Spanish Immersion Experience
When I was seeking things to do post-employment other than jumping right into another full-time job, a former colleague of mine suggested Spanish immersion training in Antigua, Guatemala. I found his suggestion most interesting, personally, as I took only two Spanish courses in high school and regretted not furthering my education in a second language.
Not very familiar with this idea, I discovered that such language training is ubiquitous in Guatemala with many schools to choose from that not only come highly recommended but are quite inexpensive, compared to similar schools outside of Latin America. After further research, I decided to take lessons from Antigüeña Spanish Academy (1 Calle Poniente 10) (“ASA”), a highly recommended and accredited institution in the heart of Antigua. After conversing with the proprietor, Julio, I booked a flight to Guatemala City for August 2014, where I planned to attend immersion training for approximately two months.
I was picked up from Guatemala City Airport by ASA’s Eric*, where it was an approximate 40 minute drive to Antigua. I asked Eric to drop me off at La Sin Ventura (5ta Avenida Sur 8), a hostel at which I had previously booked a night’s stay courtesy of Booking.com. La Sin Ventura is conveniently located just above a popular bar and restaurant called Restaurante Mono Loco (5 Avenida Sur 6). The private room I had was decent for the price, but I was not very happy with my choice, due to the music along with perpetual bass originating from the bar beneath the hostel floor.
* ASA offers private transportation services from Guatemala City Airport to Antigua for $40 USD, as some of the other modes of transportation are not relatively safe.
In the morning, I ventured to Cafe Condesa (5a Avenida Norte 4) near Antigua’s central park and had an incredible breakfast which consisted of an egg omelette, mashed black beans, fruit, bread, and a pancake covered with a “coffee sauce.”
After breakfast, I made my way over to ASA, where I was greeted by one of the managers. I was introduced to Darren, a student from Canada who previously studied at ASA. Darren highly recommended the program and gave great advice, providing me with hopeful expectations. I decided to sign-up beginning the following Monday for a week of training for 4 hours a day (5 days a week) in addition to the homestay program, where I would live with a Guatemalan family for a week while I studied.
I then made my way to Fernando´s Kaffee (7a Avenida Norte 43D), a popular cafe just around the corner which was frequented by students of ASA and other travelers. While at Fernando’s, I booked a night’s stay at Hostal Antigüeño (1a Calle Oriente 15). Hostal Antigüeño is a budget hostel about a seven minute walk east of La Merced with many amenities. The hostel offers a nice courtyard/terrace to relax, read, or participate in conversation with other travelers.
Later in the afternoon, I had a very tasty and inexpensive traditional Guatemalan lunch at Rincon Tipico (4a Calle 3).
The staff seemed to enjoy making homemade corn tortillas.
My plan with this particular blog post is to post weekly updates, during my immersion program.
Resources related to Spanish immersion programs:
- Antigüeña Spanish Academy
- Guatemala 365: A survey of Spanish immersion schools in Guatemala
- 123teachme: A directory of Spanish schools listed by country
- Breaking Out of Beginner’s Spanish by Joseph J. Keenan (Book) – ISBN: 029274322X
- Madrigal’s Magic Key to Spanish: A Creative and Proven Approach by Margarita Madrigal (Book) – ISBN: 0385410956