With over 300 million native speakers, Spanish ranks as the second most spoken language in the world behind Chinese.Traveling long term or even short term in Central/South America is made much simpler (and cheaper) with some basic Spanish.
When it comes to learning Spanish, one of the best/cheapest places to do so is in Guatemala. Multiple cities such as San Pedro, Antigua and Quetzaltenango have long standing, inexpensive Spanish schools with years of experience. Additionally, Guatemaltecos are known to speak Spanish slowly and clearly, without a heavy accent or slang.
WHAT TO EXPECT FROM YOUR SPANISH SCHOOL
Prices for two people to study five hours per day (Monday-Friday) with accommodation and meals (7 days a week) can be as low as $15USD per person per day ($110USD per week) in Quetzaltenango.
Each Spanish school will offer a slightly different price and experience. Before choosing a school check to see if they offer optional weekend trips and tours, additional classes in Spanish (like dancing or cooking), or access to Spanish books and movies. Also, for people looking to continue their studies at home more and more schools now offer follow up Skype lessons.
Negotiating a price in advance is possible with most schools who have an online presence and payment is usually accepted in either US dollars or Quetzals. Registration online may however incur a once off fee of around $30 USD. For this reason some students find it more cost effective to arrive in Guatemala and then negotiate their lesson fee. A majority of classes are offered as one-on-one with a discount available for group lessons of two, three or four. Group lessons can be a good way to keep costs lower and practice with others who are at a similar level.
SPANISH HOMESTAY EXPERIENCE
A homestay in Guatemala is a great way to apply the grammar and vocabulary learnt in lessons to daily life. Families actively involve students in dinner conversation and day to day banter. This is also a good opportunity to experience the typical lifestyle and cuisine of local Guatemalans. Most families have experience offering homestay to past students so can facilitate different dietary needs if required. Good schools have an open dialogue so let them know in advance of your expectations/requirements for the homestay in order for them to be met.
Keep in mind each family situation is different meaning they wont necessarily offer utilities such as wifi or a washing machine. Approach a homestay with an open mind and you’ll benefit more from the experience.
HOW LONG SHOULD I STUDY?
Each student will have a different background with Spanish education and may have had little or no Spanish exposure prior to travelling in Central America. Basic ‘crash courses’ are available from one week to one month for those studying purely to help their travels. To hold basic conversations some schools suggest studying for five to six weeks (which will vary depending on the students dedication and learning pace), but some people stay as long as six months or more.
WHERE TO STUDY SPANISH IN GUATEMALA
-Cute colonial streets with volcanic views.
-Higher language school costs.
-High living costs.
-Lots of nearby activities such as hiking, hot springs, city tours, coffee plantations and markets.
-Central hub for transportation around Guatemala.
-For those looking for an immersive experience.
-Low living costs. Less touristy than Antigua or San Pedro.
-As the second largest City in Guatemala exhaust fumes are in no short supply.
-Close to Guatemala’s highest Volcano.
-Some nearby activities including hiking, hot springs, coffee plantations, city tours.
-Nearby to small lakeside towns like Panajachel, San Marcos, San Antonio.
-Lots of nearby activities such as hiking, horse riding, markets, yoga and spiritual retreats.