Over the last few years, thousands of volunteers have participated in the unique English language immersion program known as “VaughanTown” after its namesake Richard Vaughan. Native English speakers from all over the world exchange conversation with Spaniards and in return, for their time and their input, are invited to a week’s stay in one of their hand-picked four star hotel venues in some of the most beautiful areas of Spain. The Spaniards, meanwhile, get to improve their fluency in the quickest, most intensive manner possible on earth. Both groups prosper, exchanging culture, conversation, knowledge and friendship during a very special week.
VaughanTown was the brainchild of Richard Vaughan, a business student from Texas who came to Spain to teach English in the 70’s. “After a quarter-century of language training and experience, I realized no matter how many times a person is drilled on irregular verbs, the only way to truly understand a language is to actively practice it,” says Richard.
This led to the creation of six-day immersion programs which include a cast of 15 Spaniards, 17 English-speakers from all over the world, a Master of Ceremonies to provide entertainment and a Program Director to enforce the only rule: No Spanish Allowed. All this for 15 hours a day, six days straight and no stopping except for your daily siesta. Throw in a mix of activities such as conversations, scenic walks, games, meals plus Spanish music and dancing, and somewhere along the way the Spaniards find themselves blabbing away in English without having to stop, think and translate.
The idea was so innovative that Richard Vaughan´s project was named the best idea in 2003 by one of the premiere business magazines in Spain . It has earned rave reviews in the media, with travel guides plus major publications and TV stations such as CNN, the Irish Times and the Chicago Tribune all enthusing about the program.
These villages have been the subject on dozens of travel message boards, each buzzing about a deal that seems almost “too good to be true”. Yet there is no hidden catch.
English-speakers chat, play, walk, dine and wine with Spaniards against the beautiful backdrop of the local countryside while Vaughan picks up the tab for their stay. Multinational clients such as Microsoft, Vodafone, Deloitte and Accenture send scores of Spanish executives to these villages - a rapid, intense way to get their top directors speaking English.
Over the years, Richard Vaughan ´s project has attracted ‘Anglo’ volunteers from all walks of life: writers, doctors, social workers, backpackers, executives, musicians and students. All ages over 18 are welcome, and no teaching experience is required. Conversationalists are selected for diversity in character, profession and age.
“Well, I’m back in New York, and I am definitely suffering from PVDS (post VaughanTown depression syndrome). What an unbelievable experience! I’ve found it really difficult to explain to people what made it so fabulous, and why we all felt so connected after only six days. All I can say is that the openness, intelligence, curiosity and warmth of all of the participants, Anglos and Spaniards, is why you go. It’s not just language - it’s the world’s greatest cultural exchange program. The U.N. could learn a thing or two! Throw your self into the deep end, trust me, the water’s fine.”
Renée Lasher, New York, USA
The enthusiasm and quality of the Spanish participants continues to amaze me, and gives the boost to provide them the best “miles of English” I can deliver. You can certainly expect this Anglo to highly recommend VaughanTown to any potential Anglos. Please give “a well done” to all VaughanTown staff for a wonderful two weeks”. Tom Eason, Canada
Applications are online at www.vaughantown.com and 60 programs are available in 2009 including a special young adults week. The designated meeting point is Madrid where transfers are made to VaughanTown (flights to and from the capital are not covered by Vaughan ).
The company, founded by American Richard Vaughan , is the largest in-company language training firm in Spain, with over 300 trainers providing more than 350,000 hours per year of language training to over 5,000 executives and technical personnel in more than 520 companies, with such names as Microsoft, Ericsson, Accenture, Citibank, Ford, Pfizer, Coca Cola, etc. Vaughan also hires English teachers to work in their Spanish offices. No experience is necessary as training is offered, although EU working permits are required. More information at www.vaughanteachers.com