Study Spanish Abroad
Tips on Studying Spanish Abroad
Are you thinking you might want to study Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country?
I’ve studied Spanish in Mexico, Panama and Argentina and based on my experiences I’ve listed a few tips on what to look for, what to consider and how to go about selecting a destination and a Spanish language school.
Popular destinations are best
Although it may seem exotic to choose an off-the-beaten-path destination for Spanish language studies, I recommend choosing a popular language study destination for your first Spanish immersion experience. There are several reasons why.
First, there is always a chance that when you arrive at your school you will discover that it isn’t as good as it sounded on the internet. You might not like your teachers. You might not like the facilities. You might want to change schools. If you are in a popular study destination, there will be lots of schools to choose from and you can simply go enroll at another school. Most schools accept new students every Monday. Others will accept new students any time.
In Mexico, Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, Oaxaca, and Guanajuato are all popular destinations for Spanish students. You will find multiple schools in each area. Mexico City, on the other hand, has surprisingly few schools. Beach destinations like Puerto Vallarta and Manzanillo are fine for tourists but aren’t great places to study Spanish. There are few schools and tutors. Related article: Spanish: More than meets the eye
Cities like Buenos Aires, Argentina and Santiago, Chile have lots of language schools. Havana, Cuba, however, does not.
There are lots of good language schools throughout Spain.
So how do you find out which places have lots of language schools and which don’t? A site called 123TeachMe has a good, comprehensive list of Spanish language schools that you can sort by country and by city/town. Learn Spanish also has a list of foreign Spanish schools.
Consider number of students and class size
Small group classes of four to six students are best and good schools will restrict class size to six students maximum. Check the maximum class size before you sign up. I’ve seen some schools packing 20 students into a small room without air conditioning. You won’t learn much in an environment like that.
I also recommend popular schools that have lots of students and lots of classes. This gives you the opportunity to move up or down a level if you need to. Plus there will be lots of students to chat with. Making friends is a big part of the experience.
I attended one school in Panama where I was the only student. I had nobody to go out with after class and was bored the whole month.
Are the classrooms air conditioned?
Most Spanish speaking countries are hot. You’ll probably want to go to a school that has air conditioning.
How much does the school charge for tuition?
Do you prefer to stay in a hotel or hostel or with a host family in a homestay? Not all schools offer homestays.
Is the school centrally located or is it in a remote area not easily accesible by transit?
Is the area safe?
Are the teachers university educated? Do they speak English?
What’s the average age of students at the school? Where are they from?
Does the school have a computer lab with internet access?
Are private tutors available at reasonable prices?
Does the school take students on excursions or field trips?
What kind of study materials are provided?