What are the Different Types of Spanish Immersion Programs?

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  • Written By: Lily Ruha
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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The different types of Spanish immersion programs involve those that limit using languages other than Spanish as much as possible. Many immersion programs in Spanish-speaking countries require students to speak Spanish in the classroom, with host families, and with study partners. In some dual language schools, Spanish immersion involves using the Spanish language to teach other subjects such as social studies or math. A variety of study abroad programs exist, some offering academic credits and others specializing in conversational or business-specific Spanish.

The goal of Spanish immersion programs is to make the learner as fluent in, and comfortable as possible with, the Spanish language. This is generally best achieved when the student needs the language to perform everyday tasks. Ordering a sandwich, giving directions to a taxi cab driver, booking a plane ticket with a travel agent, and checking into a hotel are all examples of activities that allow a learner to practice his Spanish while studying in a Spanish-speaking country.

Spanish immersion programs in Spanish-speaking countries are located in a variety of settings. A university might offer a Spanish course for credit. In this case, the course is generally taught by an educator with a degree in Spanish. Community language institutes are generally less formal and are often staffed with teachers who may only possess a high school diploma. Some programs focus on conversational Spanish, whereas others might focus on vocabulary usage in a specific context, such as in a business environment.


Some Spanish immersion programs abroad will connect the student with people and activities that will advance his learning process. Living with a Spanish-speaking host family is a common way for learners to practice Spanish while eating meals and spending time with their hosts. Some programs may also assign language partners to speak Spanish to the learner several times per week.

The format of a Spanish immersion program can vary depending on the organization. A university course is generally conducted in a group setting and involves formal pre- and post-tests to assess knowledge. Community classes are often less formal, and instruction may be delivered one-on-one or in groups; instructors generally gauge students’ vocabulary and language skills through conversation.

Spanish immersion programs in non-Spanish speaking countries come in a wide variety. While the advantage of being immersed in the culture is not present, class time is typically devoted to speaking only in Spanish. Spanish-speaking cultures may be explored through experiencing the music, film and food of various Spanish-speaking countries.

Some elementary schools offer Spanish immersion programs. The goal of these programs is to equip students for future demands in a society where Spanish knowledge is an asset. In schools where these programs are offered, academic content may be taught in Spanish. Some programs deliberately place fluent Spanish speakers in classrooms with non-speakers to help them increase their Spanish vocabulary, and to encourage non-Spanish speakers to speak the language on a daily basis.



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