Top 5: Why Customizing a Course Abroad is a Great Idea

Melissa Stone is a Program Manager in ISA’s Custom Programs [CP] division and a contributor to ISA Today as part of an occasional series called ‘CP in Focus.’

The most common customized courses are the language courses. If the program’s dates don’t match up to ISA’s, or you just want to offer a 21-contact hour introduction to French with a focus on fashion phrasing and vocabulary, we can contract a professor to teach that. In close second, we often customize cultural ‘content’ courses with a focus relevant to your course. So Czech history and culture focuses more on the design and building of its castles than just its royal inhabitants; or a Costa Rican ecotourism course with visits for an economics program. We can provide you a syllabus as a starting point, pulling from our resources for courses abroad, or you can provide us with yours.

Here’s why customizing a course is a great idea for your program:

  1. Flexible dates and meeting times that can fit around your schedule.
    We can incorporate visits and guest lectured into the course, too.
  2. Language courses can focus on phrases relevant to your course.
    i.e. Business Spanish or Medical Arabic.
  3. We can include a host-university transcript, or it credit could come from your university.
    Should it be a standard three-credit course? Should it just be non-credit bearing, survival Spanish?
  4. A local professor means international perspective for your discipline.
    You could also co-teach, if you would like.
  5. You keep academic control.
    Show students an applied curriculum in a variety of ways.

For example…
Ohio University needed a Brazilian culture course and worked with ISA and our host university in Florianópolis to develop one. This course was such a success it is now offered as part of the ISA program as well!