As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine
It is no secret that the best way to learn to speak Spanish is full immersion—go abroad, live with a non-English-speaking family, take classes every day, study, practice, make mistakes, then repeat these last three steps until your brain feels like refried beans. Nicaragua is a prime location for your language-learning travails: A cheap and safe nation where for about US$225-$350 a week, you will get 20 hours of instruction, room and board with a family, trips, and activities. In comparison, a similar program in Spain would cost at least $500-$900 a week.
With few exceptions, most schools follow the same basic structure involving a combination of language instruction and cultural immersion activities. That means two to four hours of class in the morning, followed by community service activities or field trips in the afternoon. Most schools are flexible and offer one-on-one instruction, or teachers best suited to your Spanish level, even if your only word is “hola.”
To a certain extent, your choice of Spanish school in Nicaragua is more a question of geographical preference as anything else. Prices quoted below are subject to change, and note that at any school, the more weeks you commit to, the lower your weekly rate drops. Most schools provide airport pickups if requested. For your geographical reference, here is a dynamic map of Nicaragua, along with some language schools.
Spanish Schools in Granada
Catering primarily to international university students but welcoming all, Casa Xalteva Education and Cultural Center, has been delivering intensive Spanish language training since 1995. Casa Xalteva, a non-profit education for sustainable development project, also includes an education shelter for disadvantaged youth which is fully funded by your tuition. 20 hours of one-on-one lessons US$150/week + US$90/week for homestay (paid directly to the family), with a stress on volunteer activities; highly recommended by former students, located in a quiet location in a historic colonial home. The school was recently featured in the gorgeous documentary short film.
Mariposa Spanish School
Study Spanish in the cool, breezy hills just south of the capital, only an hour away from Managua or Granada, in a countryside setting that feels more remote than it actually is. Mariposa Spanish School offers one-on-one instruction, six grammar levels from beginner to advanced, as well as interactive courses for children. The grounds include stunning gardens, an animal rescue project, and a comfortable, solar-powered eco-hotel. The school provides a full menu of local activities, homestay option, service opportunities, and day trips. Afternoon discussions teach about the history, culture, politics of Nicaragua, or sign up for salsa dancing and cooking classes. US$300 per week gets you 20 hours of formal Spanish classes; private room with en-suite bathroom (solar powered hot water); 3 meals per day; all afternoon and weekend day activities; and use of library. La Mariposa is non-profit and income goes to support a wide range of community and environment projects.
If you would really like to get out there and get a taste of campesino farming life, consider studying Spanish at Hijos del Maíz Escuela de Español Campesina, an off-the-paved-highway experience in the village of El Lagortillo, in the northern province of Estelí, for only US$200 a week.
Laguna de Apoyo
Another school that feels remote, but is actually only a few miles from Granada, Apoyo Nicaragua Intensive Spanish Language School, working with the GAIA non-profit network for "Sustainable Development and Wild Nature Conservation in Nicaragua," is situated in a lakeside lodge in the crater of an ancient volcano, at the edge of a gorgeous blue lagoon. The spot is incredible, only an hour from Managua, less to Granada, yet still tucked away in its own green world. This is one of the longest-running schools in the country. Contact them via their website for more information on classes, prices, and even volunteering.
San Juan Del Sur
This is the only beach setting with a selection of Spanish schools, so you can go to class all morning and surf all afternoon. San Juan del Sur Spanish School offers one of the best locations in town: across from the bank and right on the beach! They offer all-inclusive packages for US$320/week; very experienced teachers with very effective methods.
Spanish Ya offers Spanish immersion programs for beginners, intermediate, and advanced Spanish students, with packages starting from $345 per week, which includes 20 hours of classes, homestay in private rooms, and afternoon activities. All teachers have more than 4 years teaching Spanish as second language.
If you are just rolling into this wonderful, youthful colonial city in the shadow of several volcanoes, stop by the Casa de Cultura for a listing of available Spanish language classes. If you’d like to arrange something in advance, consider the Metropolis Spanish School. They offer a full package with homestay and cultural activities for US$250 a week.