Any student looking to enroll in a foreign language institute should begin by determining precisely what his or her reasons are for studying a foreign language, as different institutes specialize in different fields of language study. A prospective student should also consider the specific methodology employed by each school and compare that methodology to his or her personal learning style. A foreign language institute, like any other educational enterprise, should also be properly accredited and highly-rated.
Students who attempt to learn a second language later in life are rarely able to rapidly attain full fluency in all aspects of that language. A typical foreign language institute will target its programs at specific categories of students. Some institutes specialize in business vocabulary and related cultural skills. Others focus primarily on academic language study. In all cases, a student should be sure to select a program that offers the specific type of language skills that he or she requires.
Each foreign language institute employs a distinct approach to language learning in addition to focusing on particular skills and vocabulary. Personal learning styles vary widely among students. Some learn best through a conventional classroom experience. Others derive more benefit from linguistic and cultural immersion. A student should select a foreign language institute whose methods match up closely with his or her personal learning style.
One key difference between programs stems from the degree of immersion offered. Immersion programs, which place students into a foreign-language environment at all times, are typically much more effective at teaching new language skills. These programs, however, are also very time-intensive, and may require an entire summer, semester, or academic year. This time commitment may make such programs a poor choice for learners on tight time budgets.
Like a college or university, a foreign language institute may or may not be rated and accredited. Lack of a rating or accreditation does not necessarily mean that a particular foreign language institute is not worth considering. Some small programs are not widely known, but offer excellent language learning. Research, professional and academic contacts, and reviews of institutes can aid in choosing a good program.
The best language programs can be difficult to get into, either because they are affiliated with military or government agencies or because they are expensive, prestigious, and accept only a small number of students. A student who is unable to afford the best language institutes does have other options. Many public universities in Western nations offer excellent summer language programs which take advantage of under-used campus facilities and can offer high-quality education at a modest price.