The Awards are funded by the Ministry of Education through the New Zealand Government’s Growth and Innovation Framework and support the development of language skills considered necessary for New Zealand to move toward a globally-connected economy. They also support the Government’s economic, social and cultural goals.

AFS New Zealand is managing the Ministry of Education Language Immersion Awards for students who were selected in 2017 to undertake an Award in 2018 to study in a country that speaks a language they are studying.

Costs of the programme, including travel, insurance and visas are covered by the Award, You must participate in all orientation processes offered. You must provide written reports for the Ministry of Education during the experience and upon return as required. After the programme is over, you will complete a series of evaluation reports and continue the experience by sharing your knowledge and skills within your school in New Zealand.

The Ministry of Education is reviewing the LIA funding and, as a result, there is currently no funding available to cover Language Immersion Awards for departures in 2019.

Phoenix Hale, Kiwi student learning Spanish, who spent a semester in Argentina

My expectations of the trip were very broad. Better language skills and a deeper worldly understanding weren’t top of my list. I just wanted to enjoy myself. It was only at the AFS orientation camp that I realised how much I wanted to know about the Argentine way of life. Needless to say, my trip did more than fulfill those expectations. And of course my language skills improved massively. I’d say those are the most important things that I took away from the experience.
In school we weren’t really encouraged to speak except for our speech assessment, so talking Spanish all the time really changed things for me. I never thought I’d be able to communicate so fluently – the fact that I managed to survive in a Spanish speaking country really made me feel good about myself.
I was also impressed with the cultural understanding that I came with it. I’m now able to define social problems from different points of view. I also feel that this trip has helped me stop making such impulsive decisions and allowed me to see things more holistically.

Emma Thomson, Kiwi student learning German, who spent a year in Austria

When my mum told me about this amazing exchange programme that’s practically free run through AFS, I made it happen.
I knew I had been immersed in the culture when I started mixing my German up with my English. When I returned to NZ, I found it strange to say ‘nearby’ and would tell mates we could meet somewhere ‘in der Nähe’. Instead of ‘sorry’ I’d say ‘entschuldigung’. I was thinking in both English and German and these phrases that had been so foreign to me once, were just popping out instinctively. I was even busted sleep talking in German!
I applied for University when I was over there. I’m doing German as part of my arts major and went straight into stage 3 because my language ability and experience level was so high.
What made it even easier was that AFS has a really strong chapter over there. They match you with a counsellor, who helps you settle in and smooths over any problems that might crop up.