Going to Guatemala is a wonderful idea, whether learning Spanish is your only goal or you also want to explore some wilderness and culture of this fascinating country. Many language schools assure a great quality of teaching, various methods and support of professional teachers. After lessons, education can always be continued through chatting with locals and discovering the country’s history. Here’s some info on how to learn Spanish in Guatemala, to help you in organizing the journey and making it not only productive but also enjoyable.
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Spanish language schools in Guatemala offer a variety of choices. You can study in different cities, decide whether you want to stay with a host family or not and what kind of learning style interests you the most. Excursions, private lessons, professional programs (for businesspeople, doctors, lawyers and so on), all of that is available, in one school or another.
How much does it cost?
Prices vary depending on how many hours daily you want to study and how long you want the course to be. An average is approximately 170-200 USD for 20 hours (a week), one-on-one tuition, including a stay with a host family (room and full board). Prices can differ a lot though. Courses are cheaper if you don’t stay with a family, but then, of course, you must organize accommodation by yourself. For 20 hours weekly without a host, you will pay around 100-140 USD. Backpacker hostels in Guatemala are affordable; you can get a bed in a dorm for 8 USD per night.
Things to remember
- Don’t commit yourself to more than a week or two at the outset. If you like the lessons, teachers, and location, then you can continue, but it’s better to check it out first before you sign up for a longer course.
- Solve the problems when they appear. Discuss with the course organizers if something is wrong. The course costs money and effort; you should enjoy it and achieve results.
- In case the learning style doesn’t suit you, you don’t get along with the host family or teachers aren’t as good as you expected, and you think it’s not fixable, change the school. Teachers in good schools should be able to access your level, so moving doesn’t cause too much trouble. It’s way better than continuing a course you don’t like.
- Don’t use English. It’s very tempting to speak English on breaks or after classes, but the more you talk Spanish, the faster you’ll learn. It’s much easier to learn Spanish in Guatemala than to do it in your home country, so make the best use out of this opportunity. Professional teachers and native speakers will not always be near you.
- Use Spanish all the time, not only during the lessons. Speak to waiters when you visit a restaurant, have a chat with a seller on a market when you go to buy veggies, talk to people in bars, flirt, joke, discuss, just talk as much as you can.
- There are several things you should consider before choosing a location. If you’re afraid to get tempted to speak English might be your problem, pick a less touristy place, so that even in a moment of weakness you won’t have a chance to follow this pernicious lure. Think of your free time as well. Are you a party animal? Pick a bigger city. A nature-lover? A scenic village. It’s important so that you enjoy the surroundings as well, not only because it just means more fun, but also because it makes you more curious and open to talk. In the company of people whom you share interests with, you’ll feel more eager to ask questions. If you love partying, then you can speak with people in bars, if you like hiking, then you can find some locals to hike with.
Where to go
Here’s a list of most popular places to learn Spanish in Guatemala. Each one of them features several schools, so you have plenty to choose.
Antigua is one of Guatemala’s main tourist attractions, so expect some crowd. Since there are numerous language schools, Antigua is especially beloved by students. You surely won’t have to worry about the lack of company. Antigua is a beautiful city, historically significant, full of wonderfully preserved colonial building and scenically located amongst three volcanoes. Outdoor enthusiasts have a lot to discover in the town’s surroundings and art-lovers never run out of things to admire within the city’s borders.
The third biggest city in Guatemala, Xela is a popular destination as well. There are lots of language schools and students, out of which many stays around after completing the course to volunteer in an organization. If you consider becoming a volunteer yourself, that’s a hub for the right connections. Xela suits rather those who like busy towns. In case you want to combine studying and city life with exploring, Xela, surrounded by volcanoes, hot springs, and mountains, makes an excellent base for day-trips.
Ringed by small towns and villages, the Lake Atitlan offers breath-taking views, as well as great studying opportunities. Spanish Language schools are situated in Panajachel and San Pedro. Both of the towns are laid-back and charming. The area is a paradise for trekkers, cyclists, and bird-watchers, basically all nature-lovers and active travelers. The towns around Lake Atitlan are smaller and quieter than cities like Antigua or Quetzaltenango, good for those who want to study without being distracted by anything but the beauty of nature. Schools situated in the area often search for volunteers, so it’s another excellent destination for those who plan to do not only learn Spanish in Guatemala but also stay for a while after the course is finished.
Outside of these centers, there are also spots with fewer tourists and single, little schools, in case you search for seclusion. There aren’t many of them though; most of the learning concentrates around listed destinations. Coban is a big city, not charming by itself, but its proximity to amazing natural wonders makes an attractive destination out of it. It’s a capital of Alta Verapaz, a department in the north of Guatemala. Gorgeous villages are spread all across the area, together with mountains, rivers, waterfalls and other miracles.
Have you already learned Spanish in Guatemala? Let us know and share your tips with future students!