Gap Years are a wonderful thing! We would say that, wouldn’t we? There are so many reasons to take one, and so many ways to fill a year with joyous, useful, exciting and valuable things. However, there is no doubt that it isn’t something that everyone can choose. At The Language Gap, we’re great fans of the Mini Gap; it’s got all the perfect ingredients of the Great Big Gap Year, but it’s the perfect cupcake to your monster triple layer chocolate fudge cake. Here are some brilliant ideas to make the most of long summers, career breaks and last minute changes of plan:
90 day language exchange homestay in France/Germany
This fantastic option is an offshoot of the au pair programme in Europe. You stay with a host family, and get free bed and board in exchange for 15 hours’ English lessons per week for the family. This leaves you time to focus on language studies, or to volunteer in the local community, practise sport, music, or even to get a part time job. It’s a wonderful way to improve your language skills, cultural knowledge, and to make a lifelong connection in France or Germany.
Summer internships (worldwide)
If you have a couple of months to give, and you’re over 18, this is a great way to improve your CV or Personal Statement for late University applications. You can choose from many fields of work such as tourism, hotel and catering, NGOs and humanitarian activities, marketing, sales. Interns fulfil different, pre-defined duties and/or help with various, daily activities within the company. Internships are unpaid, but companies often contribute to students’ daily expenses. It’s a fantastic way to learn more about the international world of work, and will really make you stand out from the crowd.
Wildlife conservation work
There are many projects running to help with conservation and wildlife rehabilitation, particularly in Latin America. They rely on volunteers to staff their operations, and you can gain hugely valuable experience in as little as 2-3 weeks. You can combine this with an intensive language course to prepare you for the work ahead, or launch straight in. We’ve found out about two incredible projects, one in Guatemala, caring for and rehabilitating illegally trafficked wildlife for rerelease to the wild, and one in Paraguay where you can work on base to help conserves fragile habitats through scientific research, community engagement, and environmental education.
Gain a qualification
With a month to spare, you could achieve so much.
How about the CELTA qualification? For around £1500, you can spend a month abroad and train on this 120 hour intensive course giving you a qualification to teach English as a foreign language all over the world, and get paid to live in the location of your choice.
If you have an A level or GCSE in the language of your choice and want to convert your skills into a lifelong and worldwide recognised qualification, you can enter one of the national language exams (DELF in France, DELE in Spain and TestDAF in Germany, JLPT in Japan). These can also be used to apply for University places in the foreign country, or even for nationality applications if you decide to settle for good. With an intensive month of language lessons at one of our top quality language schools, you'll be prepared by expert teachers, and walk away with a huge sense of satisfaction.
You could also train as a sports instructor to teach skiing, snowboarding or watersports in your chosen language. You can do what you love, inspire others to do the same, and live abroad, all because you invested in your personal development.