Spanish Immersion Programs?

Hacking employment, improving work, professional development
Post Reply
Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Hristo Botev »

On the off chance that DW and I might take sabbaticals from work and load up the kids in the camper and head down south of the border, anyone have any recommendations for good, cheap Spanish language immersion programs? We don't really have any preferences yet for country or even South America vs. Central America, though preferably a country that isn't currently consumed by civil war or similar unrest. But the thought is something where we could spend an entire summer break or more living in one place where we'd have classes during the day, perhaps but not necessarily living with a non-English-speaking host family. This is how I learned the only foreign language I know in the Peace Corps; and I think it's very effective.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Alphaville »

I'd skip driving the camper through El Norte and other volatile regions and fly straight to Costa Rica.

But if driving through Mexico, Oaxaca is very expat-friendly these days.

User avatar
Seppia
Posts: 1549
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Hong Kong

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Seppia »

If you want to learn the language go somewhere safe but NOT expat friendly.
If you have the option to live there mid term you’re going to learn the language without the need of classes
Chile, Peru, Colombia are good examples.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Alphaville »

Seppia wrote:
Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:15 am
If you want to learn the language go somewhere safe but NOT expat friendly.
If you have the option to live there mid term you’re going to learn the language without the need of classes
expat friendly in my intended context means que no lo van a secuestrar, asaltar, etc, not la habana in the 50s

https://www.unam.mx/medidas-de-emergenc ... -en-mexico

y en la frontera hay mucho crimen por los narcos, la inmigración ilegal, y todo eso

https://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias-amer ... a-55837635

oaxaca is relatively safe. especially since he's traveling with wife and kids.

i'd send a family to costa rica instead. honduras no, guatemala no, el salvador no...
Last edited by Alphaville on Wed Mar 24, 2021 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Seppia
Posts: 1549
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Hong Kong

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Seppia »

Hay diferencia entre “expat friendly” y “sin narcos”.
Pero vaya, lo entiendo.
La idea era de ir a lugares sin demasiados extranjeros

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Alphaville »

hay narcos por todas partes :D

but yeah you don't wanna go to a place where you're going to be antagonized by the locals, robbed, raped, trafficked, etc. needs to be welcoming & safe and not leave you stranded.

uruguay would be nice these days. buenos aires is a fantastic city but there's the possibility of unrest due to economic downward spiral. perú is friendly to foreigners, but there's a covid crisis at the moment. colombia would be nice too eg superbikefriendly bogotá, but still on lockdowns.

eta: for americans, worth looking at state department info: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel ... Pages.html

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Alphaville »

guanajuato also gets good reviews and is sort of away from narco areas, has university, etc

narco-map: https://www.storybench.org/visualizing- ... ndup-maps/

but note in maps below: oaxaca has no dominant cartel presence (does have presence though). (also has many language schools, not in the map lol)

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 303
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Guatemala used to have one of the best reputations for cheap language immersion classes. DW and I spent two months there to kick off a four month trip through Central America in 2010. I spent a month doing Spanish classes in three different schools. DW gave up on the immersion after a couple weeks, and opted to do some mayan painting and cooking classes instead. Antigua, Xela, and Lago Atitlan were the most popular spots and had the largest network of schools.

We spent the first week living with a host family, then opted to move into our own apartment for the next couple of weeks to have a little more privacy. I think the cost for 1-on-1 lessons, 5 hours per day, was $80 to $100. At San Pedro, Lago Atitlan I paid $60 for 25 hours of weekly, one-on-one lessons. This often included either free, or low-cost activities after language classes such as trips to natural hot springs, salsa classes, trips to the market, horseback riding, or volcano climbs. I was glad I never committed to no more than 2 weeks at one school because it gave me the option to look around after I arrived in the country.

A lot of the schools in Xela were based around or supported local charities. After my first two weeks with one school, I opted to move to a school founded by and supporting single mothers. We grew tired of the larger city, so decided to move on to Lago Atitlan for more outdoor activities. One of our friends took classes in Antigua (which are slightly more expensive) and bartended there, and loved her experience. Antigua is a gorgeous colonial city, Xela is a larger, more working-class city in the highlands close to a lot of traditional indigenous villages, and there are a handful of different cities around Lago Atitlan that have access to beautiful natural areas. At the lake, we stayed in San Pedro which is the cheap, hippie/backpacker village but there are other, more upscale options there.

During a subsequent trip to Mexico, I was talking with a girl at a hostel who was studying in a small class in Oaxaca but paying at least twice what I paid for one-on-one lessons. The exchange rate is currently pretty favorable in Mexico so it is probably a bit more competitive.

I love both Mexico and Guatemala. Guatemalans are some of the friendliest people I've met in all my travels, and I felt safe everywhere I went (just make sure to not spend any time in the capital if you go there).

I posted a link from Tim Leffel, who lives in Guanajuato, about different destinations in Mexico yesterday. It looks like @FRx is enjoying studying Spanish in Oaxaca: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=11763&start=20

A couple of the considerations I'd make are time of year for travel, and what kind of activities you and the family would like to do in your downtime (i.e. beach vs. mountains). If you are there for a few months, you can pick and choose from a few locations :) It gets hot in the summers, so higher elevation or access to a beach would be nice.

You can also probably link up to some interesting opportunities through the local Catholic Churches down there.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 1278
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Hristo Botev »

Western Red Cedar wrote:
Wed Mar 24, 2021 11:16 am
You can also probably link up to some interesting opportunities through the local Catholic Churches down there.
Hmm, very interesting thought!

When DW and I were in Costa Rica a couple years ago (sans kids) with friends, we went to Mass at this wonderful mission-type church that catered to a congregation that appeared to be about half Costa Rican and half expat; the Mass was in both English and Spanish, and the priest ran a circuit, with Mass starting a few minutes late because the priest had run into traffic driving from one church to the next, and then he was out the door the second he gave the final blessing so he could make it to the next church. It was also a new experience for us to see the priest walk in to the church carrying the bottle of wine for consecration. I suspect if we do this we'll do it in Costa Rica, as DW absolutely loved it and really wants to get back there. Ecuador is probably a second choice, as she's got family there.

Looks like Costa Rica has lots of businesses/schools that focus on exactly what we're wanting to do.

I spent a couple weeks in Guatemala a LONG time ago, and I loved it; it was a very formative experience on high school Hristo. We were way out in the middle of nowhere in some small village, but we of course flew into Guatemala City and my teenage naive self was shocked to see all the police with AK-47s looking VERY alert.

User avatar
Alphaville
Posts: 3099
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Alphaville »

btw, since timing might be an issue, chile is ahead of everyone on covid vaccines

still slammed though:

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/1 ... n-campaign

Western Red Cedar
Posts: 303
Joined: Tue Sep 01, 2020 2:15 pm

Re: Spanish Immersion Programs?

Post by Western Red Cedar »

Costa Rica and Ecuador would both be excellent choices IMO.

I've observed that tapping into networks via your interests (church, martial arts, adventure sports, etc.) while traveling can quickly lead you to more interesting cultural opportunities and experiences. You connect more quickly with regular people and they are often eager to show you their community and open up their social network.

Post Reply