Immersion Academy 2020
Participate in an epic summer adventure!
Do you dream of speaking English fluently?
Do you want to improve your English skills quickly by communicating with native speakers from the US and participants from all over Bulgaria?
Do you want to immerse yourself in an environment where English is spoken 24/7 without travelling far?
Immersion Academy Bulgaria is a one of a kind program in Europe offering 24/7 English practice and development in an international community surrounded by the relaxing and re-energizing force of nature. After our very successful immersion programs for youth and adults in 2017 and 2019, we are back offering new unique language and self-development adventures.
Learn more about our programs:
Speak, live, and even dream in English from morning to night in an environment which constantly stimulates your development.
Our 24/7 immersion programs challenge you to dive into a different world where English brings people together from all around Bulgaria – and the world! What we offer you is not a ticket to utopia. The cosmopolitan 21st century offers us the opportunity to be citizens of the world, and foreign languages, critical thinking, and leadership serve as the key to global citizenship and change making.
Our immersion ِacademies are residential programs outside of the city in which our team of international facilitators live and communicate actively with our program participants. Our programs feature diverse, highly interactive group activities, as well as personal consultations.
By communicating with each other and with our native-speaker facilitators, participants in our programs develop speaking fluency in English quickly. They develop strategies for language learning which assist them to continue developing their language skills well beyond the end of our programs. Through immersion, language learning becomes an unnoticeable part of the daily lives of program participants. It is not learning in the traditional sense, but rather a fun adventure which feeds the mind and soul and contributes to the process of personal growth and development of each individual involved.
Development of English speaking skills: We create a learning environment in which participants can significantly improve their language skills by being fully immersed in it 24/7.
Improvement of critical thinking skills: We promote and develop critical thinking by training participants to question their own thinking, to weigh different perspectives, to critically examine presented information, and to build effective arguments.
Preparation for action: We support participants in their self-empowerment process and promote the ideal of active citizenship as a way to bring positive change through diverse forms of leadership.
Participants in Immersion Academy promise to speak only the language they are studying throughout their respective program, which results in their rapid English-speaking skills improvement. Respecting the language pledge guarantees that you will take away the most out of your chosen program. During our full immersion programs, participants use English as their sole language not only during their daily learning sessions but also when conversing with fellow learners and native-speaker facilitators in their free time.
The language pledge allows participants to get a better grasp of the intricate nature of the foreign language as they start to change their mode of thinking from their primary language to English. The language pledge is a key factor in improving participants’ speaking, reading comprehension, grammar skills, and creative writing. The opportunity to use language in a variety of situations allows members to learn from their own and others’ mistakes and experiment with strategies for expression in a supportive environment.
Of course, we understand the need for daily contact between participants and their family members which is why every day participants will be given 30 minutes to call their loved ones and speak with them.
8.30 – 9.30 a.m.
9.30 – 10.00 a.m.
10.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m.
1.00 – 2.00 p.m.
2.00 – 3.00 p.m.
3.00 – 4.30 p.m.
4.30 – 5.30 pm
5.30 – 6.30 p.m.
6.30 – 7.30 p.m.
8.00- 10.30 p.m.
Participant-led Workshops (Sports, Crafts, Skills, Dance, Singing, etc.) **
Social Night (Games, Talent Show, Bonfire, etc.)
* The daily Group Activities are united by a different topic explored by the group through discussions, simulations, games, and other activities.
** The Participant-led Workshops are a time during which the participants and staff members of Immersion Academy share their skills and interest with their fellow community members. Everyone is welcome to suggest and run a workshop. In 2017 participants lead a Lady Gaga dancing workshop, as well as workshops introducing yoga, photography, bracelet making, twerking, etc.
*** We don’t want our temporary stay in the village of Drugan to be forgotten, so we will work on several small projects to make an impact at the village.
Brazilian educator, philosopher and humanitarian Paulo Freire’s participatory pedagogy—which inspires our program—emphasizes dialogue as the main instrument for action, collaboration, and collective reflection which fosters responsible, active, and justice-oriented citizens. Freire considered the traditional educational system disengaging and oppressive. Instead of giving people the freedom to express their ideas, most school and university curricula require students to process information and reproduce it in a parrot-like manner. A majority of the educational institutions teach students WHAT to think, instead of HOW to think. However, Freire believes every person, educated or not, has potential to reflect on the condition of the world and to develop their critical thinking, as well as capacity for action. Furthermore, education which liberates the mind and spirit inevitably destroys the shackles of blind obedience and passiveness.
Our educational philosophy is guided by the idea that learning is a collective effort. When quality learning happens all participants in the learning process are changed—“teachers” and “students” alike. To that end, our team abandons the traditional hierarchy between teachers and students. Instead we have Facilitators and Participants. The difference here is not merely linguistic; in our educational process Participants are responsible for their own learning and have a major role in shaping what happens in each class and what topics are discussed. Facilitators are merely more experienced learners who provide guidance and targeted support on both individual and group level. Dialogue and active participation form the basis of our educational philosophy because they are the easiest way to the inner worlds of others and the reconsideration of our own place in the world.
Fund out more about our teaching philosophy by reading this speech given by our Executive Director Maggie Nazer at the International Youth Conference in Krusevo, Macedonia in 2017.
Immersion Academy is a very intensive program which significantly develops participants’ skills in relation to foreign language, critical thinking, and leadership.
In order to take the most out of the program participants are expected to possess:
- a high degree of motivation
- a good level of English grammar knowledge
- a desire to challenge themselves, to get out of their comfort zone, and to give everything they can to improve their skills and actively exchange knowledge and ideas with their peers
- an interest developing their leadership skills
- a desire to widen their horizons and to sharpen their critical thinking skills
Lindsay was born in Margaretville, New York State. She graduated from Champlain College in the state of Vermont with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Math. She has taught students at different ages and loves to experiment with new, fun teaching approaches. She travelled outside of the US for the first time in the summer of 2019 to join the SolidarityWorks team for two months.
In 2017 Maggie graduated with a degree in Sociology and Arabic from Middlebury College, Vermont, USA where she studied for four years with full scholarship. She has been to more than 35 countries among which include Siera Leone, Jordan, Palestine, Thailand, Morocco, and more. She has three years of experience as a Peer Writing-Tutor at Middlebury College where she supported international and US students in improving their academic writing skills in English. Her passion in teaching revolves around equipping her students to build confidence and practical strategies in order to be independent in their learning process and to use foreign languages freely.
Nikola Kiridjiiski (mentor)
Nikola will be a student in 12th grade in the autumn. He speaks English at a very high level and enjoys discussing all kind of topics. He can find something to talk about with everyone and will support the participants in Immersion Academy by sharing his language learning strategies and inspiring others with his curiosity.
Аziz Fatnassi, Ph.D (Researcher and Director of International Programs)
Аziz has been part of the team of Immersion Academy since 2016. They are an anthropology professor at Champlain College, USA. In 2017, they were one of the facilitators in our pilot immersion programs. They have supported our programs extensively since their beginning by recruiting and training US students as facilitators, conducting research, and more.
Village of Drugan, 35 kms away from Sofia
In order to be able to create diverse and affordable educational experiences we are working on building our own training centre in a rural house with a giant garden. Our amazing volunteers have been helping us to renovate and prepare our training centre since the fall of 2018, and we expect the centre to be ready to host groups starting in 2020.
Meanwhile, the participants in Immersion Academy 2019 will be accommodated in tents in our garden and will have access to a newly built bathroom with toilets and showers, as well as a spacious kitchen and dining hall place.
Each 7-day program includes no more than 10 participants. Dates for 2020 will be determined in Spring 2020. During your application you can choose your preferred program.
The regular participation fee for our 7-day Immersion English Academy programs in 2019 was 500 leva.
The participation fee includes:
- 98 hours of language practice and development in a group of no more than 10 people
- training by native-speaker teachers from the US and an experienced teacher who has graduated in the US
- individual consultations
- Media English and Writing workshops
- participation in activities which will give you new ideas and skills and will inspire and challenge you
- participation in daily volunteering activities
- a community of friends with whom you can continue to practice English after the end of the program
- all educational materials
- three meals per day with products from our own garden and nearby villages