Many visitors to Guatemala use their trip as an opportunity to learn or brush up on their Spanish at unbeatable costs. The diversity and quality of escuelas de español, in addition to the neutral, singsong Spanish spoken here, makes Guatemala a great place for studying Spanish. Many of these schools offer the unique opportunity to fully immerse yourself in Guatemalan culture by living and sharing meals with a local host family. The best places to study are in Antigua, Xela, or around Lake Atitlán, though more remote language institutes continue to open their doors, particularly in Cobán, Alta Verapaz and Lake Petén Itzá. Be sure to check out the travel guide for a list of the best Spanish schools in each region of the country.
When looking for a quality Spanish school, there is much more to think about than price. If you are willing to make the trip to Guatemala, you probably want to avoid the cheapest schools, which often employ sub-par, inexperienced teachers and may not give you the one-on-one attention you need to take best advantage of your time. For one week (approximately 20 hours of study), plus room and board, quality schools will charge $150-200. In addition, make sure your teacher considers your motivation and reasons for learning Spanish and is willing to tailor lesson plans to your needs. For example, medical students will want to learn a completely different set of vocabulary than learnings seeking general language proficiency. A great way to further immerse yourself in Guatemalan culture is to search for a Spanish school that partners with a local NGO. Many such schools exist and offer students the chance to volunteer in vulnerable communities. Typically students that attend these schools already have a basic level of Spanish, but this is something you can negotiate when researching a particular school.
Photo Credit: Casa Xelajú