There is a widespread belief that time abroad is for the privileged few, and that taking a year out is an expensive choice; however, with careful planning and support, this doesn’t have to be the case. You can save up, fundraise, and above all, get a job or volunteer to allow you to live abroad and learn a language at the same time, and at least break even. Taking a Gap Year shouldn’t be an expensive option for the few. It should be a constructive, viable, and indeed, a necessary addition to your education. The most important thing you do when planning is set yourself a budget, and factor in how much you will need to travel, get insurance, vaccinations, additional qualifications etc. Make a spreadsheet of your costs, and this will make your plan more credible, and easier to make it reality.
If you are determined and have a goal in mind, a Gap Year should be within reach. Here are a few ideas for time abroad learning a language on a shoestring. Get in touch with The Language Gap and find out how we can make your dream of learning a language come true.
NB none of these options include travel to the location. Ask The Language Gap how to find cheap airfares/train tickets.
1. Ecotourism in the South of France, 6 weeks, €440
Take part in the development of a green tourism project in the South of France while experiencing the French lifestyle. You offer a minimum of 20 hours’ work (maximum 30) on a traditional building project, forest management, maintenance tasks, fruit picking and processing, welcoming visitors, animal care etc in return for accommodation and all meals.
You’ll have the opportunity to practise your French and meet new people. You’ll also learn a lot about yourself, as you take on the challenge of living and working in a completely new environment.
2. Stay with a family in France, Italy, Spain or Germany, 4-12 weeks, max €700
Immerse yourself in the local language and culture while teaching English to your host family (usually the children, but sometimes adults).This volunteer programme is a great opportunity to experience their lifestyle and improve your linguistic skills at a low cost. You live with a host family and in exchange for your own room and meals, you share your language for around 15 hours per week. If you want to spend longer, and you love working with children why not ask about becoming an au-pair abroad? There is no cost to you, and it’s an amazing way to immerse yourself in the culture and family life without breaking the bank.
3. Summer as a Camp Counsellor (Germany, Austria, Spain, France) €290 refundable deposit (minimum 5 weeks), ages 19+
Spend your summer taking Outdoor Education Intense training in Germany and get a few certifications along the way. Travel, enjoy and relax to then show up at your designated campsite to work as a role model, spend time playing outdoors like a kid, experience working in a team based environment, and have an amazing time.
4. Volunteer in Honduras, USD$42 per week plus USD$160 donation, 1 month - 1 year +
Help operate educational enrichment and healthy living programs for children, teens and adults in rural Honduras. Programmes include: English & Spanish literacy, computers, arts, introduction to science, sports and fitness, group skills, conflict resolution and more. Accommodation is in safe and basic volunteer houses with full support and training, and long term internships are available in healthcare, outreach, nutrition and programme management.
5. Work on an organic farm/teach English in Ecuador, $60-70 per week, 2 weeks - 6 months+
Live in rural Andean Ecuador in a host family and teach English at a local elementary school or work on an organic farm or in conservation. You will need some basic Spanish to apply for this post, but additional Spanish lessons are available. This option would suit any age over 18, and qualified teachers are particularly welcome!
7. Teach English and learn German or Arabic in Germany €660 pcm (8 weeks+)
Volunteer to teach English and work in community integration projects for about 20 hours a week. In exchange, you receive 3 hours of German or Palestinian Arabic lessons per week. You have Fridays and weekends free, and live with a local host family (native German or Palestinian Arabic speaking), who provide bed and breakfast. This project is based in a city in central Germany, in an ideal location for exploring the rest of this fascinating country.
Whatever your budget or timescale, The Language Gap can find options for you to travel and learn a language abroad. Just get in touch, and we'll be happy to help.