Bringing Language Learning to Life

By Wilderness Adventures November 15, 2012

Three Keys to Successful Experiential Language Immersion Programs


Wilderness Ventures is the foremost and most experienced summer adventure program for teenagers and young leaders. Consistently, our students conclude their adventures as more self-assured individuals while having developed a global perspective on the environments and cultures they visit.


One important aspect of global citizenship is language. More and more parents, students and universities are recognizing the importance of completing a language learning experience that stems beyond the high school classroom. Our unique and exciting language learning programs blend the continuity of the classroom, applied practice in the country and meaningful cultural experience to bring a language to life.


Classroom Continuity

While we include language learning components in a number of our cultural- and service-oriented programs in both Latin America and Europe, our special Language Learning Adventures thread substantive classroom instruction into the rest of the overall adventure. For students who want to see significant academic and applied gains to their language skills, we’ve found the most effective approach is one that weaves a comfortable but exciting academic environment with the surrounding culture and daily life. For example, our Spain Language and France Language adventures each incorporate 3-4 hours of substantive, daily classroom instruction with the rest of the student’s journey. Thanks to our small group size and abundance of professional, native speaking instructors, we tailor each student’s curriculum to their experience and ability level, designing specific learning outcomes that tie academic instruction to the language being spoken just outside the classroom window.


Applied Practice

Because our Language Adventures take place on-site, we are able to steep our students in the everyday conversations and interactions that take place in that country. When students step out of the classroom they remain immersed in the daily use of the language. To ensure we’re actively practicing the language in the field, we do all of our own shopping at local markets, enjoy exciting and interactive guest lectures and lead informal discussions while visiting local cafes and out exploring the city. It is important to note that, while engaging, fun and informal, our time spent “in the field” is carefully supervised. We do not let our students roam throughout a foreign city on a self-structured experience; rather we experience our surroundings together in our small supportive group. Our highly qualified, professional and caring leaders take ownership for each student in the group, and we do not offer unsupervised time. Of course, this ensures that students traveling to a foreign country with us make good behavior choices, but, from an educational standpoint, reinforces language learning as part of the social, group experience. Because Wilderness Ventures is all about connecting great people to wonderful places through shared experience, having a great, supportive group atmosphere is a foundation of our Language Learning Adventures.


Meaningful Cultural Experience

To complement our directed classroom instruction and daily outings, our language immersion programs travel to the most inspiring places in the country where they participate in a mix of culture and adventure components that help them connect with the fabric of their environment and the language being spoken there. For example, our Spain Language Adventure is based on the beautiful Costa del Sol, and travels to Barelona, Granada, Seville, Cadiz and Spain’s beautiful “Coast of Light” where students can see the northern edge of the African Continent; our France Language Adventure is based in thrilling Chamonix and travels to Geneva, Provence, Paris and the Chateau Region. In each of our language immersion excursions we participate in fun activities such as surfing, hiking and whitewater rafting, and engage in meaningful cultural exploration to local museums and architectural sites so that students are able to discuss art, culture and adventure in the language they’re learning while finding incredible inspiration in the surrounding environment.


One of our educational goals is to create global citizens out of each student. Over 21,000 students and their families can testify to the power of a Wilderness Ventures experience. Our 40 years of experience offers us the most respected professional vantage point from which to carefully craft and lead the world’s most substantive and inspiring language learning adventure opportunities. To ensure the success of each student, we take a holistic but carefully constructed approach to our language immersion curricula. Each of our language adventures combines classroom continuity with applied practice and meaningful cultural experience. Our immersive adventure programs connect great young people with beautiful environments through fun activities — enabling them to return home better leaders, communicators and people. By weaving these three elements together on an integrated, exciting and well-supervised adventure, we ensure that each student builds significant language skills, emerges from their experience better prepared for school and their further education, and has a tremendously fun summer experience.