however you do not have to leave the accommodation until noon on the following Saturday, so plan to fly out on the Saturday. NOTE: this is the general structure but please check your program details for exact start and departure dates.
Q: I have found a cheap airfare, but I will arrive outside the start dates. How will this work?
A: In most cases not a problem, it is your choice. If you arrive a day late, you will miss out on your first lessons and perhaps the welcome introduction. If you arrive a few days early, depending upon availability, we can normally book you one or two additional nights accommodation before or after your program.
Q: If I need a visa, do you arrange this for me?
A: Visas and passports (if required) are the responsibility of the student or the student's family to obtain well in advance of your program start date. To find out if you need a visa for the country or countries you are planning to visit, we recommend you do some research for requirements and costs well in advance. We recommend Visa Central, by CIBT.
Please note that in almost all cases, if you are a citizen of North America and require a visa to visit another country, you will be applying for a Tourist Visa - not a student or study visa. Your primary reason for the visit will be tourism, because our programs do not involve full-time studies. Also, if a "Letter of Invitation" from one of our schools is required to obtain the necessary visa, we would be delighted to provide you with such a letter.
For a complete list of the Foreign Consular Offices and Embassies in the USA, check: www.state.gov/s/cpr/rls/fco/ and in Canada, visit: w03.international.gc.ca/Protocol-Protocole/Consular-Consulats.aspx
Q: Do you recommend travel and medical insurance?
A: Yes, Languages Abroad strongly recommends that all our students take out medical travel insurance before leaving the country. We can provide you with an excellent, competitively priced, comprehensive policy, which covers you for as long as you need it. Our policy is tailored to meet the needs of the international language student.
Please click here for more details.
Q: What additional safety precautions should I take while abroad?
A: While general safety precautions should be observed any time you are visiting a new city, when travelling abroad there are some additional precautions one should take during times of conflict.
- The main precaution is to be always be aware of your environment. Familiarize yourself with the customs of the country you are visiting and its particularities and always stay aware of the city s safe and unsafe areas and when you are out.
- Keep your money, credit cards and traveller's checks out of view and leave your valuable jewellery and watches at home. Many locals assume that all tourists must have money and therefore tourists are often a target for theft. This is even more true if you visibly appear to have lots of money. Keep a low profile, and you will not be as noticeable.
- Be respectful of local customs. You can reduce this risk by fitting in with the locals. You can do this in part by how you dress. Be aware of what is acceptable dress in churches or even on the street! Blend in the best you can by taking note of the way locals dress and mimicking them as much as possible.
- Avoid walking around in large, loud, conspicuous groups. Travel in pairs or mini-group when you can. Also we suggest you avoid popular tourist hang-outs, night clubs and popular tourist attractions where foreigners are known to congregate.
- Keep in touch by phone and email with your family, the school, and your embassy or consulate, more often than you might normally. The specific level of risk in the country you are visiting determines the level and amount of contact you should be keeping. Also, keep the school or host family informed of where you are and when you will be back, especially if you are going away on a weekend excursion out of town, so they will be able to contact you, if necessary.
- For information on health, visit the official Centres for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Q: Will the school be open on local public holidays?
A: No, the school will be closed and lessons will not be made up, please see the program price page for these particular dates.
Q: Do your programs offer academic or university credit?
A: Many of our programs offer credit but all colleges and universities have their own policy regarding transfer credits. Because some of our programs are recognized by one particular university, this does not mean it will be recognized by your university. We therefore suggest that all participants, who are considering applying for credit, should contact their university first, before applying with us. Please call us to discuss your options at 1 800 219 9924 or click here for more details.
Q: What do the program fees include?
A: Program fees include the following:
- Selected course
- Selected accommodation (single or twin/shared rooms)
- Some meals (if staying with a host family)
- Placement test upon arrival
- Loan of course materials
- Language proficiency certificate upon completion
- Pre-departure information
- Social and cultural activities
Q: What is not included in the program fees?
A: Program fees do not include the following:
- Airfare and in-country transportation
- Passports, visas and permits
- Travel and medical insurance
- Admission fees
- Spending moneyExam fees
Q: How long should I study?
A: We believe the longer you are able to study, the better. It is generally better to stay as many weeks as possible but not study too many hours per day. Most students can expect to develop moderate fluency in 2-5 months depending on several factors (atmosphere, accommodation choise, personal motivation and application, and number of lessons). If you need to learn a language in a very short time, we do offer intensive programs however many students miss the cultural aspect of the country/language if they spend to much time in the classroom.
Q: What else should I know before I go?
A: We recommend you are aware of your closest embassy or consulate in your chosen destination. You can find a list of US embassies abroad here: http://usembassy.state.gov/ and Canadian overseas embassies here: http://www.international.gc.ca/ciw-cdm/embassies-ambassades.aspx.
Questions About Arrival & Placement
Q: When should I plan to arrive in the country and how do I get to the school?
A: Please plan to arrive in the city of your program on the Sunday before your classes begin. Your Sunday night s accommodation is included in the price of the program unless otherwise specified. An airport pickup service is often provided (in selected locations) if the student arrives on Sunday and is staying with a host family. In all other cases, you must arrange and pay for you own transportation to/from your accommodation. If you choose to stay with a host family, and have requested a pick-up, a representative will meet you in the arrival hall at the airport. He/she will be holding a sign with your name or the name of the school on it. With any pick-up request, Languages Abroad must receive flight arrival details at least two weeks before your program start date.
Q: What should I expect on my first Monday morning at the school?
A: You should plan to arrive about 8.30am (unless otherwise told) on your first day. Other students from around the world will also be starting on the same day. As the students will be of different language levels, all students will be asked to take a language placement test, unless you are a complete beginner. The test will take about 15 minutes; the teachers will evaluate your language skills and then place you in the correct class. Once this has been completed you will be given a welcome introduction to the school and your first class will begin around 10.30am. After your first day, classes will start at the same time each day, normally between 8 or 9am.
Q: What happens if I arrive late and miss the first day at school?
A: We would like to stress that it is very important to arrive on time and we would always recommend arriving earlier for a program than later. Should you arrive late for your program and miss one or several days, the school will make every effort to bring you up to date with what has been taught and what you have missed. The teacher will still give you a placement test and place you into the correct class for your level, However your missed days can not be made up and you will miss those classroom days. Some of our schools offer the option of taking some additional private lessons (at an additional cost) to help you catch up, this can be arranged upon arrival and the additional cost paid directly to the school. Your class mates could also share their notes with you and you could copy those so you could study outside the class.
Q: What happens if I feel I have been placed in the wrong class?
A: If you feel the class you have been placed into is to easy or to difficult, just let the teacher know at the end of the first day and they will move you into another level.
Questions About the Course
Q: What level of language skill do I need to attend a program?
A: We accept all levels from complete beginners to advanced levels. All our programs cater to many different levels of ability, however, complete beginners will start on set beginner start dates. (Please see the price page for your chosen program for the set beginner start dates).
Q: How long is your program and when do the programs start?
A: Our programs have start dates all year round and many programs have several start dates per month. Our programs are very flexible and you can select your length of stay, from a minimum of 2 weeks to 3 months, however our average length of stay is 4 weeks.
Q: How many students should I expect in a class?
A: Usually our classroom sizes range from 8 to 12 students per class, depending on location. Below is a very general overview:
- European schools: normally vary from 8 to 12 students.
- South and Central American schools: normally vary from 1 to 6 students.
- Africa/ Middle East and Asian schools: normally vary from 8 to 12 students.
Q: How will the language be taught and what should I expect in class?
A: We believe that teaching a language cannot be successful solely by routine and repetition but should be creative and communicative. We focus on learning to speak the language by instilling the most effective ways to master correct pronunciation and intonation. Our students learn most effectively in classrooms that are highly communicative and use techniques such as role-play, grammar games and videos to support lesson content. Current political, social and cultural materials are integrated to add interest and increase knowledge of the host country and culture.
Q: What are the most popular programs?
A: We normally offer 3 types of programs: The Standard program, Intensive program and Private Instruction. Most students who are studying over 2 weeks select the standard program, which normally offers 4 or 5 lessons per day depending on your location. Students who are studying for 2 weeks or less normally select the intensive program, which offers 6 lessons per day. Private instruction is the least popular as it is quite expensive however, this is also a very intensive option and a personal choice.
Q: How long is a lesson?
A: Typically a lesson lasts between 45 and 50 minutes.
Q: Do I receive a certificate at the end of the program?
A: Yes. Most of our programs offer a "Certificate of Proficiency" and we can also help prepare you for internationally-recognized language exams at some of our schools. Please contact us for further details.
Questions About Accommodation
Q: What is the most popular accommodation option?
A: We find most students stay with a host family or stay in a self-catering apartment. The main difference between these options are the meals; host families provide 2 or 3 meals daily.
Q: If I have chosen the shared-bedroom (DR) option, who will I be sharing with?
A: You will be sharing with another, same-sex student studying at the school. When students are sharing rooms, we try to place students together from different countries or languages so they are forced into speaking the language they are both there to learn.
Q: What "house rules" should I be aware of?
A: Each student will be given a key to their accommodation and will be able to come and go as they wish. As you are staying with either other students or with a host family, you will have to observe some basic house rules such as cleanliness and tidying up after yourself but apart from those, you can come and go as you wish.
Q: How are your host families chosen?
A: We have specific requirements that our families must meet before they are invited to host our international students. We require that the families live within a reasonable distance from the school, have ample living space for the student, and live in a clean, safe and comfortable environment. We also work with families who enjoy hosting international students. We try to match each student with a family as best we can. The more specific you are on your enrollment form, the better the match.
Q: If I stay with a host family what should I expect?
A: The family will treat you as a guest and you will be expected to obey house rules. All families provide a private or shared room (depending on location) with access to all living areas in the house and a choice of meals. In most cases, students will be expected to share the bathroom. Experience has shown us that living with a family is the most interesting and effective way to become fully immersed in your host country's language and culture.
Your host family will always do their best to engage you in daily conversation while making you feel as though you are in a "home away from home". Remember your host family will have different customs and habits than perhaps you are accustomed to, and meals will be prepared according to local custom. All host families are within 50 minutes traveling time of the school; the smaller the city, the less time it takes to reach the school.
A couple of questions you should ask yourself if considering the host family option:
- Am I prepared? Do I have realistic expectations? Host families may not have the same comfort as your home does.
- Am I prepared to live by the house rules? You will be treated as a guest and free to come and go as you wish however you will be expected to comply with your family s rules and expectations. For example, some host families may have a curfew at midnight or so.
- Can I adjust to unfamiliar food? Eating times could be very different, i.e. 8pm instead of 6pm, and the portions may be smaller or larger than you are used to back home. You should also expect the menu to be different from what you are used to.
Q: Who else will be staying in the apartments and what should I expect?
A: For those who prefer greater independence, our self-catering apartments, shared with other international students studying at our school, are ideal. These are normally located within walking distance or a reasonable bus ride away from the school. They are equipped with kitchen, bathroom, and living area facilities. Depending on the location, we offer the choice of a single or twin (double) rooms.
Our co-ed apartments are self-catering, which means meals are not included. Students provide their own groceries and prepare their own meals. The kitchen that you will share is fully equipped so feel free to cook up a storm. In many cases, the cooking becomes a social event in the apartment and a great way to chat and make new friends. Many students have theme nights, where they take turns to prepare a meal from their home country for the rest of the students in the apartment.
For the duration of the stay in the apartment, you will be living among other students. You are expected to comply with the mutual house rules. This means that common living areas must be kept clean and tidy at all times. All students have keys to the apartment and can come and go as they wish.
Q: Do I have to bring bed linens and towels with me?
A: Please bring towels with you as the host family and apartments do not offer them. Bed linens and pillows will be provided.
Q: What day do I have to leave the accommodation?
A: You have to vacate your accommodation on the Saturday at noon, after your last Friday at school.
Q: If I need to stay an additional night in the accommodation, can I book extra nights?
A: Yes, for an additional charge you can book a few extra nights before or after the course.
Questions About Free Time
Q: What happens outside the classroom?
A: After classes are over for the day, our programs allow plenty of time to discover the host country, culture and customs. Our optional cultural and social activities allow you to make new friends with your classmates, experience cultural activities together and practice your new language skills outside the classroom. A teacher or school representative normally guides a few optional activities per week in the afternoons or evenings.
Many activities are free, some examples are a game of organized soccer in the local park, a walking tour of the city, lectures or guest speakers at the school, workshops, a visit to the local market, movie nights, theme parties etc. In some cases, the daily activities are offered at a small additional fee such as fees to local galleries or events. If you are interested in sight-seeing by yourself, our school staff is more than willing to assist you in outlining your local options.
Q: Do the students meet up after class?
A: Yes, this is one of the many great reasons to study abroad; you make new friends from around the world! You will find that many students form friendships and spend a lot of time together outside of classes, it s always more interesting to go sight seeing with a friend. There is so much to do after classes are over for the day. The cultural and excursion options are endless or you can just may just decide to relax and hit the beach or cafe for the afternoon...your choice!
Q: Where do your students come from?
A: From all over the world! Depending on your chosen location, the nationalities will vary but the majority of international students come from North America and Europe. Fewer students come from Latin America and Asia.
Q: Do the schools offer weekend excursions or trips to places of interest?
At the weekend; many students arrange to take our optional excursions to local cities or local places of interest or go on their own. These organized excursions cost between $30-$70 per person as they are normally a full day or weekend excursion with transport, sometimes meals and entrance fees included, depending on the location. All excursions are optional and students can use public transport if they wish, our school staff is more than willing to assist you with travel or excursion options.
Q: Do I always stay with the students from the school?
A: No. Once class is finished you can do whatever you wish. This is a benefit of our programs. You can join in with the students when you wish, or take a step back and do your own thing when you want to.
Information for Handicapped or Disabled Students
Our schools vary from location to location and many do not offer wheelchair access or have not been designed for students with limited mobility. Depending on your chosen language some of our locations do offer easy access to both the school and accommodation and special arrangements can be made. Please do not hesitate to contact us and our program managers can help direct you to the best school for your needs.