FAQs

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about our Summer Programs

ECI FAQs

Have a question?

Below are the questions we are asked most – click any question to see our answer.

If you can’t find the answer to your question here or in the Program Brochure please contact us:

  • Toll Free 1-844-4674697
  • Send us an email 

Application

When is the Application Deadline?

We have a rolling admissions policy. Enrollment on our trips is on a first-come, first-served basis. Programs fill up quickly—sign up as soon as possible.

Why do I need a Teacher Recommendation?

ECI requires your foreign language teacher to complete a Teacher Recommendation Form (link emailed to your teacher by ECI) because we can only accept students who do not have a history of disruptive or behavioral issues.

Itinerary

Are the trips safe?

Safety is our number one priority! We cannot do this alone, and need your cooperation. We assume a certain level of maturity from all of our students, and trust you to make responsible decisions. All of our programs are based in what we consider to be safe locations. However, like any town in the US, there is always the potential for danger, and it is your responsibility to avoid putting yourself in unsafe situations.

Taking personal responsibility to help keep yourself and your trip mates safe is the theory behind our Personal Responsibility Contract. Part of ECI’s philosophy is to provide young people with an environment in which to mature and gain a level of personal independence. It is up to you to be an active participant in this process and to not abuse the trust given to you by our chaperones, who cannot be with you at all times.

Should you find yourself in a difficult situation, however, the chaperones are always available to come to your aid, take a taxi with you, walk you home, take you to see a doctor, help you communicate with your host family, etc. You and your parents can call them on their cell phones 24/7.

What is there to do in the evenings?

On each trip there is usually a period of time at night, after dinner and before curfew, when students and chaperones and/or Language Partners can get together to experience how European teenagers spend their evenings. To help you get the most out of your French or Spanish experience, we have chaperoned activities each evening.

Our European Program Coordinators, in consultation with our young, local Language Partners, do their utmost to provide you with nightlife experiences that are fun, appealing to teenagers, and whenever possible, unique to France and Spain.

Some example nightlife choices in Spain could include music concerts, summer festival events and shows, movie nights, flamenco shows, tapas tasting, sports activities, late night chocolate and churros. In France, nightlife choices could include concerts, movie nights, cafés, summer festival events and shows, evening art classes or sports activities.

What time is curfew? Is there a difference between weeknights and weekends?

In France, the curfew is midnight. This means students must be back in their dorm room by this time.

In Spain, from Sunday through Thursday, the curfew is also at midnight. This means students must be back in their dorm by this time. On weekends, there is a curfew extension to 2 AM because of the late-night culture.

Please note: students are always chaperoned after dark.

Do students have free time?

We always strive for a balance between organized activities and free time for our students. We encourage you to spend time pursuing personal interests and exploring the local community and culture with friends. During free time, you are required to be in a group of at least two, preferably three.

There is free time built into every day of the program. During every excursion there will be an opportunity for you to have free time and to explore the excursion town in small groups, within a safe environment.

How are weekends spent?

During the program town portion, Saturdays and/or Sundays are generally spent doing a full day excursion to an area outside of the program town. Participation in these excursions is required. We often leave one weekend day to relax and spend time with your new friends in your program town. During the Host Family Immersion Week you will be spending the weekend as a member of your immersion family. Please note: students are always chaperoned after dark.

Travel

Can I make my own travel plans?

If you choose not to purchase a ticket on the chaperoned group flight through our partner, STA Travel, you are responsible for booking your own independent flights.

If you choose this option, you are also responsible for making your own arrangements to meet up with the chaperones and group at the initial hotel, unless you choose our Meet and Greet Service, which carries an additional fee of $185 minimum per direction.

This is also true at the end of the program for your return flight back to the US.

Classes

Will my language skills improve?

Absolutely! Spending time in another country, living with a local family and taking language classes all contribute to a remarkable increase in language skills.

ECI’s programs are designed to provide as much opportunity as possible to speak and interact in the target language. In order to truly benefit from the experience, you also need to make a personal commitment to speak in the target language as often as possible.

Are there students from other countries in the language classes?

Yes, there are usually international students from Europe and Asia in the language classes.

How much homework is required? Are there tests?

Most programs have an average of 30 minutes per night of homework. Students enrolled in university credit will be required to do some additional work. Specific details of these extra requirements will be given to you prior to the time you must make your decision to enroll for the credit (usually in the spring).

How are classes organized in Nerja?

Escuela de Idiomas, an idyllic place to study Spanish, is located right in the heart of the Mediterranean town of Nerja. Although its architecture is historic and grand, with a beautiful courtyard garden for outdoor classes, the school itself is modern with outstanding facilities.

You will be taught in a small class appropriate to your level, with students from a range of countries, including Germany and Holland. The emphasis in your classes will be on improving your spoken Spanish ability through conversation and games.

There will also be lots of opportunities for grammar review and consolidation with your excellent teachers.

University Credit

What is University Credit?

ECI’s university credit option is an invaluable asset in today’s competitive realm of higher education. It gives high school students the opportunity to earn three Spanish/French semester units through an accredited US university.

These credits are transferable and are accepted by most accredited US universities.

The cost of university credit is not included in your program fee and varies depending on the trip you choose.

Host Family Immersion

Do the Host Families speak any English?

During the Host Family Immersion Week, children in the family usually have both studied and acquired some working knowledge of English. However, they know that the purpose of the Immersion Week is to speak primarily only the target language and not English.

What if I’m not happy with my Host Family?

This can happen, and for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the problem is as simple as a cultural misunderstanding, or a miscommunication, which can easily be resolved. You may find it difficult to adapt to your new surroundings, experience homesickness, or not enjoy the food.

Many of the causes of initial unhappiness are connected with adjusting to your new environment. But we take all concerns very seriously, and our chaperones will work with you to find a solution. This might involve simply “giving it time,” but our leaders will closely monitor the situation and, if necessary, you will be moved to a new family.

Chaperone Team

How are ECI’s Programs chaperoned?

Each group has up to three full-time ECI chaperones. Usually, two are from the US and one is from the country in which the program is based. At least one US chaperone will travel round trip with the groups from the US.

The main US Leader will have a cell phone with him/her at all times. You and your parents will be sent this number prior to departure. You will also be given an Emergency Card with the US Leader’s and Local Leader’s cell phone numbers.

How are the chaperones chosen?

Our chaperones are selected on the basis of language ability, maturity, patience, judgment, enthusiasm and their ability to earn the respect and trust of our teenage participants. Most of them are teachers who have traveled abroad extensively.

Our chaperones supervise students as closely as possible, but in no way are they able to be with you 24 hours per day. In fact, one of the goals of our programs is to help you develop independence, problem-solving skills, maturity and self-reliance.

Will the chaperones always speak to me in the target language?

Our chaperones from the US who fly with you to Europe will usually be high school language teachers and therefore completely fluent in the target language. They will also be equipped with the necessary skills to encourage you to speak French or Spanish wherever possible. However, their main role is a pastoral one; they are there to look after your wellbeing, and to try to solve any issues you might have, ranging from homesickness to ensuring you are integrating well within the group, and any medical issues that may arise. For this reason it is important that your chaperone is a native English speaker. Wherever possible they will communicate with you in the target language, but your main source of language learning will come from the Local Leaders, classes and your immersion stay.

Our Local Leaders are always native speakers and are told that they should not speak English with you. We can of course only provide you with the opportunity to speak in the target language—it is up to you to make the most of that opportunity to speak French or Spanish with all your leaders as much as possible, including your US chaperones.

Spain Group Programs

How many students are in each group program?

This will vary from year to year, but the maximum number we take is 20. This is in order to keep the quality of the immersion experience high. Because ECI students are integrated with students from other countries during classes, rather than solely with ECI students, our group is essentially part of a larger group during classes. This is the same for some of the activities. For this reason trips can still go ahead even with a relatively small ECI group.

Are Salamanca and Nerja safe cities?

Relatively speaking, Salamanca and Nerja are both considered very safe Spanish cities. Late at night, it is not unusual to see families with young children out together in the main squares. Safety is our number one priority, and for this reason we base our programs only in cities that have a reputation for being safe and family-oriented.

As safety can never be taken for granted, we have in place a number of safety-related policies that our chaperones meticulously follow. We also provide our students with a set of rules and guidelines designed for their safety, such as being in pairs whenever possible during free time and encouraging them to make every effort to abide by the curfew and alcohol rules.

What happens during the Individual Immersion Week?

Your Immersion Week is probably the most important component of the program, helping you achieve your goal of improving your level of Spanish fluency. Your two weeks at the language school will lay the foundation for this valuable experience.

Together with your US Leaders, you will travel to the immersion town where you will be met by the local Host Family Coordinator and introduced to your carefully chosen volunteer family. For the next week you will become a part of that family and live the life of a Spanish teenager.

There are no group activities—this is your unique opportunity to become immersed in Spanish family life and culture.

Spain Individual Programs

How is my family chosen?

Our Host Family Coordinator in Almeria receives your full application, which includes your letter to your prospective family, photos, details about your hobbies and interests, plus any allergies or dietary requirements you may have. She will then match you with a family best suited to you.

What happens if I have a problem during the program?

Your Host Family Coordinator will be in regular contact with you. She will meet with you at least once during your stay for a two-week program and at least twice for longer stays. She will also call you at the end of each week, but should you have a problem, she is available to take your calls at any time. She will work with you and the family to resolve any issues, and if a solution cannot be found, you will be moved to a new family.

How long can I stay?

Most students usually stay with a family for three weeks. The minimum stay is one week (there is a supplemental charge for staying just one week). We also have students who stay for four weeks and longer. If you stay for a longer period of time we may have to place you in two families, but this is generally not an issue—our outgoing Individual Immersion students often relish the opportunity to get to know two host families!

How will I spend a typical day?

Living the life of a typical Spanish teenager in Almeria. This means that sometimes your family may offer to take you on local excursions or sightseeing in Almeria and the surrounding region, but more often than not you will be experiencing the daily life of the family, enjoying meal times, going shopping with your host parents, going to the beach, participating in family parties or simply relaxing and getting to know your family.

Will there be a teenager in the family?

There will most likely be a teenager of a similar age in your host family, but this is not always the case. Keep in mind that your experience is also about connecting with every member of your family—the parents, younger children and even grandparents. You will also get to know other local teens through your host family.

France Group Programs

How many students are in the group program?

This will vary from year to year, but the maximum number we take is 20. This is in order to keep the quality of the immersion experience high. Because ECI students are integrated with students from other countries during classes, rather than solely with ECI students, our group is essentially part of a larger group while at the residence and during classes. This is the same for some of the activities. For this reason the trip can still go ahead even with a relatively small ECI group.

What is it like living in a French dorm?

We are extremely fortunate to be able to have our students stay at the Parc Imperial residence in Nice. It is in a great location—very central, close to the beach, and within an easy, short bus ride or manageable walk to all that the heart of town has to offer.

One benefit of living in a student residence is that, as well as being so conveniently located, you also get to share your experience with your new found friends on the trip. You will usually be placed three or four to a room, and receive all or the majority of your meals in the dining hall at the dorm. There are communal areas both in and outside of the residence. There are no laundry facilities in the residence but there are laundromats nearby. Each dorm room has its own private bathroom.

How are the French classes organized?

Classes are Monday through Friday mornings for 3 hours. You will be in a small group of up to 15 students, appropriate for your level, and the emphasis is on spoken French, with lots of opportunity for grammar review and consolidation.

The goal is to prepare you for your Individual Immersion Week, where you will speak only French.

What is the Individual Immersion Week?

We are the only organization offering this component—a fantastic way to accelerate your French language learning. After two weeks in Nice you will spend one week with a volunteer family in the small town of Hyères, on the French Riviera, speaking only French.

No classes, no group activities—just total immersion in French family life. This is not available through any other organization in this form.

France Individual Programs

How is my family chosen?

Our Host Family Coordinator in Gap, who has worked with ECI for over seven years, receives your full application, which includes your letter to your prospective family, details about your hobbies and interests, plus any allergies or dietary requirements you may have. She will then match you with a family best suited to you.

What happens if I have a problem during the Program?

Your Host Family Coordinator will be in regular contact with you. She will meet with you at least once during your stay for a two-week program and at least twice for longer stays. She will also call you at the end of each week, but should you have a problem, she is available to take your calls at any time. She will work with you and the family to resolve any issues, and if a solution cannot be found, you will be moved to a new family.

How long can I stay?

Most students usually stay with a family for three weeks. The minimum stay is one week, (there is a supplemental charge for staying just one week). We also have students who stay for four weeks and longer. If you stay for a longer period of time we may have to place you in two families, but this is generally not an issue—our outgoing Individual Immersion students often relish the opportunity to get to know two host families!

How will I spend a typical day?

Living the life of a typically French teenager in Gap. This means that sometimes your family may offer to take you on local excursions or sightseeing in Gap and the surrounding region, but more often than not, you will be living the daily life of the family, enjoying meal times, going shopping with your host parents, going to the beach, participating in family parties, or simply relaxing and enjoying getting to know your family.

Will there be a teenager in the family?

There will most likely be a teenager of a similar age in your host family, but this is not always the case. Keep in mind that your experience is also about connecting with every member of your family—the parents, younger children and even grandparents. This will help you to gain the most from your immersion program. You will also get to know other local teens through your host family brother or sister.

Financial

Is the payment due all at once and are credit cards accepted?

A second deposit of $1000 will be due within two weeks after you sign up and pay the first deposit of $500. At that time, you will also be sent a detailed invoice customized to your trip and your enrollment date. We accept most major credit cards, PayPal, check, or bank transfer.

The final program payment will be due on April 1, 2014. If you would like to request a customized payment plan, please contact us.

What is included in the cost?

Our program fees (for group programs) include language classes, three chaperones per group of 30 students, all transportation while abroad, all accommodations, all group activities and excursions (except for a few optional excursions, which may require a nominal fee) and most meals (please see specific program for meal details).

Please note: we also offer Optional Medical/Cancellation/Interruption insurance. You will receive information about this option when you initially apply, and your decision is due with your $1000 Program deposit.

Social

Do students usually go with friends?

Around 75% of our students go without knowing anyone else on their program. This is a great way to meet and develop friendships with other teenagers from around the US.

How are roommates assigned?

If you have a roommate request, we will do our very best to honor it. If you do not have a request, we will match roommates based on gender, age and common hobbies/interests that you submit on your application.

You will have your roommate information prior to departure so you can be in contact before leaving the US.

Miscellaneous

Are there Parents and Students I can contact as references?

ECI has many alumni and parents of alumni who are more than happy to speak with you or your parents about our programs. Please call or email us directly for their contact information.

Ready to enroll?

To reserve your space on one of our study abroad programs, visit our Sign Up page.

Have a question?

If you can’t find the answer to your question here or in the program brochure please contact us:

  • Toll Free 1-844-4674697
  • Send us an email 

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