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Language Study in Mexico

Spanish Language Schools in Oaxaca

The city of Oaxaca is stately and colonial, with the stamp of Spain everywhere. Yet in the rural area around Oaxaca 17 distinct peoples maintain their own dress, language, and customs. The zocolo (town center) is filled with people from the surrounding villages selling their crafts and goods. Like the famous Oaxacan mole sauce, the many blends of ethnic backgrounds make up a complete picture.

One of my favorite schools in Oaxaca is Sol Y Tierra (editor's note: now known as Amigos del Sol Language School). Like the other schools listed below, the prices are low and every aspect of your particular interests are covered. The director, M.C. Rogelio Ballesteros, heads a staff of friendly and helpful instructors. An examination upon arrival insures proper placement from beginner to advanced. The cost for the intensive week is $80 and includes cultural instruction for four hours on the weekend: films, lectures, and immersion in the history, archaeology, anthropology, and art of Oaxaca. Private lessons are $60 a week more. Sol Y Tierra, as well as several other schools, can arrange housing with a Mexican family.

After intensive morning language lessons, use your free afternoons to explore sites like Monte Alban, an ancient city just five miles from Oaxaca’s center. Built by the Zapotecs, most of the remaining structures date from between 350 and 600. Tours are also available to several other ancient cities and temples such as Milta and Yagal.

Each market in the many villages around the city has its own special crafts. While all villages are accessible by bus, I found a company Centroamericana de Viajes, that offers trips in a small 10-seater van with a wonderful guide named Luis Angel Sorrora. Some of the most interesting villages are Atzompa, known for its green glazed pottery, and San Bartolo Coyotepec, famous for a black glossy style of pottery. For exceptional weaving, visit the towns of Santo Tomas Jalileza and Teotitlan de Valle.

Oaxaca’s main tourist office, located on the corner of 5 de Mayo and Morelos, provides maps, brochures, and information; the staff is extremely helpful and courteous. There is a saying that once you taste the chapulines (fried grasshoppers with chile and lime), you will return. I did, and I will for my next Spanish language course.

Language Schools and Hotels in Oaxaca

Schools. Amigos del Sol Language School:

Becari Language School:

See for a list of hotels in Oaxaca.

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