Next year, the University of North Georgia (UNG) will offer three-week study abroad programs in Germany and France as part of a summer language program for high school students.
Each summer, UNG offers courses in multiple languages in the Federal Service Language Academy (FSLA), which in 2016 will offer two sessions from June 5-24 and July 10-29. Students will live in a residence hall on UNG's Dahlonega Campus and will study Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese or Russian.
Students participating in the on-campus FSLA programs may earn high school credit, but the FSLA-Germany and FSLA-France programs offer the opportunity to earn college and high school academic credit – giving students a head start on a degree. The dual-enrollment option also means free college tuition for qualifying Georgia residents through the state's Move on When Ready program, though there are other costs involved.
FSLA-Germany will run July 1-23 in Berlin; dates still are pending for the FSLA-France program in Angers, France. In both, students will live with a host family and attend class 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Both will be immersive programs with an emphasis on experiential learning programs for high school students and supervised excursions to local sites.
Laura Wagner, a senior at South Forsyth High School, said she participated in the FSLA-Germany program this summer – the first time UNG offered a study-abroad program for high school students – to experience an immersive atmosphere.
"Anyone can study language in a classroom, but participating in this program really boosted my confidence with speaking the language and interacting with native Germans," Wagner said. "I love that we stayed with host families rather than in hotels or hostels. You get such an inside view on the culture when you are actually living it every day with your host family."
Benny Purk, a senior at White County High School who also participated in FSLA-Germany, plans to begin his studies in international affairs next year at UNG. As a result of his positive experience, Purk's family is hosting a German exchange student in their Cleveland, Georgia, home.
"This is a wonderful experience also, as we get along very well, like brothers, and through him I am learning a lot more about the differences between American and German cultures," Purk said. "And besides him learning a lot of English here, we do also find time to improve my German."
Wagner and Purk both seek to learn multiple languages.
"The more languages you know, the more opportunities you have in the world as far as travelling and making friends," Wagner said. "I think that everyone should learn as many languages as they possibly can."
High school students interested in college language classes who don't want to study abroad can enroll in UNG's Summer Language Institute (SLI), an intensive, residential language program that is open to rising high school juniors and seniors that also is funded by Move On When Ready.
Applications are now being taken for the 2016 FSLA programs. For more information, including how to apply, visit the Center for Global Engagement website.
FSLA, which was started in 2010 at UNG, features intensive, daily language studies geared toward high school students who have an interest in careers in international affairs or in federal service organizations such as the FBI, CIA, Department of State or the U.S. military. The program draws students from across the state and around the country and combines fitness, federal service advisement and language immersion.