Learning Spanish in Guatemala

by | May 28, 2017

Do you want to learn Spanish while backpacking Central America? I highly recommend stopping for a few weeks in Guatemala to do formal lessons and stay with a local family. Why?

  1. It’s dirt cheap!
  2. You can immerse yourself in the language.
  3. If you’re traveling north to south in Central America then Guatemala is somewhat near the start of your trip – giving you lots of time to put it into practice.
  4. They speak clearly and slowly in Guatemala, with very little slang.

There are two main places people tend to learn Spanish in Guatemala: San Pedro or Antigua. See my Guatemala page to find out more about both locations.


I did Spanish lessons in Antigua. Here’s a quick overview:

Company: Antiguena Spanish Academy

Lessons: Each week I had 20 hours of one-on-one Spanish lessons (4 hours a day, 5 days a week.) My teacher, Mary, spoke a tiny bit of English but tried to restrain from using it during lessons to encourage me to speak Spanish. When I began my lessons I didn’t speak a word of Spanish, but within two weeks I had the conversational basics, as well as an understanding of simple present tense grammar. Most lessons were at a desk – sometimes in a room at the company’s office, sometimes outdoors at their garden location. On occasion we also ventured out to the shops together. She even took me to a pharmacy when I got sick to try to help communicate with the pharmacist!

Accommodation: The company offers accommodation with a local family, and I can’t recommend it enough! Staying with a local family is going to infinitely improve your Spanish, particularly as most of the families will not speak a word of English. In most cases, a family will host more than one student – giving you opportunities to make friends and maybe even give your brain a break from the Spanish every now and then. The house I stayed in was spacious, clean and even had a little rooftop with a view of the volcanoes. The family were very friendly and happily catered to my dietary needs. There are also options for private accommodation or you can organise your accommodation for yourself.

Cost: About US$120 p/week, including all lessons, food and accomodation. Bargain! Prices will vary based on the type of accomodation, the length of your lessons and whether you chose to do your lessons in the morning or afternoon.

Living in Antigua: There’s plenty to keep you entertained in Antigua, including hikes, markets, a chocolate museum, bars, cafes, restaurants…etc. All the buses around Guatemala go to and from Antigua, making it really easy to do weekend trips wherever you like. However, because Antigua is at high altitude it can get cold and rainy in the winter. Check the weather before you go!