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Hi everyone,

 

This is way outside of CR, but I am seriously thinking about a Spanish language immersion school in Guatemala

http://www.minervaspanishschool.com/learning-spanish.html

 

Does anyone have any experience either with this school or another that you'd recommend? I am studying Spanish on my own at this point (on the boat, as we won't be back in CR until 1 Apr). The school doesn't have to be in Guatemala, but this one sounds great, and I'll have a couple of weeks to "jump start" my Spanish before we get back to CR.

 

Any comments are welcome!

 

regards,

Gayle

(in Nassau, but crossing to FL within the next couple of weeks...)

Edited by salish sea

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Hi Gayle, I have zero knowledge about immersion schools in Guatemala, other than the fact that I've read they are cheaper than the ones in CR (but if you're living here, you wouldn't have the travel/food costs, so ...), but just wanted to mention the difference in accents. I found the Costa Rican accent quite difficult to understand after having learned Spanish with mostly Mexican but also a bit of Puerto Rican and Peruvian Spanish. I still find it easer to understand some other accents, even from countries that I've never visited. Sometimes I'll meet people from Columbia or Venezuela or Peru and find them easier to understand for some reason. I just bring that up because it might be worth doing the immersion course here so you'd get the accent training along with the Spanish instruction. Just a thought.

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Hi Gayle,

 

There are many, many spanish schools in Antigua, Guatemala, the old capital of the country. I have heard on more than a few occasions that prices for studying spanish in Guatemala (Antigua) are significantly less expensive than those in Costa Rica.

 

Do a Google search for 'spanish schools, Antigua, Guatemala' and you should get lots of hits.

 

HTH

 

Paul M.

==

PS - Antigua is one of the safer places for tourists and students to be while in Guatemala.

==

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I spent a week in the town of San Pedro on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. I loved that whole area and didn't have any problem at all communicating with the people who live there (in Spanish). I wasn't there for a school - just vacation - but yes, schools in Guatemala are very inexpensive compared to Costa Rica. Actually, everything is inexpensive in Guatemala compared to Costa Rica.

 

Plus - Salish Sea may not be living in an area of Costa Rica where there is a Spanish school. The closest one to me is 3 hours away so that would mean school, room and food costs. It's so much cheaper in Guatemala - plus if they put you with a homestay family, very cheap.

 

I did visit Antigua and although I am probably in the minority, I didn't like it at all. It was jam-packed with tourists, specializing in pony-tailed hippies, both young and gray-haired who looked like their best accomplishment was finding some good "weed." Sorry... not for me.

Edited by eleanorcr

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Eleanor, Tiffany, and Paul,

 

Thank you so much! Eleanor, I'd also read about Antigua being heavily touristed and many of the retail staffers speaking English.

 

I think the nearest Spanish immersion program (one with a very good reputation) is in Heredia, which really isn't a wonderful commute from San Ramon (and I expect that my brain will be pretty much fried at the end of each day, anyway. Doing my TESOL class in Seattle, where I spent 6 hours/day in class, 4-5 hours/day doing homework, and 3 hrs/day commuting was almost too much for me --- and this will be in another language, to boot!)

 

Classes are much less than they are in CR, which is one reason I'd like so much to do this (and have never been in Guatemala, either). The program I'd like to do in CR is about $1K for two weeks with a homestay. The program in Guatemala that I've been looking into is $350 including homestay. Cost isn't the only reason to select one program over another, but I'm hoping that because I am/will be exposed to Tico Spanish every day when I'm in San Ramon, and the fact that my wonderful teacher in San Ramon is a Tico who is very good about correcting my pronunciation, that the difference in accents may be reconcilable. I just want to be able to talk to people with more than, "¿Como está?"

 

regards,

Gayle

Edited by salish sea

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Gayle, is that $350 for TWO weeks? Wow, that's a great price, and yes, there is the benefit of visiting a new country. I hadn't realized you'd done the TESOL program. I did a level 5 course that was so demanding it bordered on being a more mental version of basic training. They should've issued us combat boots with our textbooks. Or least a web belt with a canteen to hold all the coffee we had to swill down just to stay awake during that time. Good luck with whatever you decide about the immersion school ... I'm one who gets a lot of out structure and grammar, so I think it would be a worthwhile investment.

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Tiffany,

 

$175/week including homestay. I'll post here about my experience.

 

(And I think I'm 20 years older than you are -- oh,my poor brain at the end of the 4 week intensive TESOL class. It was a great class, but there's a reason I was the oldest student in that class! Hey, at least I finished and passed all the coursework.....)

 

regards,

Gayle

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Hi again Gayle,

 

Maybe JulieH will chime in. She and her husband attended Maontaña Linda Youth Hostel & Spanish School in the small town of Orosi E of Cartago when they first came to CR.

 

The school has a good reputation and for a long time they were offering a $200 p/p week-long immersion crash-course in basic tico spanish conversation. The best thing seemed to be that all the classes were limited to a maximum of three (3) students so the teachers could give nearly individual instruction.

 

It might be worth checking out if you are not stuck with staying in the San Ramón area.

 

HTH

Paul M.

==

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I think the point is -- Salish Sea will have to "leave home" to take a Spanish class - whether it's Heredia or Samara or Tamarindo or Orosi - and the most expensive part of that will be lodging and food. This is much cheaper in Guatemala so why not take the class there and experience a different country at the same time?

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Need to say something here.... As forums members know, I do not post much anymore because we have such a HUGE selection of knowledgeable members who give the right answers! Now my job and Paul's is pretty much stopping SPAMMERS

 

BUT... This study in Guatemala thing is a really BAD idea imho.

 

Guatemala along with a couple of countries nearby (Mexico and El Salvador) form a triad that is now considered more dangerous than Afghanistan. (US State Dept)

 

While this once was a beautiful country (and still is), it is simply not safe for tourist travel unless you have contracted with private security escorts, this RECOMMENDED by the Guatemala government!

 

I quickly gathered a few CURRENT quotes from US and Guatamalan web sites. Read please, and I suggest you pay heed. There may be a reason for the low cost schools... I urge you to do more research.

 

 

"The number of violent crimes reported by U.S. citizens and other foreigners has remained high and incidents have included, but are not limited to, assault, theft, armed robbery, carjacking, rape, kidnapping, and murder, even in areas of Guatemala City once considered safe."

 

"Emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main roads in broad daylight."

 

"Travel on rural roads increases the risk of being stopped by a criminal roadblock or ambush. Widespread narcotics and alien-smuggling activities make remote areas especially dangerous."

 

"A number of travelers have experienced carjackings and armed robberies after just having arrived on international flights, most frequently in the evening."

 

"There have been no incidents of armed robbery of groups escorted through the Tourist Protection Program."

 

If this does not get your attention or should you believe there reports to be exaggerated or false, then clearly that is your decision.

 

Best of luck on your travel. My wife and I have been waiting to visit, but for us? Just too high a risk.

 

TG

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While your quotes are impressive, TicoGrande, you could say the same thing about Mexico. It has a lot to do with how and where you go.

 

It's pretty easy and safe to get to someplace like Lake Atitlan. You fly into Guatemala City and take a shuttle. It's not like you are renting a car and driving the wilds of Guatemala.

 

I was there a year ago for three weeks - alone - and I wouldn't hesitate to go back. And, in fact, I am considering doing just that to "upgrade" my Spanish.

 

I did a few tours with a local guide and got to know his family a bit. During the week I was in San Pedro at Lake Atitlan, I did some work with the local guide organization, helping them create some materials such as signs and a brochure. Basically, Guatemalans need EVERYTHING.

 

I knew about the dangers in Guatemala and once when I was hiking late in the day at Tikal National Park, I rounded a corner and saw the edge of a truck. "Wow!" I thought.... "Smugglers! Drug Gangs! Mala Noche! Yeeow!" So I turned around and hurried down the little road, looking for a place where I could "melt" into the forest. Before I could find that place, the truck had caught up with me! Turns out, it was a truck owned by the Park that they sent out every day to find stragglers like me and return them to the entrance before the Park closed. I had a good laugh on myself.

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Hi Tim,

 

I appreciate your warning, but it comes too late in a sense, as before you posted it, I'd already committed to the program I found -- thank you, Eleanor! -- in San Pedro at Lake Atitlan. I absolutely will post here about my experience, but think that even though I will be going solo (Paul stays back on the boat doing boat projects), the program staffers will arrange a shuttle from the airport, have recommended places in Guatemala City and in Antigua before the program begins (and after it concludes). I read comments in other places about GC and Quetzaltenango (the location of the other program I was considering), and I think your comments are absolutely in line with what others have said. But I think/hope the precautions the program staffers are taking should keep me and others in the school safe.

 

And for Eleanor, the school just happens to be in San Pedro at Lake Atitlan!

The link for the program:

http://www.sanpedrospanishschool.org/en/home.php?lang=EN

 

And to Paul, I'll check out the program in Orosi, too. (I love Orosi!) Maybe in a few months, more intensive Spanish practice may be helpful.

 

You are all terrific! Thank you so much.

 

with kind regards,

Gayle

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Gayle - I think you will love San Pedro! The school there has a great reputation. Be sure to take the boat to the other villages around the lake. It's an amazing experience. Heck, you have got me to thinking about it - I might just go there to brush up on my Spanish!

 

PM me if you want more information.

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