First stop in Latin America- Learn Spanish in Mexico City
Learning Spanish? – doesn’t everyone speak English?
If you want to have a different experience it think you should!
Hello, my name is Ricardo, and I am a Spanish teacher and I created this post to share my experiences with foreigners living in Mexico and learning Spanish.
Over the years I´ve had several students from different nationalities, I always liked to learn languages and meet different people.
I traveled a couple of times in the south of Mexico, especially in Oaxaca and Quintana Roo, during these trips I met many travelers from different countries, what I liked about them was that they were always trying to say a few words in Spanish, and I think it was very cute and funny listen to a foreigner doing its best to connect with local people.
Now I´ve been living in Mexico City for almost 10 years, and during 3 years I´ve been teaching Spanish to foreigners.
I think what attracts foreigners to learn my mother tongue is that Spanish is a rich and beautiful language with sounds pleasant to your ears. Like other Latin languages, Spanish is as pleasant to talk and to listen.
Another reason to learn Spanish is that you can change your personality, for example when I speak French I feel that I am smart, elegant and sophisticated.
How do you feel when speaking Spanish?
I suppose Spanish sounds intense and emotional.
My students have different reasons to come to Mexico, I will list some of them:
- They want to go out of their comfort zone
- They want to live new experiences
- Meet new people
- Experience a different culture
- Find love and romantic experiences
- Immerse into the language
- Enjoy the weather and save money
- Eat tacos and taste new flavors
What are your reasons to learn Spanish?
I really like teaching to foreigners because all of these things listed above, so this year I decided to create my website and find more students that want to experience life in Mexico through the language.
We are a small size and warm Spanish School in Mexico City with a family-run atmosphere.
I´ve been teacher in other schools around the city but I was disappointed because of their impersonal attention, I felt bad for the students because they will only lose their money.
So I realized that I could offer a friendly, welcoming environment and highly personalized attention of a small school.
I like to see my beginner students starting to speak Spanish, sometimes we go out to the local market to negotiate prices and learn new vocabulary and expresions.
Also they can buy bus tickets or ask for other information. With Spanish in Mexico you can open doors, as people are usually open-minded, curious and not racist towards foreigners.
Also I created a Spanish Conversation Club for all foreigners learning Spanish in Mexico City, I organize it every week and it´s published on Meetup website, so if you are in Mexico and want to have a conversation come it is free!
The main goal is just to practice conversation in a fun and relaxed way.
How I teach and what strategies you can use
My aim is to use the language as quickly as possible with a real approach.
I focus in conversation, we have results because we have small groups
- We do presentations of different topics
- We emulate conversations
- We learn to describe situations
- We create stories
- We read novels and listen to them
- We write letters
What are the advantages of learning Spanish when traveling in Latin America?
I am convinced that learning Spanish for your travel to South America will pay off.
Many travelers with whom I spoke, were already traveling in Asia, and they told me that is impossible to prepare for the different languages.
In South America, however, that is different. Spanish is spoken almost everywhere. So it really makes sense to prepare for the trip to South America with Spanish.
Why choose Mexico as a first destination to learn Spanish?
If you plan a multi-month backpacker trip through Central or South America, then I recommend you to choose Mexico as a first location. Here are my thoughts:
Mexico has been a popular tourist destination for several years. Especially the Yucatan peninsula in the east, that has attracted visitors from all over the world. With Caribbean dream beaches and the enormous Chichen Itza Mayan Temple. But Mexico is much more. You will read in this article what the Latin American country has to offer you.
1. Food: the Mexican elixir of life
Do you like to cook? Do you like Spanish? Why not do both?
Tacos, burritos and tequila. Not for nothing Mexican cuisine was chosen by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Do you recognize names like Mole, Ceviche, Quesadillas or Tamales?
From the street stands to the award-winning kitchens: Mexican food is a mixture of traditional methods of prehispanic cultures such as Mayas and Aztecs and Spanish cuisine.
While in Mexico you can look for a Spanish Language School that offers lessons for cooking typical Mexican dishes! What a better way to immerse into the language and discover the secrets of the most famous recipes of Mexico!
2. The Popocatepetl & other volcanoes
Do you like hiking? What a better way to learn Spanish while doing one or your favorites activities?
In the center of Mexico is located the Popocatepetl volcano that means something like «strong smoking mountain». Due to its activity, however, its «twin sister» Iztaccíhuatl is more suitable for hiking, as this volcano is not active anymore. From the slopes of the neighboring volcano you can enjoy wonderful views of the smoking Popocatepetl. In addition to the two twin volcanoes, numerous other volcanoes characterize the landscape of Mexico.
So if you want to practice Spanish I recommend you to take a tour with locals or ask if your Spanish Language School organize a trip to the volcanoes!
3. Pyramids: Mayan & Aztec architectural arts
As already mentioned, the Mayan pyramid Chichen Itza in the north of the Yucatan peninsula is probably the largest and most famous pyramid in Mexico.
In addition, there are many other Mayan sites, just as impressive, but often less crowded. Like the jungle-covered Palenque, where you climb the pyramids while listening to the sound of the monkeys in the trees.
Another impressive Mayan city named Calakmul, these ruins represent one of the last discoveries of the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Ask your Spanish Language School if there are organized trips to Archeological sites!
Archeology meets aesthetics in Tulum, where the Mayan ruins perch directly on the palm-fringed Caribbean beach.
As unspeakable as the name, so magically the feeling when walking through the extensive grounds.
4. Cenotes: mystical freshwater caves
Unreal, magical, beautiful. This is how the legendary freshwater caves on the Yucatan Peninsula can be described in a few words. The cenotes invite you to dive, snorkel and cool down in the often muggy heat of eastern Mexico.
Take a tour, go alone or ask your Spanish Language School if there are organized trips to these beautiful sites.
So now that you know some wonderful places in Mexico and activities to do for improving your Spanish, I want to talk about some advises for learning Spanish before going to Mexico and while being there.
Of course it is possible to find the Spanish Language School independently on the web. But you should keep in mind that not all schools are equally flexible and you may have to look for the one that better suits you.
Also you have to be aware if the Spanish Language School is really good for you. Some Schools can be contacted before your arrival to Mexico, so I recommend you to contact them via Skype and have a talk with them, so this way you will see if special attention is offered.
Spanish Language Schools offer a variety of courses from one-to-one lessons to group courses. Ambitious students can also take the DELE exam course. And if the language is not enough, you will find interesting combination with cooking or dancing classes.
How long do you need to learn Spanish?
The minimum course length is two weeks and can be extended as desired. How long it takes you to reach your learning goal depends on your motivation, your previous knowledge and probably also your talent.
Why attending a Spanish Language School pays off?
However, a language course not only helps you to communicate while traveling but also has a number of other benefits:
A language certificate looks good in your CV – at least much better than a backpacker trip of several months.
The importance of Spanish in the business world is not as big as that of English. Nevertheless, an additional qualification helps you to find a job.
Language is the key to culture. When you understand the logic of a language, you often realize why people in another culture are the way they are.
Many travelers visit a language school (mostly in Mexico or Guatemala) before their big trip to Latin America. If you are traveling alone, a Spanish language school is a good place to find a travel companion.
In general, attending a Spanish language schools will pay off because you will find a guide that will help you in your journey to learn the language.