The Volunteer BaseCamp 7 day orientation includes a 20 hour survival language course in the local language.This training course is designed to help our volunteers gain some familiarity with basic expressions such as asking directions, general greetings and expressions of gratitude. For many of our placements this is all that is required. However, there are some positions that require conversational skill in the local language. This is particularly the case in our Latin American placements.
If a volunteer does not already speak the local language and would like to work at a placement that requires conversational language skills, BaseCamp offers extended language training at local prices. Volunteers are welcome to study the language on their own initiative, in advance of their arrival. However, our extended language training allows volunteers to learn very quickly in an immersed environment while at the same time allowing volunteers more time to gain a familiarity with their new host country.
If a volunteer chooses to take additional language training then we first recommend that they take the full 7 day orientation. This orientation includes 1 week of language training and the first week of our extended training assumes that volunteers have already taken this first week. Besides, that first week is already included in the program fee.
Following orientation, volunteers would have 4 hours of class per day five days a week for each week of language training that they add to their program. We have found that for a volunteer with no exposure to the local language, 3 weeks of extended training plus the week included in orientation is sufficient to have the skills they would need at a placement requiring conversational language skills.
It is important to note that generally volunteers cannot begin their placement until after all of their language training is completed. Most of our placements are far enough away from BaseCamp that it would not be feasible to spend a half day in language class and a half day at the placement. As well, organizations that require volunteers to have conversational language skills often cannot provide work for volunteers with whom they cannot communicate. It is just as well as most volunteers find that they need the other half of the day to study in order to reach the level they require within 4 weeks.
Should volunteers choose additional language training it can be added to their programs as part of the on-line application or after they have applied by simply calling, emailing or chatting with our staff.