The best way for some.
Others even doubt about the need for knowledge of languages.
The need to learn foreign languages has recently be underlined and contradicted by a number of mixed signals in different countries.
In Sweden, Språkresor are still popular, but fewer students go abroad for a longer period of time, as can be deducted from the CSN statistics (a government program to grant cheap student loans to go study abroad for 13 or 16 weeks). The Swedish have a reputation for being fluent in foreign languages, but this reputation might now be challenged. The fact that high-school students no longer need to take the same amount of foreign language classes as in the past, is seen as one of the mayor causes for this decline in CSN grants allocated.
In another European country, Spain, the situation is different; everybody in Spain has been STUDYING English for years, but hardly anybody SPEAKS it. Ok, possibly this is being influenced by the feeling of embarrassment, common for Spaniards when having to speak a foreign language. The former prime minister (José Maria Aznar) really ONLY became fluent in English once he was the EX-prime minister. The present prime minister –José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero- can just speak about the weather in English, when conversation in English is required.
Still, The Spanish Ministry of Education has created a scholarship fund for students to learn English, French and German abroad. There are 3.350 grants of 1.600 euros available for this coming summer.
As a funny side remark; the following search frequency on the internet illustrates the importance of such cultural differences:
Study English: 1981
Learn English: 2576300
Estudiar Inglés: 445
Aprender Inglés: 2856
Curso de Inglés: 29323
On the corporate side, there seems to be a great optimism as to the prospective of in-country language learning. This is nicely illustrated by some very recent examples of corporate movements:
EC English has bought a school, in Cape Town, the oldest city in South Africa
The OISE chain has recently bought a number of individual language schools, as well as chains and is planning to go public.
carpe diem Sprachreisen, a German language travel agency – Sprachreisen in German – has been bought last 29th of September by mayor league Holidaybreak plc (a tour operator UK based holding)
An even bigger fish Study Group (a whole chain of language schools, private high schools and university preparation programs) has been sold less then a month ago to CHAMP Private Equity (Australian company).
Students will typically be looking for Italian language schools in Florence or for a Spanish language schools in Salamanca or for a way to learn English in New York or an intensive English course in Cork (Ireland). There are so many language schools to choose from, that each have their international audience, their intensive programs, their activities and excursions, with a variety of accommodation options that students can choose from.
Once one understands and accepts that “the illiterate of the future will only speak ONE language”, the in-country way of learning a language does present itself as the best option. Everybody comes alone and thus has time and interest to get to know their fellow students. These 4 or 6 hours of language classes a day as their only common interest to start with . It still IS the safest way for a girl (woman) to travel on her own and last but not least; one does learn much faster and the learning process is so much more enjoyable.
A mature industry now, language travel is here to stay.