by Howard Clemens
Charlemagne once said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” Nothing feeds the soul of another language quite like saturating yourself in the very life of that language through its culture, food and fellow travelers. And it has never been more affordable or easier to make student group travel excursions to the destinations where French and Spanish are currently spoken today. New Orleans and Puerto Rico are two of the finest locations for students looking to refine their second language skills within the United States and its territories.
Saint Louis Cathedral Tour Provides Cultural Backdrop for French in America
French thrives in the much-celebrated French Quarter of New Orleans where on Bourbon Street and Jackson Square the gumbo is as spicy as the music in the birthplace of jazz. St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is said to be one of the finest surviving examples of French Colonial architecture and is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States. Tours of the cathedral and convent will not only enrich student language skills but will also provide historical context to the use of French in the Americas. The St. Louis Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in the world, often shown in films shot in New Orleans and also found in the pages of world-famous novels like those by Anne Rice.
The French Quarter, Students Experience Culture, Cuisine, Language and Society
Part of the legacy of the French Quarter is its cuisine. The French Quarter’s aromas drift through the streets – making any tour a most delicious effort for tasting and speaking French. Mardi Gras World is a living workshop museum with an explosion of breathtaking colorful floats being built from the ground up. The tour takes the mask off the famed parade while at the same time bringing Mardi Gras to life every day of the year. Right in the heart of the French Quarter is the Jackson Brewery. Here, shops have been in operation for over a century, displaying some of the finest jewelry and clothing in Louisiana. There is also the Aquarium of the Americas, where penguins meet the Mighty Mississippi’s alligators, snapping turtles and crawfish.
Student Tours Visit the Acadian Village to Listen to Spoken French in Louisiana
Class trips into the world of spoken French in Louisiana will include visiting the Acadian Village, home of the early peace-loving settlers. Take group tours of original homes – complete with spinning wheels and beeswax candle molds. Learn how corn helped the early community thrive, giving the area its famous grits, hominy and cornbread. Corn husks were also used for dolls, hats, and incense to keep the mosquitos at bay. There are different houses featured on the tour each month, such as the Bernard House built in 1800 with its paintings of settlers first arriving.
Student travelers destined for New Orleans will absorb French culture, cuisine and language and listen to the words and sounds of French spoken in the U.S. as they explore one of the oldest cities in the United States.
Puerto Rico: a Spanish Immersion Tour
Before it was a United States territory, the residents of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico spent four centuries ruled by the Spanish. Spain’s culture and language are the living remains of its former colonial outpost, making the enchanting island one of the best excursions for American students looking for a Spanish language immersion experience, close to the Lower 48. United States citizens do not need a passport to travel to the island of Puerto Rico and the U.S. dollar is the official currency, making the island a convenient destination for student travel groups, especially.
Modern Puerto Rico offers an extraordinary variety of activities from music festivals to surfing and zip-lining through the jungle. Eco-tourists from around the world visit the island for its breathtaking valleys of lush, wild tropical fern and fauna. Tour guides and teachers alike will give hands-on experience taking Spanish out of the classroom and into the world where it lives in the everyday.
Puerto Rican Cuisine: From Ordering to Paying the Bill, Spanish is Spoken
The food of Puerto Rico is legendary. Authentic Spanish colonial foods continue to be a staple in the island dwellers diet. Rich, delicious and nourishing foods such as mofongo, asopa, and lechon, foods whose tastes and names will remain with you the rest of your life. In April Saborea is the largest food festival in the Caribbean, and attracts food specialists and writers from all around the globe. Student trips need to be booked one year or at least six months in advance to plan to attend Saborea. Travelers fall in love with Spanish-style island food on a trip to Puerto Rico.
Also consider taking student groups to the coffee haciendas where Puerto Rico’s world famous coffee beans are harvested and roasted. In this environment, Spanish is spoken widely and casual interaction with Puerto Rican locals is possible.
Puerto Rico has a rich Spanish colonial heritage, which informs the language, cuisine, culture, architecture and the ways of the people. Both English and Spanish are spoken by Puerto Rican citizens. If Spanish is what a class has come to learn, there’s a very agreeable population of native speakers (as teachers) while students tour the island.
Visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com for more information about a French or Spanish Immersion Tour of New Orleans or Puerto Rico.