What kind of student is a good match for NSLI-Y?
Participating in NSLI-Y is a challenging but rewarding endeavor. NSLI-Y participants are immersed in a foreign culture and spend most of the day studying language and culture inside and outside the classroom. To navigate the “ups and downs” of a cross-cultural environment, participants must demonstrate maturity, open-mindedness, flexibility, and initiative. Additionally, participants need to understand the importance of following program rules and guidelines, especially for health and safety.
Successful NSLI-Y participants dedicate themselves to language acquisition through both formal and informal learning opportunities and strive to improve their language skills and understanding of the host culture. The program expects participants to embrace their role as citizen youth ambassadors and to recognize the significance of developing cultural sensitivity. NSLI-Y is a structured language-learning experience, and participants do not travel independently. NSLI-Y is focused on language acquisition, not travel for tourism or sightseeing.
Students interested in academic year programs should be mindful of the long-term commitment and challenges. For many reasons, not all students may be prepared for such an extended period away from home.
NSLI-Y language instruction and programming
A goal of the NSLI-Y program is to promote critical language learning among American youth and to spark a lifetime of interest in foreign languages and cultures. NSLI-Y encourages students to build on their language skills in their university and professional career choices and to dedicate themselves to continued language learning far beyond their time on the program. NSLI-Y scholars participate in intensive language courses on both summer and academic year programs. Summer programs include a minimum of 120 hours of formal classroom instruction. Academic year programs include at least ten hours per week of formal classroom instruction, and most programs include additional academic courses. Language teachers have significant experience teaching language to speakers of other languages and are usually native speakers in the target language. NSLI-Y provides orientation to language teachers to ensure their familiarity with NSLI-Y goals, integration of language classroom activities with enrichment activities, and U.S. high school students’ learning styles and academic expectations. While classes are taught by trained and experienced teachers, students may experience different teaching methods from what they are used to in U.S. classrooms.
These intensive language courses are complemented by cultural immersion activities inside and outside of the classroom, including homestays, excursions, and in local community. Successful NSLI-Y scholars are dedicated to language acquisition through both formal and informal learning opportunities. Scholars strive to succeed both academically, by improving their language skills, and culturally, by gaining an understanding and appreciation for their host culture and community.
NSLI-Y provides a variety of preparatory materials and support. Preparation for the NSLI-Y experience begins in the spring, shortly after the finalists are selected. Participation in all orientation and pre-program language activities is mandatory.
All participants will be required to participate in pre-program language learning programs as well as complete any assignments and assessments in preparation for the program. Program orientation activities may include online resources, handbooks, conference calls, webinars, opportunities to speak with NSLI-Y alumni, and local events with other exchange students. Prior to departure, students attend an orientation in their U.S. departure city that will address how to stay healthy and safe while living in the host community. Family members should not attend the pre-departure orientation. The program will arrange travel to the pre-departure orientation location, and then the participants will fly as a group to the host location.
Role of the U.S. Department of State
NSLI-Y is a program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The State Department establishes the program goals, selects the host locations and languages offered, and provides oversight of all program activities. ECA collaborates with American Councils for International Education and other international exchange organizations to implement NSLI-Y programs. Cities and regions for NSLI-Y programs are selected in cooperation with the U.S. Embassies and Consulates in the host locations. Embassy and Consulate staff in each NSLI-Y location are invited to speak with the students about local safety and health issues as well as what it is like to work for the U.S. Government. The Department of State and the implementing organizations continuously monitor current events in each of the NSLI-Y locations and are in contact with U.S. Embassies abroad as participant safety and security are top priorities. All NSLI-Y students are registered with the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which provides relevant safety and health alerts via text messages and ensures that the Embassy can quickly contact students if needed. Additional resources and information are available at travel.state.gov and studyabroad.state.gov