“…Studying abroad isn’t just an important part of a well-rounded educational experience. It’s also becoming increasingly important for success in the modern global economy. Getting ahead in today’s workplaces isn’t just about the skills you bring from the classroom. It’s also about the experience you have with the world beyond our borders—with people, and languages, and cultures that are very different from our own.”—First Lady Michelle Obama
Studying abroad during high school, whether for an immersion language program, a volunteer opportunity or a homestay, will not only improve your language skills, but also give you valuable life experiences that will prepare you for college and beyond.
Here are eight compelling reasons to study abroad in high school, brought to you by Middlebury Interactive Languages, a four-week immersive summer language program for teens with locations in the US and abroad in Beijing, Granada, and Québec City.
- Gain real-life experience speaking in language. Learning vocabulary and grammar in the classroom setting is one thing, but thinking on your feet while conversing with a native speaker is another. Studying abroad will accelerate your language learning, improve your accent and listening skills, and give you confidence holding fast-paced conversations. Take advantage of the opportunity to speak in language as much as possible.
- Leave the nest. Become self-sufficient and make decisions for yourself. When you study abroad in high school, you’ll be relying on yourself rather than the support system you’ve had at home. Learning to become self-reliant will result in increased confidence, independence and maturity, while helping to prepare you for college.
- Manage a budget. Chances are, if you are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to study abroad in high school, you’re not going to have unlimited resources. You’ll have to learn to live within your budget while dealing in foreign currencies. If you can, visit an outdoor market while abroad where you can fine-tune your negotiation skills—in language!
- Try new foods. You might not like everything you eat—in fact, you might not really know what you ordered. But enjoying local cuisine is one of the best ways to experience a new culture and learn about customs around food.
- Make unlikely friends. While abroad, you’ll likely bond quickly with people you might not have befriended at home. If you have the opportunity to speak with locals, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They will be excited to hear you conversing in their native tongue and will applaud your efforts.
- Set yourself apart in the college admissions process. As the college admissions process becomes more competitive, study abroad can help you stand out. Not only will you accelerate your language skills (potentially skipping a language level when you return to school), but likely you’ll also have an experience that could be the start to a compelling college essay.
- Create better career opportunities for yourself. Recent studies show that bilingual and multilingual individuals are landing jobs with higher salaries than monolinguals. In fact, last year CNN Money called language fluency the hottest job skill. Even if the result of your summer study abroad experience isn’t fluency, the personal growth you will help prepare you for your future. You might also discover a passion you never knew you had and decide to pursue it through a college major or career path.
- Have an unforgettable summer.A summer abroad is not likely something you’ll forget anytime soon. Make the most of your summers while you can and relish opportunities to meet new people, try new foods, take in new sights and experience new cultures, while developing valuable language skills that will serve you in your future.
Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy is a four-week, residential summer language program for teens with locations in the U.S. and abroad that utilizes the immersion pedagogy of Middlebury College’s renowned Language Schools. Choose to study Spanish, French, Chinese, German and Arabic and take the Language Pledge®, a formal commitment to speak only in language 24/7. The result of four weeks of language and cultural immersion? Tremendous language gains and newfound confidence communicating in language to help prepare you for college and beyond.