Choices, Choices, And More Choices
You know you want to learn Spanish & South America is your destination, but South America is pretty huge, diverse, and has thousands of options for you to choose from. Researching different countries and Spanish schools ahead of time is a smart move! Which school has highest success rate? Which country has the ‘best’ accent? Where is the least expensive place I can go? There is so much to consider when planning this kind of trip. So, today, I want to help you narrow down your choices and find the best school for you.
Things to Consider When Preparing to Choose a Spanish School in South America
Whether you want to use a service like LanguageCourse.net or go at it on your own, here are some questions to ask yourself and a few things to keep in mind as you prepare.
Accent or No Accent
All most every country in South America has a unique accent. Some speak faster, some slower, and some have stronger syllables in different parts of a word. For example in Argentina the ‘ll” is pronounced kind of like a ‘j’. Most native Spanish speakers will be able to tell where you learned Spanish by your accent. It’s similar to Southern, New York/New Jersey, or Boston accents here in the US. Read more about the different Spanish accents here.
Time of the Year
If you currently reside in the Northern Hemisphere, remember that in South America the seasons are reversed. If you want to get some skiing in between classes at Bariloche, Argentina you’ll want to be there between April and September. If you want to get a tan while learning Spanish, I’d recommend the Northern countries between October and March!
Also consider the tourist season for the country(ies) you’d like to visit. There are usually more tours, trips, and activities available during tourist season, but unfortunately, tourist season also means higher prices.
Price is sometimes the biggest factor in planning for a South American Spanish learning trip. It’s easy enough to find out how much the school fee is, but make sure to also find out:
- Current exchange rate.
- The “equivalent cost”: the higher it is the more expensive day-to-day items will be. My litmus test for this is bottled water. In Peru, a 1-liter bottle of water was one sole, about $.30. In Guatemala a 1-liter bottle of water was about 6 quetzals, about $.75.
- Fun Stuff: Does the school include extracurricular activities at no charge, or are you going to have to foot the bill to get to Maccu Piccu on your own? It’s better to know before you sign up!
- Getting around: How are you going to go and from the airport? Taxis or buses around town? Does the school provide any transportation?
- Materials: Does the school provide you with books, paper, computer and Internet access, etc.?
- Lodging: Many times the schools will have services to ‘place’ you with a local family, which can significantly reduce how much you need to spend on lodging.
There are many different ways to learn Spanish and just as many different ways to teach Spanish. Here are a few questions you might want to ask ahead of time:
- How do you personally learn best?
- Are you more hands on?
- Do you prefer live conversations to book study?
- Are the classes taught in Spanish or English?
- Does the school have beginner, intermediate and advanced classes?
- How much time is required at each level?
- Will you have one teacher or many teachers?
All Study and No Play? – No Way!
Of course, you’re going to want to get a little adventure in while you’re learning Spanish. Nobody likes to just sit in a classroom all day, especially if your in an amazing place like South America!
- What other cool stuff do you want to do besides learn Spanish?
- Will your class schedule allow weekend trips?
- Do you get afternoons off?
- Are their guided tours of the activities you want to do?
- Will you need to find a school in close proximity to those activities?
The Easy Way – Let Somebody Do the Research For You
That may seem like a lot of information to hunt down, that’s why I like services like, LanguageCourse.net. You’ll find most of the information you need on this incredibly handy site. The folks at LanguageCourse.net are experts and have connections everywhere to help you find the best school for you. You can even book your reservation to the school from their site
If you want to learn Spanish, South America doesn’t necessarily have to be your destination, but it’s absolutely a great choice. There is so much to see and do, and more than enough opportunities to learn Spanish. The hardest part will be picking just one place to go!
What About You?
Have you attended a Spanish school in South America? What was your experience like and what would you recommend? Please share your experiences in the comments below!