Learn Spanish Abroad at a Spanish School in Valencia

Why Study at a Spanish School in Valencia Spain
What to Expect

Did you know that Spanish is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the world, and serves as an official language in 21 countries?

Learning Spanish can really open up the world to you, whether it be for travel, for business, for connecting with your roots, or for communicating with your neighbors.

No matter what your current level of Spanish is, attending a Spanish school in Valencia, Spain will be a fun and rewarding experience.

Why Study Spanish in Valencia Spain


Palacio de las Artes Reina Sofia Valencia EspañaA friend of a good friend decided to study in a Spanish School in Valencia, Spain. I am very curious and decided to ask him the reasons behind Mike’s decision, knowing he loves Latin American countries more than Spain.

Long story short he shared with me that when you learn Spanish in Valencia, you will find yourself immersed in the culture and nightlife of one of Spain’s most popular cities.

The third largest city in Spain, Valencia is known for its cosmopolitan atmosphere, pleasant climate, huge historic center that mixes many cool styles of architecture, and easy access to Mediterranean beaches.

Though the city is by no means a “beach town,” you can easily reach several beaches using public transportation. And thanks to the warm climate you can swim 8 months out of the year!

Because Valencia is home to two Universities and nearly 100,000 students, when you study at a Spanish school in Valencia you find a very vibrant nightlife. There are many bars, cafes, and clubs where students hang out.

Valencia is a very popular destination for study abroad, which is great because that means you will have a community of fellow language students to practice your Spanish with.

One advice is to beware of falling into the trap of speaking English or another common language with your international student friends. If you can commit to speaking Spanish only, your language skills will improve much faster.

If you happen to attend a Spanish school in Valencia during March, don’t miss the famous Falles festival, during which local neighborhoods build elaborate papier-maché models, march in parades, shoot off tons of fireworks, and then burn the models on the last night of the festival. You can visit the Falles Museum year round.

Choosing a Spanish School in Valencia

When it comes to choosing among the many language schools in Valencia, bear in mind that you need to pick the school that best suits your learning style.

If you are not very self-motivated, you might want to pick one of the schools that uses weekly tests to keep you on track.

If you want to interact with locals, you could study at Valencia’s University language schools rather than at a private school. That way, you will be on campus and have a chance to hang out with local students.

Private lessons will also be available in Valencia. This would be a good option if you are pressed for time or have a specific type of Spanish you need to learn, like medical Spanish or business Spanish.

One of the best choices to learn Spanish in Valencia, Spain is to study at don Quijote Valencia. Request a 2012 don Quijote Spanish brochure that includes don Quijote Valencia, but…Don’t take my word for it, go check the options, advantages and read all the information about don Quijote Valencia.

Special Language Tip While Studying in Valencia Spain

One thing to be aware of when deciding to attend Spanish school in Valencia is the fact that many people here speak a local Catalan dialect called Valencian.

Typically, street signs and public notices will be in Valencian, with a Spanish translation.

Though Valencian is taught in school and supported by the local government, you will find that everyone is perfectly happy to speak Spanish with you, and the presence of Valencian will not interfere with your language learning experience.

Other Options…
Study Spanish in Latin America

To choose from many available courses and to know more about the facilities check out where to Study Spanish in Latin America. Here you can choose the countries, type of courses, intensity, and more.

Remember in the first place what type of Spanish you want to learn, then whow much time you have, third choose your budget and lastly choose the destination and intensity!

Want to Complement With Best Spanish Learning Software?
My Reviews of Tell Me More & Rocket Spanish

Wanting to complement your Spanish learning adventure by learning Spanish ahead or after coming back? Check out my top 2 recommendations for Spanish learning software. I tested them myself and remember, I am a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, which has one of the best Spanish you can find in South America!

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Best Spanish Language School in Guatemala

Why Guatemala and Where to Go

Choosing the best Spanish language school in Guatemala can be daunting. A new city, not many people you know to ask their opinion of the country or towns in Guatemala, you probably have never been there and to top it all, you are eager or in need to learn the best Spanish available as soon as possible.

I am glad you thought of Guatemala, simply because it is not in the radar for many sudents wanting to learn Spanish. Honestly they maybe missing out big time! Let me explain to you why…

Advantages of Attending a Spanish Language School in Guatemala

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

 

  • When it comes to studying Spanish abroad, price can really be a deciding factor. It’s important to get the best value for your money.Choosing a country with a low cost of living, such as Guatemala, can help you stretch your budget as far as possible, so that you can spend more time living abroad and practicing your Spanish with native speakers.
  •  Guatemalan Spanish is very good. The natives pronounce very well all the letters in a word and their speech is clear and easy to understand. Natives roll their “r”s smoothly without over exerting their sound. Also, Guatemalans don’t have heavy accents.
  •  Spanish language schools in Guatemala are in small towns overall which give you a family/home feeling you may not encounter in other countries like Mexico or Colombia.  Guatemala can be very rural and laid back therefore providing an excellent non intimidating environment for learning.

Top Spanish School in Antigua Guatemala

Some people may try to convince you that it is unsafe to learn Spanish in Guatemala. The truth is, just like in any country, parts of Guatemala are safer, more developed, and more foreigner-friendly than others.

If you take reasonable precautions and stick to the safe parts of the Guatemalan cities you visit, you will be perfectly fine.

When looking for a Spanish language school in Guatemala, you should definitely consider a school in Antigua. Antigua is widely regarded as one of the safest and cleanest cities in Guatemala.

Surrounded by three volcanic mountain peaks, this lovely city has beautiful scenery, charming colonial architecture, and some of the best dining in the country.

Antigua is only 45 minutes away from the hectic capital, Guatemala City, but it feels like another planet. You will certainly feel much safer in Antigua, where you can find helpful officers from the new “tourist police” on almost every corner.

If you decide to attend Spanish school in Antigua, you will find plenty of companies to choose from.

The language scene is really thriving in Antigua, which is good news for you! The rates for classes, family homestays, and apartments will all be quite competitive. When choosing a school, be sure to investigate what kind of curriculum it offers.

For most people, a curriculum focused on conversation is best. After all, it is much more natural and effective to learn Spanish by listening and speaking than by just reading from a book or doing grammar exercises.

You may also want to find out whether the school teaches “standard” Spanish, or the local Guatemalan variety, which employs “vos” instead of “tu.” It’s a small difference, but worth looking into.

Antigua, Guatemala

Antigua, Guatemala

Even the best Spanish language school in Guatemala needs to be supplemented with lots of practice!  Because the locals in Antigua are so friendly, you’ll have no trouble striking up some conversations. And because prices are so low, you’ll have plenty of chances to practice your Spanish while shopping, going out with classmates, or simply visiting tourist destinations!

When heading to Guatemala to study Spanish, don’t neglect to leave time to do a bit of traveling. Guatemala has some awesome tourist attractions, including many Mayan cultural sites.

I recommend you to experience Christmas in Guatemala. You can explore the Mayan’s architectural legacy at the ruins of Tikal National Park, or observe some of their descendants keeping traditions alive in the remote mountain village of Nebaj.

The famous crafts market of Chichicastenango and the relaxing shores of Lake Atitlán round out the must-visit spots in Guatemala.

Suplement with Spanish Learning Software
My Reviews of Tell Me More & Rocket Spanish

Wanting to complement your Spanish learning adventure by learning Spanish ahead or after coming back?

Check out my top 2 recommendations for Spanish learning software. I tested them myself and remember, I am Spanish tutor and teacher from Colombia, which has one of the best Spanish in Latin America.

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Spanish Immersion Programs

Choosing a School

Choosing amongst the myriad of Spanish immersion programs available today can be daunting. I know that because while tutoring, some of my students asked my opinion on how to go about choosing the best program to learn Spanish abroad.

I know people who attended Spanish immersion schools in Spain and Latin America, and I spoke to them to figure out what a Spanish learner must look for in an immersion program before choosing one.

The idea of going to a Spanish immersion school is to learn Spanish like a native does, by speaking and listening ONLY in Spanish for as many hours in the day as possible.

Choosing a Spanish Immersion Program
What to Look For

An Accredited School. Look for a school that has the accreditation of the Instituto Cervantes in Spain. This institute inspects its accredited and associated centers every two years.

The accreditation proves that the Spanish immersion schools are legally allowed to teach, have top qualified Spanish teachers, have an adequate number of students in each class, issue certificates, describe and represent the courses accurately so you know what you will be paying for, and take care of complaints appropriately.

This may allow students to earn an American college credit by studying in an institution that has this accreditation.

Types of Courses. Try to narrow your objective. Schools in Central American countries may not be as specialized as Spanish language schools in Spain (although Costa Rica and Mexico are the exception).

When choosing a specialized Spanish course like those from the don Quijote Spanish Courses you can be sure to have the best quality teachers. When choosing speacilized courses from other Spanish immersion schools, make sure you find out the level of education the teachers have.

Many times the teachers vary in their qualifications. Be sure they have college degrees and are trained in teaching the language.

Time and Daily Schedule. Ask for a specific description of the program you are interested in. What is included in the teachings (topics if possible), how many hours per day, how do the weekends work, if they have free conversational groups and how frequently they meet, and so forth.

Testimonials. As simple as it sounds go online and find out reviews and testimonials about the specific program and school. If they have a name and picture of the student even better, a real person gave the testimonial. If you can’t find any testimonials outside the school’s site go to the official website.

Location. It is important to have fun while learning Spanish. Make sure you research the location of the school and how close it is to amenities of your interest, transportation, eateries, movies, etc.

Does the school offer additional cultural classes like cooking, dancing, wine learning or others? These classes can make a meaningful difference because culture along with language are, in my opinion the best way to learn Spanish.

Accommodations. Many Spanish immersion programs offer accommodations. I like having many choices like the don Quijote Accommodation options.

Generally the best choice is to live with a Spanish speaking family where you can experience the real deal. Customs, foods, schedules and traditions are not the same, this maybe a challenge but it is well worth it!

Getting to know a family and how they live is a huge enrichment process. Also the accommodations through the school may be priced more favorably.

Getting a place on your own maybe more difficult and teaming up with friends may rob you of the cultural experience. Lets face it, living with a family forces you to speak.

Accommodations are with families, in apartments with other students from other parts of the world, residences or sometimes Spanish immersion programs steer you towards inexpensive accommodations in nearby hostels.

Some schools charge a minimum fee for booking your accomodations. That fee is well worth it when you think about the headaches you will be eliminating like language barriers, costs (schools generally get a discount) and handling bookings.

Time Frame. I always recommend a minimum of a month in a Spanish immersion program. Another consideration is the time of the year you want to go. It depends, if you are going to Central America remember the hurricane season in the Caribbean.

If going to South America think about the proximity of the country you choose to the Equator, the closer the warmer and with no seasons as we know it in the U.S.

If it is Summer in the northern hemisphere then it will be winter in the southern hemisphere in a country like Argentina.

Type of Spanish. Consider the differences between Spanish from Spain and Spanish from Latin America. Think about your target audience, the reasons for learning Spanish and where you are going to use it.

Spanish from Spain has more differences in pronunciation, usage of vosotros, and modisms when compared to Spanish from Latin American countries than Spanish from one Latin American country to another. So be mindful about the type of Spanish you want to learn.

Go With Institutions That Transfer Credits. There maybe very good schools that have excellent teachers but poor management and you will be stuck when trying to transfer your credits to an accredited university.

My recommendation? Follow these simple steps and you will be on your way:

  • Meet with your academic advisor about studying abroad at least 6 months in advance.
  • Ask the Spanish language school(s) to provide you with syllabus and course descriptions. Ask for the materials at least 4-6 months in advance.
  • Give the information of your academic advisor to the school in the foreign country to send the info. Some schools want the syllabus directly sent to the advisor, others are o.k. with you bringing it. Ask. By the speed and ease of the process you can start gauging the foreign school’s quality.
  • Next obtain a written approval from your university 2 to 3 months before traveling.
  • Follow the paying procedures from the Spanish language school, which generally ask you to pay one month in advance.
  • Complete the course work with excellent grades and attendance.
  • Make sure before you leave the country you are clear about needing transcripts. Pay the institution for submitting transcripts directly to you and the registrar’s office of your institution in your country of origin. This may take up to 3 months.

Spanish Immersion Programs with don Quijote

One program that hits all the marks I mentioned above with excellence is the Spanish immersion program don Quijote. It offers programs in Spain as well as the top Latin American countries in terms of pronunciation and richness of the language.

Do you know that many students who attended don Quijote have transfered credits to institutions like Adelphi University in NY, Northeastern University, Campbell University, Cornell University, Eastern Michigan University, and MIT Massachusetts institute of Tecnology amongst many?

That spells to me quality, reliability and confidence that they are experts at teaching Spanish to foreigners and managing Spanish immersion programs.

don Quijote has many excellent testimonials on its site that give you peace of mind.

They are in many countries and are accredited by the Instituto Cervantes.

With this level of professionalism you can’t go wrong by choosing don Quijote amongst all the Spanish immersion programs available!

Complement Learning Spanish Abroad with
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Wanting to complement your Spanish learning adventure by learning Spanish ahead or after coming back?

Check out my top 2 recommendations for Spanish learning software. I tested them myself and remember, I am Spanish tutor and teacher from Colombia, which has one of the best Spanish in Latin America.

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Learn Spanish In Spain

Best Cities to Learn Spanish in Spain
& Language Differences You Must Know About

Many people believe that the best place to learn Spanish is Spain, the birthplace of the Spanish language.

When you study in Spain, you will feel yourself becoming part of a centuries-old linguistic tradition. Plus, Spain offers a taste of Europe.

You can spend the days soaking up the old-world charm of the ancient cities and castles that crown Spain’s hilltops, and the nights partying at hip, modern nightclubs.

Best Places to learn Spanish in Spain

Here are my top picks for people who want to learn Spanish in Spain and each city has a link with all the information you may need to make a decision!

Study Spanish in Barcelona

This is Spain’s cultural capital, the lively city of Barcelona overflows with art, architecture, and culture.

It is particularly famous for the many buildings designed by Antoni Gaudí, such as the Sagrada Familia Cathedral.  In between Spanish classes, you can relax in the city’s many beautiful parks or stroll along Las Ramblas, Barcelona’s main drag.

Even though Barcelona’s main language is Catalán you will have no problems learning Spanish here. You can still find good Spanish classes, and believe it or not, you will be able to practice what you learn because locals speak Spanish also!

Study Spanish in Madrid

Symbol of Madrid - Spain

Symbol of Madrid – Spain
by Marcela Hede

Spain’s capital city of Madrid bustles with activity at all hours and offers an exciting backdrop for your Spanish studies.

While in Madrid, you can supplement your Spanish lessons with trips to the famous Prado Museum, the Royal Palace, and the Bullring. Don’t forget to catch a soccer game at Bernabéu Stadium!

The only potential drawback to studying in Madrid is the local accent, which sounds like a lisp to an English speaker. However, you can easily avoid picking up this accent yourself.

Learning Spanish in Salamanca

Salamantinos speak some of the purest Spanish you can hear in the world today, making their city very popular with students.  The locals are friendly too, so it’s easy to get out and practice your Spanish with them.

History enthusiasts will love learning Spanish in Salamanca. Not only does this city feature one of the oldest universities in Europe, it also includes many historic cathedrals, castles, and towers.

As a university city, Salamanca has plenty of bars and other student hangouts where you can kick back with a beer and tapas.

There are programs throughout the U.S. that gladly accept credits from the Salamanca University, making this a great opportunity for students pursuing their masters in Spanish teaching.

Study Spanish in Granada

La Alhambra - Spain

La Alhambra – Spain
by Marcela Hede

If you find big cities overwhelming, Granada is the place for you. This small university city is best known for its unique Moorish history and culture.

While in Granada, you can visit the famous Alhambra palace and learn about the 800-year reign of the Moors in Spain. The quaint Albaicín neighborhood serves as another reminder of this time, as do the many local tea shops.

Granada’s nightlife is not as vibrant as Madrid’s but it does offer more chances for outdoor activities. You can spend your weekends skiing in the mountains above the city or sunbathing on the nearby coast.

Important Differences in Spanish Language

When choosing where to learn Spanish, bear in mind that Spain is the only country that uses the “vosotros” verb forms. This means that if you learn Spanish in Spain, you may have to memorize verb endings that you will never use in any other country.

It all depends on your Spanish teacher’s philosophy and the type of Spanish you want to learn. No matter where you learn Spanish in Spain, you will be sure to find delicious food, excellent wine, and friendly people.

Best Spanish Learning Software
My Reviews of Tell Me More & Rocket Spanish

Wanting to complement your Spanish learning adventure by learning Spanish ahead or after coming back? Check out my top 2 recommendations for Spanish learning software. I tested them myself and remember, I am a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, which has one of the best Spanish you can find in South America!

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Benefits of Studying Spanish in Spain

A culture you enjoy makes you speak. Overall, there are many benefits of simply studying a language abroad. However, studying Spanish in a country like Spain, where the culture is captivating, really forces you to engage and use Spanish much more than you would have at home.

Instead of American TV, Telemadrid would playing in the background many afternoons. After class you would go to lunch with Spanish-speaking friends to Spanish-speaking restaurants. Your life will become a Spanish lesson!

Educating your ear to learn a different Spanish. A second benefit is that by encountering a different kind of Spanish from the one you normally hear in the U.S., educates your ear to different and new sounds of Spanish.

You will find new words will came more naturally. By the end of your program, you will have accomplished more in learning Spanish in Spain than you could do in a whole year of studying it at home.

Disadvantages of Studying Spanish in Spain

Spain may be more expensive to study Spanish than other Spanish-speaking countries, but it is worth it! Pick any one of the cities mentioned above, and you’re sure to have a great learning time!

When learning Spanish in any city in Spain, you may have a difficult time at first because of their pronunciation of z, j, and y. Besides, it is the only country that uses “vosotros”.

What is Next?

Pueblos Blancos

Pueblos Blancos

You probably work on your Spanish speaking in class for only an hour. Afterwards, you probably go right back to your English classes and you English-speaking friends.

Many American Spanish learners say that Spanish words inside a textbook don’t speak to them. Take this as a great incentive to learn Spanish in Spain, you will not regret it!

Think about enrolling into a program to learn Spanish abroad. Talk to people you know who have done it… They probably loved it.

As you review the program’s website and brochures think about the opportunities that will open to you once you decide to go to Spain. Also, you don’t have to stay away for months, but could go for weeks instead.

So go ahead, what are you waiting for? Plan and start your Spanish Learning adventure in Spain.

All Pictures by Marcela Hede

Learn Spanish Abroad Learn Spanish In Mexico

Why and Where to Learn Spanish in Mexico
Differences of Mexican Spanish You Must Know

With its rich cultural heritage, amazing food, and famous beaches, Mexico attracts tourists from all over the world. One of the chief reasons to learn Spanish in Mexico is to justify a trip to this amazing country for an extended period of time!

Having a Mexican Spanish immersion can be a very rewarding experience if you know what to expect from the schools you choose to attend, the cities you select to live in and the culture in Mexico overall.

First things first, lets learn about the main nuances and differences of the Spanish you will be learning in Mexico in comparison to that of other Latin American Spanish speaking countries.

Differences of Mexican Spanish You Must Know

El Castillo at Chichén Itzá

  • Mexican Spanish grew out of a fusion of 16th century Spanish and indigenous influences.
  • Do you know that Mexicans still use many terms that would be considered archaic in Spain, as well as words derived from indigenous languages like Nahuatl and Mayan?
  • In order to use these indigenous words, you will need to learn some extra letter combos such as tl and tz, plus new pronunciations for certain Spanish letters. These combinations don’t exist in other Spanish speaking countries.
  • Another quirk of Mexican Spanish is that speakers tend to pronounce their consonants very fully. This is different from most Spanish-speaking countries, and it actually makes it easier for students to learn.
  • My favorite aspect of Mexican Spanish is the way speakers pile on the suffixes to change the meaning of words.

For example, you can change “grande” (big) to “grandísimo” (very big) in any Spanish-speaking country. But in Mexico you can also say grandisísimo (very, very big) and even grandisisísimo (very, very, very big). And you can do this with just about any word!

Where to Learn Spanish in Mexico

If you want to learn Spanish in Mexico, here are a few cities to consider. I chose them because of the culture they offer, the low cost of living and the opportunities you could have to learn Spanish fast and make the process smooth.

Study Spanish in Mexico City

The nation’s capital, Mexico City is a huge, sprawling metropolis that can feel very crowded, dirty, and overwhelming to people who are not used to city life.

If you study Spanish in Mexico City, you will find yourself immersed in a vibrant, bustling community and surrounded by art, culture, and history. You will never be bored!

Mexico City is also a great choice for students wanting private lessons, as you can find many tutors at very affordable prices here.

The advantage of a private tutor is that they can tailor the Spanish lessons to whatever you need to learn, like medical Spanish or business Spanish.

Learn Spanish in Guanajuato

When you want to learn Spanish in Mexico the small college city of Guanajato makes a refreshing change from the frenetic pace of Mexico City.

In Guanajuato, cars mostly stick to underground tunnels, leaving the narrow, winding cobblestone streets to the pedestrians.

This hillside city is filled with picturesque plazas, churches, and pastel colored houses decorated with wrought iron and flower boxes.

There are plenty of students here and people are always hanging out on the streets, so it’s easy to find people to practice Spanish with.

Learn Spanish in Oaxaca

Picture by Zocalo2010

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, Mexico
by Zocalo2010

If you want to experience a little bit of everything Mexico has to offer, choose Oaxaca.

This beautiful town is charged with culture and it is famous for hosting one of the most recognized Latin holidays in the U.S., El Día de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead.

This small mountain city has a walkable downtown filled with colonial architecture and friendly people.

The surrounding villages offer traditional craft markets and the chance to explore some of Mexico’s indigenous heritage. A famous archeological site, Monte Albán, is also nearby.

When you feel tired of sightseeing, you can relax at a cafe with a plate of the distinctive Oaxaca cuisine or head to one of the many beautiful beaches in the area like Bahías de Huatulco. Just remember that beaches are far from Oaxaca city, about 8 hours by bus and 30 minutes by plane.

Spanish Immersion in Puerto Vallarta

Why not treat your learning adventure like a time to relax and learn? Puerto Vallarta offers this unique opportunity.

The resort city of Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico. Both foreigners and Mexicans from the capital love to vacation here.

If you want to spend your mornings learning Spanish and your afternoons relaxing beside the Pacific Ocean, Puerto Vallarta is a great choice. Some of the best beaches are Punta de Mita, Sayulita and San Francisco, Playa Conchas Chinas and Quimixto.

These are my top city recommendations for learning Spanish in Mexico. These city encompass culture, low cost of living and excellent Spanish learning opportunities.

Want to Complement With Best Spanish Learning Software?
My Reviews of Tell Me More & Rocket Spanish

Wanting to complement your Spanish learning adventure by learning Spanish ahead or after coming back? Check out my top 2 recommendations for Spanish learning software. I tested them myself and remember, I am a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, which has one of the best Spanish you can find in South America!

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Learn Spanish In Costa Rica

Why and Where to Learn Spanish in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a fantastic place to visit, period. This relatively small Central American nation features an astounding variety of ecosystems and wildlife, from beautiful coral reefs and beaches to the famous rainforests and cloud forests cloaking the country’s mountaintops.

Why not justify your visit to this tropical paradise by learning Spanish in Costa Rica?

Costa Rican Spanish is considered very pure, and locals tend to speak clearly with little accent, making it easy for foreigners to practice Spanish with them.

Where to Study Spanish in Costa Rica

learn-spanish-in-costa-rica-1

learn-spanish-in-costa-rica-1

Choosing where to learn Spanish in Costa Rica can be difficult, however, think about your goals first and the type of school you are looking for.

To best appreciate the tremendous natural beauty of the country, you may want to study in more than one of the following locations, or at least allow plenty of time for side trips.

Learn Spanish in San José

The sprawling capital city of San José will likely serve as your entry point and first introduction to Costa Rica.

Many travelers consider the city dirty and dangerous and pass right through San José without stopping. On the other hand, if you take the time to look, you will find a wonderful spirit at work in San José.

Home to one third of the country’s population, the capital is undeniably crowded in comparison to the rest of the country. But those very crowds give San José a vibrant nightlife, a thriving economy, and a reputation as one of the most cosmopolitan capitals in Central America.

Learn Spanish in Costa Rica at Playa Jacó

The rowdy beach town of Playa Jaco boasts excellent surf conditions, plus all the nightlife a devoted beach bum could want.

In Playa Jacó, you can learn Spanish and surf all day, and then party all night at the wide variety of bars, nightclubs, casinos, and discos.

If you want to enjoy the beach to the fullest, you should avoid arriving in the wet months of September and October, and instead aim for the dry season of January through April.

 

 

Studying Spanish in Heredia

This is one of the best places to learn Spanish in Costa Rica if you love mountains and mountain locations.  Heredia is sometimes considered a suburb of San José, Heredia is a small city located in the mountains above the bustling capital.

Because Heredia is home to the National University of Costa Rica, many students live in the area, and you will find plenty of cultural activities and attractions.

Lush forests, coffee plantations, and picturesque villages surround the city, making Heredia a great jumping off point for day trips to the countryside.

If you learn Spanish in Heredia, don’t neglect to get up close and personal with Costa Rica’s volcanoes by exploring one of the nearby national parks like the Braulio Carrillo National Park, the Volcán Poas National Park or the Irazú Volcano National Park.

Study Spanish in Monteverde

Located high in the mountains, Monteverde is the perfect place to explore Costa Rica’s cloud forests and observe their unique wildlife.  If you stay in Monteverde, you will have two world-famous eco-reserves right on your doorstep: the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve and the Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve.

For an unforgettable perspective on the cloud forest, you should consider a canopy tour, which takes you high above the forest floor via a network of hanging bridges and walkways.  If you need a break from all that nature, you can find plenty of art, entertainment, and fine dining in town.

Learn Spanish in Costa Rica at Flamingo Beach

Flamingo Beach - Costa Rica

Flamingo Beach – Costa Rica

Learning Spanish at Flamingo beach is perfect for adventurous souls who want to surf, study and party at night. This beach is the most developed in the Guanacaste Peninsula, however, it is not spoiled at all. In the Pacific coast in Central America, this beach is the only full service marina between Acapulco and Panama.

Flamingo beach is very close to the Santa Rosa National Park and Palo Verde Natural Reserve.
Wherever you decide to learn Spanish in Costa Rica, you will certainly enjoy a relaxed vibe, meet friendly people, and create lasting memories!

Best Spanish Learning Software
My Reviews of Tell Me More & Rocket Spanish

Wanting to complement your Spanish learning adventure by learning Spanish ahead or after coming back? Check out my top 2 recommendations for Spanish learning software. I tested them myself and remember, I am a native Spanish speaker from Colombia, which has one of the best Spanish you can find in South America!

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Tell Me More Spanish VIDEO
Review

rocketspanishRocket Spanish & Tell Me More
Software Reviews

Why Learn Spanish in Costa Rica

  • Did you know Costa Ricans often eliminate the most difficult sound for English-speakers to pronounce: the trilled “r”? They pronounce it more like an English “r”. So, if you’ve struggled with that rolled “r” sound, like many have, you will feel more comfortable in Costa Rica!
  •  Spanish from Costa Rica is clean and beautiful. The natives speak at a normal pace, and the rhythm of their speech is easy to follow making it easier for you to learn Spanish.
  •  Another distinguishing feature of Costa Rican Spanish that I see as an advantage, is that locals use “vos” or “usted” instead of “tu”. “Vos” is easier to learn than “vosotros” from Spain and its usage gives you a more rounded knowledge of the language.
  •  When you learn Spanish in Costa Rica you can be sure to learn the proper way. Costa Ricans don’t eat their “l”s and don’t shorten words by skipping the beginning or ending of words like in some other Latin American countries.For example, in the coastal areas in Latin America and some Central American countries natives may say “ta ca trah” instead of saying “esta acá atrás.”
  •  Besides the language, Costa Rica offers an amazing variety of fauna and flora due to its climate. This translates into exploring opportunities, beautiful weather and enjoyment of both, the climate and the learning experience.

All Pictures by Marcela Hede

Learn Spanish in Colombia

Why and Where to Learn Spanish in Colombia Advantages of a Colombian Spanish Immersion

Wondering what to expect when you learn Spanish in Colombia? I can sum up the people, the country, and the language in a single word: vibrant!

Any traveler to Colombia will agree that the local people are some of the most warm, caring, and affectionate individuals they have ever met.

They pepper their clean and beautiful speech with endearments like “corazón” or dear heart, and “mi amor” or my love. One of the best characteristics of Colombians is that they know how to make travelers feel welcome.

They will compliment your Spanish lavishly, even if it is terrible, which will help you have confidence to continue learning.

With a friendly local at your side, you will quickly assimilate into Colombian culture and have a blast exploring the many vibrant cities and beautiful natural areas of Colombia.

Advantages of Colombian Spanish

Botanical Garden in Medellín, Colombia

Botanical Garden in Medellín, Colombia

Colombian Spanish has a reputation for being very clear and easy to understand, at least in the big cities. It is also very colorful. Being a Colombian myself, I can share with you this is true.

Colombians pronounce very well, especially in the mountainous regions. This characteristic vanishes along the Atlantic coast where you find the main resort cities like Cartagena and Santa Marta.

Being expressive people, Colombians transfer this ability into using expressive language. They use descriptive sentences to show their emotions. There is no shortage of language usage and humor everywhere you go.

When you learn Spanish in Colombia, you will pick up all kinds of fun slang words and expressions that are unique to Colombia. This will really help you feel like a local as you learn, and obviously it is way more fun than learning Spanish from a book or a dry language course in your home country.

One possible difficulty for someone learning Spanish in Colombia is that there does not seem to be any hard and fast rule for when to use the informal “tu” or “vos” or the formal “Ud.”

This can be frustrating for students who like rules and structure however, it can also be liberating because you don’t have to worry about offending someone by using the wrong form.

Where to Study Spanish in Colombia

Here are three cities to consider if you want to learn Spanish in Colombia: I chose them because of their diversity and variety of activities they offer to any Spanish language learner.

Bogotá

Colombia’s capital, Bogotá, is a busy, dynamic, and diverse city. It’s a mix of old and new, rich and poor, historic colonial buildings and modern high rises set against a backdrop of mountains.

There is always plenty to see and do, and the nightlife is especially vibrant. Thanks to a great network of buses, it is easy to get around the city using public transportation.

Medellín

I am biased when I say this is the best city in Colombia. I was born here and still have tight connections to Medellín. This is the “city of everlasting spring” because of its mild climate.

Medellín is a charming, hilly city that is home to many universities and language schools. Today it is a safe city with lots of gringos visiting and learning Spanish.

La Piedra del Peñol in Medellín, Colombia

La Piedra del Peñol in Medellín, Colombia

Locals take pride in improving their city even more. There are plenty of museums to explore and parks to enjoy, and you can get around easily using the Metro. The nightlife is good however, it is not as varied as in Bogotá

Manizales

The university city of Manizales is a great place to relax and enjoy life in Colombia. It is a much smaller city than Medellín.

You will see lots of students hanging out in local cafes and parks or just strolling around the plazas. At night, the city comes alive with bars, clubs, and discos.

Manizales is high in the Andes Mountains, so it has a pleasant climate and many scenic views.

If you study Spanish in Manizales, be sure to explore the surrounding region including cloud forests, rain forests, and some of Colombia’s famous coffee plantations.

When you think abut it, your purpose may be just to learn Spanish in Colombia, but I can assure you, this immersion soon will become an exciting traveling adventure also.

If you are not sure about weather or not to learn Spanish in Colombia check out other possibilities through my other articles like Learn Spanish in Costa Rica, Learn Spanish in Guatemala, or Learn Spanish in Mexico.

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Language Immersion Myths

This is a language immersion myths article that addresses five of the biggest misconceptions about bilingual immersion for children. It is simple, nevertheless enlightening.

So, after a lot of thought and discussion about bilingual education, you’ve finally decided to do it. You’ve decided to put your child in a language immersion program. Now it’s time to tell the extended family.

Instead of the expected reaction of support for your decision, you get bombarded with questions and advice from well-intentioned (albeit misinformed) individuals:

  • “Why would you want to do that? Everyone should learn English.”
  • “I heard that children who try to learn two languages develop slower than other kids.”
  • “They’re never going to be able to fully learn English now.

“Pretty soon, you wonder if you’ve done the right thing. Anxiety starts to creep in and doubts begin to surface. You’re not alone. Many parents at one time or another question their decision to put their child in a language immersion program. They begin to hear about so-called “research” that discredits immersion programs and questions your child’s ability to learn two languages.

Misconceptions abound (Wikipedia has a good reference section on bilingual education.) However, they can often be categorized as one of the following myths:

  • Language Immersion Myth: Children that grow up hearing two (or more) languages will experience language disorders and/or language delay.

This is probably the most widespread myth on the subject. It stems from the fact that research initially done in bilingual education for children was flawed.

The majority of the studies were done on immigrant children with impoverished cognitive language abilities to begin with. Much of the research was skewed and attempted to prove that bilingual education had an adverse effect on other cognitive language functions, when in reality, social conditions were the primary factor in poor second language acquisition.

REALITY: Current research has shown that there is no scientific evidence suggesting children learning a second language will suffer from any disorders or delays in acquiring either their first or second language.

  • Language Immersion Myth: Children who learn a second language will never acquire the vocabulary needed to master either language.

This is a common argument by opponents of bilingual education which is a variation of the above misconception.

REALITY: Vocabulary acquisition is roughly equivalent for monolingual students and bilingual students. Monolingual students initially might have a slightly stronger vocabulary in the primary language than bilingual students, but when combining the vocabulary of the primary and secondary language of the bilingual student, the amount of vocabulary is nearly equal. In fact, some research suggests that bilingual students often surpass their monolingual counterparts within a few years in terms of the amount of vocabulary they know.

  • Language Immersion Myth: When children use two languages in a single sentence, it is a sign that they are confused.

REALITY: Code-switching (using two or more languages in a single utterance) is a common phenomenon among bilingual speakers. Contrary to popular opinion, it is highly regulated by the rules of grammar of both the primary and secondary languages. The most proficient bilingual speakers code-switch.

When children (or adults) code-switch, it shows that they have assimilated the grammatical patterns of both languages and are able to differentiate between the two. I’d say that’s far from being confused.

  • Language Immersion Myth: Bilingualism is an exception; monolingualism is the norm.

REALITY: Some would have you believe that bilingualism and bilingual education is merely a fad. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some reports suggest that nearly half of the world’s population is bilingual. Additionally, bilingual immersion programs are growing at an unprecedented rate as people have begun to realize the importance and the benefit of having their children learn another language.

  • Last Myth: Children learning two languages will be less creative than monolingual children and won’t be as good at math and science.

REALITY: Research has continually shown that bilingual immersion students do at least as well as, if not better than monolingual students in the areas of mathematics and science. Also, no scientific research supports the idea that bilingual students are less creative than monolingual students.

So what does all this mean? What it means is that your child is at no disadvantage for being enrolled in a language immersion program. Children have an amazing ability to adapt and learn when given the chance and a positive environment. Instead of focusing on outdated research and common misconceptions, parents should spend their time helping their child succeed.

The common thread of nearly all the research is that in order for immersion programs to be successful, parents must play an active role. The single biggest correlate to how well children do in an immersion program is the level of involvement by their parents. Without involvement, not only does the program suffer, but the children lose out on a tremendous opportunity to grow in ways that we, their parents, never dreamed of.

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