Level Up on Vacation: Learn a New Language

By Chelsea La Near

Skill sharing vacations, a growing trend in educational travel, are experiences designed to help you develop a new or existing skill during your vacation - a dual purpose that may just be the motivation you need to start planning your next trip. Parlay Vacay is part of this growing travel trend featuring hands-on learning experiences for travelers. We asked Dr. Angela Brumett, Parlay Vacay's founder, a few questions to learn more.

What is your personal background, and how does it relate to your business?

I grew up in a semi-rural small town in Indiana where, it seemed, no one else was interested in other languages or travel abroad. I had my first foreign penpal when I was in the the second grade. At my insistence, my family hosted our first of many foreign exchange students when I was 13, and I was a foreign exchange student for the first time (in Japan) when I was 16. I was hooked on language learning and world travel and knew they would always be major components of my life.

When I discovered the field of anthropology, I decided to pursue a masters degree in cultural anthropology and doctorates in psychological anthropology and English. I've focused on perception, identity, and worldview in different cultures, psycholinguistics, English language arts, TESL (Teaching English as a Secondary Language), and how new language acquisition differs in children and adults.

Describe a typical experience you offer your clients.

A typical Parlay Vacay experience for a group who decides to learn Spanish, for instance, would be a week at a secluded villa with hot springs in the Costa Rican rainforest. 

Our participants vacation with their teacher and native speaking tutors at a 2 to 1 ratio of participants to staff. This ratio allows us to accommodate participants at various levels.

A week is enough time to “level up” their skills and that is our focus though some will progress beyond that.

The week-long program schedule consists of a brief orientation and 24 instruction hours, 8 of which are in a classroom setting and 16 of which are outside the classroom.That leaves plenty of free time to relax or explore.We also advocate certain types of leisure and relaxation activities that will help with comprehension and retention.

What inspired you to create this experience for others?

I had endured lots of intensive language learning and teaching experiences including immersion destination courses which I found to be too fatiguing, so I was reluctant to keep using my limited vacation time in that way. Total immersion or one-to-one attention sounds great, but fatigue is the definite downside.

That made me ponder how I could create destination learning programs that balanced focused learning with relaxing, real vacations, so busy participants could make better use of their precious vacation time. Then I started to figure out how relaxation could actually aid the learning in both comprehension and retention, so I created my own method, The Parlay Way, that implements both for maximum effectiveness.

How have you expanded your offerings since you started your business?

Parlay Vacay started with just English and Spanish, then added French. Next we became part of a worldwide travel agency association and expanded our teaching network so much that we are now blessed to be able to accommodate almost any language in almost any destination. 

We’ve developed an additional course system for service-related language which can focus on language for first responders, business and industry, or other fields. In addition, we arrange any type of vacation activities that the client group would like.

How does your company positively contributes to tourism in the destinations you visit?

We try to leave as light a footprint as possible by practicing respect for the natural elements while contributing to the local communities by using accommodations and services which are owned by locals whenever possible. We make an effort when organizing any outside activities to patronize local businesses. The efforts that our participants make to use the target language with the locals also contributes to better relationships and ultimately leaves lovely and lasting impressions on the communities we visit.

Which language do YOU want to level up on vacation?

Parlay Vacay: Language Vacations offers intimate group destination packages that help you learn a new language or level up your existing foreign language skills while on a real, relaxing vacation.

Contact Parlay Vacay to learn more: email@parlayvacay.com

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