Spain (grades 10 – 12) | Language Learning

Immerse yourself in Spanish language and culture on this active summer language program in Spain for high school students. Visit renowned art museums and explore ancient castles and palaces, learn to surf on Spain’s northern coast, hike and horseback ride in the Picos de Europa mountains, and pair up with a local teenager for a language exchange and day stay.

June 26, 2016  –  July 28, 2016
Students completing grades 10 – 12
Language Learning
Typical Group:
14 – 16 students, 2 leaders
33 days


  • Immerse yourself in Castilian Spanish for a month.
  • Use your Spanish to interview the chef at a tapas restaurant in Madrid.
  • Don wetsuits and jump through waterfalls on a guided canyoning adventure.
  • Spend a week paired with a local teenager, joining in Spanish daily life.
  • Learn to dance flamenco with an authentic gitano instructor.
  • Hike to the top of the highest mountain in the Iberian Peninsula.


Spanish Language Adventure

The goals of this language and cultural immersion program are to improve your fluency in Spanish by building vocabulary and confidence in speaking, and to explore Spain’s incredibly diverse regional culture through outdoor activities and interactions with locals. Visit the world-renowned galleries of the Prado, the Reina Sofía, and the Thyssen Bornemisza museums in Madrid. Hike to fields of summer snow in the Picos de Europa. Experience day-to-day Spanish life as you pair up with a Spanish teenager. In vibrant Spanish cities, as well as in charming towns off-the-beaten track, spend time getting to know Spanish culture and history.

Each day, leaders hold dynamic conversational Spanish lessons designed to help students let go of their inhibitions and communicate more easily with the many Spanish people they meet every day. Language lessons are fun, interactive, vocabulary-based, and often incorporate scavenger hunts, games, and informal interviews with Spaniards.

Putney’s network of friends and contacts set the tone for our experience; our Spanish friends often join us on hikes and facilitate interactions with other local people. We begin each day with a traditional Spanish breakfast—breads, croissants, yogurt, fruits, juices, coffee, tea—at our residence. For lunches and dinners, we find small restaurants or hit the markets to purchase food for a picnic.

Northern Coast, Picos de Europa, and Madrid

We begin in a fishing village on Spain’s gorgeous northern coast. Get to know your group, visit a local fiesta, and play soccer on the beach with Spanish friends. Next, it’s on to the snow-capped Picos de Europa for a stay in a mountain inn. Hike and ride horseback on spectacular trails. The next stop is Madrid where we explore the lively streets, visit the Prado, and take day trips to Segovia’s Roman aqueduct or to Toledo’s Alcázar and ancient synagogue.

PCBAR_BridgetLanigan (198)crop

Build confidence in your conversational Spanish by taking to the streets to interview Spaniards.


Move on to a smaller city and immerse yourself in local culture by pairing up with a Spanish teenager. During the daystay week, Putney students are paired with a Spanish teenager. Practice your Spanish as you join in his or her daily activities, meet the family, and form lasting friendships. This is a unique opportunity to experience Spanish life as it is really lived. The hosts are carefully selected by our local representatives— trusted long-time friends of Putney–who choose them from among their friends and contacts in the community. During this time we come together as a Spanish/American group for day trips and excursions such as hiking to a swimming spot, attending a concert, or sharing a meal.

“Our expectations were for Nathan to experience and appreciate the Spanish culture, and advance in his knowledge of the Spanish language. The program greatly exceeded these expectations! He was cared for and led by brilliant and inspiring leaders who were aware of each student’s personal goals and challenged the group daily with Spanish conversation.”

— Erin Glasgow and David Smith, parents of Nathan Smith, Westminster School, Edmond, OK

Granada, the Alpujarras, and the Southern Coast

Head south to Granada to visit La Alhambra palace and to take a flamenco lesson in a traditional cueva. Then to the mountainous Alpujarras region, where the group settles into a small village for several days of outdoor adventure. The final days of the program are spent in a whitewashed beach-side village on the southern coast.

Spanish Language Pledge

Start your Spanish off on the right foot by taking the Putney language learning pledge, promising to use only Spanish to communicate with each other, our hosts, and the many wonderful Putney friends and contacts we meet. Soon you notice that you are speaking more comfortably, and your Spanish has taken on a momentum of its own.


Group accommodations are carefully selected by Putney Student Travel to emphasize convenience, a positive group environment, and wholesome interaction with local people and fellow travelers. Accommodations in Spain are varied, ranging from Old World-style hotels to mountain chalets. Many of our residences are run by welcoming Spanish families that Putney has known for years. Rooms are a mix of doubles, triples, and quads. Leaders reside together with the students throughout the program.

Physical Challenge Level

Our programs are active. Days are filled with movement – taking a surf lesson in Llanes, hiking in the Picos de Europa mountains, or walking the streets of Madrid are all activities you might participate in during this program. You do not need to be at peak fitness to participate, but it is important that you have a desire to be physically active, and that you are excited about trying all activities.

A Typical Day

Due to the traveling nature of this program, each day is different. In addition to daily language activities, we attend music and dance performances, go to world renowned galleries, and learn about the history and present day life in Spain. Active pursuits such as hiking, biking, or swimming are also a part of this program. No matter the activity, we’ll be spending time getting to know the unique nature of the destination we’re exploring. Evening activities might include a movie in Spanish, a visit to a churreria for Spain’s famous churros y chocolate, a theatre or musical performance, or a stroll through the streets of Madrid as a group. Each day is capped with a group meeting to discuss the day and upcoming schedule.

What to Expect

This is a Spanish immersion program. Participants must have completed at least two years of Spanish. You should come to the program excited about immersing yourself in Spanish language and culture, open to new experiences, and willing to challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone and make the most of your time in Spain. You are required to speak Spanish while in Spain and must sign a pledge that you will do so, not only with the many Spanish people you meet, but also with the leaders and within the group.

At Putney we take pride in our reputation for careful, thorough planning and attention to detail. The descriptions of our high school summer travel programs are based on our experiences in previous summers and our plans for this summer. It is inevitable that some things described here will not happen exactly as presented. To get the most out of the Putney experience, participants need to be flexible in responding to unforeseen situations, and creative in taking advantage of unexpected opportunities. We expect Putney participants to share responsibility for the success of their experience. Rules that provide a safe and structured environment, set curfews, and prohibit the use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco are in place and enforced. We expect you to behave in a mature and productive way at all times.


$8,790 plus airfare


Putney organizes and reserves seats for students on a round-trip group flight from a gateway U.S. airport to your program destination. One or more of your group leaders will be at the airport to welcome you and to fly with the group on both departure and return. Please consult us for fares.


Learn about last year’s program by reading the 2014 Language Learning Spain A Blog.

This program begins and ends at John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport in New York City, New York.

Departure • Travel Day • The group flight departs from New York, where you meet one of your leaders and fly together to Oviedo, Spain, by way of Madrid.

The Northern Coast • 5 days • Upon arrival take a short bus ride to Spain’s northern coast in the Asturias region. Participate in language lessons, get to know your group, visit a local fiesta, and play soccer on the beach with Spanish friends.

Moving from north to south, immerse yourself in Spanish culture while bonding with fellow program participants.

Moving from north to south, immerse yourself in Spanish culture while bonding with fellow program participants.

Picos de Europa • 4 days • Travel south to a mountain inn located among the snow-capped Picos de Europa. Hike and ride horseback on spectacular trails.

Madrid • 5 days • Explore the lively streets, visit museums—the Prado, Reina Sofía, and Thyssen Bornemisza–sample wonderful food at a sidewalk café, and take in a show at a taberna flamenco. Take a day trip to Segovia to see its Roman aqueduct or to Toledo to visit the Alcázar and ancient synagogue.

Daystay • 6 days • Immerse yourself in local culture by pairing with a Spanish teenager. This is an opportunity to experience Spanish life as it is really lived. Practice your Spanish as you join in their daily activities, meet the family, and form lasting friendships. During this week, you will be with your Spanish brother or sister during the day and back together as a group in the evening.

“I absolutely loved the people in our group and the people of Spain. I learned so much about the world in general. To be honest, I think I learned a lot more about myself, too. I am more fluent in Spanish than when I first started and I feel like I will do an amazing job in school this year!” 

— Mary Choi, Washington Irving High School, Springfield, VA

Granada • 5 days • Head south to Andalucia for five days in the city of Granada. Visit the Alhambra Palace, soak in a traditional Arabic bath, and learn to dance flamenco.

The Alpujarras • 3 days • Spend three days at a family-run inn in a whitewashed village in the mountainous Alpujarras region. Hike to the top of Mulhacén, the highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula, and enjoy the crisp mountain air and stunning, natural beauty.

Teen in Spain on Summer Language Program

Ride horseback on mountain trails in the Alpujarras.

Costa del Sol • 3 days • Continue south to stay for your final three days in a small town on the Costa del Sol. Relax, enjoy a picnic on the sunny beaches of Spain’s Mediterranean coast, and participate in final group activities.

Return • Travel Day • Take a private bus to Málaga and fly with your group and a leader to New York, then continue on to your final destination.

This itinerary represents our best projection of the group’s schedule. However, we may implement changes designed to improve the quality of the program.


Background • From the Moorish palaces of La Alhambra in Granada, to the rocky cliffs on Spain’s northern coast, to world-renowned works of art at Madrid’s many museums, and the spectacular beaches of the southern coast, Spain’s diverse natural beauty, rich history, and worldly culture make it an amazing place to visit. Explore the magnificent Palacio Real built in the mid-1800s by Felipe V, the bustling El Rastro market in Madrid, the old gypsy quarters of the Albaicín in Granada, and discover the stories of small towns and rural villages. Use your language skills to interview Spanish people and bring history to life by tracing the links to contemporary culture.

Population • Spain is home to approximately 45 million people. Madrid and Granada are the largest cities we visit, with populations of 6 million and 475,000, respectively. We spend most of our time in smaller cities and rural towns with populations ranging from 2,000-5,000.

Teens on Spanish Summer Program with Ham

Discuss (in Spanish!) the secret of Spain’s famous cured ham.

Language • Castellano, Castillian Spanish, is the official language of Spain, although other languages and dialects are spoken in different regions including Catalan in Cataluña, Galician in Galicia, and Euskara in the Basque Country.

“I remember sitting on the beach thinking about all of the things we had done: hiking the Picos de Europa, our day-stay with Spanish teenagers, exploring different cities, but most importantly thinking how lucky I was to have made so many life-long friends. The last night when we had our talent show, it was a time of remembering all of the good things that happened, having a great time, and truly feeling that we were a Putney family.”

— Chloe Brisson, Lycee Francais de New York, New York, NY

Climate • Daytime temperatures during Spain’s summer months range from the mid-80s to the mid-90s, although it is cooler on the northern coast and in the mountains where afternoon temperatures often stay in the low 70s and can be cool at night.

Cuisine • Spaniards enjoy their meals, taking time to gather with family and friends at the table, to eat slowly, and enjoy their company. Most Spaniards will encourage you to try a bite of their tortilla de patata, paella, jamon serrano, churros con chocolate, or the incredible manchego cheeses produced in the northern regions. Each region of Spain is famous for its own specialty, a product of the region’s climate, history, and customs. While northern Spanish cuisine is a hearty reflection of the region’s farming industry and proximity to the Atlantic coast, southern Spanish cuisine showcases Mediterranean influences. Throughout our exploration of Spain, we complement meals at restaurants with delicious picnics and plenty of stops at cafés.

Teens learn Spanish on Summer Program in Spain

Make Spanish friends and improve your fluency during day stay week in a small Spanish city.

Currency • Spain uses the Euro. The best way to access cash is by using an ATM card.

Visa • U.S. citizens are not currently required to have a visa to enter Spain. Non U.S. citizens must check local visa requirements, including requirements for countries passed through in transit.   


The Language Learning Spain program is directed by Kelsey Burns. If you have questions, are interested in receiving more detailed information, or would like to talk further about the program or any of our high school summer programs abroad, please get in touch!

Kelsey Burns

Kelsey Burns: St. Lawrence University, B.A., Spanish. A Vermont native, Kelsey has led programs in Spain, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Ghana. She has worked as an associate director at Putney Student Travel since 2003. She currently coordinates programs in Cambodia, Vietnam, The European Alps, Brazil, Ecuador, Spain, and Ghana. Kelsey loves to travel, ski, dance, and spend time with her family.

How To Apply


If you are new to Putney Student Travel, visit our Online Application.  
If you are a Putney Student Travel alumni family, 
use your existing account information to Log In.


You can hold a space in a program by completing the Online Application Form, submitting a signed Agreement Form, and providing the $700 Application Deposit by Mastercard, Visa, or Discover Card through our secure online system or by sending a check to our office. Our admissions staff is also available to take credit card information over the phone.  We will hold a space in a program for a reasonable time, pending completion of the full application process. See Step 3.

After March 15, we will hold a space temporarily as above, but we must receive full payment by check or wire transfer within three days to continue to hold a space in the program.


Before we can make a final admissions decision, an application must be complete.  In addition to the Application Form and Application Deposit described above, a complete application includes:

  • Applicant Statement – Attach a statement explaining why you would like to join a Putney program and what you feel you can contribute to it. Your application cannot be processed without this statement. Approximately 150–300 words is sufficient. Global Action applicants’ statements must be 300-500 words addressing these questions, and detailing their interest and/or experience in the country and issues on which they wish to focus.
  • Two Teacher Reference Forms

These documents are available as part of our Online Application.  We review a completed application within a few days, and notify families of our admissions decision by e-mail.