Learning a new language involves more than words and phrases.
It also means learning about the customs and culture of the countries where the language is spoken.
That's why the World Language Department at Hayes High School organizes education trips for students, such as the one to Costa Rica planned this summer. It will be the school's first trip to a Spanish-speaking country.
Hayes Spanish teacher Michelle Leasure said she took three trips to Spanish-speaking countries when she was in high school and wanted to offer such experiences to Delaware students.
"I learned that the world is a lot more than I thought it was after I saw it for myself," Leasure said.
"It gave me a better understanding of other people and other cultures."
Leasure will accompany six students to Costa Rica in July to visit museums, tour the capital and see beaches and volcanoes.
"It's a great thing to experience other cultures and see their different ways of doing things," she said. "It opens you up and gives you a greater appreciation for the world."
The department also arranges a yearly trip to Quebec, Canada, for Dempsey Middle School students and every two or three years, organizes a trip to Paris for sophomores and juniors who have been studying French for at least two years.
Kim Young, French instructor at Hayes, has been organizing trips for 15 years.
She said the goal is to give students a taste of the lang-uage and the culture, and to show them how it all comes together.
"The experience of immersing into another culture is extremely valuable to students," Young said. "I have never once had a student say they didn't learn anything or wished they hadn't gone."
In addition to beefing up college resumes or directing students toward potential internships, educational trips can be springboards into a love for future travel, Young said.
"After students go once, they want to go again and again," she said.
"It sparks a love for travel and builds a love for other cultures.
"The average high school student doesn't think about traveling much because it's not even on their radar," Young said.
"Once they take a trip, they can't wait to go back."
Young said she has taken trips with students who have never been outside of Ohio, let alone to another country.
"I took a girl who had never even been on a plane before," she said. "Needless to say, it was a total immersion into travel for her."
What surprises students the most are the little things that are different about the French culture, Young said.
"Obviously, we are going to a Western country and there are a lot of similarities," she said, "but the fact that they have to post their menus on the outside of their restaurants is surprising to students."
Students typically have to pay about $3,500 to travel Paris in the summer, so Young encourages them to start saving early.
There are no school scholarships or funds to help students pay for an international trip, but they have done their own fundraising, Young said.
There are also some community groups that have assisted students with funds for an international trip as well.
Although it can be pricey, Young said it's an incredible experience that she recommends to all her students.
"Totally immersing yourself in another culture would be overwhelming if it wasn't so much fun," Young said.