Where's the best place to learn a foreign language?
August 12, 2012 7:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to quit my job and spend 6 months living in another country learning a language. I'm looking for your personal experience with excellent schools. Where should I go?

My benchmark here is CEPE UNAM, which is a part of the National University of Mexico. A good friend told me it offers well-taught classes, it's relatively cheap, and it's got a good community - expat and otherwise. This is what I'm looking for in a school, but I'd like to see what else is out there.
posted by boghead to Education (6 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
So I'm heading back to Guatemala in a week to spend another month in an immersion program there. ~$150 nets you 5h/day one-on-one instruction, homestay, and 3 meals a day. Guatemalan. In addition to being the most cost-effective game in town, Guatemalan Spanish is spoken more slowly and clearly compared to other dialects (I'm lookin' at you, Puerto Rico). Last year, I was in Quetzaltenango (aka Xela) and had a delightful time going from no language experience to a pretty impressive intermediate. The going metric is that every week in immersion is worth about a semester of lecture-based college course. Obviously, personal experience biases me towards Guatemala, but I also hear good things about similar immersion programs in Ecuador and Nicaragua. More than happy to answer specific questions via MeMail; just drop me a line.

Good luck!
posted by The White Hat at 8:26 PM on August 12, 2012

I went to Uniter in Cuernavaca and loved it. The students range from college students, to businesspeople, to NGO workers, to United Nations staff and an ambassador and his wife from the US, Canada, New Zealand and Europe. On the Saturday before the classes start, you're interviewed and the staff places you in small groups and on a track of people at your level. In addition to small group with an instructor in the morning to larger classes in the afternoon focussing on vocab and grammar, there's also lectures in Mexican history, archeology, government, etc as well as business or medical Spanish. I lived with a Mexican family in a private room w/bath a few blocks from the school and included meals. On weekends the school arranged excursions to places like Teotihuacan, museums in Mexico City and a trip to Taxco. Being about an hour south of Mexico City made it super convenient to get to and from. I learned more in four weeks there than I did in four years in classrooms. And most of it stuck.

There's a lot of immersion schools in Cuernavaca and so the town is full of people from all over the world (skewing heavily toward US and Canada considering the proximity). I keep wanting to go back for a refresher and to learn new tenses but I haven't had the combination of the time and money to do so.
posted by birdherder at 8:51 PM on August 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

What birdherder said. I did 5 weeks at Uniter and learned more than I did in 3 years of college Spanish. I have little doubt you'd be very conversationally fluent in 6 months.
posted by bswinburn at 9:43 PM on August 12, 2012

Regina Coeli in the Netherlands.
posted by neushoorn at 12:41 AM on August 13, 2012

You don't actually specify what language you want to learn....? I assume Spanish, but you might want to clarify!
posted by ryanbryan at 4:42 AM on August 13, 2012

Response by poster: To clarify: I'm open to any language in any place on the planet.
posted by boghead at 7:09 AM on August 13, 2012

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