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If you’re thinking about taking a Spanish course abroad, you probably ask yourself where to go. Going abroad or stay at home? And which country is the best to learn Spanish abroad? Of course, this is always an individual choice. We, as Spanish School El Zonte, would like to give you some help to make the right decision.
The best place to learn Spanish: Which options do you have?
Over 500 million people in the world speak Spanish. And there are 26 countries in the world where at least a part of the population speaks Spanish. In 20 countries, Spanish is the official language. So the choice is not that easy.
Spanish Speakung Countries: Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispanophone
Let’s have a look at the three biggest Spanish speaking countries first: Mexico, Colombia, and Spain.
In our humble opinion, each of these countries is worth visiting. They have a rich culture and lots of possibilities concerning professional Spanish Schools that are located mainly in the bigger cities or areas with tourism. You can’t do anything wrong learning Spanish in Mexico, Colombia, Spain, or most other Spanish speaking countries. The question is, what culture are you interested in?
We always think that learning another language has a lot to do with getting immersed in the culture. It’s not just grammar and vocabulary! So we recommend you to choose a country that you feel connected with! Have you always been fascinated by the culture of the Aztecs, for example, then take a Spanish course in Mexico! You love Salsa? Go to Colombia!
Don’t underestimate the internal motivation when you want to learn a language!
Which leads us to our next questions: What about the budget?
The best places to learn Spanish cheaply
Of the most common place to take a Spanish course for foreigners is Guatemala. You can almost say that there’s a Spanish School industry in Guatemala. Antigua and Quetzaltenango offer dozens of Spanish schools, and the Instituto Cervantes accredited some of them. It also means a lot of competition between the Spanish Schools, which keeps the prices low. The costs for a Spanish lesson vary in between US$4 till US$15 per hour.
Antigua Guatemala offers you more than two dozens Spanish Schools.
Choose your Spanish School wisely! We have made the experience that the quality of the teachers varies a lot. You can’t expect a Spanish teacher with a university degree when you pay US$5 per hour! In general, we recommend reading reviews of the schools (if they’re not fake). If the school has a good reputation, there’s always a reason for it!
Also, you won’t be alone! Especially in Antigua, there will be a lot of foreign tourists, which makes it hard sometimes to practice your Spanish after our classes.
Another point to consider, if “the cheaper, the better” should be your way of traveling in general. Please be aware that behind every teacher, there’s a person that often has to support his family. Especially in poorer countries like Bolivia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Cuba, and Honduras, the costs of living are high.
US$5 for a Spanish lesson push people and Spanish Schools into not paying taxes and into offering low-quality services. The other side of the coin is: If you spend a bit more, you can also expect more from your teacher! The best place to learn Spanish is not always the cheapest one! We have written more here about this problem: Travel on a budget: The other side of the coin
And what about the school itself?
The accreditation of the Instituto Cervantes guarantees you a certain level of quality. But you will also pay for that extra level of professionalism. In general, you will realize pretty quickly if the school you selected is of good quality or not.
The teacher should adapt quickly to your needs and should follow a logical curriculum. He or she should vary the methods if needed. If you take one-on-one classes, you should let the teacher know what you want to learn and how.
An excellent Spanish school offers (their own) learning materials and provides free services like water, coffee, and Wifi. It’s not always necessary that your teacher speaks English. But it’s a plus, especially when you’re a beginner. If you’re an advanced speaker, it might train your conversational skills because you can’t switch to English that easily.
Places that we don’t recommend to learn Spanish
Well, we want to be honest. So we also would like to point out some countries that we don’t recommend.
Unfortunately, there’re some countries with severe security issues. For now, it’s Venezuela. We hope that the situation gets better soon.
But there’re other reasons why we don’t recommend some other countries to learn Spanish. It’s mainly because of the accent: Argentina! It’s a beautiful country, no question. But as a beginner with some experience in Spanish, you will probably struggle with the typical accent there (the “sh”-sound). In general, every Spanish speaking country has its accent. But the one in Argentina is very different from what you might be used to.
Also, we think that people in Madrid (Spain) speak very fast. Sometimes people struggle with the speed of a normal conversation there. Another point is that some teachers from Spain consider the Spanish from Spain the only Spanish that is “correct.” We don’t share this opinion! Each language has its dialects and variations. Welcome to the world! Have a look at this funny video!
And what about the accents: Latin America or Spain?
You will realize quickly that every Spanish speaking country has it’s own vocabulary and also their slang. Please don’t get frustrated by it! It’s always a good door-opener if some ask you where you studied Spanish.
But there’s another point that you should know before you make a decision. There are some differences between the grammar in Latin America and Spain. On the of the differences is the use of “vos” (the personal “you”) in Latinamerica. You don’t use it in Spain.
Also, the tenses are handled a bit differently in Latinamerica. But don’t worry: in 99% of the cases, people will understand what you want to say in Spanish. It doesn’t matter if you learned it in Spain or Latinamerica. Be self-confided and be proud if you speak with an accent from Costa Rica or Ecuador! The differences are not that huge, and after a short period of adjustment, you will do fine.
Our recommendation: El Salvador
Of course, we have to do some shameless self-advertising at this point. But we do it for a good reason. Spanish School El Zonte in El Salvador is the best place to learn Spanish if you like tropical beaches, perfect waves for surfing, and Latin American culture.
El Salvador is not known for its Spanish School industry, like Guatemala. But we offer custom made Spanish lessons in El Zonte, which is a beautiful beach town only one hour away from the international airport of El Salvador. Please read more here!