Henning lived for several years in El Salvador, working as a teacher. He is Co-Founder of the SAY ZONTE! project. Writing for this blog is his way to give s.th. back to “el pulgarcito.”
Where to learn Spanish?
If you’re thinking about taking a Spanish course abroad, you probably ask yourself where to go.
Going abroad or stay at home?
And where is the best place to learn Spanish?
Of course, this is always an individual choice.
We, as SAY ZONTE!, would like to give you some help to make the right decision.
The best place to learn Spanish: Which options do you have?
Over 500 million people in the world speak Spanish. And there are 26 countries in the world where at least a part of the population speaks Spanish. In 20 countries, Spanish is the official language. So the choice is not that easy!
Let’s have a look at the three biggest Spanish-speaking countries first: Mexico, Colombia, and Spain.
In my humble opinion, each of these countries is worth visiting. They have a rich culture and many possibilities concerning professional schools located mainly in the bigger cities or areas with tourism.
You can’t do anything wrong learning Spanish in Mexico, Colombia, Spain, or most other Spanish-speaking countries. The question is, what culture are you interested in?
I always think that learning another language has a lot to do with getting immersed in the culture. It’s not just grammar and vocabulary! So I recommend you choose a country that you feel connected to!
Have you always been fascinated by the culture of the Aztecs, for example, then take a Spanish course in Mexico!
Do you love Salsa? Go to Colombia!
Don’t underestimate the internal motivation when you want to learn a language!
Which leads us to our following questions: What about the budget?
The best places to learn Spanish on a small budget
Of the most common place to take a Spanish course for foreigners is Guatemala.
You can almost say that there’s a Spanish School industry in Guatemala. Antigua and Quetzaltenango offer dozens of Spanish schools, and the Instituto Cervantes accredited some of them.
It also means a lot of competition between the Spanish Schools, which keeps the prices low. The costs for a Spanish lesson vary between US$4 till US$15 per hour.
Antigua Guatemala offers you more than two dozens Spanish Schools.
Choose your Spanish School wisely!
I have made the experience that the quality of the teachers varies a lot. You can’t expect a Spanish teacher with a university degree when you pay US$5 per hour!
In general, I recommend reading reviews of the schools (if they’re not fake). If the school has a good reputation, there’s always a reason for it!
Also, you won’t be alone! Especially in Antigua, there will be many foreign tourists, which makes it hard sometimes to practice your Spanish after our classes.
Another point to consider, if “the cheaper, the better” should be your way of traveling in general. Please be aware that there’s a person who often has to support his family behind every teacher.
Especially in poorer countries like Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, and Honduras, living costs are high.
US$5 for a Spanish lesson push people and Spanish Schools into not paying taxes and into offering low-quality services.
The other side of the coin is: If you spend a bit more, you can also expect more from your teacher!
The best place to learn Spanish is not always the cheapest one! We have written more here about this problem: Travel on a budget: The other side of the coin.
And what about the school itself?
The accreditation of the Instituto Cervantes guarantees you a certain level of quality. But you will also pay for that extra level of professionalism.
In general, you will realize pretty quickly if the school you selected is of good quality or not.
The teacher should adapt quickly to your needs and should follow a logical curriculum. He or she should vary the methods if needed. If you take one-on-one classes, you should let the teacher know what you want to learn and how.
An excellent Spanish school offers (their own) learning materials and provides free services like water, coffee, and Wifi.
It’s not always necessary that your teacher speaks English. But it’s a plus, especially when you’re a beginner. If you’re an advanced speaker, it might train your conversational skills because you can’t switch to English that easily.
I hope this post was helpful for you to make a better decision. In any case, you won’t make a mistake at all learning Spanish, wherever it will be. And, of course, as SAY ZONTE! we would be happy to welcome you someday at our place!