June 8, 2016

Frequently Asked Spanish Class Questions

Is Eco Spanish Classes a Spanish School?
A couple of years ago a new law was passed in Guatemala that made it impossible for poor Spanish teachers to unite and call themselves a Spanish School – unless they completed tons of paperwork, government Spanish school teacher workshops, have a college graduate as a ‘Director’ – pay lots of money to lots of people – we’ve been told we need  ~20,000Q to legalize a Spanish school. We simply don’t have that kind of money. Short answer – no, Eco Spanish Classes cannot legally be called a “Spanish school”. That said, the Spanish class teachers at Eco Spanish Classes have been teaching Spanish to foreign travelers for more than 15 years and all are certified Guatemalan teachers. Rest assured you’ll receive the exact same or better Spanish language classes as any legal/official/approved/certified Guatemalan ‘Spanish school’ at a much more affordable price than any legal/official/approved/certified Guatemalan ‘Spanish school’ in Antigua, Xela or Atitlan – the popular/expensive places to attend a Spanish school.

Spanish Class Certificate of Immersion and SkillsWill I receive a Spanish Class Certificate – anything to show I studied Spanish in Guatemala?
Yes – you’ll recieve a “Spanish Language Class Certificate of Completion” upon completing testing at whatever of level of Spanish you qualify. To be absolutely clear, and legal, Eco Spanish Classes is not a “Spanish school” – as stated in the previous question above.

You’ll notice the ‘permaculture’ notation on the certificate – learn more about permaculture at la Danta Project.

Why study Spanish in San Andres, San Jose or Nuevo San Jose?
The Spanish teachers of Eco Spanish Classes believe that our 3 Maya beach communities offer Spanish students the perfect balance of educational excellence and cultural immersion.

If your goal is to learn Spanish in a cultural context, we feel very strongly that any of our 3 Maya beach communities with a world-class cultural heritage is best suited to achieving your Spanish study goals. You’ll immersed in a non-cosmopolitan population of friendly villagers who ONLY speak Spanish.

It’s also important to consider the quality of the family-living experience. In Antigua, for example, too often there are several foreigners staying with the same family at once. In this case, it’s more like a hotel, than a family atmosphere. Also, often there are separate mealtimes for the students and the family. Such a situation is inconceivable in our 3 Maya beach communities of San Andres, San Jose and Nuevo San Jose. Here the families truly delight in ‘adopting’ travelers from another culture for a week or three. You really become part of the family. In this environment, your Spanish skills will soar.

What’s the weather like?
Like other tropical countries, Guatemala has two seasons – wet and dry. The dry season usually lasts from December to May, the wet season from June to November. During the wet season, mornings are typically clear, then thunderstorms build through the afternoon into a refreshing shower, then the clouds dissipate in time for a lovely sunset. The coolest months are January and February, while March and April are the warmest. Still, this is the tropics, so average temperatures tend not to vary more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5 Celsius).

Is it easy to communicate with home?
Yes, Internet cafes with WiFi are everywhere and charge 5Q per hour.

Are San Andres and San Jose safe?
The small Maya beach villages of San Andres, San Jose and Nuevo San Jose are safe and very welcoming to travelers. It’s hard not to be charmed by the relaxed friendliness of the place. San Andres and San Jose give an overwhelming sense of safeness and a lack of resentful, tense vibes between locals and foreign visitors. Any afternoon and evening one can watch schoolchildren playing, elders leisurely passing the time of day, women scrubbing clothes by hand in outdoor sinks (pila) or in the lake, children kicking soccer balls and men struggling beneath huge loads of firewood.

Do you teach children, too?
Children are most welcome with the teachers of Eco Spanish Classes! We’ve had many families study here, and have developed a kids-friendly curriculum to keep the youngsters engaged and happy. Most of the families who house our students have children of their own, who, like all kids, are quick to make friends. Also, we can arrange visits for your kids to local schools, an experience that will prove unforgettable. We think studying Spanish for a week or two in a safe and friendly Central American town is a wonderful way to encourage in a child an adventurous spirit of travel and a lifelong respect for other cultures.

NOTE: For legal reasons, all participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Is there medical care or a pharmacy in town?
There are four very small pharmacies in San Andres and San Jose. We recommend that visitors carry with them all the prescription medicines they will need during their stay.

If I live with a family, will I have a private room or will I have to share my room with other students?
We have all sorts of accommodation available: shared rooms, private rooms, luxury resort hotel suites. We’re happy to put you where you’re comfortable.

Can my host family provide vegetarian meals?
Certainly. Just let us know when you arrive and we’ll advise your host family accordingly.

Can I change my host family if I don’t like the place?
We work with a variety of host families and if you don’t like the one we place you with, we’ll move you to another one the next day. Our host families are carefully selected and provide good service, however, and requests to change families are very rare.

Can you place me with a family with children?
Yes, we have a number of host families with children of all age groups. Just note your preferences on the registration form when you sign up.

I’d prefer to stay at a hotel. Can you make the arrangements?
Yes, we’ll be happy to make a reservation at a local hotel for you. Just let us know when you sign up what kind of hotel you’re looking for and your budget.

Can I start any day or do I have to start on Monday?
We are very flexible with our schedules and allow our students to begin their courses whenever it’s convenient for them.

Can I have classes on Saturday and/or Sunday?
Yes, if you are in a real hurry, we can arrange for you to have classes on Saturday and/or Sunday. We recommend, however, that you take off at least one day per week. You can’t study all the time! See Excursions for ideas on what to do on the weekends.

How can I pay for my course? Do you accept credit cards?
We only accept Guatemalan Quetzales and there’s an ATM in San Andres.

Can I change my teacher if we don’t get along?
Certainly! We want you to be happy and enjoy your classes. Requests to change teachers are very rare here. Our teachers are well trained and very good at adapting their instructions to their students’ needs, interests and learning styles.

Do I need to bring textbooks and a dictionary?
We will provide all the class materials you’ll need, so bringing textbooks isn’t necessary. That said, a notebook and a dictionary is something no Spanish student should be without.

What else should I bring?
Solid walking shoes and shower footwear
Light long sleeve shirt and pants
Swim wear
Insect repellant
Money Belt
Dollars or travelers checks
Credit Cards or Bank cards with the IPlus icon
Photocopies of important documents.
Rain Protection, especially during the rainy seasons (May-September)
Medicines for first aid + prescriptions
Can you recommend a good guidebook for the area?
There are a number of books that discuss San Andres, Peten – Guatemala, or Central America. The Lonely Plane Handbook for Guatemala (with a large section on Peten Guatemala), and the Rough Guide to Guatemala are indispensable.

How much does it cost?
All Spanish class language sessions are held one-on-one with a certified and experienced Spanish teacher. Schedule your Spanish sessions as/when/where you like in any of the Maya beach communities we serve – 35Q per hour, available in 10-hour minimum blocks, paid direct to your Spanish teacher.

Homestay with a local family for 35Q per night. Cook your own food/meals in your homestay family’s kitchen or enjoy family style meals with your homestay family for a 20Q per meal.

Have a question not answered here? Contact Eco Spanish Classes