Language Study in Honduras
Explore a Little-Known Country While Improving Your Spanish Skills
With growing economic ties and the movement of goods and human resources between North America and Latin America, Spanish continues be an increasingly important language for trade, business, and education. During this time of a weak dollar, Central America has become especially attractive for studying Spanish. It is not only cheaper than Mexico or Spain, but the region’s six Spanish-speaking countries also have great cultural diversity and natural beauty. Guatemala and Costa Rica are no doubt the region’s most popular destinations, but Honduras is beginning to emerge as a place where there is a good selection of Spanish schools located in some attractive areas.
Honduras is commonly known to North Americans as a “Banana Republic” due to the country’s long economic dependency on banana exports. It is a little known fact that Honduras offers great natural beauty and a diverse landscape, from tropical rain forest and pristine beaches to mountains covered in cloud forest, as well as spectacular Mayan ruins and quaint colonial towns. Students will find the local people to be friendly, helpful, and always interested in conversation. In addition, the cost of living in Honduras is one of the lowest in Central America.
Finding a Spanish School in Honduras
The easiest way to find a Spanish school in Honduras is to book a course with an international referral organization. This is a little more expensive than booking directly with a school in Honduras, but your referral fee often comes with a satisfaction guarantee and the flexibility to transfer to a different school referred by the same organization. However, if you don’t mind doing some research, you can find a language schools on your own.
The course fees don’t vary much, but you should read the fine print and find out what exactly is included. Contact several schools and compare their prices, services, and courses. How many hours of instruction are included? What are the class sizes? Most Spanish schools in Honduras offer one-on-one instruction, but group instruction is also usually offered. Course fees in Honduras are around $130 per week for twenty hours of instruction. Don’t forget to inquire about the cancellation and refund policies in case you are not satisfied with your course. Also keep in mind that some schools offer college credit, while others simply teach language proficiency without awarding a certificate.
While it is important to attend class and study vocabulary, syntax and grammar, it is equally essential to practice conversation. Living with a host family is probably the best way to use your Spanish in daily situations. Inquire if your school refers homestays so you get to live with a local family while you attend classes. Find out if the homestay fee includes three meals each day. Staying with a family in Honduras with meals included costs around $80 per week. Staying at a hotel or renting an apartment will be more expensive.
A growing number of language schools in Honduras offer volunteer opportunities for their students. Just like other Central American countries, Honduras suffers from poverty and social inequalities, and volunteering is a great way to improve your Spanish, become immersed in the local culture, and contribute to improving the living conditions of the local population. If interested in volunteer work, find out if your school works with any aid projects, or if there are any local organizations that might need your help.
Choosing Where to Study
Another important consideration is the location the school. Do you like the Caribbean Sea or the highlands and mountains? Do you prefer the quiet atmosphere of a small town, or a mid-size city with a vibrant nightlife? Choose a location offering plenty of leisure activities, so you have interesting things to do after class and on weekends. Honduras is still a frontier land when it comes to tourism infrastructure, but services are gradually improving, and language students will find a growing number of attractive destinations and things to do in their spare time.
Ideally there should be more than one school in the location of your choice, so you can compare courses, prices and services, and choose a school that best meets your needs. Some schools have branches in several towns or are affiliated with international referral organizations, which allow you to study at more than one location. This is a great way to get to know different parts of the country.
Although there are not as many language school destinations in Honduras as there are in Guatemala or Costa Rica, students have the advantage of studying in picturesque and lively towns with few foreigners, where they can more easily meet the local people and practice their language skills. If you have ever studied abroad, you know how tempting it is to spend time with other English speakers instead of struggling to communicate with the locals in Spanish. With the exception of the Bay Islands, there are really no places in Honduras with large numbers of English-speaking travelers or expatriates, which increases your chance to practice your Spanish daily.
There are three locations to consider: La Ceiba is a bustling city on the Caribbean coast, Trujillo is a historic town further east along the Caribbean coast, and Copán is a small, picturesque town in the Western Highlands near the Guatemalan border.
La Ceiba is the third-largest city in Honduras--with approximately 150,000 inhabitants--and it is the main commercial center on the Caribbean coast. Most foreign visitors just pass through La Ceiba on their way to the well-known diver’s paradise of the Honduran Bay Islands, but the city has a pleasant Caribbean ambience and a number of nearby natural attractions. There are several pristine beaches, and the Pico Bonito National Park and Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge give outdoors enthusiasts the opportunity to hike in the rain forest and explore rivers, lagoons, and waterfalls. And for those interested in snorkeling, diving or a weekend get-away, the Bay Islands are only about an hour away by ferry.
If you love urban culture, entertainment, and nightlife, studying Spanish in La Ceiba is your best choice. There are many bars, restaurants and clubs located in the “Zona Viva,” the entertainment district near the center. Most dance clubs, restaurants, and bars are located there, making it easy to enjoy a night out on the town all within a few city blocks.
The local people are a colorful mix of mestizos (of mixed Indian and European descent), Creoles (descendants of African slaves), and Garífuna (of mixed African and Carib Indian descent), who give the city its vibrant character. There are also several small Garífuna communities near La Ceiba where visitors can enjoy traditional culture and great beaches.
While La Ceiba receives few visitors during the year, this changes in May, when the town celebrates the day of its patron saint, San Isidro, with a large week-long celebration complete with floats, parades, costumes, music, and food. Easter week is another time of year when the city fills up with tourists visiting to spend their vacation on the Caribbean coast.
The town of Trujillo is located on a pristine half-moon bay, some 120 miles east of La Ceiba. It is a slightly run-down but charming Caribbean town with a long colonial history. Christopher Columbus made a landfall nearby on his last voyage in 1502, his first landing on the American mainland. There are also the remains of the Santa Barbara fortress which bear witness to the town’s history as a shipping port that was constantly threatened by pirate attacks. The Trujillo beach is lined with restaurants and bars and the town gets especially crowded during Easter week, when Hondurans flock to the Caribbean coast. There is a small Garífuna neighborhood in Trujillo as well as several Garífuna villages along the coast where visitors can experience the lively local culture, music and food. There are also several nature reserves nearby--such as the Capiro-Calentura National Park and the Guaimoreto Lagoon Wildlife Reserve--and several nearby diving and snorkeling destinations. Trujillo is also the gateway to the Mosquito coast--the last remaining wilderness in Central America.
The small town of Copán, located in a fertile valley in the Western Honduran Highlands is mostly known for its spectacular Mayan ruins. Although the Copán ruins are among the most popular tourist attractions in Honduras the town still maintains its laidback and pleasant atmosphere. Compared to La Ceiba the nightlife in Copán is modest and there are few venues to socialize, dance and party, but the town itself has a quaint historic center with colonial buildings and a pleasant central square. The locals go about their lives largely unaffected by the tourists that pass through their town. In addition to the spectacular Mayan ruins, the region offers a lot of other recreational activities. There are several national parks in the area, with great hiking, as well as a number of nearby colonial towns and historic sites.
Spanish Schools in Honduras
Escuela de Español Pico Bonito, www.epbonito.com.
The school offers individual and group courses for all skill levels; refers homestays and hotel accommodation.
Centro Internacional de Idiomas (CII Spanish School), www.hondurasspanish.com. Provides 20 hours of instruction per week; offers volunteer and internship opportunities; refers homestays; offers cultural activities and excursions.
Ixbalanque Spanish School, ixbalanque.com. Provides one on one and group instruction; offers social and cultural activities; refers homestays.
The Guacamaya Spanish School, www.guacamaya.com. Provides 20 hrs. of individual instruction per week; offers volunteer opportunities; refers homestays; offers social and cultural activities, as well as excursions.
For more listings of Spanish schools and referral organizations, check out our Study at Spanish Language Schools in Honduras section of TransitionsAbroad.com.
To learn more about Honduras, check out the following websites: