The school prides itself on offering a "living and breathing" language program that introduces students to Japanese culture and the country's way of life. Instruction here is intense. Even the most elementary classes are in Japanese only.
Students at Kyoto Minsai can bunk in the school's dormitory while taking in the city's rich history, high-tech vibe (gaming giant Nintendo is based here), cultural arts and intellectual offerings (about 10% of Kyoto's residents are enrolled in universities).
The Kyoto surroundings add texture to the language lessons taught here, as do the school's complementary studies on Japanese culture, everyday life, and customs.
5. Vela & Lingua in Elba, Italy.
Think you can multitask well enough to learn Italian and sailing at the same time? If you're up for the challenge -- and some awesome Tyrrhenian Sea views while you're at it -- then check out Italy-based Lingua's language learning program. Usually offered May through September, its sailing season can stretch into the rest of the year if student groups form and weather permits.
One Vela & Lingua ("Sailing and Language" in Italian) option lets small student groups study Italian on weekday mornings and then sail on Saturday to the island of Elba (yes, where Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled in 1814). Another condenses this study-sail-then-swim-in-a-cove program into a weekend.
Yet another lets student groups sail all week long, taking Italian classes with a Lingua instructor and sailing lessons from a skipper of nearby schools Sud Ovest and Gatticorsari. Students will head from Marina di Salivoli or Baratti on the Italian mainland to Elba or one of the other islands of the Tuscan Archipelago.
Language lessons take place in the mornings, while afternoons mean stops on the islands' scenic beaches and land excursions to interesting sites. Talk about putting a new spin on "immersion."