When I found myself with free time on my hands during our house sit in Guatemala, I decided it was time to enrol for classes at a Spanish school in Antigua. A quick Google search for “Spanish school Antigua Guatemala” will pull up thousands of results, which is no surprise as this city is the most popular place to study Spanish in the country, along with Lake Atitlan. With a school on every street corner, just how do you choose a Spanish school in Antigua?
Read Reviews of the Spanish Schools in Antigua
The absolutely first thing I did when searching for a place to learn Spanish was look for reviews from people who had studied at Spanish schools in Antigua. I had a quick flick through Lonely Planet Guatemala to see which schools were listed and then searched online for some of the schools that appealed to me. Comments on TripAdvisor forums and the Lonely Planet forums can be really helpful, as can reading travel blogs on the subject and the blog comments. Use reviews as a way to find out about the attitude of the school – some are more serious about language learning, while others are much more laid-back. Different styles suit different learners, so make sure to think about what kind of teaching would work for you.
Do You Need a Homestay?
There’s no doubt about it, homestays are the best way to be fully immersed in language learning. Homestays mean staying with Spanish speaking families who usually speak very little or more often no English at all. While this can be awkward at first when you’re a complete beginner, being in a position where you actually have to speak Spanish will be hugely beneficial for your learning. However, not everyone is so keen to participate in a homestay, especially if learning Spanish isn’t their primary reason for being in Antigua. Luke and I were house sitting while we were staying in Antigua, so I was only looking for Spanish lessons rather than Spanish immersion.
How Long are the Lessons?
Most Spanish schools in Antigua run lessons for a minimum of 2 hours and up to a maximum of 6 hours per day. Depending on how much time you are able to commit, make sure to check with your school what their standard lesson length is and whether this is flexible. As I also had house sitting and work commitments, I was only looking for 2 hour classes but found that I had no problem finding a school happy to accommodate me, even at short notice.
How Much Do Lessons Cost?
At Spanish schools in Antigua, you can expect to be between Q46 – Q78 ($6 – $10) per hour for one-to-one lessons. Nearly all of the Spanish schools in Antigua provide one-to-one lessons, but be sure to check that this is the case before signing up. If you’re able to commit to a larger amount of lessons it’s quite likely that you will be able to get a discount if you pay up-front.
Ask to Try Before You Buy
The golden rule with any language lessons is to pay just to have one lesson before you sign up for a whole week or more of lessons. I much prefer to pay on the day for each lesson, but some schools may ask you to pay the whole amount up-front or to at least pay a deposit amount. In the first lesson you’ll be able to get a sense of how well you gel with the teacher and how much you could learn in your lessons. If you’re not feeling too great about the experience, there’s no reason you shouldn’t try another Spanish school or a different teacher.
In my opinion, you learn much better in a positive environment and with a teacher who you feel comfortable with. The first guy who I had a lesson with in Antigua made me feel quite uncomfortable as he was very critical – even though he tried to be jokey about it – of my basic Spanish. He also tried to insist on me paying for my week’s classes before we had even begun the first lesson, and as we had met in a café rather than at an actual school, I refused.
So Which Spanish School in Antigua did I Choose?
After deciding not to continue lessons with the Spanish teacher that I met with at a café, I was so relieved to receive an email from Cambio Spanish School who were able to offer me a week’s worth of classes at short notice. Cambio was my first choice of Spanish school in Antigua because it’s the only school that donates 100% of it’s proceeds to Niños de Guatemala, an Antigua-based NGO that works to provide a better education for the children of Guatemala.
Cambio Spanish School is based in Casa Convento Concepción, an old convent which is surrounded by a beautiful garden. The lessons take place on a terrace overlooking the garden. Everyone at the school was extremely friendly and they were very flexible about letting me pay for each class on the day. My teacher was great at keeping the conversation going until I was able to understand and respond, and I learned a great deal about the history and culture of Guatemala from her.
Have you studied Spanish in Antigua, Guatemala? How was your experience?