Spanish with Mother

Victoria Charles and her daughter, Valentina, revel in the Guatemalan Spanish immersion experience

Beautiful, más bonita Antigua! Its name describes this historic colonial city, but it is much more than just beautiful. Founded in 1543, Antigua is known not only for its coffee all over the world but also for its Spanish schools.

The U.S. is the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world. Surprised? So why learn Spanish in another country? Learning Spanish in a foreign country is an easy, fun and effective way to immerse yourself in learning the Spanish language.

Choosing a Spanish speaking country to learn Spanish can be just as exciting and adventurous and sometimes confusing. We chose as a language learning destination Guatemala for its beauty, culture, history and reputation as a great place to learn Spanish.

Antigua is a historic, colonial city nestled below the magnificent volcanoes Agua, Fuego,and Acatenango. In 1979, UNESCO declared Antigua a world heritage site. It is a tranquil town built around the Parque Central — a great gathering place for visitors and locals. I spent many hours relaxing on the benches practicing my Spanish with the friendly locals trying to sell their handicrafts. I learned quickly to say “no gracias” or “no compro, hoy.”

My seven-year-old daughter and I travelled to Guatemala for fun, adventure and to learn Spanish. The Christian Spanish Academy (CSA) in Antigua was our first choice among the 80 or so Spanish schools in the country. CSA is a professional institution devoted to teaching Spanish as a second language. It is known as a “five star Spanish school.” The school offers one-on-one tailored programs which are flexible and adapted to specific needs.

The school was originally created to help missionaries with language needs but it diversified as people with a variety of backgrounds and professions began to learn about the excellent programs on offer, and its aim now is to teach Spanish regardless of religion.
What stands out at CSA re the native Spanish-speaking teachers. They are professionally trained not only in Spanish as a second language but also trained in the different programs offered by the school.

Open space, interior gardens and natural light provide the perfect environment for learning.

I enrolled my seven-year-old daughter in the children’s program, a one-on-one learning experience for four hours per day. Her teacher, Liza, was well trained for teaching kids. Not only did my daughter learn Spanish quickly through drawing, writing, painting and games, she had so much fun that she wanted to go all day. “I like this more than regular school,” she would tell me everyday.

A part of the Spanish learning program is the option to live with a Guatemalan family. We chose to live with a family and CSA accommodated my request to live with a family with kids, which was a great compliment to the learning experience. The families are required to comply with CSA standards and the homes are only a few minutes from the school. Our host family, the Castellans, were absolutely wonderful. My daughter and the Spanish speaking boy of her age in the house would play games and build forts. My daughter’s Spanish skills improved while having so much fun. Three delicious meals were provided, in addition to a clean private room and bath — all for a very reasonable price.

Apart from the one-one learning is the option to take advantage of modern technology. By connecting to the school via Internet you can continue practicing and learning once you leave Guatemala through CSA’s professional E-learning program
For those looking to learn Spanish in a foreign country and have fun, a great cultural experience, with the option to continue learning via Skype in your home country, I highly recommend Christian Spanish Academy (CSA) in Antigua, Guatemala.

Victoria Charles is a sustainability consultant and environmental educator for Sustainable Works.