Spanish Immersion at Veracruz's Spanish Language Immersion Schools

The Language Immersion School,    Veracruz's Spanish Immersion



 
American owned and operated. Lodging, meals, and materials are included. Come to Veracruz by plane (we'll meet you at the airport), bus, or car. Non-traditional Spanish immersion optimizes your learning in this especially safe, very friendly city.   (About Us--click here)


Spanish Immersion and
Spanish Language Immersion Programs


We've gathered some articles that we have written about Spanish Immersion and about Mexico, and we've placed them here.

Language Immersion School in Mexico—The Best Way to Study Spanish

Language Immersion Schools in Mexico—Four Choices about Instruction

Language Immersion Schools in Mexico—Knowledge about the Spanish Language or Learning to Use Spanish

Language Immersion Schools in Mexico—Location, Location, Location

You Can Tour The Back Roads Of Mexico Without Knowing Spanish.

Business Spanish Immersion--A Business Edge for a Difficult Economy

Baby Boomer Spanish—Now What Is That?

Veracruz, Mexico’s Undiscovered Treasure

Adding Spanish as a Management Tool

A Highly Competitive Sales Tool That’s Easily Affordable

Language Immersion School—Approaches to Instruction, Traditional or Non-Traditional

Language Immersion School—Approaches to Instruction, Single-Language vs. Dual-Language

Language Immersion School—Approaches to Instruction, Large-Group-Size vs. Small-Group-Size

Language Immersion School—Textbook Language vs. Language in Context

Language Immersion School—Location, Location, Location

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Language Immersion School in Mexico—The Best Way to Study Spanish

Language Immersion School sounds overpowering, but it isn’t.  The good schools offer you the easiest, fastest, and most success-driven way to learn a language.  Language immersion schools are exciting and fascinating.  They take you out into the culture because that lets them teach you language in context.  Language in context is more fun to speak, easier to remember, and immediately useful.

Language immersion schools (LIS’s) move you through course content far, far faster than happens during a regular college semester or high school year.  They teach the same grammar, vocabulary, and sentence structure found in regular classes.  But unlike the typical classroom, LIS curriculum includes a lot of spoken language and living culture.

LIS stays of two and three weeks are the most common, but stays can range from a week to many months.  An incredible amount of progress can be made in only two or three weeks. 

How can you learn so much Spanish in so little time?  Three of the biggest reasons are that in good LIS’s [1] instruction is nontraditional, [2] group size is small, [3] and study plans are individualized.  Importantly there’s always an emphasis upon using what you’re learning.  You’ll work with a number of different staff members, and so you’ll hear and practice with lots of voices.    

Outings are common, often daily, and lots of time is spent, practicing with Spanish-speaking staff, in museums, markets, el Centro, the city square, and elsewhere around town in traditional, cultural locations.  A good LIS has you participating actively in Mexico’s culture while learning Spanish.

You’ll find schools throughout Mexico.  Most are inland and usually near Mexico City, but some are as far away as Chiapas.  A few are on the ocean.  Many can be reached directly by plane while some require a several hour bus ride after you fly into Mexico.

Whether you’re already an advanced speaker or a very beginner, your skills will grow greatly.  If you’re an advanced student you’ll most likely gain great fluidity in speaking and integrate more complicated constructions into your Spanish.  You’ll move more comfortably into colloquial conversation.  Your Spanish will sound much more natural.   

For beginners, in three weeks (or just two working hard) you’ll have surpassed survival Spanish and be carrying on conversations.  Sure, you’ll be speaking slowly, and your vocabulary will be limited, but even so to be carrying on conversation is this short a time is incredible.  It’s the magic of language immersion.

Schools that include outings and fieldtrips often teach you how to travel in Mexico.  The amount of language you learn in so little time combined with learning how to use the bus system is enough to make you an independent traveler.  No longer will you see Mexico through tour-bus windows.  You’ll be able to go where you want and do what you want.

Some schools offer several areas of emphasis, or even better, they individualize to best make Spanish work for you.  Business people have differing needs from those of teachers and healthcare has yet another set.  The highly flexible schools address the common material needed by all language learners and yet also take you in directions best fitting your goals and needs.  This makes the schools’ job more complex, but they do it because they know how much more useful your Spanish will be to you.

Language immersion schools often have a “method.”  In Mexico everyone wants to have his or her own method—it’s cultural.  If you choose a method-based school, you’ll want to be sure it’s a method that fits you well.  Methods are usually strictly followed.  Some schools have approaches to language acquisition.  These school tend to be far more flexible and individualized.

There’s always the question of should I take a couple of courses in my community college first or should I jump right into immersion.  It’s more and more a hot topic of conversation among Spanish teachers.  One hears longtime teachers becoming frustrated with the traditional curriculum and deciding that good immersion schools have the right approach. 

Traditional classroom successfully teaches lots of grammar, vocabulary, and structure, and all of that is great.  Immersion schools also teach grammar, vocabulary, and structure.  In addition, the good LIS’s have you talking, using what your learning almost immediately.  If speaking is your goal, then starting right out with immersion is the better way to go.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2007
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Language Immersion Schools in Mexico—Four Choices about Instruction

(Last month Language Immersion Schools were described in general. This month important considerations about instruction will be discussed.)

Language Immersion Schools share a common goal, but differences, large and small, are found among them all. Here are six choices about instruction. It takes only a little extra time to find a school that’s a great fit for you.

[1] Traditional Instruction or Non-Traditional Instruction
The beginning point is deciding between traditional and non-traditional instruction. Traditional instruction is what you typically find in a college or high school classroom. It has lots of variations, but all variations are essentially the same.

It’s characterized by sitting in rows, listening to the instructor, taking notes, responding now and again to questions, completing in-class exercises, and doing homework. Variations include sitting in a circle, using handouts instead of a textbook, and doing group-work and projects. Traditional instruction is the time-tested, old-fashioned approach known so well by everyone.

Many U.S. colleges and universities have summer immersion schools in Mexico. The classes offered are the same as offered on the institutions’ U.S. campuses. The content is fixed, and the instruction is traditional. As with summer school anywhere, the classes move at high speed. And as with all traditional instruction, content is designed to be easy to test.

Some non-affiliated immersion schools employ traditional instruction. They offer a number of levels each containing predetermined content. They’re found in larger cities, in business areas with hotels close-by. Their involvement with the student is limited to class hours. Most commonly they offer four hours of class a day. In schools using traditional instruction, there is very little time to practice speaking.

Non-traditional instruction is found in many forms. Good non-traditional instruction is very focused, highly energetic, organized, clearly delivered, engaging, and most importantly has students participating as active learners. Outings are common. Teacher presentation is less formal and more personal. A good deal of time is given to speaking Spanish, to developing conversation skills. Non-traditional almost always is directed more toward spoken language. (Traditional is almost exclusively written language.)

Some students prefer the orderliness and firm structuring of a traditional classroom. Many students, on the other hand, find non-traditional to be more fun and more engaging, and a better environment for learning.

[2] Large-Group Instruction or Small Group Instruction
Group size is another personal choice needing consideration. Traditional school is organized around a large-group setting. Staff-student ratios are all over the place, but 1 to 30 is common. Immersion schools using traditional instruction often hold the ratio to 1 to 20 or even 1 to 15.

Some non-traditional settings also use large group sizes, but sizes are more likely to be as low as 1 to 10. This begins to accommodate a stronger emphasis on speaking. More time is built into each class for conversation practice. Large-group, non-traditional tends to have some but few outings, and conversations centers around what’s going on in school or around what students may have done the afternoon before.

Non-traditional, small-group-size, usually capped at 1 to 4, is a totally different setting. High levels of flexibility become available and individualization is possible. Teachers have far closer connection to the students and pace progress accordingly. With fewer students it’s easier to move faster. Topics of interest to all can be found, and so engagement is greater.

Everyone gets more talk time, and talk now becomes truly conversational. The setting is less structured and even more relaxed. There’s more time to meet everyone’s needs.

There is also a far greater variety of teaching approaches available to instructors. One of the greatest benefits is that outings are easy. Language can be practiced, conversation can be carried on, in lots of real places and in real situations. Much of the artificial talking practice that happens in large group instruction is replaced with true, actual, useful conversation.

More can be asked of the student in small-group instruction, more progress can be made, and conversational skills can skyrocket.

Single-language instruction or dual-language instruction is another choice. It’s almost always only a question in non-traditional small-group settings. And again which is best is that which is best for you.

[3] Single-Language Instruction or Dual-Language Instruction
Some schools choose to do everything in Spanish. (Initial orientation and office and financial matters are the exception.) Vocabulary is developed solely in Spanish. Meaning is built upon prior vocabulary learned. Parts of speech, verb tenses, conjugating verbs, sentence structure, all are presented in Spanish. In many single-language schools, teachers are not allowed to speak even one word of English.

The notion is that by functioning only in Spanish one learns more naturally (as a child learning his or her first language). The thought is that through repetition, visuals, memorization of patterns and etc, an understanding of grammar and syntax will be automatic.

Dual-language instruction is more common. Vocabulary is learned in bilingual fashion. Many students have forgotten a good deal of the grammar they learned in prior years, and grammar is reviewed in English. Then Spanish grammar is explained. The explanation of Spanish grammar is given in English so that language isn’t an impediment to understanding what’s happening.

Schools using dual-language say that a great deal of time is saved by explaining in English. It’s hard to understand anything in a language you don’t understand, they go on to say. Once an idea is explained in English, the schools then immediately go into Spanish to put the ideas to use and to practice with them.

By getting ideas understood more rapidly and with the faster growth of vocabulary, the dual-language users argue, there’s more time for speaking and learning to carry on conversation.

Single-language or dual-language instruction can be a confusing issue. Those who enjoy academic purity in language tend toward single-language instruction. Reports from those who have done both tend to support the idea that understanding is faster with dual-language. Those who want to learn to speak as fast as possible tend to choose dual-language.

[4] Textbook Spanish or Spanish in Context
A final huge choice in instruction is textbook Spanish or Spanish in context. Traditional schools, especially those owned by U.S. universities tend to be textbook driven. A certain amount of material must be covered and tested. Textbooks are designed to fill time available (usually a semester of fifty minute classes meeting three times a week).

Textbook units are often designed to fill a week or two weeks. Major ideas are accompanied by lesser important ideas so that the week or two week period is full of material. Ideas are practiced by doing the exercises in the text. The learning experience is usually confined to the classroom’s walls.

Language in context takes you out into the community. Schools using language in context teach essential grammar and sentence structure. As fast as they can they teach you the basics needed for conversation. Classroom work is non-traditional, and lots of outings are included.

The good schools have you out and about usually from the very first day. You walk around the neighborhood, go to the old city center, shop in the open-air market. You’ll see fascinating things and be in fascinating places. There’ll be lots to talk about. You’ll go out and about with a native Spanish speaker.

The miracle of immersion will happen. You’ll just start talking. The people around you will be speaking Spanish. If you’re a beginner, you talk in phrases, and you’ll soak up vocabulary. If you’re intermediate or advanced, you’re speaking skills will soar. When you’re doing language in context, students and teachers alike report, you almost automatically begin to talk.

Non-traditional, small-group-size, immersion schools tend to make by far the greatest use of the immediate community and the surrounding area. Their flexibility allows them to take you on outings to places that are of particular interest to you. Often they teach you to use buses so you can travel on the weekend. You’ll use your Spanish, whatever your level, because you have to, and you want to, and because it fun.

Fun is immersion school’s great advantage. If you’re having fun, if you’re engaged, if you’re dazzled and involved and participating you’ll learn Spanish at an amazing rate.

Choosing a language immersion school that fits you is easy enough to do. Be clear about you goals. Some are geared toward learning to read and write. Others, while including reading and writing, are focused of getting you speaking. Search the web for schools. Some good search words are SPANISH IMMERSION SCHOOLS and IMMERSION SCHOOL MEXICO.

Good schools explain who they are and how they do things. Take a few minutes to work your way through the choices about instruction. You’ll find a school that fits you just right.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2007
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Language Immersion Schools in Mexico—Knowledge about the Spanish Language or Learning to Use Spanish

(In past months we’ve taken a broad look at language immersion school and a close look at a number of instructional considerations. This month’s article is shorter and highly focused. This month we’ll see why some language immersion schools get you speaking Spanish {while so many still don’t}.)

What’s school’s job. It’s to give us a lot of knowledge about a lot of things. It’s an almost impossible job, and yet we’ve been to the moon and Mars is our next stop. School’s not perfect, but it’s not bad.

So, if school works why have language immersion schools?

The full answer takes us deep into the philosophical foundations of Western education. We’d need cultural anthropologists to explain what we’d be seeing. Fortunately, a clear-mined but not-so-deep look will let us understand the answer to our question. As complex as the issue is, the answer is straightforward.

When we take Spanish classes in college or in high school, exactly what we expect to happen does happen—we learn a lot about the language. We gain a great deal of knowledge about the language.

Given time to collect our thoughts, we can conjugate is many tenses, think our way through the use of ser and estar, understand where the object pronouns go, and handle many things important to the grammar and structure of Spanish. If we take the standard four college semesters, we end up knowing much more about the Spanish language than many native Spanish speakers know.

School is successful in doing what it’s designed to do. After a few semesters, we can read and translate what we’ve read. We can write (mostly fill-in-the-blank, sentences, and short paragraphs). But, sadly, we can barely understand what we hear, and usually we can speak almost not at all.

What’s wrong with us? How can we know so much about Spanish and be able to do so little with it? There’s nothing wrong with us, nothing at all. And, we shouldn’t expect to be speakers, to carry on conversations.

Here are a couple of analogies. I could read all about how to fly an airliner. I could learn how airplanes work. I could go to airports and watch planes takeoff and land, and I could watch them fly overhead. I could do ground school for a pilot’s license. I could gain a lot of knowledge about how to fly an airplane. I could take written tests and get super grades.

But would I know how to fly a jetliner? Emphatically NO!!! Even though I’d have a lot of knowledge about flying an big, beautiful aircraft, I couldn’t do it.

What if I studied all about brain surgery. I could end up with an unbelievably incredible amount of knowledge about opening skulls and working inside. But I wouldn’t know how to do brain surgery.

The answer to why are there immersion schools is easy to see. Immersion schools teach you to use the language—to speak and to listen, to carry on conversation, to talk with people.

Sure, immersion schools also give you important knowledge about the language, they teach grammar and structure and vocabulary. You need this knowledge, but in and of itself, it by far just isn’t enough.

There are lots of “truth be known’s” about immersion schools, and here’s another. You must be careful in choosing a school to attend because many still offer knowledge about Spanish, and few teach you to use Spanish, to become a speaker of Spanish.

By looking closely at a school’s website you should be able to tell which ones truly teach you to use Spanish. Schools that know how to do it, talk about it. Some good search words for Spanish immersion schools in Mexico are SPANISH IMMERSION SCHOOLS and IMMERSION SCHOOL MEXICO.

A Dean of Instruction for a top ten community college system recently reviewed a language immersion school that truly teaches its students to use Spanish, to converse in Spanish. Here’s a paraphrase of her comments. She said this is exactly how language should be taught. She went on to say that she’d been teaching Spanish for nineteen years at the college level and the frustration of teaching knowledge of Spanish instead of teaching using Spanish was driving her to despair.

A student who has been to five Spanish immersion schools in the last two years reported that he just couldn’t get talking no matter how hard he studied until he finally found an immersion school that focused on letting him use Spanish, speak Spanish. He made more progress in his nineteen day stay at this school than in all his prior study.

From the ICAO (the International Civil Aviation Organization) comes more emphasis on learning to use Spanish. Internationally their language requirements for English proficiency are increasing in 2008. Pilots (private and commercial) flying internationally and air traffic controllers handling international traffic are going to be held to a higher standard.

The ICAO cautions schools teaching Aviation English to teach the use of English (as opposed to teaching only a knowledge of the English language). It advises pilots and air traffic controllers to choose schools that will teach them to use English. (ICAO Document 9835 AN/453).

The best language immersion school is the one that best fits you. In prior articles we’ve discussed a number of important considerations. The one we’re discussing here might be the biggest of all. The question to ask yourself is, “Do you want to gain knowledge about the Spanish language, or do you want to learn to speak Spanish, to carry on conversations in Spanish?”

Spend a little time on the Internet looking at different schools. You’ll find the one that offers you exactly what you want and need.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2007 Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Language Immersion Schools in Mexico—Location, Location, Location

(In past months we’ve taken a broad look at language immersion school, a close look at a number of instructional considerations, and looked at gaining knowledge about Spanish versus learning to use Spanish. This month our focus is not on the school itself but on the school’s surroundings.)

Learning to speak Spanish, if this is your goal, requires that you pick a school that teaches the using of Spanish. You’ll need a school that focuses on getting you talking. And when you’re looking for one, location is a huge consideration.

Some students, we have to remember, only wish to gain knowledge about Spanish, to learn grammar, structure, and vocabulary, but don’t care to learn to speak, and for them location doesn’t matter.

Most students want to use Spanish, and learning to use Spanish happens best when you study Spanish in context. Spanish in context is when the school has you surrounded by Spanish and you’re participating; it’s when you’re shopping in Spanish and partying in Spanish, and visiting museums in Spanish, and whitewater rafting or walking ancient ruins, or at the beach, or birding or anything in Spanish.

You’ll learn to speak more, faster, and with greater confidence if your school has you constantly doing new and interesting things—doing new and interesting things that are so compelling that you’ve just got to talk.

And that’s how we end up at location, location, location. It’s easy to overestimate a location. There are many okay locations. There are some good locations. And just like with all real estate, there are very few absolutely great locations.

One of the most peaceful language schools I’ve ever encountered is located twenty minutes out of town on a beautiful hillside. It’s a great facility. It’s nicely appointed, has a pleasant pool. You awaken to fresh country air and the songs of birds.

You can hike the woods and look out over the valley. It’s restful and rejuvenating. The tranquil isolation of the setting offers the serenity many look for in a vacation.

For vacation it’s great, but after you swim, after you walk the woods, after you sit on the veranda and study, then what do you do? What all is there that’s super easily accessible, and exciting, and inviting, and stimulating, and going to cause you to want to join in and talk and talk.

A setting as peaceful and beautiful as one could ever hope, a perfect setting for a vacation home, isn’t surrounded with high participation, high activity, totally compelling places, people, and events. For Spanish in context, for learning to use Spanish, you need an endless set of fun and fascinating things to do.

Here’s a setting at the other end of the spectrum. Here’s location, location, location.

A language school is located half a block from the ocean. The beach is two blocks away. Between the language school and the beach is a major aquarium. In the building housing the aquarium are things for kids to do, a wax museum, a kid’s land, and within 200 feet you can hop into a boat and take an ocean ride. There are restaurants and ice cream shops and tourist shops and banks. You can fish from the dock.

Going on for many blocks there are shops and palapas (thatched roof restaurants). There are street vendors and double-decker buses. You can buy books, but who has time to read them. There’s live music at night, and there are people everywhere. It’s all safe. And this is just within several block of the school on one road in one direction.

You can walk the malecon (it’s at the corner only half a block from the school) and wonder past the merchant marine academy, the commercial fishermen (and go deep sea fishing if you want), and walk out the seawall to where the cargo ships enter the port. You’re close enough to throw a stone and hit one (but don’t). And if you keep walking another 10 minutes you pass the yacht club, lots more restaurants and little grocery stores. Suddenly you’re inside the inner harbor wall (you can walk it too).

Continuing along the malecon inside the harbor you’re inside the port seeing ships load and unload. You can take the harbor tour. Another five minutes you’re at the zocalo. On one side of the open area housing the bandstand is the cathedral, on another the municipal palace, and on yet another restaurants with marimbas, norteño bands, salsa bands, and mariachi groups.

You didn’t have to walk there. The bus on the corner goes there, and it goes through the heart of El Centro (the city center, the main downtown), passes within a block or two of seven museums and crafts centers, schools, the big city park, and even an old fort that protected the city from pirates.

Hop back on the bus, and it takes you back to school.

Busing the other way you pass along the beaches, more museums, restaurants with live music and dancing, and banks and shops and even the city’s big, modern shopping mall, and movies, and continues on with spectacular views to the river to the south (twenty minutes total ride from the school) and the little town on the river.

On the river you can take a boat ride up (the vegetation is lush and dense), buy a snack in a tiny grocery store, see folk ballet dancers.

And then you can ride the city bus right back to the school’s corner.

You can take a taxi to the zoo, the botanical gardens, the kid’s amusement parks (low tech), the pro soccer game or the pro baseball game.

You can walk to the corner on the other end of the school’s block and visit the local grocery. The little store can crowd in 25 people and crowded on her shelves are more than 3000 different items. Another block inland is the home of the 6 foot long alligator. A restaurant owns it, and they love foreigners to come look at it and touch it.

Some of the taco carts are safe. Most of the coconut carts (wheelbarrows) are okay, the mango carts are safe. There’s ice cream and fresh fruit and icees.

None of it takes any pre-planning. The school is right in the middle of all kinds of things, and all are so easy to get to. You just get up and go—walk to many, go to the corner and hope a bus to get to lots and lots, and walk out the front door and hail a taxi to get anywhere.

Most of what there is to do in town is free or very inexpensive.

And then there are fieldtrips and weekend trips—snorkel and scuba, sand-boarding, nature trails along the ocean and along rivers running up the close-by mountain side. There’s rafting and kayaking. It just doesn’t stop. And there are archaeology ruins and even the landing site of the conquistadores.

Why is it important that all of this is there?

It’s important because there are people in everyone of these places. And these people want to talk to you. They’re doing things, and you can participate. It’s old, traditional Mexico, and it’s inviting you to join in. When you join in you’ll have lots to say. They speak Spanish! And, so will you. You’ll speak lots of Spanish and speak it constantly.

Find a good school and you’ll start talking. Find a good school in an absolutely terrific location, and you’ll be talking much, much more.

Here’s are some good search words-- SPANISH IMMERSION STUDY MEXICO and IMMERSION SCHOOL MEXICO. Schools with good locations let you know it on their websites. Schools with absolutely terrific locations tell you lots more.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2007
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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You Can Tour The Back Roads Of Mexico Without Knowing Spanish.

It’s new to tourism, and it works great. Now you can visit little towns and villages; you can visit rural areas rich in ecology and culture and adventure; you can go far off the beaten trail without needing to be able to speak Spanish.

You don’t need travel agencies, and you don’t need tours. In fact, they can’t take you there. You need a Home Base.

Home Base does a million little things to help you, but it all boils down to [1] housing that serves as a point of departure and [2] folks that will take care of the logistics of getting you from here to there.

The housing is usually a room in a city or large town—a room that serves as your staging ground, a room where you can leave your stuff while you’re on the road, a room that’s waiting when you get back. It should provide breakfast and a light late evening snack. To come to Mexico, you need suitcases. To travel the back roads with ease, you can only carry a backpack. Home Base gives you flexibility and freedom.

The human side of Home Base is what makes it all work. If you don’t speak the language and if you’ve never traveled abroad before, it’s all daunting. What do you do at the airport? How do you know a taxi will be safe? Where, off the beaten path, do you want to go? How do you get a bus, the right bus? And toughest of all, once you get to where you want to go, how do you do anything?

Language barriers are insurmountable. The only solution is to remove language as a barrier. Help makes language not be a barrier at the Home Base and also not be a barrier at your destinations.

Home Base and Help groups do what travel and tour groups can’t do, they individualize to the max. And that’s the secret to back-road travel work for those who don’t speak Spanish.

Let’s use the incredible state of Veracruz as an example. In many ways it reminds one of California. It’s a long and narrow coastal state with its inland border along the ridge line of the East Sierra Madres. From ocean’s edge to North America’s third highest mountain peak (Orizaba Peak) is only 80 miles. The variety of eco-environments is incredible.

The largest city in the state of Veracruz is the city of Veracruz. It’s Mexico’s second busiest ocean port. It’s an extremely popular tourist town, and there the tourists are Mexicans themselves. They come from all over the country on summer vacation, for Carnaval, for Easter and for Christmas. The come from closer-by for weekends all winter long.

In Veracruz there’s a great Home Base and Help group. By the week, you get a well appointed, large room with private bath in an old, traditional Mexican home. It comes with breakfast and a light evening meal set aside and waiting for you when you get back at night. It’s only half a block from the ocean and two blocks from the beach. Veracruz the state and city are incredibly safe, and the Home Base is in the safest part of the safe city. It’s comfortable and friendly, and when you’re out off-the-beaten-trail your possessions (except your backpack and the few thing you’ll carry) are securely locked up in your room.

And their Help is sensational. The folks know the state. They have photos and brochures and stories and all you need to first get oriented and then to begin building your travel plan. Some folks want adventure tourism; others want ecotourism, and still others want cultural tourism (both living and past). Most folks want a mix and match of all three. You choose. It’s your trip. The decisions are yours. The choices are yours. You’ll make a plan, a plan that can be changed and changed every day as you gain more experience and become more independent. This well may be the best trip you’ll ever take.

Since you don’t speak the language, and assuming you haven’t traveled “like a local” much in the past, Help has to get you on the right bus. That’s easy. The first few times they go to the bus station with you. If you’re getting off at a crossroads, they may walk with you to the bus and ask the driver to be sure you know when to get down.

If needed (this is how highly individualized this is) you’ll be met at the end of your bus ride, at the terminal, and accompanied to where you’ll get on your back-road bus. If it’s an easy transfer, maybe all that’s needed are instructions written both in English and Spanish.

Maybe you’ll have pictures of where you want to jump off the back-road bus or maybe you’ll just know the name of the stop. It’s easy to worry that you’ll miss it and end up who knows where. It’s okay to worry, but there’s no need to worry. We’re back to individualization—if need be, Help will have someone at the stop waiting for you, flagging down every bus you might be on until they find you. And then that person will orient you to the area, and get you started looking around.

At the end of the day, it’s back to the back-road bus, and back to the terminal and the travel bus and back to Veracruz. You’ve had your first outing. You’re back at Home Base safe and sound. You’re tired and hungry and you’ve had your first of many great days.

Say you want your first outing to be white water rafting in Jalcomulco. Remember, you haven’t traveled by yourself at all in Mexico, and you don’t speak the language. And to make things as daunting as possible, you’re traveling alone instead of with a friend.

After an early breakfast, you and Help walk to the corner and catch a taxi to the bus station. You buy a ticket to Jalcomulco, saying only Jalcomulco. The ticket agent turns toward Help with an inquiring look. Help nods yes. Your ticket is printed. The ticket agent tells you how much, but of course you don’t understand. So you hand her a 100 Peso bill. You do that because as you got ready for the trip, you were told all the prices. She hands you your change.

The bus leaves in 20 minutes, but you’re not allowed to pass the gate until 15 minutes before departure. Help reminds you immediately to show your ticket to the gate guard. He’ll say no, of course, but what you’re after is that he knows where you’re going and when. The public address systems in bus stations are impossible to understand.

After five minutes you walk up to him again with your ticket. He tells you to head on in. You don’t know which bus. Help can take you directly to the bus, but you’re learning how to be an independent back-road-traveler. You show the ticket to a bus driver, and he points a little ways down the run of bus stalls. You go where you think he said. And then you show your ticket to someone else. You’ll end up on your bus. Help goes back to the Home Base, and you’re off to Jalcomulco.

You’re a little anxious—in a bus you don’t know, on a highway you don’t know, in countryside you don’t know, in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. Relax. Everything’s fine.

At Jalcomulco the bus driver, using his big in-the-bus mirror, makes eye contact with you. Or maybe he calls out to you. And you get off.

The magic begins. You’re in the town plaza of a very Mexican little town with its cobblestone streets and small shops and big beautiful church. There are people walking here and there, and no one’s paying attention to you and you’re paying attention to everyone. The colors are beautiful, and you smell tacos cooking. Someone mispronounces your name.

Maybe it’s Chevy Rodríguez Téllez (or his wife Yunuen). He’s captain of Mexico’s national whitewater rafting team. He speaks a little English. He’s been waiting for you. You’re off to get ready for rafting.

But on the way you grab a chicken sandwich on a hard roll and a glass of fruit juice. The food’s good. The rafting is even better. On el Rio Antigua, the Antigua river, rafts are seven person size. You’re rafting with 5 Mexicans and Chevy, one of the five speaks a little more English than Chevy. You’ve got a partner.

Rio Antigua is nature at its finest. High walls with glorious vegetation and a birder’s paradise rise from both sides of the river. The roughest rapid is only a two and a half. The water is cool but not cold. And because this is Mexico, everyone is as happy as can be. For the next three hours you don’t even notice that you don’t know the language. Communication always works when you’re having fun.

After the run and another sandwich, it’s off to the ziplines. The longest single run in the state is your first stop. You’re not really sure you want to do it. You new-found friends cheer you on. You don’t know the words, but the sounds are the same world wide. You slip yourself into the harness…

Getting home’s a little tougher. There are no more buses coming all the way into Jalcomulco. You need to get out to the Xalapa-Veracruz highway. Jose Maria will drive you, Yunuen tells you. (You don’t know Jose Maria, but Help, of course, told you this is how it goes.) It’s an early ‘80s pickup. You feel pretty good. Six of you are going for the ride. Locals like to visit with foreigners, and on the back roads, they don’t see many. They practice their little bit of English, and teach you some Spanish. The Veracruz people are among the warmest and friendliest in the world. You chose to sit in the bed of the pickup so you can visit. It’s a little bouncy. Back-roads are bouncy.

Out at the main highway Jose Maria and you five other new friends flag down a travel bus. Before you get on you take you two hundredth picture of the day. The smiles are so big and happy your camera begins to smile. You’re in Mexico. Off the beaten trail. Surrounded by good folks. Safe as can be. And having more fun than you could have ever imagined.

You haven’t even once used the cell phone Help sent along with you.

Maybe you’ll use it tomorrow as you head up to La Mancha for a motor launch ride through the mangroves, or maybe you’ll wait until you’re sitting on the burro for the nature tour, or maybe you just won’t call Home Base at all. Help will just have to wait until you’re back for the night to hear your stories and share your love of the true Mexico—back-road Mexico.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2007
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Business Spanish Immersion--A Business Edge for a Difficult Economy

An expanding market is a bright light in a difficult economy. For your business, including the Hispanic community might be the market expansion that heightens success in troubled times.

Traditionally access to the Hispanic community has been difficult. And prior to the explosive growth of the community, interest has been limited. Over recent months from all over America we hear comments telling us that interest has grown sharply. Access remains an obstacle.

Learning Business Spanish, learning to speak Spanish for business, removes a major portion of the access obstacle. Participating in Latin culture clears out almost all of what’s left.

From back in our school days we remember how few people actually manage to learn to speak a second language. Our school memories make language study look like unrewarded (or even wasted) effort.

Language immersion schools, the good ones, succeed where classes in high school and college didn’t. Spanish immersion, more correctly, business Spanish immersion, can quickly give you the Spanish start that opens access.

It usually takes as little as three or four weeks of study. You’re a month away from entering this fast growing segment of the economy. It takes work, of course, but good language immersion is highly effective. You won’t be a native speaker after only a month, but you’ll be using Spanish.

And that’s the secret--learning to use Spanish. Simply having a lot of knowledge about the Spanish language doesn’t do much for you; you have to be able to use the language, to speak and understand.

Studying Business Spanish in Mexico is ideal. Mexicans are warm and friendly and love to visit, and so you’ll have lots of cultural contact. If you’re fairly new to Hispanic culture, you’ll pick up lots of do’s and don’ts while you’re learning to use the language. You’ll want to choose a school that encourages a lot of cultural interaction.

A careful internet search will take you to websites of schools that teach the using of Spanish. Schools that truly focus on getting you using Spanish will make it clear that they do.

Business Spanish immersion is a good first search. Searching language immersion school or Spanish language immersion will also lead you to many schools.

Learning Spanish isn’t expensive, and it’s a tool that lasts forever. America is changing. The benefit of the change is there for the taking.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2008
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Baby Boomer Spanish—Now What Is That?

It’s just Spanish—fun, happy Spanish you waited all your life to take and finally can because the kids are out of college.

For the last 22 years or so it was their turn, and now it’s your turn.  Maybe you took a couple of years of Spanish back in HS or college.  Then came the kids’ turns.  They took two or three years of foreign language in HS and one or two in college and maybe did a semester overseas. 

Lots of wonderful parents wanted to continue with Spanish, wanted in on the fun and happiness of Mexico or the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and waited.  There wasn’t time during those twenty some years…But now there is.

So, consider coming to Mexico to a language immersion school.  If you’ve got a couple of weeks, you’ll be talking.  Sure, you won’t have a lot of vocabulary and you’ll only be using two or three tenses.  But!!! You will be speaking Spanish—conversing in Spanish.

If you’ve got three weeks or even better, a full month, you’ll be talking up a storm.  Will you know Spanish like a native?  No, of course not.  Will you be able to travel and visit with folks and participate in daily life and special events, and on and on.  Yes you will, because Spanish language immersion works magic.

Look at a lot of schools.  Above with a dashed underline are great search words.  And some more search words follow. You’ll find lots of language immersion in Mexico, and Mexico is a great place for language immersion

There are two big things to look for in choosing a school.  

The first is does the school actually teach the student to use Spanish—to visit in Spanish, to shop in Spanish, to travel in Spanish, to actively participate with the locals in Spanish.  Lots of schools only teach knowledge about the Spanish language.  It’s all good stuff, but having knowledge about a language is very different from being able to use a language.  Good intensive Spanish immersion schools teach you to use Spanish.

The second is about location, is the school located off the tourist trail.  If you do language immersion in Mexico in a city that is full of Americans and Canadians you just won’t get much practice.  So you want a school where there are almost no foreigners around.  This way everyone around you will be speaking Spanish and almost all will only know Spanish.  And so, to join in, you’ll be speaking Spanish too!

In addition to these two main points, you’ll want a school that is flexible and individualized.  You’ve lived a lot of life, and you know how you learn best.  Flexible and individualized usually means choosing a high quality but smaller school, and definitely means very small class size.

And a closing thought—choose a Baby Boomer school.  Choose one that has a more mature student group, students who truly want to learn Spanish and participate in the culture, students who share your world and with whom you’ll have a lot of fun.

Baby Boomer Spanish, it’s ready and waiting for you, and it’s your turn.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2008
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico.  They’re always happy to answer questions.  You can email them at
info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Veracruz, Mexico’s Undiscovered Treasure

If you want to work the hardest to find out the least, try gathering info from guidebooks about Mexico’s state of Veracruz.

Veracruz is a long state running north to south. East to West it’s only about 120 miles at its widest point. One edge is the Gulf of Mexico and the other is the ridgeline of the Eastern Sierra Madre. Capping the Sierra Madre is glacier covered Orizaba Peak, North America’s third highest mountain peak.

Here are the first things the guidebooks fail to tell you. Veracruz is beautiful; it’s full of eco-tourism and adventure tourism opportunities; it may be the safest place in the entire country, and the locals are the nicest people we’ve met anywhere in our travels.

You can travel the state on your own—going where you want and staying for as long as you want. There’s no need to join a tour, and there’s no need to use a travel agency. Being on your own, you’ll meet real people and participate in the warm and exciting daily life of Mexico.

Public transportation is super. With almost no Spanish at all you can get around very well and get anywhere you want to go. Driving down or renting a car is fine. Because the state is so narrow, a broad variety of environments are close together—much less time is lost to travel than in most areas.

The state has impressive and important archaeological ruins (the biggest is El Tajin), pristine undeveloped beaches (most notable is Villa Rica), white-water rafting, incredible birding, coral reef diving and snorkel, deep-sea fishing, dazzling rivers and waterfalls and forests, ocean opening lagoons, nature tours from ocean side to high mountain, and more and more.

There are almost no foreigners in the state. The opening paragraph up above tells you why. You just don’t hear about Veracruz. Coming to Veracruz is coming to Mexico. The state has plenty for tourists to do. That’s because there is a lot of tourism. But in Veracruz the tourists are from Mexico itself.

The locals and the Mexican tourists love to encounter foreigners. Here, everyone wants to talk to us and visit with us. We’re an uncommon event. Walking down the street you’ll find the locals checking you out just as strongly as you’re checking them out. Your eyes will lock. Don’t be embarrassed; just smile and say hi. We want to know all about Mexico, and they want to know all about us.

Here are some places to find out about Veracruz. One is right here in Go2Mexico. There is a non-commercial site www.traveltoveracruz.com that is dedicated to the State of Veracruz.

You’re always welcome to contact us at The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico (info@veracruzspanish.com), and we’re happy to provide you (at no charge at all) with info about both the City of Veracruz and the State of Veracruz. Helping with tourists’ questions is one of many small ways that we try to give back to Mexico for letting us live in this fun and wonderful part of the country.

© Linda and Eric Langner, 2008
Linda and Eric Langner own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. They’re always happy to answer questions. You can email them at info@veracruzspanish.com and visit them at www.veracruzspanish.com.

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Adding Spanish as a Management Tool

One hears, “I’ve learned Spanish, but I can’t speak it.” The classroom is well-designed for teaching vocabulary, grammar, reading and writing, but it’s almost entirely wrong as a place to learn to speak.

That’s because school focuses on what’s wrong. Learning to speak requires focusing on what’s right—focuses on building on positives, on success. When success flows, students speak, conversational skills skyrocket and errors diminish.

Language immersion programs offer an effective solution to learning to speak. But to be effective, the immersion program must focus on speaking, on conversation. All too often language schools fall back into the traditional classroom model, and speaking doesn’t happen.

In immersion schools where talking is the focus, there’s magic. It’s easy to learn to speak Spanish after all. Immersion focused on getting you speaking Spanish surrounds you with Spanish during all your waking hours.

From your first cup of coffee until you can no longer stay awake, a quality school has you engaged in happy, interesting, compelling, and fascinating activity. Spanish is easy because what’s going on is so wonderful you’ve just got to be part it. And since those around you speak Spanish, so will you!

_____________
© Linda and Eric Langner, 2005
Linda and Eric are college math instructors. They operate The Language Immersion School in Veracruz, Mexico www.veracruzspanish.com

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A Highly Competitive Sales Tool That’s Easily Affordable

It’s a powerful tool that takes very little financial investment, but it does require your time. Two weeks at least (far better three weeks) and the tool begins to be yours. Speak Spanish with your Hispanic customers. Speaking in someone’s language, you and I know, is a huge trust builder. Often, it’s the deal maker.

You don’t need perfect Spanish, and even not-so-very-good-at-all Spanish is a big edge. Three weeks at a language immersion school (or two weeks if you really push and the school is highly flexible) can get you there. It’s a beginning that keeps on growing. Language builds upon itself. Once you’ve got a solid start, you can self-teach.

Studying Spanish is easy, getting started speaking is the hard part. A good language immersion school truly starts you speaking. They all say they do, and so you have to look at how their program works to know who’s telling the truth and who isn’t.

You can find schools easily by searching “business language immersion schools Spanish,” “business intensive Spanish immersion,” or if you want to take the family along for a great vacation, “Spanish immersion and family vacation.”

A search problem to watch out for is ending up with directories. Getting directly to a school’s website is what’s needed. All schools are different. The school’s site should tell you a lot about the school’s personality, and personality is important. The school that feels right to you is the school will best get you started talking.

Once you’re speaking Spanish, every new thing you learn is immediately ready for you to put into action. Language in action builds trust. You’ll close more sales. The time you invest in a language immersion school will reward you well.

[This is the first in a series of short articles about language immersion schools written by Eric and Linda Langner. They own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. (www.veracruzspanish.com). They are happy to answer readers’ questions (info@veracruzspanish.com).]

© Eric and Linda Langner 2007

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Language Immersion School—Approaches to Instruction, Traditional or Non-Traditional

Language immersion is the fastest, most effective way to learn Spanish. A few weeks at a language immersion school is enough to get you speaking. Spanish can make you much more competitive, and even limited speaking is enough to increase sales.

You’ll learn the most by choosing a school with the approach to instruction that fits you best. The first thing to think about is traditional vs. nontraditional instruction.

Traditional instruction is what we all grew up with—sit in rows, listen to the lecture, take notes, answer questions, and take tests. Traditional instruction deals primarily with written work, and includes little time to practice speaking.

Most language immersion schools run by U.S. educational institutions use traditional instruction. Content is identical to that at the US campus, and the “seat-hour” requirement must be met.

A large percentage of non-affiliated immersion schools continue to use traditional instruction.

Nontraditional instruction developed as teachers sought ways to get their students speaking Spanish. It comes in many forms.

Often it is a relaxed reworking of traditional instruction. Language schools us this when the want a teacher to work with a largish group of students. There is lots of whiteboard work and lecture, but there’s some emphasis on spoken Spanish. There’s time for classroom conversation in Spanish.

The immersion schools most successful in getting their students speaking Spanish, carrying on conversations in Spanish, have moved much farther away from traditional instruction. For these schools the basic goal is no longer to teach as much grammar and structure as possible, but instead the goal is to teach you to use the language.

The class setting is informal, friendly, supportive, and highly flexible. In addition to in-school class work often there are daily outings with native Spanish speakers. These schools have students participating in the Spanish speaking world around them. They teach the grammar and structure needed, but the overriding focus is always on using Spanish.

Schools are easy to find by searching “business language immersion schools Spanish,” “business intensive Spanish immersion,” or if you want to take the family along for a great vacation, “Spanish immersion and family vacation.”

Traditional or nontraditional, choosing a language school requires a little work. When making your decision remember that it’s all about what fits you best.

[This is the second in a series of short articles about language immersion schools written by Eric and Linda Langner. They own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. (www.veracruzspanish.com). They are happy to answer readers’ questions (info@veracruzspanish.com).]

© Eric and Linda Langner 2007

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Language Immersion School—Approaches to Instruction, Single-Language vs. Dual-Language

The fastest and most effective way to learn Spanish is attending a language immersion school. With just a couple of weeks of immersion you’ll begin speaking. This little bit of time can greatly increase you competitive position in the Hispanic community.

To get the most out of language immersion you want a school whose instructional style fits you well. You’ll need to choose between a single-language approach to instruction or a dual-language approach.

Single-language schools do everything in Spanish. (The only exception to this is some office or administrative matters.) All instruction is in Spanish. English is never spoken by the teacher (some of these schools fire teachers caught speaking English). All explanations about grammar, sentence structure, vocabulary—everything is in Spanish. The idea behind single-language instruction is that staying only in Spanish involves you with the language you’re learning in the fullest possible way.

Dual-language schools stay in Spanish a great deal of the time, and a few also have lots of additional practice in Spanish outside of class hours. Dual-language schools use English to explain grammar, structure and vocabulary, and then immediately return to Spanish to put newly understood material to work. Dual-language instruction, these schools say, maximizes your learning because it allows for much faster, fuller, and deeper understandings. Explaining new content to you in a language you don’t understand, they say, takes far too long and your understanding may be very sketchy. Dual-language, they continue, avoids these problems.

Here are some search words, “business language immersion schools Spanish,” “business intensive Spanish immersion,” or if you want to take the family along for a great vacation, “Spanish immersion and family vacation.”

Dual-language is by far the more popular approach, but both approaches have their place. Which approach is better is an individual consideration. The approach that will let you learn faster is the better approach.

[This is the third in a series of short articles about language immersion schools written by Eric and Linda Langner. They own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. (www.veracruzspanish.com). They are happy to answer readers’ questions (info@veracruzspanish.com).]

© Eric and Linda Langner 2007

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Language Immersion School—Approaches to Instruction, Large-Group-Size vs. Small-Group-Size

The fastest and most effective way to learn Spanish is attending a language immersion school. With just a couple of weeks of immersion you’ll begin speaking. This little bit of time can greatly increase you competitive position in the Hispanic community.

To get the most out of language immersion you want a school whose instructional style fits you well. You’ll need to choose between a large-group-size and small-group-size instruction.

Traditional schools are designed around large-group-size. With the instructor up front at the whiteboard, it’s easy to teach to a full room. Interaction is limited, and usually only shows itself as Q and A between the instructor and the students. Students can be grouped into twos, or threes, or fours for more active practice. In immersion schools using traditional instruction, group size doesn’t often exceed 25 students but can run higher.

Language immersion schools employing nontraditional instruction usually design themselves around midsized group or around small group. Good schools have highly informative websites, and you’ll be able to understand which size they use and even a lot about how they use it.

In a nontraditional setting, midsized groups are usually five to ten students, and there is a good deal of in-class activity and discussion. Class is lively, and you get significantly more practice talking than in traditional classes.

Some nontraditional schools offer small-group instruction (groups of four or less). They are able to offer individualized study plans and can be highly flexible. Often daily outings (speaking in Spanish and visiting museums, markets, and cultural spots) are part of the school day. Outings give you lots to talk about. These schools have by far the most time spent practicing conversation. Often built into their programs are additional hours of available practice. It is in these schools that a student truly is taught to use Spanish, to carry on conversation in Spanish.

Small, midsized or large group instruction, choose what fits you best. You can find schools easily by searching “business language immersion schools Spanish,” “business intensive Spanish immersion,” or if you want to take the family along for a great vacation, “Spanish immersion and family vacation.”

[This is the fourth in a series of short articles about language immersion schools written by Eric and Linda Langner. They own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. (www.veracruzspanish.com). They are happy to answer readers’ questions (info@veracruzspanish.com).]

© Eric and Linda Langner 2007

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Language Immersion School—Textbook Language vs. Language in Context

The competitive edge of speaking your customer’s language, even if only a little, often makes the sale. Language immersion in Mexico can have you speaking Spanish with your Hispanic customers in the shortest possible time.

To maximize your results you’ll want a school that teaches the way you learn best. An important consideration is textbook language vs. language in context.

Textbook language is the traditional approach, and it’s used almost exclusively in today’s college and high school classrooms. Textbooks put several main ideas in a chapter. Weeks go slowly in traditional school, and so lesser important material is also included. It’s all good stuff. A whole lot of grammar and structure are taught this way, but learning to speak gets little attention.

Language immersion schools using traditional instruction almost always use a textbook language approach. Many schools that are non-traditional, mid-size-group also use textbook language. During class the mid-sized-group non-traditionals add in some emphasis on talking.

Language in Context contains all the grammar, structure and vocabulary, but your learning and involvement in Spanish, instead of being limited by the covers of a textbook, are as broad, exciting, and engaging as the community around you. It’s easily offered by non-traditional small-group-size immersion schools. Language in context has you learning and practicing Spanish in the life of Mexico.

Schools using language in context usually have you going out, often daily, in small groups or individually and always with a native speaker. Every community has its own places of special interest and its own special opportunities for active participation.

Many, including many traditional teachers, argue that language in context is far more effective. They report that when you’re out visiting dazzling places and actively participating you’ll talk about it all. That’s what people do. You’ll talk in Spanish because that’s what the people talk. You’ll be doing language in context. You’ll use everything you’ve learned, and you’ll be striving for more.

Your brain will be working hard and having fun. You’ll be learning to speak Spanish, and you’ll be succeeding at speaking Spanish. Small-group-size immersions schools can truly offer language in context.

Language schools are easily found by searching “business language immersion schools Spanish,” “business intensive Spanish immersion,” or if you want to take the family along for a great vacation, “Spanish immersion and family vacation.”

Textbook language or language in context, which is better? The better one is the one that carries you fastest to your goal of speaking Spanish with your customers.

[This is the fifth in a series of short articles about language immersion schools written by Eric and Linda Langner. They own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. (www.veracruzspanish.com). They are happy to answer readers’ questions (info@veracruzspanish.com).]

© Eric and Linda Langner 2007

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Language Immersion School—Location, Location, Location

Speaking Spanish can make you much more competitive in the Hispanic community. Language immersion school is the best and fastest way to learn.

Location is an all important factor in choosing the best school for you.

If you choose traditional instruction with its textbook language, content confined to the covers of a textbook, location is only important in that you might as well be in an interesting spot. Since the textbook language approach has little time for working on speaking, the community around you doesn’t serve as much of a learning lab. But it can be a happy cultural experience.

Language in context contains all the grammar and structure, but what you learn, instead of being limited to a textbook, is as big and fun as the community around you. For non-traditional schools using language in context, the community is a living and vibrant, and dazzling learning-lab. For these immersion schools, schools where you’re actively participating in all that’s going on around you, location is everything.

What’s the best location? It’s one where you’re closely surrounded with fascinating, exciting things to do. It’s one where so much fun stuff is going on that you’re out participating and talking and talking and talking. It’s one that will have you going home speaking the most Spanish.

Good locations have you very close to things. What’s within walking distance? That’s an important first question. Is there excellent bus access, and what’s only ten or twenty minutes away by bus? If the school offers fieldtrips, where is there to go? And what’s interesting for day and overnight weekend trips? Much of what’s wonderful in Mexico is free or almost free; is the school close to it?

And safe—in addition to being close to wonderful things that will get you participating and talking, is it safe? Is it safe late into the evening? Lots to do but dangerous is really not much at all to do.

A school’s website will tell you about what there is to do. So search the Internet. Good search words include “business language immersion schools Spanish,” “business intensive Spanish immersion,” or if you want to take the family along for a great vacation, “Spanish immersion and family vacation.”

A language immersion school sits on a piece of real estate, and, as any realtor will tell you, location, location, location.

[This is the sixth in a series of short articles about language immersion schools written by Eric and Linda Langner. They own and operate The Language Immersion School, Veracruz, Mexico. (www.veracruzspanish.com). They are happy to answer readers’ questions (info@veracruzspanish.com).]

© Eric and Linda Langner 2007

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The Spanish Language Immersion School in Veracruz, Mexico

Spanish Language Schools, Veracruz Mexico Spanish Language School

Spanish Immersion, on the ocean in Veracruz, Mexico