by Rebecca Uhlich
Everyone who has ever been abroad for a study exchange knows: the first weeks are the hardest ones. Especially at the beginning of an international educational experience, most of us feel a bit awkward to actively use the new language.
The unusual challenge to organise your university matters, accommodation conditions or to buy daily life stuff speaking another language is often complicated and needs some practice. Fortunately, the European Union is aware of this fact and has organised a language preparation programme: the ERASMUS Intensive Language Courses (EILC).
This is a set of programmes that takes place in your country of choice. More specifically, you can learn the local language of Belgium, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Romania and other 22 European countries. This two-weeks programme does not target English, French, German and Spanish, but it was developed for those languages that are a bit more difficult to learn, but easier if you’re directly in the target country.
What you need to know about EILC
Here are some of the common features of the EILC:
- Courses are organised June – September and last two – eight months
- The available levels are beginners (A1) – fluent (C2)
- Some courses include scholarships, while other have discounts given by the host universities. It is said that the only fees you have to pay for these courses are for trips and free time activities.
- The EILC lead to the LEONARDO working placement abroad programme
- These preparatory courses mean 60 hours divided into 15/week, so that you can have a solid foundation of the local language before your work experience abroad begins.
Applying for an Erasmus language course
The application for the EILC is possible twice a year: if you go abroad during the summer/ autumn semester you apply until the 1st of June. When going abroad during the winter semester you apply until the 31st of October. Your application has to be given to your ERASMUS coordinators at your home university (and they pass it to the National Agency for you). There, you also get further information about the EILC programme and the application opportunities.
The EILC application form normally contains:
- Personal information
- Information about your language level
- Information about your EILC wishes: your future ERASMUS university/ LEONARDO work placement institution, the period of time you want to spend there, your ERASMUS coordinators and your language competences.
In a short sentence, you also have to explain why you want to learn exactly this language – remember the courses are only organised for less widely used languages. These questions may help you to give this information:
- Do you have any personal connection to your chosen EILC country?
- Do you have friends there?
- Is your family history linked to this state?
- Have you learned this language already at school?
- Do you want to work in this country one day? Why?
Choosing your EILC institution
In the end of the application form, you can tell your wishes according to your EILC institution. On the official international European EILC website you find the application form and all universities and educational organisations offering these preparatory language courses.
On these websites, you get information about the EILC institutions themselves, course conditions and important cultural events in these towns. Search these pages to find an interesting host university or a suitable host town for you. Then check out if you have to apply for or enrol on these programmes separately.
Poorly prepared applicants are allocated to any institution which the national agencies choose – so make your wishes clear to have the maximum of profit and fun. Notice also that many of these institutions have very good and widely appointed media centres. There you can borrow books, magazines and films for further reading and learning. Using this offer you can not only increase your progress but also find some nice cultural jewels of your host country.
In many countries, you will be required to write a final report about your experience after you have finished your EILC programme. These reports are often organised as detailed questionnaires according to your preparation language courses, e.g. the quality of the educational conditions or the money you spent in your host town.
Since student mobility and international experiences are a great opportunity to develop your personal competences and improve your job chances you should not leave out any possibility to make the maximum of it. Use an ERASMUS intensive language course to make first new friends in your exchange country and be well prepared for your academic lessons – to overcome the social reservation of the first days quickly and then fully enjoy every aspect of your international experience.