If you don't speak a word beyond those all-important phrases for travelers or if your Spanish is decent but just a bit rusty, consider taking some Spanish classes in Mexico. You can combine vacation with learning - have a great time, learn a language and gain insight into Mexican culture. You might even make some friends.
- it's the country with the largest population of Spanish speakers
- experience Mexican culture and traditions
- classes are affordable
- there's a great number and variety of Spanish schools from which to choose
Where to go:
Mexico's colonial cities provide the perfect ambience for language learning. Unlike resort areas where a lot of English is spoken, in the colonial cities you'll be completely immersed in Spanish, with no shortage of real-life opportunities to speak the language. Some popular choices for Spanish learning are: Puebla, Merida, Cuernavaca, Morelia and Oaxaca. These towns have an abundance of Spanish schools.
What to look for in a Spanish school:
Hours of class per day
If you spend too much time in class, you may get bored and there's only so much that you can learn and retain in one day. The ideal is probably 4 hours or less, this will give you plenty of time to enjoy other activities and put into practice what you've learned in class.
Generally, a group situation is ideal for beginners. The teacher may incorporate games and activities into the class to keep things moving at a brisk pace, so you won't get bored while you're learning the basics. As you advance, you may find you'll benefit more from being in a small or private class where you can focus on the areas that you need to improve. Of course, it's important to factor in your own temperament when contemplating group size - what's more comfortable for you?
Age of other students
Some Spanish schools receive groups of adolescents, others cater to an older crowd, and many have students with a wide range of ages. You may want to ask about the average age of students at the school before you sign up for classes if being in a group of people much older or younger than you would make you uncomfortable.
Some schools offer activities such as cooking, art or dance classes, and excursions to archaeological sites and museums. These activities can be fun and help you to put the language to use in practical situations. Find out if any of these activities are offered and if they are included in the cost of the course.
Homestays and Intercambios
What you've learned in school will really sink in if you have plenty of opportunity to use it. One way to be sure you'll have a lot of interaction with Spanish speakers is to stay with a Mexican family. Most schools will arrange a homestay for you if you're interested.