Never Too Old to Learn! Language Immersion Programs for Seniors

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Are you envious of your children or grandchildren galavanting around the world every chance they get? Are you looking for something exciting to do in your retirement that doesn’t require working? Are you sick of being limited to English-speaking countries when you’re researching potential vacation options? How about expanding your horizons and studying a new language abroad

Older smiling woman

Working towards fluency with language study abroad for 50-somethings is a worthy path to pursue after decades of work!

No longer are cruises, tours, and all-inclusive resorts the main ways that seniors travel. With the popularity of study abroad for high school and college aged students, it was only a matter of time before this overflowed into other age groups. Language study abroad for 50-somethings and senior citizens is becoming more and more popular, with new programs popping up every day that cater to mature travelers. So, what are you waiting for?! Time to study abroad today!

You’re never too old to learn!

Just because you’re not in school anymore doesn’t mean you can’t keep learning! In fact, not being in school anymore is all the more reason to keep learning. It’s not crazy to assume that the more active you keep your brain throughout your life, the less likely it is that you’ll develop memory loss or any type of deterioration as you age. It’s important to always stay mentally stimulated, so what better way to do this than by learning a new language abroad?

Mature travelers are no different than young travelers.

We’ve reached the point where everyone is looking for ways to add more meaning to their travels. It’s not just college kids who are looking to study abroad for a semester or volunteer abroad during their spring break. Travelers of all ages are pushing boundaries and making their adventures more meaningful, from 40-year-olds volunteering at animal sanctuaries in Thailand to 80-year olds getting degrees in Spain. Think it can’t be done? Check out this 81-year-old study abroad student in Italy. Talk about making use of your retirement!

Put down that Rosetta Stone. Get on a plane.

Sure, there are a lot of ways to learn a language without going abroad. But why settle when you can experience the real deal? Using Rosetta Stone or taking a Spanish class once a week is unfortunately only going to get you so far. Beyond just taking a language class abroad, you’ll also be living abroad during that time period, meaning that your time spent in the classroom will only be the tip of the iceberg of your learning. Being immersed in the environment that speaks the language you’re studying can only help you!

Person writing a chinese character

Go wild and learn a new language that doesn’t use a familiar alphabet or writing system!

Retired already? No reason not to sign up!

Especially if you’re retired already, there’s no reason not to enroll in a language program abroad. You certainly have the time required! With options for every type of student, budget, and schedule, studying abroad is definitely not just for the youths anymore. Check out some of the below options for seniors learning languages and get inspired today!

Study Spanish abroad for seniors

Let’s kick this “seniors learning languages” journey off with one of the most popular languages: Spanish! Maybe you grew up wanting to understand the plight of the Puerto Ricans in West Side Story, or perhaps you’ve just always wanted to add a bit of passion into your life and think sangria, churros, and paella will solve the problem (it will). Whatever your motivation is, it’s definitely good enough to take a peek at the best Spanish immersion programs for seniors abroad!

With Spanish being spoken by millions of people around the world (and actually the second-most spoken native language in the world!) and currently the official language of 20 different countries, wannabe Spanish-speakers certainly have their choices for Spanish immersion programs for seniors. Whether you want to venture down to practically the South Pole and study Spanish in Patagonia or hop across the Bay of Biscay to study in Spain for a week, the world is your oyster. If you’re a US citizen, you can even go study “abroad” in Puerto Rico without needing a passport!

Recommended programs:

[Browse ALL Spanish Courses Abroad]

French classes for senior citizens abroad

Older man reading a book

How do you say “golden years” in other languages? Find out!

Have you always dreamed of retiring in the French countryside and spending your days sipping wine and roaming lavender fields? Time to turn that dream into a reality! What better way to really enjoy your dream retirement than by immersing yourself in the local culture and taking some French classes for senior citizens abroad?

The great thing about studying French abroad is that it can be done pretty much anywhere, not just France! (Or even just Europe, for that matter!) From Canada to Martinique to Senegal to Belgium, French is spoken heavily in many different regions around the world. Whether you prefer learning vocab on the beach in the Caribbean or studying your tenses on a mountain in Quebec, there’s a language school out there for you! 

Beyond just the diverse location options for international French classes for senior citizens, there are the class types themselves that vary greatly from place to place. You can spend a week in bilingual Montreal picking up some basic French without really leaving the comfort of English, or you can enroll in an immersion program deep in rural Switzerland to really hone in on your language skills. The experience can be as immersive and intense as you want, so pick a French language school that fits your needs and goals!

Recommended programs:

[Browse ALL French Courses Abroad]

Learn Italian in Italy for seniors

Time to channel your inner Audrey Hepburn and prepare for your own Roman holiday! Italian is a classic language, and it’s no surprise that it’s so popular to study it abroad. Maybe you were raised on the music of Andrea Bocelli and want to actually understand what he’s singing, or perhaps you’ve always longed to recreate scenes from La Dolce Vita, but whatever your Italian inspiration is, it sounds like it’s time to look at the best Italian language courses for seniors

Even though Italy is a relatively small country, there is so much diversity when it comes to the landscape and culture. Spend a week in cosmopolitan and fast-paced Milan learning shopping and art vocab, or enroll in a month-long cooking and language immersion program in the heart of picture-perfect Tuscany. Learning Italian in Italy for seniors is absolutely doable, so do your research and customize this experience so you really accomplish what you want! 

Language school for older adults

Back to school, back to school 🎶

Many people assume that Italy is the only place to study Italian abroad, but this is definitely not the case! Beyond being an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, and Istria, it is also very widely spoken in Monaco, Albania, Malta, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and several countries in eastern and northern Africa. If you’re looking to get very creative, there are also huge populations of Italian-speakers in North and South America. Did you ever think you could study Italian in Argentina?

Recommended programs:

[Browse ALL Italian Courses Abroad]

Other languages

Why stop at just the “popular” languages? There is something incredibly gratifying about studying a language that is more off-the-beaten-path, so why not try your hand at a slightly more unique language? There’s no reason to stop at just Spanish immersion programs for senior citizens or something equally as “standard”!

Same alphabet 

Spanish, Italian, and French are among the most popular second languages in the western world probably because they are very similar to English (and there’s something about these countries conquering a lot of others and their languages spreading and all that, but that’s a story for a different day). There are a ton of languages out there that are also “similar to English” that fall outside of the norm, though! Think German, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Swahili, or whatever you have a passion for! There’s no reason to limit yourself to some of the more “standard” second languages when there are tons of options out there.

Recommended programs: 

older woman taking a photo

Adventure-time—you earned it!

Different alphabet

If you’re really up for the challenge, study a language with a different alphabet! Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Greek, Korean, Hebrew, you name it! Learning another alphabet is not as hard as it seems, but the “extra step” always seems to deter hopeful language-learners. Chances are you don’t remember learning your ABCs because you were too young, so who’s to say how hard it is until you try it! Check out these top schools for seniors learning languages to get those creative juices flowing! 

Recommended programs: 

Whether you’re interested in studying Arabic for just a few weeks or want to enroll in one of the best Spanish immersion programs for seniors abroad, there are a ton of options for every type of mature student and budget. Don’t feel limited by the above choices, as there are way more opportunities for seniors learning languages than most people realize!

Retirees can learn languages abroad too

older woman learning languages abroad
"The trick is growing up without growing old." #YoungAtHeart

Studying abroad isn’t just for the college kids! If you have extra time on your hands since retiring, why not do something that’s fun, productive, and adventurous all at the same time? Language study abroad for 50-somethings and senior citizens is becoming popular for a reason, so don’t be afraid to jump on this bandwagon and try something new. Retiring doesn’t have to mean sitting at home, it means taking the time to pursue something just because! What better thing to pursue than being able to talk more?

Learn a Language Abroad Today!

Topics:  50+ Travel, Top Picks