Reader notes language camps cannot
replace experiences of traveling abroad
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 5:33 AM
After reading the Spanish banquet article referencing high school students attending Concordia Language Camps, it seemed that studying abroad was being completely discouraged and discounted because of its cost. Further, according to the article, it seemed that a weekend language camp could be equivalent to studying abroad and the inherent "being surrounded by a completely new culture."
Indeed, Concordia's offerings are highly reputable and give great insight into living a foreign language. So, kudos to Mr. (Brian) Wolfgram for exposing his students to Concordia's weekend offerings.
However, one might ask oneself: does the argument that study abroad costs "thousands of dollars" cut short any student's language talent to become truly fluent, or wish to immerse oneself into a different culture by studying, or even working abroad? I would argue yes.
In my personal experience, time abroad completely opens one's eyes and ears to a greater world beyond a student's local community, or even college campus. Being abroad exposes one to different ways of doing things, different political and religious points of view, and, as the students experienced, new culinary dishes. In short, students often learn much more about themselves than a new verb tense.
I have been very fortunate to both study and work abroad in foreign countries where second language skills were necessary. Yes, they required student loans. Yes, they required hard work. However, I would not trade those years for anything. My language skills remain fluent to this day, in great part due to high school, college and graduate school language faculty support.
So please, dear teacher, I urge you to encourage your students to experience living a foreign language outside their comfort zone by taking their banquet and Concordia learning experiences to another level, that of studying abroad. Foreign language scholarships exist. And, of course, so do student loans. Any view to equate a weekend for a semester, or even J(anuary)-Term, is, in my humble opinion, rather short-sighted, doing students a disservice in the end.