How to Plan a Language Trip
5 Days Until Departure
I already mentioned that I’m going to attend an English intensive course during a language trip to Cambridge, and now that there are only as few as five days left until departure 😨😍😶😁 (emotional roller coaster), I’m really busy organising the last few things for the trip. Only odds end ends really. The main stuff has luckily already been done 😎
I admit I’m an Organisation Addict
Without making plans everything in my life would be utterly messy. I’m such a forgetful, clumsy, chaotic and uncoordinated person, that I’d be lost without my calendar, lists and notes. The same applies to the organisation of my language trip to Cambridge. If you’d like to get a closer look at that matter, maybe because you’re toying with the idea of making a language trip yourself, you should keep reading 😉
1. Why Do You Want to Make a Language Trip?
What’s the reason for your wish to study a language abroad? Do you need it because of professional reasons? Do you think it’s just a great opportunity to go abroad and to improve your language skills at the same time? Are you interested in learning about other cultures? Do you need to prepare for a language exam like IELTS or TOEFL? Or is it a dear personal dream of yours?
It sounds like a trivial question, but it isn’t that unimportant, actually – especially if you’re not completely sure yet. If you’re certain about your motives and wishes, you can choose the perfect course more easily.
2. Don’t Be Too Afraid of Realising It
People tend to be scared of changes and new situations. I bet you know what I mean because of your own experiences.
One of the most common examples is the question whether you take a job offer or whether you better turn it down. Imagine that the job offer is really appealing – your salary would increase dramatically and you’d have a fascinating new assignment, you never dared to even dream of! It would be a major step upwards on the career ladder. But then questions and thoughts start popping up in your mind: “Am I really good enough for that job though?” “What if I fail?” “It’s great that the job is highly paid, but I also have to take over much more responsibility as well.” “Actually, I really like my current job. Why should I change something?”
Then you might turn down a wonderful job offer just because you’re too afraid of changes. And you’ll probably regret it afterwards…
Obviously, the consequences of a decision related to the question whether you may or may not make a language trip isn’t as risky as the example above. But I remember my own decision-making phase very well; my mind was constantly looking for poor excuses to upset my plans. Many people probably won’t have these issues and it’s great if you’re one of these lucky fellows, but I’m quite sure that there also people who are really struggling to find a proper decision.
No matter in which situation you’re currently in –
BE BRAVE, FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS AND TOTALLY ROCK THIS! 😎
And remember that there’s a solution to any problem 😊 If you’re worried about the financial aspect, for instance, you could consider a bank loan. (I did so, btw.) If you’re worried about all these new situations which you’d face*, be extra brave and remember that change, personal growth and adventures begin at the end of your comfort zone. 😉
*Just want to add: I can totally relate to that. YOU’RE NOT ALONE!
3. Which Vendor?
Yay, you came to the decision that you really want to make a language trip! HOORAY AND CONGRATULATIONS 😁
Next step is to do some research and to find a company which is offering language trips that fit best with your dreams, needs and financial scoop.There are search engines (like Sprachreise Suche or Sprachreisen.org) with which you can look for different offers from different vendors.
To be honest, I didn’t do much research though. I’ve chosen EF Sprachreisen because I already knew the company because of the online language courses they offer on their website EF English Live. For approximately one and a half year, I took one of their courses (the “Basic Paket” they offer in cooperation with the publishing house PONS) and I was chuffed about it. It was fun and I think it worked very well for me. So as I’ve made great experiences with EF already, I requested some information material via a contact form and left my contact information as well. I’ve gotten a catalogue, and everything in it sounded very promising. So after some conversations on the telephone with a really pleasant consultant, I finally decided to make my language trip with EF 😊
4. Which Course?
After browsing through the catalogue EF had sent me, I quickly came to the decision that I want to book the EF Internship Experience, which, besides a language course, included an internship in my branch (which is libraries). That sounded utterly exciting! But eventually, I had to accept that it’s just too expensive for me and I decided to “only” make a language trip over a period of two weeks.
Most vendors offer a variety of courses with different focuses and customised for different language levels and purposes. EF, for instance, offers these courses, among others:
- Intensive Course (the one I’ve chosen)
- General Course
- Basic Course
- English for Business Language
- Internship Experience
- Cambridge English Exam Preparation
- TOEIC Program
- Language travels for school pupils and students
- Stays abroad about several months
I think even these are a lot, but there are even more. Click here to find the full course list.
I highly recommend talking to a member of staff; no matter whether it’s face to face or on the phone. I know that can be terryfing. I thought so as well, because I hate it to speak to unknown people! #introvertproblems Though, together with a consultant, it’s way easier to choose a course that fits best for you. I had a wonderful contact at the EF bureau in Berlin. The consultant was very pleasant and highly motivated. She really made time for me and she was determined to find a course that’s geared to my needs 😍 (Lucky me!) Eventually, we found it and I was totally happy with the result. It’s going to be an intensive course, yay! 😁 But where? 😶
5. Which Destination?
That was a way more difficult question… I only was certain about the fact that I’d like to go to the UK or Ireland, but it took me ages to decide on the final destination. London? Oxford? Manchester? Cambridge? Brighton? 😶 The consultant I met at the EF bureau Berlin kindly sent me some proposals for a few destinations, which we had shortlisted together. Some places have been kicked out of the decision-making process due to the costs. In the end, I was torn between Oxford and Cambridge. Eventually, I flipped a coin. It showed “tails” – Cambridge.
But of course, there are not only destinations in the UK. As numerous as the range of courses is the diversity of destinations! What do you think New York, Miami Beach, Toronto, Paris, Barcelona, Madrid, Brisbane, Singapore and Tokyo? You’ve got the agony of choice 😉
6. In which Period of Time?
There are some points you might want to consider before you set up a period of time.
As well as for holidays, there are also peak and off-peak seasons for language trips. So if you choose a period in the off-peak seasons, you can get the same course for less money.
If you’ve already decided on a destination, it might be a good idea to check the festivals and other events which are going on there during the year. If you’re staying in Oxford, for example, and you’re really into books, you might regret it, if you miss the Oxford Literary Festival at the end of March.
I think it goes without saying that you should check your own calendar as well, so you don’t have to grapple with offended loved ones because you’ve missed your Aunt Irma’s big 76th birthday party 😉
Another important point is about appointments and holiday times at work, especially if you’re thinking about taking educational leave. I chose the period from the 12th to 23rd February, because I knew that there are only a few colleagues of mine who’d like to go on winter holidays. The school holidays, which might affect colleagues with children, will be already over, so the likelihood, that my application for educational leave would be refused due to staff shortage, has been decreased dramatically. I think the personnel manager would murder me if I’d say that I’d like to take educational leave in the middle of summer 😅 So I recommend choosing the period of time carefully if you want to avoid stress. And physical damage 😄
7. Educational Leave
In my humble opinion, educational leave – or “Bildungsurlaub” how it’s called in German – is a great invention. Pity, that so many employees don’t know that it even exists because it allows you to attend courses on up to five days per year during your working time.
I don’t want to get too much into details, but I highly recommend to check, whether it might be possible to take educational leave for your or not. This way you might be able to avoid taking some days off from your precious actual holidays.
Due to the problem that every federal state in Germany has its own educational leave law, you can’t make a universal statement. I recommend checking out this website and selecting the federal state you work in. Then you’ll get information about the terms and regulations which apply to you. If you work in Berlin (like me), you can directly follow this link to get further information.
Unfortunately, I can’t say how it’s handled in other countries, but it’s definitely worth to do some research.
8. Which Accommodation?
Homestay? B&B? Flat? Hotel? School’s residency? Argh, again a lot of different possibilities to choose from! You can’t generally say that one accommodation is better than another. They’re just different. Take your time to decide. You’ll stay your whole trip there, won’t you? So you’d better choose your accommodation carefully 😋
Staying at a guest family’s place is often the cheapest accommodation. It also has the advantage that you’ll learn a lot about the culture and the people living in your destination country at first hand. And you’ll have a lot of opportunities to practice your language skills by speaking and to apply what you’ve learned in school.
If you spare no expenses, you could also think about staying in a hotel or a bed and breakfast or even renting a flat. You definitely have some space just to yourself and especially after a long day at school that might be something nice to look forward to. These accommodations are probably a bit more flexible. You can browse the internet and choose whatever you like best.
I consider school’s residencies being lovely accommodations as well, though you probably should better be a communicative and outgoing person because most likely you’d have to share the place with a bunch of other students. So definitely not my first choice.
How the accommodation situation is organised varies from vendor to vendor. There are some which offer to organise it for you, other ask you to book one yourself.
I’m pretty glad that EF takes care of the accommodation issue, so I don’t have to organise one myself. I just had to choose which kind of accommodation I’d like to book. In case you were wondering, they offer homestay (you can book a single room just for yourself or you can share one with another EF student; in both cases at a guest family’s place) as well as rooms in apartments, hotels, EF residences and on campus.
9. Flight & Transfer
As well as the accommodation situation, it also varies from vendor to vendor how they handle the matter with booking flights. So You should ask whether the vendor books the flight for you or whether you have to take care of it yourself.
You should also ask how you get from the airport to your accommodation if the latter has been booked via the vendor.
I really appreciate EF’s offer to book the flights for me and to arrange a transfer from the airport to the guest family (and back again); helps me to feel a bit less nervous.
10. The Ambassador Program
I don’t know whether other vendors have similar programs, but if you’re making your language trip with EF, you’ll get the opportunity to become an EF Ambassador. That means that you can earn points for spreading information about EF’s language trips, and there are multiple ways to do so. You can, amongst others, share your experiences under #myef on social media, hand out flyers or you can write about it – on your blog, for instance. Like me.
I decided to join the program because I wanted to write about my language trip anyway. Earning points, which you can trade for rewards (from bags, over cinema tickets and Apple devices, up to 2-weeks-language trips to England or the US), is just a side benefit. Be assured it doesn’t have any influence on my article’s content at all. I always try to consider the stuff I’m writing about from all aspects. I promise that me being an EF ambassador hasn’t changed anything about it 🙂
If you’re curious, you can visit my ambassador page here. In case you’re actually interested in the EF language courses, you can order information material on my page. If you do so, you’d support me with a few points. But please don’t feel obliged to do so! 😊
I HOPE YOU’LL HAVE FUN PLANNING YOUR OWN TRIP 😁
Is there anything I can help you with, feel free to get in touch. I love to get post and I promise to reply as soon as possible 🙂