Congratulations on your decision to study abroad Spanish! Yes, one of the best way
to improve your Spanish is to immerse yourself in the environment and live the
language. But the other side of the coin is that the study abroad experience requires
a huge commitment on your part. For example, money. Depending on how you do
it, it could cost you a small fortune. In order to harvest the great return of improved
Spanish, you have to invest in yourself, right? But what if you can optimize the
investment by getting the most Spanish out of your dollar? This article is about that.
More specifically speaking, there are 3 ways to obtain maximum amount of Spanish
by studying abroad. There are: 1) Picking the right country to study Spanish in, 2)
Picking the right airline, 3) Not signing up with the language school agency.
Out of the 3, Picking the right country holds the utmost importance because it will
determine significant portion of your study abroad expense. Of course, the
countries determine the available touristic resources, difference in how the Spanish
is spoken, etc, but we’ll focus on monetary issue today. Let’s say that you are
looking for an one-on-one class in Spanish because you’ve already taken some high
school and college Spanish class with 30 other students and that didn’t give you
much opportunity to practice. As you know, Spanish is spoken in Spain and many
Latin American countries and thus, you now have a huge selection. And cost of the
study varies significantly from one country to another. For instance in Spain, the
individual class in Spanish for a week runs around $850-$900. If you want more
complete immersion living with a host family, there goes another $350-$400. If you
are going to study for 4 weeks, it’s a safe bit to budget around $6000! On the other
hand, there are less expensive options in Central America. In Guatemala, you can
find both the one-on-one Spanish class and homestay within $150-$250. You
definitely don’t want to ignore this enormous range of difference.
Another huge expense is the transportation fee. Since most of us will be going to
the destination country by air, we’ll look at how you can save on airfares. But, first
of all, let me just tell you that since I don’t work in travel industry, I don’t have the
insider’s secret. I don’t have the travel wisdom of a nomadic super backpacker
either. All I can give you is a few web sites where you can begin shopping around
for your airfare. They are: Economy
Travel , Airline Consolidators and Best Fares [http://%0D%0Awww.bestfares.com/home.asp]. If you have been buying tickets
from places like Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline and Travelocity, you will see the
difference. I guarantee it.
Finally, another way to cut the cost of your Spanish learning experience is to go
direct to the Spanish school by skipping through the language school agencies.
When you search for Spanish schools on the web, most likely, those agencies are the
ones that you will encounter first. They come up on the top of the search engine list
and they offer lots of options too. After all, that’s their job. They are the “advertising
agency” for Spanish school. They charge tons of money from the individual Spanish
schools and from you too by marking up about 10%-20% on top of the tuition you
pay to the school. Yes, some of them do offer fairly nice information of the
countries and schools and we should use them to familiarize ourselves about the
potential destinations. But it’s not rare that those agencies have problems
communicating your needs to the school (My friend had to wonder around the street
of Guatemala with all his luggage because the agency didn’t notify the arrival time
to the school) and there is no point paying extra $50 for the “introductory packet”
from the agency when you sign up with them because that’s the copied one from
the Spanish school. So, once you find out the name of the school you are interested
from the agency, just go to Google or Yahoo and type in the name of the school to
go to the school’s home page and sign up directly.
In conclusion, I’d recommend that you use the language school agency to learn
about the going price of tuition in various Spanish speaking countries and when you
find a school of your interest, go to their web site to register directly with them.
Finally, use the discount airfare web sites indicated previously as a reference point
to shop around for your best airfare. With this little bit of research, you are well on
your way to get most Spanish out of your bucks!