The Question: I want to learn Spanish while on vacation in Mexico. Where should I go?
So, you want to ramp up your game beyond “ Dos cervezas por favor?”
Mexico is a great place to learn Spanish, says Jennifer Polland, the editor of Frommer’s Mexico. “There are Spanish-language schools all over the country, and the people are generally very warm and willing to help you practise the language.”
To help narrow down the choice, she suggests two destinations: Cuernavaca, a weekend hub near Mexico City also known for its spas and spiritual sites, and San Miguel de Allende, the artsy Baroque city in the Guanajuato state that is also home to many expatriates.
“Generally, the schools will help students find lodging with a family or provide a list of places to stay,” says Polland, who has travelled throughout Mexico. “Rather than make a long-term commitment in a family living situation, I’d suggest trying it for a week, and then deciding.”
Here are a few picks for San Miguel:
- *Instituto Allende (instituto-allende.edu.mx) began as a fine-arts school and later added Spanish courses. “The main focus is still on the arts, with different classes and workshops. ... Spanish classes range in intensity levels, and sessions usually run from about one week to a month.”
- *LanguagePoint (languagepoint.org) focuses on conversational skills. “The big draw here is the small class size with a maximum of three students per instructor.”
- *Academia Hispano Americana (ahaspeakspanish.com) is known for its small-size intensive courses taught by professional instructors. “The goal here is to become fluent in Spanish.”
- *Habla Hispana (mexicospanish.com) “is a small school with experienced and dedicated instructors, all locals. Classes are small and arranged in four-week courses.”
In Cuernavaca, meanwhile, she recommends checking out:
- *Universidad Internacional (spanishschool.uninter.edu.mx). Situated on a tree-lined campus, the school offers intensive programs focusing on language, grammar and culture.
- *Instituto de Idioma y Cultura en Cuernavaca (idiomaycultura.com.mx) offers classes 52 weeks a year designed for every level. Lessons are taught in thatched-roof classrooms and accommodation is with a local family.
- *Universal (universal-spanish.com) also tailors classes to learner’s needs and encourages home-stay with families to extend the immersion. (It’s also an “LGBT Safe Space.”)
E-mail your travel questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Karan Smith on Twitter: @karan_smith. Special to The Globe and Mail