Expand Your Skill Set: Spanish Immersion Programs

In the current economic climate, as a public interest lawyer it is more important than ever to expand and strengthen the skill set you bring to employers.  At our annual NALP/PSLawNet Public Service Mini-Conference,   Alejandro T. Reyes, associate counsel for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, highlighted the need that exists for Spanish-speaking attorneys and recommended law students and lawyers consider a two-week immersion program in Latin America.

After a guest post earlier this month from Leeor Neta, that shared this piece of advice about immersion programs the PSLawNet Blog was asked about how to find credible and affordable programs.  We researched the issue as promised and here are a few recommendations we received for reputable programs:

  • Intercultura Language School and Cultural Center (Heredia and Samara Beach, Costa Rica):  This program was recommended to one-half of the PSLawNet Blog by her friend who is a teacher in Seattle and attended a program at the school a couple of years ago.  He really enjoyed the experience and highly recommends the program.

From their website:  The primary goal of Intercultura is to teach you the Spanish language in a warm yet intellectually challenging environment. Classes at our city and beach campuses are conducted entirely in Spanish, providing students from all over the world with a complete and intensive learning experience. Our professors have advanced university degrees and teaching certification, and we are accredited through the US university system, offering undergraduate credit to those interested. In addition, you have the opportunity to come to know Costa Rica, its traditions and its rich cultural heritage by participating in our daily cultural and extracurricular activities.

  • ICA Language School (Xela, Guatemala): This recommendation comes from a D.C. attorney who attended the program.  She characterized the program as “very intensive 1:1 training” and “felt [she] learned a lot.”

From their website:  The Instituto Central America (I.C.A.), founded in 1976, is the first Spanish school in Quetzaltenango to be fully accredited by the Guatemalan Ministry of Education (MINEDUC) and the Guatemalan tourist institute (INGUAT). We offer a personalized learning program with one-on-one instruction to students of all levels. Every teacher at I.C.A. offers years of experience and training, a private classroom for each student-teacher pair and we use our very own textbook, researched and written by our teachers.

Our instructors are professionals with extensive knowledge of grammar and experience in methods, techniques, and activities to apply what you learn in the classroom in the real world. In addition, all of our teachers participated in the Diploma for Teachers Specialized to Teach Spanish as a Second Language given and evaluated by the San Carlos University, the Ministry of Education, and the Tourist Institute of Guatemala, to name a few of the institutions involved.

  • Convinced that Guatemala is the destination for you?  Check out Guatemala365. This site was recommended to us by another D.C. attorney and lists “about 30 selected Spanish schools in different towns of Guatemala. There are photos and descriptions that charactarize these schools.”  Guatemala365 “selected and ranked [schools] based on reports of over 1000 students.”  The site also provides you with information about how to apply for the various programs and advice for planning your travel.

Please note that we are not recommending or vouching for any of these sites or the school’s listed, we are only providing you with contact information for schools in these countries.

  • SpanishSchoolsMexico.com: In their words, “[w]e’ve compiled a list of Mexico Spanish schools below; we aren’t in the position to say if they are all great schools. Do your own homework, email or phone the Spanish School’s student registration office and get the facts for yourself.”
  • Latin Immersion:  Provides information about schools located in Argentina, Chile and Peru.
  • Spanish Abroad, Inc.:  Provides information about schools located in fourteen countries throughout Latin America.  Additionally, their website claims that they have “specialized Spanish immersion programs available for lawyers at some of their schools.

If you have attended a Spanish immersion program you liked, please leave us a comment sharing your experience and the name of the school.

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