Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua is well known for learning Spanish. On every block you will encounter at least one or two different Spanish schools, both private (within houses, one to one), and larger more professional schools. It’s easy to learn here.

An average lesson, one-to-one, will only set you back a measly five dollars US per hour. That’s not much more than the price of a mixed drink or a cheap meal. The teachers here, even the unqualified ones, are a league above those in neighboring nations. Spanish is top quality here, even surpassing that of Spain itself, ironically. Most tourists here only spend a week studying, but some stay for a month or longer. It’s cheap, and it is more than worth it.

If you go the market, or actually to any store, in Antigua you will be pleasantly surprised with how accommodating the locals are with helping you in your language efforts. Many locals already speak at least two languages; whichever dialect of Mayan is their local language as well as Spanish, and in many cases basic English as well. Because of this, combined with the local culture of ‘Buena onda’ or ‘Good vibes’ and their relaxed attitude to everything, makes it easy to learn Spanish here.

In a store, the shopkeeper will smile politely and reply as you struggle through your basic ‘Hola, como estas?’, and be patiently accommodating as you butcher their main spoken language. This, for me, was more important to my language learning than any school ever could be.

Most of my Spanish language skills I have acquired through trial and error, street-learning if you will, rather than classroom based knowledge. However, a mixture of both lessons with a teacher, normally one-to-one, and applications such as Duolingo has helped immensely alongside my practice. With any language though, practice is the key. It’s as easy here as walking down the street. Almost every person you greet will reply to you with a friendly acknowledgement and try to engage you in a happy conversation.

Almost all of my Spanish has been learnt on the street. You cannot learn a new language without practicing it. You can’t practice a new language without liking it. That’s what makes Guatemala so wonderful for language learners. Mexico is difficult to learn Spanish. Mexican Spanish may be one of the most spoken dialects in the world but its not the easiest to understand. Mexican is full of slang. It’s almost all slang, to be honest. My girlfriend is from Mexico City and people here, as well as people from Argentina, Colombia, Spain and just about everywhere else

To be honest, learning any language in the world is easier in bars, but that’s even better. Alcohol loosens your inhibitions and allows you to speak what is on your mind. Drunk people tend to have more patience and don’t get as offended as frequently or by as many things, so what do you have to lose? You can experience all of the amazing culture, nature, and the personalities another country may provide, as well as all other the benefits. And you can do it drunk. Antigua in particular has an amazing culture of partying, whether in a local’s house or in one of the 370 plus bars and restaurants.

Drunks, while they can be annoying in many respects, are very frequently the best for learning a language. Drunks people won’t take the piss or give you nonsense about grammar or other structural integrity. They will respect your cultural differences, and are generally accommodating to whatever bad Spanish you throw at them. It is impossible to deny the friendliness of people who are under the influence of alcohol, and without a doubt, it is usually cheaper to buy a beer or two than to pay for a professional lesson. At five bucks an hour though, you can’t really complain either way.

You could spend your time stuck in your hovel of a town, living in your own country and learning Spanish in some local school, or you could come and visit a beautiful country, experience the amazing culture and learn Spanish at the same time. Why not move to a fantastic country in Central America and drink a few beers?

While many of the people here in Antigua Guatemala start their conversation with you in order to sell something, they will continue even once they realize they aren’t going to persuade you to part with your cash. Guatemalans speak slowly and clearly, and their incredibly friendly attitude. If you plan to learn another language, there are several places for each language that are well known for their schools, and regarding Spanish, Antigua should be your first choice. It’s easy to get the language under control even in such a beautiful place as this.