We’re spending the next seven months in Central America. This is a great region to travel around, because of the language commonality. Spanish is the primary language here. We want to make the most of our time there, so we’ll be learning Spanish in Guatemala first of all.
So, we’re going to spend most of our first month in Spanish lessons, as we’d like to travel by more than hand signals alone.
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Why Guatemala for Learning Spanish
Guatemala has been the prime choice for travellers wanting to learn Spanish for more than 30 years. It provides a combination of great teachers, well organized schools and good accommodation at affordable rates. We’ve been told that the style of Spanish speaking here is also slow. Which is good, we might have a hope of understanding!
The schools offer full immersion courses – so it’s possible to not speak any English at all during your time at the schools. I suspect, though, that I may use a few Anglo-Saxon phrases during the learning process.
Many schools are accredited by and connected with universities worldwide and they’re open year round, although high season is from January to July.
What To Expect with a Learning Spanish Experience?
What’s also popular about the learning experience in Guatemala is the one to one experience. Lessons are literally that, although couples or people traveling together can opt to take lessons together.
Language classes usually run 5 days a week, for either four or five hours a day. Accommodation is generally taken at homestays, where the family also provides meals. Schools also offer activities – from volunteering, hiking, expeditions and the like.
Me? I’m still stuck on going back to school for 4 hours a day! I get the feeling this is going to be exhausting.
The Cost of Learning Spanish in Guatemala
The cost varies greatly, but can little as $125 per person per week, based on two people sharing lessons and staying at a homestay. This includes three meals a day, accommodation, hot water, internet access, four hours of lessons, five days a week.
Where in Guatemala Will We Learn Spanish?
There are three main places where learning Spanish is popular.
2. Quetzaltenango – known colloquially as Xela (J’ella)
3. Lake Aititlan
The first place is the old capital of Antigua – which also has a broad set of tourist attractions as well. We’ll visit Antigua first of all just for a couple of days, and en-route from Antigua is Lake Atitlan, which we hope to visit during our travels, but we’re actually heading to Xela for our language school experience.
From everything that we’ve read, Xela is a much more Guatemalan location – less touristy. Its where those people more serious about their language learning go. We can’t expect much English here and therefore we’ll be forced to speak, listen and understand. Well there’s that and hiking opportunities roundabouts seem to be the best on offer.
Selecting a Spanish School in Guatemala
Whew. There are a lot and its somewhat mind boggling. It also doesn’t help that many of the reviews of a lot of places are several years old. There are a couple of sources that we used to make our decision.
- A guestblog on the yTravel blog from 2011 – this narrowed it down for us to the three cities.
- TripAdvisor and other site reviews
Our choice of Spanish School in Guatemala
To start out foray into the Spanish language and Central America we’re heading to the Spanish School Sol Latino in Xela. It’s a combination of reviews, easy to understand information that’s provided up front, the location and the cost.
We’ve signed up for a week initially. We’re taking the first week easy. We’ll go for four hours a day, as a joint lesson and see how we go. We might up it to five hours a day, and split off and take separate lessons, we’ll see how we get on. Our plan is to have four weeks of learning Spanish and exploring Xela and the area and then we’ll branch out and see the rest of the region.
Our first week will cost us US$125 each. That includes our 20 hours of lessons, our accommodation and three meals a day.
We’ll be staying in a home stay, where we’ll get a private room, a shared bathroom, drinking water, and hot showers. I’m excited, but also somewhat apprehensive.
Wish us luck! And tell us your experiences of learning a language in another country – what tips do you have for us?
Travel Tips for Exploring Guatemala
- Get insurance for all your Guatemala Travel with WorldNomads
- Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Guatemala > discount coupon here
- Save money in Guatemala with a Wise debit card
- Book the best tours and attractions in Guatemala
- Or with GetYourGuide
- Book Buses & Trains in Guatemala with Bookaway
- Book accommodation in Guatemala with Booking
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