How Teens Benefit by Studying Abroad for a Year

Studying abroad is a great opportunity to grow on a personal level. Discover the advantages that a year abroad could give your own youngster.
How Teens Benefit by Studying Abroad for a Year

Written by Elena Sanz

Last update: 01 November, 2022

Nowadays, increasingly more people are pursuing higher education and seeking access to jobs that require specific qualifications. For the same reason, it’s positive for teens to opt for alternatives that help them differentiate themselves from others and acquire certain life skills that’ll be highly valued in future jobs. In this regard, studying abroad for a year is a popular and beneficial option.

For these young people, despite the feelings of hope and excitement a move like this brings, it’s also a challenge. However, it’s equally challenging for their parents. In fact, if you’re a parent, you may have doubts about whether or not it’s even appropriate to send your child to spend a year in another country. For this reason, we want to talk to you about its main advantages.

The benefits of studying abroad

Firstly, it’s important to remember that not all people are the same nor do we all need the same experiences. If a young person doesn’t want to study abroad it doesn’t detract from their value or ability. Indeed, depending on their personality, they may not even want to carry out such an activity or it may be of no benefit to them.

On the other hand, if they’re interested in the possibility of studying abroad for a year, here are some of its main benefits.

1. Learning a second language

Although the critical period for language acquisition is in childhood, adolescence is also an excellent time to learn or consolidate the learning of a new language. Moreover, teens have several advantages over children in this regard:

  • The acquisition of formal operations thinking allows teens to reflect on the second language, analyze its structure, and make rapid progress in its morphosyntax.
  • At this stage of their life, their use of effective memorization strategies is better. This makes it easier for them to acquire vocabulary.
  • When it comes to relating and handling the language on a practical level, teens are better able to analyze what they’ve understood and ask questions or ask the interlocutor to repeat themselves to improve their communication skills.

Beyond the advantages of age, the fact of being completely immersed in an environment that speaks the language makes learning it much easier. After all, understanding and expressing themselves will be essential in their daily routine, so what could be more motivating for them to learn the new language?

teenagers in class
Learning a second language in contact with its culture speeds up the learning process.

2. Immersion in a new culture

Traveling to another country means they’ll be able to observe and participate in its cultural traditions and learn about its history and customs. Understanding different cultures will help them broaden their minds, develop greater psychological flexibility, and be more tolerant. This will provide them with a broader perspective of the world and spark their curiosity.

As a rule, on organized academic courses, students are housed with local families, so they can fully immerse themselves in a totally different lifestyle from the one they know. Without a doubt, this will free them from prejudice and help them to be more empathetic and open.

3. Knowledge of different educational systems

Trying a different educational system is also a great opportunity. Countries like the UK and Ireland have extremely high standards. Others, like Finland, adopt respectful and highly individualized approaches.

As s matter of fact, many young people, by studying abroad for a year, can access study plans or education systems that are better suited to their needs. This increases their motivation and self-esteem and can also boost their academic performance.

3. Development of autonomy and problem-solving capacity

Focusing on personal growth, this experience greatly enhances the development of autonomy. The teen finds themselves in another country, far from their family and their comfort zone, and this enforces them to have to take charge of many daily situations.

They’ll learn to be self-sufficient in many ways and to be more decisive and independent. This helps them build strong self-confidence. Even when the year abroad is over, these benefits will remain.

4. Acquisition of greater responsibility

Along the same lines as the above, a year abroad is a great opportunity for teens to foster a sense of responsibility. Being away from home means that not only will they not have the help (often excessive) of their parents, but they’ll also have to be responsible for their own well-being and progress.

Of course, they’ll have their host family, teachers, tutors, and other adults in charge of them to help but, ultimately, the decisions will be theirs. Completing their homework, studying, helping in their new home, managing their money, and organizing their time are all tasks they’ll have to face that they may not have paid so much attention to in the comfort of their own family home.

5. Reinforcement of social skills

Lastly, studying abroad for a year means meeting a multitude of new people and learning to relate to them. From living with the host family to making new friends, there’ll be many opportunities for socialization.

As the people they’re mixing with will be from different cultures and will speak different languages, this will mean there’ll be greater progress when it comes to empathizing, negotiating, working as a team, and making themselves understood. Without a doubt, these are extremely valuable life skills.

young people talking
Studying abroad encourages the development of social skills.

Studying abroad for a year is an enriching experience

In short, spending an academic year in another country can enrich teens in many ways and help them grow and mature on both personal and academic levels. When they return, they’ll know themselves better and will have discovered a great deal about their passions, desires, and abilities.

In addition, they’ll have been able to develop skills and acquire learning that’ll be really useful in the future. Furthermore, not only will more career doors open for them, but they’ll also be more open, confident, and autonomous individuals. There can be little doubt that it’s an opportunity well worth considering.

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  • Enkvist, I. (2010). El éxito educativo finlandés. Bordón: Revista de pedagogía62(3), 49-67.
  • González, M. (1991). El aprendizaje de segundas lenguas en la adolescencia. Signos teoría y práctica de la educación, 14-25.
  • Lightbown, P. M., & Spada, N. (2021). How Languages Are Learned 5th Edition. Oxford university press.