RECOMMENDATIONS FOR STUDYING SPANISH IN MEXICO
- What’s the best place to take Spanish lessons in Mexico?
- How much time should I plan to learn or improve my Spanish?
- How do I choose a Spanish school or teacher?
- What is the best method for studying Spanish?
Because of its natural beauty, cultural splendor, fantastic weather, and of course its friendly people, Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations for people all around the world. According to the newspaper El Universal, Mexico received more than 40 million tourists just in 2018! Although tourist mostly come to relax and forget about the daily routine of work and school, some of us actually come to study…Spanish of course! That’s how I ended up here, anyhow. And for the last 15 years, I have been involved in language teaching and setting up courses for several language schools and training early career language teachers.
So, for those of you that are going to visit Mexico to improve your Spanish, I’ve written down some recommendations to make sure your language learning experience meets your expectations.
WHAT’S THE BEST PLACE TO TAKE SPANISH LESSONS IN MEXICO?
There are some really great places in Mexico where you can find Spanish courses, but Mexico City beats them all. Besides its many language schools and private teachers, it also allows you to fully submerge in the language and culture of one of the biggest and most populated cities of the world, with over 21 million habitants, 170 museums, and countless other tourist sights and parks, not to mention the mountains and ‘magic’ villages nearby.
RECOMMENDATION: MEXICO CITY IS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES TO STUDY SPANISH.
Most importantly, Spanish instructors in Mexico City are usually certified teachers who know what they are doing. In my experience, some ‘teachers’ in other places, such as the famous beach resorts, have no training whatsoever and however friendly they might be, they will not be able to really help you learn Spanish as fast as you would like to.
RECOMMENDATION: ASK IF YOUR SPANISH INSTRUCTOR HAS ANY CERTIFICATE OR DEGREE IN LANGUAGE TEACHING.
HOW MUCH TIME SHOULD I PLAN TO LEARN OR IMPROVE MY SPANISH?
Planning your language holiday can be a bit of a hassle. You might not have a lot of time and obviously you would like to so go sightseeing as well.
RECOMMENDATION: FIND A TOTAL IMMERSION COURSE IN WHICH A CERTIFIED LANGUAGE INSTRUCTOR TAKES YOU TO SEVERAL SIGHTS, WHILST TEACHING YOU THE INS AND OUTS OF THE SPANISH LANGUAGE.
On the other hand, there are schools and agencies that offer a variety of packages that allow you to study a couple of hours a day and spend the rest of your time exploring the city.
Now, if you have no or little knowledge of the language and you attend some language course at your local language school, you will need some 60 to 80 hours of classes to reach a basic A1 (CEFR) level, and some 240 hours to complete an intermediate B1 (CEFR) level. However, staying in a native speaker country and you take an intensive course, this might be around 50 hours (A1) or 180 hours (B1).
For a 2-4 week stay, I would recommend you take about 2 to 4 hours, six days a week. In case of a longer stay, I would suggest at least 60 hours of regular classes.
RECOMMENDATION: MAKE SURE YOU GET AT LEAST 40 HOURS OF LANGUAGE TRAINING DURING YOUR TRIP, TO REALLY IMPROVE YOUR LEVEL OF SPANISH.
In case you are already familiar with the language and you want to boost your language skills, try Total Immersion or conversation sessions a couple of hours per day with a certified Spanish instructor. These will really help you to boost your language skills!
HOW DO I CHOOSE A SPANISH SCHOOL OR TEACHER?
Unfortunately, there are many universities, language schools, and private teachers that offer really bad language courses. I’ve been to schools and universities were the ‘instructors’ had no training and little experience. They just had no idea of what they were doing and were not familiar with any notions of methodology and didactics. Classes were a mess and students dropped out every day. So, how to choose?
- First of all, check the ratings and comments on the website and Social Media of the teacher or school. Remember, if there are less than 10 ratings or comments, they might not be so reliable.
- Check if the course provider is affiliated with other in national or international organizations related to education, Spanish language, or traveling.
- Ask whether the teachers are qualified and what kind of certification or degree they hold.
- Ask if the teachers are evaluated
- Check if the packages include a program and material or if the course provider has a clear view on these points.
WHAT IS THE BEST METHOD FOR STUDYING SPANISH?
‘The best method’ does not exist. There are many ways specialized teachers approach language training and when executed correctly, most of them work perfectly. Nevertheless, there are some learning strategies that I personally prefer, both as a language teacher and as a student:
- Speak Spanish from day 1, no English allowed. If you are forced to speak and think in the target language right away, this will create the necessity to learn fast and generally leads to better results. This method is also called total immersion.
- Use all media to complement your courses. Watch movies and listen to songs and Podcasts. Although you might not be able to understand everything, your brain will automatically register pronunciation, vocabulary, structures and intonation, which you will able to apply in class once you get to that point in the course.
- Combine your studies with sightseeing activities. It has been proven that you pick up a language more quickly when you are enjoying yourself and when you are in a relaxed state of mind. Why stress out in a regular language classroom, if you can meet your teacher at a cozy café or have your instructor take you to several sightseeing spots?
- Private classes are more effective than regular group courses. Taking private classes or classes with only two or three persons will increase the efficiency of your language learning process. Yes, it is more expensive, but eventually the number of hours you pay for in case of a regular group course is much higher that the number of hours you need to reach the same level, taking private classes.
- Make friends with a native speaker. That way you can practice your Spanish for free! Obviously, you’ll need some basic knowledge of the language for this option but hooking up with a native speaker can save you a lot of money and it’s also a lot of fun!
I hope my recommendations will help you plan your Spanish language training in Mexico. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or +52 (55) 7158 4475, we will be glad to assist you and answer any question you might have. For more information about packages and prices, please visit our website.