For quite some time, I have wanted to do an immersive Spanish learning experience in a Spanish-speaking country. Initially, I was unsure whether to go for something in Spain or in a Latin American country. After a long time pondering, I narrowed it down to Latin America. From there I asked around and got many opinions from a variety of people. Ultimately I settled on Mexico as my choice for my language learning and immersion experience. After spending countless weeks and hours researching locations, dates, prices, and value I ultimately settled on Spanish In The City. What I initially liked about this school was the ease of enrollment and the flexibility. Group classes start up every Monday year-round and you can enroll in as many or as few weeks as you like.
What is nice about this school is that you are not sitting in a classroom all day, instead, you are out and about around the city with each class in a different location every day. In the morning class starts at 9 am and you meet up with your teacher and classmates at a local cafe, after 2 hours of studying and having your lesson in the cafe you go for a walk with the group to a local park, library, museum, or other cultural destination. During the walk, you have the chance to spend time casually chatting with your teachers and other students in Spanish to practice what you know and improve your conversational skills. Soon you arrive at the next destination and then the 2nd half of the day’s lesson continues.
I love that the teachers keep the lessons fun and interesting with games and different ways of learning that go beyond typical teaching methods. During my time with Spanish In The City, I have experienced working with 3 different teachers, Alex and Yazmin for my group classes, and Omar for my private classes. They each bring a different charm and experience to their teaching and have a unique way of helping you understand each topic and concept.
Alex was really great at using analogy and symbolism to explain concepts so that you understand the reasoning behind them and helping you to go beyond your comfort zone in using the language.
Yaz was really great at providing fun, engaging, and creative ways to break down different topics.
Omar was great at not only explaining the technicalities and grammar of different Spanish topics but also the mindset, cultural influence, and impact behind the language.
The teacher that you are assigned to will vary depending on your Spanish level and the student and teacher distribution at your time of enrollment. Prior to enrollment, you are given an exam so that you are placed in the appropriate class level for your experience and with students who are of a similar level as you. When I started I tested into the A1 level which is a very basic beginner level.
In the few weeks that I have been taking classes at the school and living in Mexico, I have felt and experienced my Spanish improving drastically.
Some highlights that I am really proud of:
Feeling more confident when going out to eat and ordering food. For example the other day a waiter asked me if English was better for me. (Side note You may be asked this a lot because there are many people who do speak English here in Mexico City) At the beginning of my month here, I didn’t feel fully confident and comfortable enough in my Spanish and would often default to English in these situations. However more and more I have been feeling better at having these interactions in Spanish and even confidently insisting that the waiter speak Spanish with me even if they do happen to speak English.
Better understanding of what is being said in the yoga classes that I have been taking which are taught 100% in Spanish. Despite having 15 years of experience practicing yoga and a YTT, I felt like a completely new student when I took my first yoga class in Spanish. Now I am able to understand so much more of what is being verbalized in the class.
Being able to converse with salespeople and negotiate pricing for products during a recent trip to the mall.
Being able to successfully express issues that I had with my Mexican cell phone to a store rep and understand their response in order to have the issue resolved.
Being able to express my day, feelings, plans, and experiences in Spanish.
Things I still need to work on.
Expansion of my vocabulary: Many times I still get lost in the right word to say in a specific situation.
Listening and understanding faster-paced speech and blended vocalization of words.
Translating everything back and forth between Spanish and English in my head as I am processing it.
During my time with the school there were several changes of teachers. The nature of the program is one where students are starting and finishing at different weeks depending on when and for how long they enroll. and the roster of available teachers have to be distributed amongst the students based on varying level and skill set. In some cases changing teachers can throw off the equilibrium and flow of the learning process, especially if you feel connected with and are learning well with a particular teacher. In other instances the change can be beneficial. In one instance I did request to change to a different group as I felt the pace of the class was a bit too fast for me and they were able to accommodate me with a group that fit my needs better. To make for the best experience at this school, its best to have flexibility, openness, and patience but also not be afraid to express your needs as a student in a respectful way.
Spanish Class Pricing
The price per week that I paid was $140 USD and for this price, I was able to spend 4 hours a day in small group classes. By enrolling for a full month you also get a small discount that makes the total price for the group classes $540 for 4 weeks. In addition to this, I also opted to add on a package of 20 private classes for $320 which allowed me to take an hour-long private lesson after my group classes were finished.
Overall I paid $860 for the month of Spanish classes which broke down to $540 for group classes + $320 for private lessons. *Note - The additional private classes are optional but I highly recommend them.
The payment process was very easy with multiple payment options which included Paypal, Credit Card, Debit Card, or Cash.
The school does not offer or arrange accommodations so that is something that you have to set up on your own. For accommodations, I stayed at a local Airbnb and paid approximately $750 USD for a month. This was with living in 2 different areas of the city for 2 weeks each because I wanted to have different experiences and change things up. The areas that I stayed in “Roma Norte” during the 1st 2 weeks and “La Condesa” during the 2nd 2 weeks were also conveniently located close to where all of my classes took place each day at the different Cafes and locations. It would usually take me anywhere between a 10-minute walk or a 30 - 45 min bus/train ride to get to class depending on where in the city it was being held that day.
My Daily Routine
With class starting at 9 am and ending at 2 pm (1 pm if you are not taking private lessons) there was always plenty of time in the day after class to explore the city or work on other projects. I would usually spend my afternoons sitting out at a cafe or restaurant with my laptop or walking around the city which gave me plenty of opportunity to immerse myself in the language.
Additional experiences while in Mexico City
Enrolled at a yoga school for the month and attended yoga classes 4 - 5 times per week which were fully taught in Spanish.
Took a few Salsa and Bachata classes fully taught in Spanish and attended dance socials and events.
Attended church services - this was in English (I’m planning to try out a service in Spanish soon) but it was a great way to meet people and feel connected with others especially when traveling to a foreign country alone. There were many opportunities for chatting with others after Church or having a meal together.
What’s Next For Me
Right now I am contemplating either spending another month at the school or changing things up by traveling to another Latin American country and taking lessons there. I am curious to learn the nuances of how the language changes from one region or country to another but I can also see a lot of benefit in staying within the same flow and consistency. I am also interested in taking a Spanish course geared towards teaching yoga as I would love to teach Spanish/Bilingual yoga classes in Latin America and also host a yoga retreat.
Additional Takeaways and Musings
One question that I often found I was asking myself in the beginning was, “How do I know, that I am understanding or correctly interpreting what I am hearing without having to translate it to English?” I even had a bit of an existential crisis for a moment, asking myself, “How do I even know, that I know English?” and pondering the entire idea of language, speech, and communication. I haven’t quite figured this out yet but one thing that have discovered is that learning a new language goes much deeper than just learning the literal translation of words being spoken or written. It is important to also learn the intention behind the words and what they mean and feel to the local people and culture.
I’ve also realized that learning a new language does something to your mind. I’m not quite sure how to describe it but it feels a lot like meditation. Do you know that feeling of oneness you have when you are in the meditative zone? Everything around you is still and silent and you are in a zen experience. If you attach too deeply to the experience or consciously think about it you lose it? I felt something similar during this experience of learning Spanish and situations where I would understand what someone was saying instinctively even if I did not know the exact English translation of the words being spoken. But just like meditation, I would lose it if I tried too hard to focus, think, and translate everything perfectly. This has shown me that for language learning it is important to have a good balance between mind and heart. Study the grammar, technicalities, and nuances so that you have a conscious knowledge of the language, but also practice connecting with the energy and emotion of the words being spoken in different contexts so that you can connect subconsciously with the language. I believe that when you develop a balance of these 2 dichotomies, you truly know, understand, and have mastered a language. As for me, I am far from this but with my time at Spanish in the City, I feel inspired to strive for a deeper knowledge of Spanish.
Estudiantes y Maestros en Frente de Fuente de los Cántaros en Parque Mexico