Looking for advice about Spanish immersion programs (and more) while in Oaxaca, Mexico
May 19, 2008 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Traveling to Oaxaca with a friend for a 2-4 week Spanish immersion program this June/July. We are looking for some advice about Spanish language programs, homestays/lodging, and transportation. We are having a very difficult time finding a good learning program—there are so many to choose from and we don't quite know what to look for and how to determine which ones are good.

We are both in our 30's, female, both semi-fluent in French (if that helps us any), but looking for an intensive Spanish immersion program in Oaxaca. We want to learn as much of the language and about the culture as we can during our short stay.

Have you had experience with programs in Oaxaca (state or city)? Did you do a homestay? What do you recommend? What should we know?

Also, any information about transportation and/or beginning/intermediate surfing in the area would be much appreciated!
posted by iamkimiam to Travel & Transportation around Oaxaca, Mexico (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I've been checking into this myself for a big trip in a couple years. I received a recommendation from a friend for Instituto Cultural Oaxaca. I've been told it's very good - they have quite a few programs of different lengths (including 4 week courses), language, cooking, pottery and also have different packages for lodging/homestays. I can't vouch for it personally - but it does look like it might be what you're after.
posted by Craig at 3:19 PM on May 19, 2008

there are a few posts in the lonely planet thorn tree forum on this topic that you may want to look at
posted by canoehead at 5:23 PM on May 19, 2008

Well, I haven't studied Spanish in Oaxaca, but I did the whole Spanish school thing in Guatemala and Nicaragua, so this might be helpful:

In general, it really seems like the best thing to do is just go down and spend a day touring schools. There's such a glut of Spanish schools in South American colonial towns that you can usually start the next day. The schools all sound so similar on the surface that unless you can get a solid recommendation from a friend, this is probably your best bet.

If you're unwilling to chance it, then www.123teachme.com has a good Spanish school directory. You can also check out the message boards, blogs and travelers' articles on Bootsnall.com, a great source of travel info. Be aware that schools often will charge more to book ahead. Also, by booking ahead you will leave yourself in the position of not being able to switch schools halfway through if you don't like your school.

Some good things to find out:

- Are the teachers full-time or contract? Obviously, a place with full-time teachers will be better.
- How much experience do their teachers have?
- What kinds of "extracurricular" activities do they offer?
- How long have they been in operation?
- Do they have any community ties (ie, do they donate a portion of their profits to a local charity? Are they involved in any community projects?)? What is the school's philosophy? IME, schools with some sort of sense of social repsonsibility tend to be better-run schools (less likely to be fly-by-night gringo-squeezing operations) and have better opportunities for getting into the community, which is the best way to learn.
- What kinds of requirements do they have for host families? Also, find out if you can get a guarantee of a host family where you and your friend will be the only students - or better yet, split up and see if you can each be the only student in your house.

Hope this helps!
posted by lunasol at 6:15 PM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Oh, and: I would definitely recommend a homestay. It's the way to go - otherwise you'll stay in some hostel or cheap hotel and spend all your free time talking with backpackers. By far, the homestays I did when studying Spanish were highlights of my trip.

But definitely feel empowered to ask for a switch if your homestay family just acts like you're a hotel guest and won't give you the opportunity to speak Spanish.
posted by lunasol at 6:46 PM on May 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

As a comrade of Brad Will who was murdered in Oaxaca by a government posse, I'd ask you to acknowledge the recent struggles: friendsofbradwill.org.
posted by history is a weapon at 9:50 AM on May 20, 2008

SACHMO-Centro de Arte is an bilingual art center in Oaxaca run by an American woman and her Mexican Husband. They are wonderful people and offer great classes. I know that you didn't specify art as an interest but I believe they are associated with some of the language programs and offer services like planning tours and cultural walks, etc.
posted by KTrujillo at 12:36 AM on May 29, 2008

Response by poster: Well, I'm back from my trip and my friend and I decided to go with Solexico. It was perfect! Small classes, beautiful place, and personalized instruction. It was also VERY affordable. They arranged for a homestay as well–which will go down as one of my happiest life experiences. They were truly wonderful! The whole experience was fabulous. Solexico also arranged many activities, some free, some not. They had excursions during class (local markets and museums), afterwards (cooking, yoga, salsa), as well as weekend trips to places like Monte Albán, El Tule, and fabricas for mezcal, barro negro (black pottery), alebrijes (hand-carved and painted figurines, and lots of other sites!

Just wanted to share because I would HIGHLY recommend Solexico, visiting Oaxaca (the cuisine capital of Mexico), and doing a homestay! Happy travels!
posted by iamkimiam at 11:49 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

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