The challenges of first organizing and then taking a primary or prep school on a school trip abroad can at first seem overpowering. The prep work is time-consuming and arduous, the difficulty of taking kids through the airport is real and the worry that accommodation or activities might not fit required safety standards is constantly in the back of the mind of any trip leader. However it is not all doom and gloom, and most challenges can be planned for and overcome by working with quality language trip providers, and there are even more positive reasons than challenges that more than justify the workload. Here are 10 TOP reasons why it is worth it:
1 A change of scene
Young people are at their most energetic stage of life and need new and intriguing stimulation. Taking a group abroad and getting them learning in a completely new place is the perfect way to reward them after a year’s hard study; and if learning can incorporate activities like visiting new cities, sampling foreign cuisine or kayaking in the Atlantic Ocean, so much the better! Get students engaged and energised so they can return to their studies next year with a fresh perspective and new dedication. A trip abroad can both act as a motivator to the kids in lead up and a fantastic memory afterwards.
2 Forging new connections
In a new environment, outside of the classroom, students have the chance to build stronger friendships with each other than they would normally have cause to do — travelling together, sharing dormitories and participating in exciting activities are all great bonding experiences for young people. Moreover, they will not just create more special bonds with other students, they will also build up their special connection with their own teachers as the shared experience has a unique way of creating mutual empathy.
3 Inspiring a future
Students study foreign languages for different reasons, but actually seeing a language like Spanish in action in its native country can be enough to inspire a lifetime of passion for foreign languages. Prep school students aren’t necessarily thinking much about their futures in secondary and tertiary education and beyond, but what if an inspiring trip abroad is the key to unlocking a student’s love of a foreign language and leads to further visits, modern language A-levels, a degree and an entire career? You never know what formative experience at prep school could shape an entire lifetime.
4 Fun for you
Never doubt just how much fun it can be to lead an expedition abroad! A bonding experience like travel always forges stronger connections between students and teachers, and aside from that you’ll get plenty out of the trip on your own terms: with exotic food to sample, exciting new cities to explore and, if you come to Spain, constant sunshine. A well organized trip abroad can be rewarding for hard-working teaching staff.
Spanish food is renowned the world over, with tapas (small sharing plates) being particularly popular. From satisfying tortillas and patatas bravas for hungry stomachs, to the deliciously refreshing gazpacho and salmorejo so popular during the sunny summer months, there’s plenty here for even the pickiest of eaters to enjoy – and you never know what they’ll soon be asking their parents to cook up when they get home! Learning about different food is important to opening young student’s minds.
6 Investing in students
An advantage for any school is being able to say on a prospectus that it takes its students abroad during the summer to study foreign languages; a special cutting edge for a primary school as not many have the confidence to do so. This is a perfect way to show parents exactly how much you care about students experiencing the real world of the language and becoming committed and invested future citizens of the world.
7 Begin a new tradition
Building a firm working relationship with a language school abroad can be the start of a long and happy partnership. A trip abroad can become a staple of the school year, something that young students and their parents look forward to as a major event in the school calendar. A successful trip abroad, and the stories and pictures that come from it, can even act as motivation for younger kids and their parents if they know they will get to the tour themselves when they are, for example, in year 5-6.
8 Their place in the world
Very little can better help a student (or indeed anyone) understand their own place in the world than travel. To see how the citizens of nations half a continent away bear themselves and live in ways both similar to and different from one’s own country is to see better the diversity and unity of the world, and the opportunities there are to engage with such a world in the future. It is highly beneficial to start students with this “openness” at a young age.
9 Real language exposure
Seeing a language in its natural environment is the key to getting students to think of it as an important and useful skill for the modern world, instead of simply a subject to be memorised from textbooks. And all the textbooks in the world can’t show students how a modern language sounds spoken by natives, sung on the radio or graffitied on walls. Bring your students abroad and they’ll see just how potent language really is.
10 Holiday time
Finally, any good school trip abroad will factor in plenty of time for students to simply enjoy themselves in an educational setting, be that time on the beach, enjoying each other’s company or visiting historical places like the port from Columbus set sail to the Americas. The more students associate learning with enjoyment and cultural enrichment, the more eager they’ll be to throw themselves back into their studies when they get back and face the year ahead.
A school trip abroad — to learn a language in its natural environment, to experience the sights and sounds of another place entirely, and to see the world from a different perspective — can truly be a highlight of a young prep school student’s year. It can be something they look back on for many years afterwards with a smile and fond memories; and in some cases it can be the catalyst for some later life decision like studying a language at university so that they can be like their fun teacher who took them abroad to Spain all those years ago. 🙂
Douglas Haines and Inge Hol are a British/Dutch couple who run Spark Spanish a school trip provider based in Spain which offers bespoke residential primary school tours for both independent and state schools.