Where to Study Spanish?
Inexpensive Guatemala Should Top Your List
There is no shortage of places to go to study the Spanish language. But if you're looking for inexpensive courses and a beautiful locale—combined with plenty of cultural activities and vivid community life—Guatemala should be at the top of your list.
Four hours of private instruction per day can be had for as little as $125 a week—and that includes room and board with a local family!
Choosing a School: Many schools offer accredited courses endorsed by the Ministry of Education and the Institute of Tourism. But the best way to find out if a particular school is right for you is to consider your preferences and goals and ask to speak to some of the students.
Information on specific schools can be found before you leave through study abroad offices at most universities as well as on the Internet (see Transitions Abroad's "Guatemala language schools" section).
Where to Study: Dozens of language schools in Guatemala offer Spanish courses to foreigners. The city of Antigua provides the most choices, and its popularity is easy to understand. It is arguably the most beautiful city in Central America. Set amidst three volcanoes, it has cobblestone streets, many fine colonial buildings, and amazing Indian handcrafts. The influx of foreigners over the years has resulted in the establishment of a number of good restaurants, bars with satellite television, bookstores, and even places to view foreign films.
Despite all its positive aspects, however, studying in Antigua does have one major disadvantage. The presence of a large number of English-speaking foreigners makes it easy to neglect opportunities to practice Spanish. You're less likely to encounter this dilemma in more remote places such as Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango, and the El Petén region—all of which also offer Spanish language schools. In El Petén, two schools emphasize an ecological curriculum in the teaching of Spanish.
Where to Stay: You can live with a local family in a homestay arranged by the schools, or you may find your own accommodations.
A homestay is best in terms of cost and opportunities to practice Spanish. For a very reasonable fee, often as little as $50 per week, you receive a private room and three meals a day. If you choose a home-stay, ask the school if you may change families if for some reason it doesn't work out.
Some schools offer informative lectures about Guatemalan history and culture and a number of them donate a portion of your tuition fees to community projects such as saving depleting rainforests in northern Guatemala.
The money you save by studying in Guatemala can be spent on visiting other parts of this beautiful country before returning home.