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There is an old saying that the only way to truly learn a language is to speak it. This may sound obvious, but there is wisdom behind the idea. Learning a language is more that memorizing grammar rules, it is actually to become fully immersed in the traditions and the culture of the people who speak such a language as their mother tongue.
There are many things that one cannot grasp until being on the ground, interacting with people and being exposed to real life situations. Spanish is one of the most spoken languages of the world and many want to learn to speak it because they need it in their jobs or as part of their curriculum or simply because speaking such a language opens new frontiers. It is not only about the classes, it is actually traveling that allows one to enter into full contact with people and their customs.
Surviving in a language can be fun when put into the right environment. With summer just a few weeks away students are again pondering which programs and where might serve them best. So we find it relevant to present here ten amazing destinations in Latin America for the purpose of fruitful language study. Besides being beautiful places, with amazing nature and very rich in history they offer a lot of advantages such as a good tradition of Spanish schools, friendly people, a great cultural heritage or they are truly affordable.
Thousands of foreigners arrive each year not only to visit this beautiful colonial town but to spend here weeks or months learning Spanish in one of the many schools with already years of tradition. Antigua is an ideal destination to study the language. Guatemala is affordable and Antigua is an impressive colonial town with unparalleled history, very friendly people and astonishing natural surroundings. Two very good schools there are Antiguena Spanish Academy and Don Pedro de Alvarado Spanish school.
Uruguay is a small country with one of the highest standards of life in Latin America. Montevideo is a small capital where locals know what is good. They value culture, culinary traditions and friendship. Montevideo is a good place to learn Spanish in a relaxed ambiance, knowing that every weekend there are many beautiful destinations to explore from Punta del Este, to the close city of Buenos Aires to the Colonial villages scattered around the country. University ORT offers a special program for college students who have completed six semesters of spanish and now want to perfect their grasp of the language. A good private school is La Herradura that as a plus offers volunteer programs.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
A city with so much to see. Some of the most friendly people, a real cosmopolitan capital, in a country with endless travel opportunities. It does not matter if you speak Spanish or not, but after minutes locals will see you as another porteño (some one from Buenos Aires) chances are that one will go back home not only speaking Spanish but playing soccer in a respectable level and dancing a good tango. Two excellent programs in Buenos Aires are run by COINED (Comision de intercambio educativo) and ILEE (Instituto de lengua Espanola para extranjeros).
Get ready for high altitude. This is a big city located in the heart of the Andes. A beautiful colonial pearl. It is not far from Macchu Picchu and many other Inca Ruins. Cuzco is witness to an impressive colonial past, and this is seen in its buildings and traditions. It is not hard to find in Cuzco excellent Spanish schools and certainly one will want to spend months here to explore all the richness of this ancient city. Proyecto Peru offers affordable Spanish courses along with volunteer opportunities, Enforex is another Spanish school offering very attractive programs in Cuzco.
Many Americans go to Mexico to learn Spanish. Since Mexicans are the majority of Spanish speaking immigrants to the USA it makes sense to try to learn their culture and traditions as well. Puebla is an impressive colonial city in a relatively safe environment with a strong tradition of Spanish language schools. Puebla is one of the most visited cities because of its impressive colonial patrimony and because it is located close to Mexico City. Two of the best Spanish programs are run by the Spanish Institute of Puebla (located in the historic center) and Livit Immersion Center.
Chile is a beautiful country. Santiago is a capital that offers tremendous diversity. One can go from the beach to ski in the mountains in 40 minutes. Summer in the Northern hemisphere brings the opportunity to practice winter sports in Chile. There are good Spanish schools in Santiago and many others in Valparaiso. Chile may not be the most affordable destination in Latin America but it is certainly one that delivers amazing experiences to the visitor. Coined and Escuela Bellavista offer some of the most recommended Spanish immersion programs in Santiago.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
An idyllic Caribbean destination. An easy move for Americans who do not have to even cross border controls to arrive to this island paradise. There are many great schools of Spanish in a city with incredible history, excellent tourist infrastructure, great local traditions and infinite options for enjoyment. The Uniersity of Puerto Rico offers winter and summer programs open to all (minimum age 16), Isla is a well known private program.
A city that has undergone an amazing change, it is now one of the most beautiful metropolis of the Americas. Locals are charming and the city is really beautiful. More and more international visitors arrive here every year to learn Spanish in a very nice setting. Colombia is an affordable destination and Medellin itself is surrounded by many beautiful towns and villages where one is able to interact with the real local customs and I can assure you will not find there many people who speak English, so Spanish will be the only way to go. EAFIT is a very prestigious private university that offers excellent programs, another well recommended private school is Medellin Language Academy.
A beautiful tropical paradise. It seems everybody wants to go to Costa Rica but it is not only for vacation, but to study Spanish. It is a safe place, with very friendly people always ready to interact. Costa Ricans are patient and always willing to start a conversation with visitors. There are many Spanish schools especially in the area of Heredia and La Fortuna de San Carlos. Academia Tica is located in Coronado (close to San Jose) it is an internationally accredited institution with years of experience, there are as well excellent Spanish programs by the University of Costa Rica.