I have been fortunate to have learned Spanish in a variety of places around the world. This has made my Spanish a more neutral accent and more understanding of different Spanish accents and slang. Even though many people believe it, I do not have any recent ancestors from any Hispanic country meaning I had no way of learning Spanish at home.
I did grow up in a very Hispanic area of the United States and was surrounded by the language. As I grew up, there appeared more bilingual signs just like how in Quebec there are bilingual signs with French and English.
I then moved to Boston for university and now, there are bilingual signs there. Which is funny for me because just 6 hours prior I was in Quebec with everything French and now here I am in Spanish.
The United States is extremely lucky- yes, extremely lucky! – to have many types of Spanish speakers from Cuba to Mexico to Puerto Rico to Colombia etc. Throughout the 50 states, you are guaranteed to find someone that speaks Spanish natively or at least, fluently as a second language.
In fact, Spanish is one of the top three most spoken languages in the world. In terms of population, China and Mandarin reigns number one, but in regards to people actually speaking the language, English is number one and Spanish number two. Truthfully, if you can speak all three, you are golden!
What really inspired me to learn Spanish was my father. He started learning the language when he was quite young and knew knowing it and just multiple languages in general would be a great tool. Plus, the fact that our home was surrounded by a lot of Spanish speakers made his passion for the language even stronger.
I took Spanish in school. It taught me the basics, but it didn’t get me anywhere close to the fluency level I hold today.
I currently teach English and got my TEFL certification in Prague and taught there and now I teach in Montreal. What I tell my students and anyone learning a language are there are three ways to learn.
My Learning a Language Steps:
1. Take Classes
2. Live in a place that speaks that languages
3. Date someone from that language
It would be great if you can do all three things at once! However, in seriousness, the best is to take classes in a place/country that speaks that language. I have taken a few Spanish classes abroad as well as my father and we recommend the following places, plus a bonus one!
Spanish Classes Abroad:
1. Vos – Buenos Aires, Argentina
I headed to Buenos Aires for a study abroad semester during university. I was going to be taking marketing classes in a university there in Spanish. But, I wanted to brush up on my Spanish first. I decided to arrive 2 weeks before the start of the semester and I enrolled in this Spanish school, Vos. I really enjoyed it as they had a wide range of classes and activities to do after like empanada make classes, tango lessons, yoga lessons, etc.
The thing with Buenos Aires is that their Spanish is quite different. They have a strong accent called “porteno” and it is even different than the rest of Argentina. They also have different conjugations. However, I enjoyed the culture of Buenos Aires and it is one of my favorite cities in the world!
They currently offer online classes as well as in person. And you can have a host family through the school if you go there.
2. Tia Tula – Salamanca, Spain
Tia Tula was my first Spanish school abroad (by myself). I took a gap year between high school and university and went to Spain for 3 months. This was where my Spanish level really pushed to a conversational level. The teachers really got to know the students and their learning needs. They had some after hours activities, but it was more focused on in classroom learning.
The benefit of going to Spain, since it is the most expensive option in this list (per the Euro), is that it is the “original” Spanish. You will definitely learn more Spanish slang and words rather than neutral, international Spanish. Also, Salamanca is known for having the most neutral Spanish in Spain rather than in the South or areas like Catalunya.
Actually, a fun little story- my host mom didn’t have WIFI in the apartment (I am that old, I know!) and I would get to school really early so I could call family and friends. I would also stay late at the school for the same reason due to the time difference.
3. Tecun Uman – Antigua, Guatemala and San Pedro School – San Pedro, Lake Atilan, Guatemala
My father really liked taking classes at Tecun Uman and San Pedro School to learn Spanish because their accent is more neutral and classes are the most inexpensive than other places on this list. On top of the price, my father really appreciated the private lessons. He really likes having the one on one interaction because he finds he does better than in a group setting.
Though the others offer private lessons, it appears here it is more the rule rather than the exception. Rather in the other places it is the expectation than the rule.
These schools did offer home stay, which my father did as well. He liked his families that he stayed with and they helped him learn.
4. IMAC – Guadalajara, Mexico
My father’s most recent Spanish school abroad. Did I mention he is obsessed with learning Spanish? Which is great! I think, when we have something we are passionate about, we should keep learning. He is very proud of me in that I have mastered Spanish and now conquering my third language, French. But he also hates me at the same time because he has been learning a lot longer than me.
But, it gets him to see more of the world. One thing about studying abroad is that you can travel and see the world, but also get immersed in that local culture. Which, he was able to do. And, a bonus, taking language classes in different countries enables you to pick up different accents and vocabulary!
He liked it here as it offered a variety of things to do. He didn’t do a home stay as the other places, but decided to stay in a hostel and his school was near by. He had group classes, which connected him with other speakers. This school also had English classes so there was some language exchanges with the local people.
5. Clic – Sevilla, Spain
My very first Spanish school abroad was Sevilla, Spain at Clic. I went with my father one summer while I was still in high school. My Spanish wasn’t that great, but it was still a higher level than my father so I was in a different class.
As a shy sixteen year old, this experience really made me not shy anymore and cultivated my love for travel and for Spanish. Because I was the youngest in the school, from what I could see, the other students and teachers treated me as either their daughter or sister. I was well taken care of.
We stayed at a home stay as well, but this was more like an Airbnb style where you occasionally had meals with the host family. Unlike my other experiences later where I would hang out with my host family every meal more or less.
However, the Spanish here was definitely hard. Southern Spain is notorious for having a more difficult accent to understand and on top of it they spoke fast! This experience didn’t necessarily increase my Spanish level, but it gave me a good foundation that I was able to build upon later.
6. Instituto – Quito, Ecuador
The last school we recommend is another one that my father went to Instituto or Superior Spanish School. It appears they might have changed names since he was there, but it is recommendable nonetheless as he really liked his home stay family as well as the layout of the school.
He had many conversations in the school with the different students and got to explore the area. Quito has a reputation of being unsafe, but he didn’t experience anything. There are of course the standard pick pockets, but following travel safety procedures of keeping your valuables in front is the same everywhere.
He wanted to give a particular shout out to this city because of that- “don’t be scared of it.”
Bonus Spanish Classes Location:
7. Whee Institute – Bogota, Colombia (Sponsored)
Our bonus! Colombia is known throughout the world for a variety of reasons. One of them is their Spanish! They are known for having clear accents and one of the more easier places to learn. However, they are also known for speaking fast! Personally, I think it is more the accent rather than the speed as I can understand Colombians a lot better than I can people from Southern Spain (even at my fluency level). So, if you are interested in Colombia, I recommend Whee Institute.
Now living in Montreal, I have a few Colombian friends that I have met while taking French classes. Within Colombia they have different styles of speaking. Near the beach and ocean the speech is faster and more lively, while my friends from the mountain region were slower and more pensive.
Whee Insitute is placed in the capital- Bogota! So from here you can go explore the rest of the country! Or, if you are not ready to head to another country, they also offer online classes! If you are interested in learning more about Bogota and Colombia, be sure to check out all their useful articles!
What do you think? Are you up for trying out these Spanish schools and places to learn Spanish? I really recommend all of them and so glad I got to experience them myself. I do look forward to visiting Colombia one day and though I don’t really need Spanish classes per say, I’m looking forward to immersing myself in that culture!
Adios y hasta luego!
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