Gap Year, Practical information
Gap Year

Practical information

Long term study in immersion: Practical information

A language study stay abroad must be well-organised and must meet your expectations. For this, advice from professionals may be decisive. Please do not hesitate to call us for telephone advice or to make an appointment to come to discuss your plan with us. We make supplementary documentation available to you, we explain the differences between the schools you are interested in, we answer all of your questions and we calculate the prices of the options you have chosen. These appointments do not imply any obligation on your behalf.

Course dates/ start of courses

On principle, it is possible to start the GAP YEAR programmes every Monday (some schools propose courses for beginners on fixed dates). The language courses, lasting 3 months or longer, constitute the ideal duration in order to attest to your language knowledge by official certificates whose exams take place on fixed dates. It is therefore a matter of putting down the dates of your stay according to the exam sessions. For example, if a student wishes to follow an academic semester (24 weeks) which ends with the obtaining of the Cambridge First (3 exam sessions per year), it is recommended to start the course at the beginning of January in order to finish in June with the exam, at the end of June for the December exam and in September for the March exam. The same goes for the other languages where the dates to be foreseen are those of the end of the stay according to the exam dates.

For professional vocation/university diploma courses, the start dates are indicated for each programme.

Quality garantee

We have been working with the majority of our partner schools for several years. The regular contacts we maintain, our numerous visits to the schools and the feedback of our students allow us to ensure a quality control of their services.


For all of our destinations, we can organise an airport transfer or, according to the destination, a transfer from the train station to your accommodation. This option is pleasant, especially after a long journey. According to your level of autonomy and your knowledge of the country, you can also get to your accommodation by taxi, train or bus. These independent solutions are generally less expensive than the transfers organised by our partner schools. The prices indicated on our website are calculated on the basis of a one-way journey.


Depending on the destination and the duration of your stay, a student visa is indispensable for your stay. We inform you in detail of the procedure to take and we obtain the necessary documents for the visa request. The obtaining and visa fees are at your expense. The formalities as far as visas are concerned are generally the same for people coming from EU countries. There is no procedure necessary for stays taking place in European countries. The majority of the other countries, apart from the USA, allow you to study for up to 12 weeks with a tourist visa. For stays of more than 3 months, a student visa is required.


ESL- Language studies abroad also proposes to you the reservation of flights for any destination at very competitive prices. Please do not hesitate to ask us for an offer without obligation. If you mention it on your enrolment form, we will send you a purely informative price offer for a favourable flight.

Last Minute

Do you wish to travel abroad in the next few days? If circumstances do not permit you to book a long time in advance, we can organise your language study stay in the space of a few days!


With ESL, you can simply take out all types of travel insurance. We propose to you, among others, insurance covering cancellation fees, luggage or a replacement journey. We send you complete information on this subject at the same time as the confirmation of your language study abroad programme. As regards health insurance, the best method consists in checking with your usual health insurance provider if you are covered during your stay abroad.

Travel documents

All of your travel documents are sent to you approximately 10 days prior to your departure. They include a travel guide, the detailed description of your accommodation, your plane ticket, you flight itinerary as well as general information about the school and your destination. In addition, we provide you with documentation which is as complete as possible on the chosen country.

Pocket money

It is difficult to specify an exact amount. This depends on your personal needs, the cost of living of the country, the type of accommodation (without meals/half board/full board) as well as desired activities and excursions. We recommend between 100 and 200 euros worth of pocket money each week.

How to enrol

Complete the enrolment form and send it to use by post or by fax or send it to your booking office/travel agency. As soon as we receive your enrolment, we will confirm your language study programme within a maximum of 7 working days. This confirmation contains details of your booking for your course, accommodation and journey. A deposit is to be paid as soon as you receive the confirmation. If you mention it on your enrolment form, we will send you a price offer for a favourable flight without obligation on your behalf. We send you a definitive invoice 5 to 6 weeks prior to your departure. You must pay the balance, in Swiss Francs, Euros or other foreign currency prior to your departure.

Enrolment deadline

If you've decided to travel abroad, do not delay in undertaking all of the steps. By enrolling on time, you benefit from more favourable prices for your flight and have more time to fulfil all the necessary administrative steps (visa request, extension of your health insurance, announce of your departure etc.). In addition, your wishes concerning accommodation will be more easily satisfied if we can carry out research in advance.

Travelling next year

Course dates and fees as featured online are valid for the current year. If you are planning your language course for next year, you can use this information as an indication. Prices and dates for next year are generally available from July on. Don’t hesitate to call us to for up-to-date information on dates & prices before their publication (end of September). We receive many enrolments several months in advance so that we can guarantee popular courses or accommodation, or satisfy your specific wishes. By enrolling before November for the following year, you will usually pay the same price as for the current year. Don’t hesitate to get in touch for more info.

Our prices

Our prices are the original prices of the schools, which means exactly the prices that you would pays by enrolling directly through the school. No surcharge is invoiced and no administrative fees related to your file or advice given to you is calculated. This means that by travelling abroad with ESL, you do not pay more than by enrolling directly abroad. In addition, you save yourself numerous administrative steps and benefit from assistance at all times, before, during and after your stay. Additionally, we guarantee you the lowest price with a refund of the difference if you find a lower price elsewhere. In order to take advantage of the best courses, our prices are published in foreign currencies and unless otherwise informed by you, they will be converted according to the exchange rate of the day the invoice is sent (4 to 5 weeks prior to departure). We also offer you the possibility to pay in foreign currencies.


The ESL partner schools are attended by participants from throughout the world, in ratios which vary according to the periods of the year and which change according to the destination of the school. Present on an international level, we organise placements of students from various countries and in this way, contribute to strengthening the nationality mix in our partner schools.

Bank holidays

Teaching does not take place on bank holidays (national holidays, etc.). If the classes are not made up for by our partner schools, the missed hours are not reimbursed.

Our clients

We are proud to be able to say that the majority of our clients contact us on the recommendation of former participants. We strive to maintain the high rate of recommendation by offering our clients a complete and quality service without any advice or placement fees.

Size of schools

Small schools (S)
Studying in a small school which counts 30-70 participants offers several advantages, including a relaxed and homelike atmosphere, committed teachers, great flexibility and classes with small numbers. Nevertheless, not all of the levels and course types are always available, notably during the low season.

Medium-sized schools (M)
With 70-100 participants, on the one hand, they combine the advantages of large and small schools, including good technical equipment, many activities, many levels represented, personal contact and great flexibility. On the other hand, not all of the certificates are necessarily proposed.

Large schools (L)
Schools of 100-300 students propose courses for all levels, have good technical facilities and organise a wide variety of activities.

Very large schools (XL)
Schools of more than 300 participants on the one hand present the same advantages as large schools, but you cannot meet all of the students. On the other hand, you find a large number of different nationalities and a wide choice of course types.

Arrival / Departure

- Europe
The arrival day is Sunday, the departure takes place on a Saturday. It is possible to arrive before the weekend on request. In this case, additional nights will be invoiced.

- Overseas
The same goes for schools overseas. Nevertheless, due to the time difference and the long journey, we recommend to students to travel during the prior week. In this case, additional nights will be invoiced.


  1. Star Agency Europe

    ESL – Language studies abroad won Star Agency Western Europe for the fifth time at the 2016 ST Star Awards. 


    If you find our programmes cheaper with another language travel agency, you will be refunded 100% of the price difference.


    We offer you free and personal advice before, during and after your language course abroad.


    In 2017, 96% of our students would recommend ESL – Language studies abroad to their friends and relatives. 


    ESL – Language studies abroad is accredited by quality control bodies in the tourism and education industries.  


Test your language level in a few minutes.


After spending 3 months of pure happiness, it’s sad that I have to leave this incredible place with the head full of good memories and magical experiences like Niagara Falls, basketball game, visits in downtown, ice skating and celebrations far from our families like Christmas organized by the school. In addition to that I enjoyed participating in the after school clubs allowing me to learn even more and have a great time. Thanks to this experience I met incredible people (Brazilians, Asians, Russians, Mexicans, etc.) from all over the world that I want and will visit. The supervisors are excellent and always listen to my requests. I definitely recommend to everybody to live the same experience as me but all good things have an end and now it’s my time.

Read more
Sirine Tounsi

In October 2017, I decided to go to Toronto for 2 months. I had just finished my studies, and I had always dreamt about going to Canada. I wanted to improve my English, so I decided to take an 8-week intensive course at OHC – a school I highly recommend. I became friend with students from all over the world and with very nice teachers. I was surprised to see how fast I improved; I passed 2 levels in 8 weeks! In order to be in total immersion, I chose to live with a host family. If you don’t like rules, I suggest staying in a student residence – you’ll have more freedom. I loved the style of the city (I’m Parisian, so everything looked very different). Toronto has the advantage of being close to French-speaking Québec and to the US – you should visit New York, as I did! If I could do it all over again, I would! Thank you ESL for making my dream come true in a few days only.

Read more
Sara Mateos Arévalo

My name is Sara and I decided to take a course in Lyon to improve my level of French. I had started to take French classes again in Barcelona and I thought it would be a good idea to give them a boost.

I wasn’t very clear on my destination, but I finally chose Lyon because it’s a city that has everything but it’s not as big as Paris. And, as the language travel advisor that I am, and knowing the academic quality of the Alpadia school, I thought it would be a good option.

After having been there, I can say that Lyon is an ideal destination for linguistic immersion. As a city, it has everything: shops, good public transport, restaurants, bars, tourism, parks, etc. What’s more, you’re constantly surrounded by events, culture and French cuisine, and it’s a city where a lot of French natives live. That’s why you can also learn about its customs and lifestyle in addition to the language.

The first day when I arrived to my host family’s home, it was a little difficult for me to speak even though I understood Sylvie (the woman who was hosting me) very well. In the mornings, she was already working, but I enjoyed waking up and having a leisurely breakfast. In the afternoons after the activities, I went home and she was preparing dinner. I sat in the kitchen with her while she taught me French recipes. Every night we cooked a different dish, and she even taught me how to make French crêpes! I stayed in her daughter’s room who was studying in Toulouse. To this day, we still write to each other.

With regard to the school, the first day they had me arrive half an hour early to show us new students the school, city, etc. and introduce us to each other. We had 4 and a half hours of class, but the time flew by, as the teaching method that they use is very dynamic and you have two different teachers. My morning teacher made the classes very exciting and helped us improve our weaknesses. The afternoon teacher, on the other hand, gave us a topic to debate and she made us talk a lot while she provided us with useful, daily vocabulary.

There were only 6 students in class, perfect for learning more easily. At school there was a great atmosphere with a good group of students open to meeting new people and making plans after class. I felt like a part of the group from day one. The mix of nationalities was very good with few Spanish-speaking students. In the whole school, there were only two Spanish and two Mexican students, although we weren’t in the same class. Almost all of them were Swiss (from different regions), and there were students of all ages (18-22, 25-28 and 40+).

Every afternoon, the school offered an activity for whoever wanted to participate (movie, visits around Lyon, wine tasting, etc.). At the beginning of the week, they posted a schedule of the week’s activities on the bulletin board. You just needed to sign up and show up at the meeting point at the time specified (even though almost all of us went there together directly from school). The activity I liked the most was wine tasting because we went to a really authentic wine cellar where they gave us different wines and cheeses. For me, this was a very French experience!

To sum up, I’d like to say that for me, it was a great decision to take an intensive course and stay with a host family, since I learned a ton and at the end of my stay, I noticed that I really improved my fluency when speaking French. The truth is that I had a great experience and I would have liked to be able to stay for another week.

Read more


Check out our blogs, social network pages and various online platforms to read travel stories, articles and reviews from our students on language courses abroad.