Brush up on Spanish Speaking Skills: Cultural & Immersion Tour of Puerto Rico

For many students studying Spanish, the ultimate way to test their speaking skills is to become immersed in a culture where it is the primary language.  These days, student travel groups may be less inclined to visit Mexico, due to news of attacks on American citizens traveling there.  Europe may be overpriced for smaller school trip budgets.  Puerto Rico is a great alternative to other destinations. Best of all – no passport is needed, since it is a U.S. Territory.

If the school group leader requests it – this tour is done completely in Spanish.  Students are challenged to speak Spanish while they travel.  Student travelers will eat locally made Puerto Rican food, learn Salsa dancing from locals, play dominoes and briscas, dine and converse with local guides and residents and swim and lodge where locals enjoy the beach.  Student travel groups will tour San Juan and Ponce, two of the largest cities in Puerto Rico, and also have the opportunity to explore rural areas, like the pristine beaches of Boquerón and Luquillo, the fishing village La Parguera, and El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the United States.

Read on to find out how this tour is structured to teach the Spanish student through an  immersion in Puerto Rican culture.

Dining Out in Puerto Rico
Student travelers will have authentic culinary experiences while touring. Eating locally prepared dishes is one way to learn more about everyday life in Puerto Rico. In San Juan, students will try authentic Afro-Caribbean dishes at Piñones restaurant.  While visiting the small fishing village of La Parquera in western Puerto Rico, students will be treated to a homemade dinner and snacks prepared by locals.  In Ponce, the group will eat an elegant Puerto Rican dinner at San Juan’s top salsa spot and may sample some churros – a fried pastry that is sometimes dipped in chocolate. While visiting El Yunque rainforest on the Northeast coast of Puerto Rico, students will sample Pinchos, a traditional Spanish snack eaten with toothpicks or skewers.

Experiencing Puerto Rican Culture
Salsa dancing is more popular than ever in Spanish speaking countries. Meanwhile a wave of enthusiasm for learning Salsa is sweeping the United States and other countries. On the first evening of the tour, students will take professionally taught Salsa lessons and participate in a workshop at one of Puerto Rico’s most prestigious dance schools. A few days later the group will dine in a top salsa restaurant in San Juan where they will listen to live Salsa music – where they may choose to practice some of the dance moves they learned.

On day two of the tour, students will see a Puerto Rican dance performance and participate in a workshop where they will learn the history and the moves of dance from Bomba y Plena to the current Reggaetón.

Towards the end of the tour students will learn to play dominós and briscas, two favorite local games, while relaxing after supper.

Spanish Language Learning Exercises
Foreign language teachers will be interested in hearing their students speak Spanish on tour, so the local tour guide has developed some fun and ingenious ways of learning.  On the first day of the tour he will teach the group how to sing Marc Anthony’s Preciosa, Puerto Rico’s unofficial anthem. By the final day of the tour the guide will ask students to sing Preciosa by heart.

Near La Parguera, students will have the opportunity to tour a public school and see how children in Puerto Rico learn.  The Principal will guide them around the school. Students will have a chance to test their Spanish by posing questions they may have about education in Puerto Rico – and be answered in Spanish.

While touring Ponce’s old and new farmers markets, students will participate in a Scavenger Digital Hunt.   They will learn the Spanish names for native fruits, vegetables and meat products.  This is a fun, hands-on way to learn new Spanish words using technology and real time interactions with the people of Puerto Rico.

This tour includes visits to rural areas and cities.  It can be adapted to any student travel group’s needs or preferences.  Because a Puerto Rican tour guide created it, the sites selected offer an insightful local viewpoint on culture, language and food.

Request a quote for a Cultural and Immersion Tour of Puerto Rico or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com for more information.

A School Trip from Bermuda Takes a Science Tour of Orlando

Often teachers will approach me with a general idea for a school trip to a certain destination. I work closely with educators to customize tours that reflect their curriculum and provide fun and interesting sites on the itinerary.

Heather Stevens is school Coordinator for Overseas Educational Tours.  She is a Para Educator for pre-kindergarten through fifth graders at Purvis Primary school in Bermuda.  She needed guidance and ideas for an educational trip to Orlando. Stevens wanted her students to visit Walt Disney World, and engage in the study of science.

Walt Disney World in Florida has some excellent science-focused educational programs in their Youth Education Series (Y.E.S.). There are some specific programs geared towards the science student:  Synergy in Science (Epcot Center), Wild by Nature (Animal Kingdom), Seaworld Education Program and Physics – Energy & Waves (Magic Kingdom).  Disney World exhibits are used as examples of the direct application of technology and science.  This hands on learning experience is fun and educational for students.

The Principal, Deputy Principal and teachers scheduled the student group for all of the programs mentioned above.  Student favorites included Animation Magic, Physics – Energy & Waves and Animals of Florida.  “The students have been learning about animals and their habitats,” commented Stevens, “and we have an annual science fair each February.”  She continued, “The YES Programs about Everyday Chemistry and Physics were a great tie in for our students as well.”

Students also participated in the Synergy in Science Program at Epcot Center, where children are taught about the creativity and technology behind Disney’s entertainment programs.   “The students were thrilled. Many spoke about their experiences in Epcot in their journal,” said Stevens.

Stevens feels the trip to Walt Disney World was a useful learning tool because:

  1. Children are able to relate to hands on activities.
  2. Students retain a lot of information given.
  3. Many of the students enjoy the movement.
  4. This type of experience taps into a variety of learning styles.

During the trip to Walt Disney World, students were asked to keep a reflective journal.  When they returned to Purvis Primary school in September 2010, the writing was shared by students at “an assembly of the entire school, where they gave details about the trip and shared pictures,” according to Stevens.

Students are more likely to retain the information acquired during active learning experiences if they are told to record their thoughts in writing, or speak about them afterward.

When students presented their experiences to others, they said their favorite programs were Animation Magic – where they learned about how a haunted house works by going backstage. Many of the students also had positive thoughts on the Seaworld Education Program.

This February, the children have been busy with the Science Fair. And, although they may not take a school trip this June, Stevens said she would like to do so again in the future. “Working with an educational travel company helped us create the core learning experiences for the trip. We would not have been able to travel as a school without this component,” noted Stevens.

There are many different Disney Y.E.S. programs to choose from these days, as the educational series has expanded over the years.  Some of the newer programs include:  The American Story (history), Showbiz Magic at La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil an inside look at the Cirque de Soleil performers, Milennium Cultures (World Showcase), and Disney’s Leadership Excellence: The Inside Track.  This is just a sampling of the many Y.E.S programs available to student travel groups in a variety of subjects.

The great part about scheduling a student group trip to Orlando to participate in Y.E.S. Programs, according to Heather Stevens, is “it’s educational fun for the adults as well.”

For more information on visiting Orlando with a student group, Request a Quote or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.