Habla Espanol?: Top Picks for Alternative Travel in Central America
By Nicole Rosenleaf Ritter
Central America is a would-be Spanish student’s paradise. From tiny rural villages to big, bustling cities, there is a place to fit every taste and a school to fit even the smallest budget. Below are some of the most interesting schools and programs; all offer classes virtually year-round.
AmeriSpan offers a choice of not just one, but 40 language schools, in 15 countries all over the Spanish-speaking world, including every country of Central America.
All levels of Spanish, from beginners to advanced speakers, are welcome. More than just a school-locating program, Amerispan will also take care of travel and other logistical details. Prices vary according to country, and programs average two to six weeks but can be shorter or longer. amerispan.com
- Academia Falcon in Guanajuato, Mexico. Besides language courses, Academia Falcon has courses in Mexican History, Mexican Politics, Mexican Culture, local legends, and Latin American Literature. A non-profit organization, Academia Falcon encourages homestays, and the price includes three meals per day. institutofalcon.com
- Pop Wuj in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. A teacher-owned collective that inspires almost fanatical devotion from its former students, Pop Wuj is truly a language school with a heart, devoting all profits, after expenses, to alleviating poverty and public health problems in Guatemala.
Students can choose to get involved in these projects during their course of study. All instruction is one-on-one with college-educated and specially trained Spanish teachers from the local community. pop-wuj.org
- Eco-Escuela in San Andres,Guatemala. Initially begun by Conservation International, but now independent, this unique school combines 20 hours of small group language instruction per week with volunteer conservation work in the rainforest. Homestays, environmental classes and more. A neighboring, sister school, Bio-Itza School, offers courses in Maya Itza. infoplus.es/
- The Costa Rican Language Academy in San José offers small-group and individual instruction in Spanish along with a Cultural Program that includes Latin dance, Costa Rican cooking, and excursions. Students can also get involved with the community through volunteer work in nearby national parks and local social services. learn-spanish.com
- Casa Xalteva in Granada, Nicaragua. Another nonprofit, independent language school, Casa Xalteva provides individualized small-group instruction and homestays for very reasonable prices ($125 for one week of instruction, $425 for four weeks; homestays are $70 per week).
Out of the classroom Casa Xalteva offers volunteer social service work, and special programs on the history, politics, economic development and ecology of Central America. Their Communitas Foundation also works to assist the local community. casaxalteva.org
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