Learn Latin

How to Choose the Best Latin Immersion Program This Summer

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

More and more schools embrace using Latin com­mu­nica­tive­ly to make learn­ing Latin more effec­tive and enjoy­able. Dur­ing the sum­mer, there are even immer­sion cours­es where stu­dents spend days or weeks togeth­er, tak­ing class­es and speak­ing only Latin.

Hav­ing taught in sev­er­al such pro­grams, I have heard first­hand about the dif­fi­cul­ties of find­ing the right course. In this arti­cle, I will help you find the best one for your situation.

To find the best sum­mer immer­sion course in Latin for you, con­sid­er the fol­low­ing questions:

  1. When and how long is the program?
  2. Where is the pro­gram located?
  3. What is the price? Are there schol­ar­ships or stu­dent discounts?
  4. What is includ­ed in the price?
  5. What are the pre­req­ui­sites: age and Latin ability?
  6. What is the cur­ricu­lum like?
  7. What do par­tic­i­pants from pre­vi­ous years say about the program?

There’s a lot to con­sid­er when decid­ing what pro­gram to go for.

Let’s go through the most impor­tant aspects to con­sid­er when choos­ing one.

What Is An Immersion Program In Latin? 

First, let’s go a lit­tle deep­er into what these sum­mer immer­sion cours­es are and what their pur­pose is.

Group of Latin student in talking in a circle on a porch.

In tra­di­tion­al Latin pro­grams, stu­dents spend most of their time learn­ing gram­mar and trans­lat­ing from Latin into their lan­guage. Although this method has its mer­its, it is lim­it­ed, exclud­ing many of the fas­ci­nat­ing and ben­e­fi­cial activ­i­ties com­mon in mod­ern lan­guage classrooms. 

The Latin sum­mer immer­sion cours­es we are dis­cussing here are very dif­fer­ent from tra­di­tion­al Latin pro­grams and are a per­fect com­ple­ment to con­ven­tion­al methods. 

You are per­haps famil­iar with immer­sion pro­grams in mod­ern lan­guages, where peo­ple use only the lan­guage they are study­ing to com­mu­ni­cate. This is the basic idea of Latin pro­grams as well, but per­haps with a lit­tle more focus on read­ing and literature.

Most immer­sion pro­grams in Latin take place over a week or a bit more. Stu­dents and teach­ers often live togeth­er on cam­pus or in a larg­er house. Dur­ing the week, there are lessons in Latin, read­ings, and ample time for social­iz­ing in Latin, with games, din­ners, and parties–where every­one speaks Latin. 

The pur­pose of these immer­sion cours­es is to help stu­dents inter­nal­ize as much as pos­si­ble of the lan­guage through con­stant expo­sure to the syn­tax, mor­phol­o­gy, and lex­i­con of Latin—all while hav­ing fun and get­ting to know peo­ple with sim­i­lar interests.

Finding The Right Program

There are many things to con­sid­er when decid­ing on an immer­sion pro­gram. Let’s start.

Date & Duration: When And How Long?

The first thing to con­sid­er is when you would like to par­tic­i­pate in a pro­gram. There are Latin sum­mer immer­sion pro­grams from ear­ly June to late August and September. 

Next, con­sid­er how long you would like the pro­gram to be. Here too, there are sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences; some run for a week­end, while oth­ers one, two, or even three weeks. Here you should not only con­sid­er if you have the time in your sched­ule but also if you think you would like to spend e.g., two or three weeks speak­ing only Latin. Many treat these pro­grams as a sub­sti­tute for vaca­tions but remem­ber that they can be very tax­ing if you are not used to speak­ing Latin.

Let’s say you’d like a one-week pro­gram in July. The ques­tion is then where?

Where Is The Program?

Country

The major­i­ty of Latin sum­mer cours­es in spo­ken Latin are in the Unit­ed States and Europe. There are also cours­es in Cen­tral and South America. 

Typus Terrarum Orbis, an old map of the globe.

If you can afford it, con­sid­er attend­ing a Latin immer­sion course abroad because com­bin­ing speak­ing Latin with dis­cov­er­ing a new coun­try and cul­ture is a fan­tas­tic experience.

Rural vs. Urban

When look­ing at dif­fer­ent places, you might also con­sid­er if you’d pre­fer the course to be in an urban or rur­al area. Some cours­es are on uni­ver­si­ty cam­pus­es close to or in cities, while oth­er pro­grams take place in rur­al areas. The lat­ter is bet­ter if you want to cre­ate a tru­ly immer­sive expe­ri­ence where you have no inter­ac­tion with lan­guages oth­er than Latin. Such 100% Latin immer­sion is more chal­leng­ing to achieve if there are restau­rants and cafes close by since par­tic­i­pants will tend to vis­it them soon­er or later :). 

Since some pro­grams are in rur­al areas, make sure you can get there. Use Google Maps to see how to get there, and if you would need to have a car. In such cas­es, many pro­grams try to coor­di­nate with par­tic­i­pants and pro­vide trans­porta­tion from the near­est air­port or city.

Next, it’s time to con­sid­er the price of the sum­mer course.

How Much Do Courses Cost? 

The prices of these Latin sum­mer pro­grams vary wide­ly, rang­ing from a few hun­dred dol­lars to a few thou­sand dol­lars. Cours­es in the Unit­ed States and West­ern Europe tend to be the most expensive.

Roman gold coin with the profile of emperor Vespasianus.

Note that the price depends not only on the loca­tion and dura­tion but also on what is includ­ed. Many pro­grams include tuition, hous­ing, and some­times even food, in their price, while oth­ers include only tuition. Make sure you ask what is included! 

Reducing Cost

To reduce expens­es, remem­ber to see if you have friends or rel­a­tives near­by with whom you could stay. Anoth­er way of reduc­ing costs, espe­cial­ly for stu­dents, is to apply for schol­ar­ships. Var­i­ous asso­ci­a­tions work­ing to pro­mote clas­sics offer schol­ar­ships, and some­times the schools offer­ing the immer­sion cours­es have their own scholarships.

If you are a teacher, some schools allow teach­ers to take these cours­es as pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment. Make sure to ask what is possible! 

Anoth­er way to reduce costs is to ask if you could help out with the orga­ni­za­tion of the course or any oth­er way to get a reduced course fee.

Refund Policy

Since some cours­es cost quite a lot of mon­ey, it might be a good idea to ask if there is a refund pol­i­cy in case some­thing comes up and you can’t attend the program. 

Restrictions And Prerequisites

Age

Remem­ber to find out if the pro­gram has an age lim­it; do you have to be 18, 21, or 65? Most pro­grams are for adults, so under­age stu­dents would not have any ded­i­cat­ed super­vi­sion from staff. There are, how­ev­er, pro­grams for younger stu­dents of high school age, but these are few­er. As with every­thing else, write to the orga­niz­ers and ask. If they get many requests for a group for younger stu­dents, per­haps they can orga­nize a sep­a­rate event tai­lored to them.

Latin Experience

A crit­i­cal thing to ask is what the pre­req­ui­site Latin lev­el is, i.e., how much Latin should you know? How much Latin speak­ing expe­ri­ence should you have?

There are some­times dif­fer­ent groups for dif­fer­ent lev­els. It can be a very stress­ful expe­ri­ence if you end up in a group where your abil­i­ty to express your­self and under­stand is far below that of the oth­ers. It is often hard for orga­niz­ers to define the nec­es­sary pre­req­ui­site abil­i­ty because stu­dents often dif­fer from year to year. But make sure you get a clear idea of the Latin lev­el of par­tic­i­pants of pre­vi­ous years.

That being said, remem­ber that it is a learn­ing expe­ri­ence, so you don’t have to be Cicero!

What Is The Curriculum?

Many Classes, Or Much Free Time?

An open Latin book filled with sand on a beach.

There are great dif­fer­ences between pro­grams in terms of how the day-to-day of the pro­gram looks. Make sure to look at the sched­ule or write and ask so that you know what to expect when you get there. Ask what the day-to-day activ­i­ties are. 

Some pro­grams have a heavy course load, with many hours of class­es each day, while oth­ers have few­er class­es and focus more on learn­ing through dis­cus­sion and socializing. 

Ask Online About The Program

Find Students Who Have Participated

Final­ly, the best is to find peo­ple who have already par­tic­i­pat­ed and to ask them. You can eas­i­ly find peo­ple in the spo­ken Latin groups on Face­book or Twit­ter. Just leave a post ask­ing about peo­ples’ expe­ri­ence in a par­tic­u­lar Latin pro­gram. It’s a good idea to ask sev­er­al peo­ple about their expe­ri­ence of a spe­cif­ic pro­gram, as it is very sub­jec­tive, and the pro­grams change from year to year.

Where Can I Find A Latin Summer Immersion Course?

Now that you know what to con­sid­er when choos­ing a pro­gram, you are ready to pick a course! As men­tioned, there are Latin sum­mer immer­sion cours­es in many dif­fer­ent coun­tries, and it can be hard to find out about them. That’s why we have com­piled a list of sum­mer cours­es. Note that we have to affil­i­a­tion with any of them. 

Additional Suggestions:

Lis­ten to Latin. One of the most shock­ing aspects of attend­ing a spo­ken  Latin immer­sion course for the first time is that you have to process Latin in real-time. There’s no pos­si­bil­i­ty of look­ing back at the sub­ject or skip­ping to the verb. You can always ask the oth­er per­son to repeat! An excel­lent way to pre­pare is to get into the habit of lis­ten­ing to Latin. To get into the habit, you can watch video lessons all in Latin pub­lished every week here.  

Go with a friend. Par­tic­i­pat­ing in an immer­sion pro­gram for the first time can be a fan­tas­tic expe­ri­ence, but some­times also stress­ful. A great way to reduce stress can be to par­tic­i­pate togeth­er with a friend. That way, you can also pre­pare and per­haps get used to speak­ing Latin in the months lead­ing up to the pro­gram. If you can’t per­suade a friend to par­tic­i­pate, go to one of the Latin groups on Face­book, and get to know oth­er peo­ple par­tic­i­pat­ing in the same program.

Speak Latin. Make sure you try to speak Latin before you attend the sum­mer course so that the first time you do it, it’s not entire­ly new to you, and you can feel more con­fi­dent. Prac­tice speak­ing Latin to your­self or with oth­ers in con­ver­sa­tion groups online and offline. 

Pre­pare. In many pro­grams, class­es will focus on a set num­ber of texts or top­ics. To pre­pare, you can ask the orga­niz­ers which these are and study the texts, and per­haps learn the vocab­u­lary rel­e­vant for the cen­tral top­ics of the course. Orga­niz­ing sum­mer pro­grams is often a colos­sal task, and fre­quent­ly under­staffed, so it’s a good idea to wait a while to allow them to decide on the course material.

Good luck! I hope you find a great Latin pro­gram and that you have a blast and learn a lot! Bene vale!

Daniel Pettersson

Daniel Pettersson

Teacher and author Daniel Pettersson, M.A., is co-founder of Latinitium and is currently teaching Latin at Stockholm University, where he is also working on his Ph.D. dissertation on Humanist Colloquia. Daniel believes in the importance of Latin literature in the modern world and that you can teach yourself Latin with the right motivation, method, and material.
Written by Daniel Pettersson

Written by Daniel Pettersson

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