Still, it’s a much larger city than any other in Guatemala, save the capital, and affords an opportunity for the foreign population to more easily blend into their surroundings, providing an adequate Spanish-language immersion experience.
Schools in Xela were charging between $135 and $180 per week for 25 hours of instruction and room and board with a local host family.
Xela also tends to attract a rather humane crowd and so there are plenty of operations that allow you to combine your language instruction with some time working with charitable organizations. The following schools are recommended for their consistently good marks on student evaluations. If you’re a college student, you may be able to get college credit with several of these language schools.
Ultimately, you’ll have to check the schools out to see which one works best for you. This is just one of the many things to consider when visiting potential schools. Rates go up between June and August, when college students come down in droves. Useful websites for checking out schools include www.123teachme.com and www.guatemala365.com.
Proyecto Lingüistico Quetzalteco de Español (5a Calle 2-40 Zona 1, tel. 7763-1061, www.hermandad.com) is an extremely popular school often booked months in advance. Students have the opportunity to volunteer with the school’s Luis Cardoza y Aragon Popular Culture Center, next door, providing art, music, and computer skill instruction to underprivileged local children. There are also opportunities to work in reforestation projects and meet with human rights workers, former guerrilla combatants and union leaders.
Celas Maya (tel. 7761-4342, www.celasmaya.edu.gt) is another fairly popular school and is set around a pleasant garden courtyard. There’s an adjacent Internet café.
Run by a cooperative of experienced teachers who are very active in social projects, Centro de Estudios de Español Pop Wuj (1a Calle 17-72 Zona 1, tel. 7761-8286, www.pop-wuj.org) is another highly recommended school.
Escuela de Español Sakribal (6a Calle 7-42 Zona 1, tel. 7763-0717, www.sakribal.com), a school founded and run by women, has a project benefiting civil war widows and orphans.
Inepas (15 Avenida 4-59 Zona 1, tel. 7765-1308, www.inepas.org) combines quality language instruction with a widely recognized service-learning program.
In business for more than 30 years, Escuela de Español ICA (19 Avenida 1-47 Zona 1, tel. 7763-1871, www.guatemalaspanish.com) runs social welfare projects that include a medical clinic, adult literacy education, and reforestation.
Juan Sisay Spanish School (15 Avenida 8-38 Zona 1, tel. 7765-1318 or 7761-1586, www.juansisay.com) is named after a self-taught indigenous primitivista painter who was massacred in his home village on the shores of Lake Atitlán in 1989. It’s run by a teachers’ collective involved in numerous social projects.
Ulew Tinimit (7a Avenida 3-18 Zona 1, tel. 7761-6242, www.spanishguatemala.org) is a good setup, allowing plenty of one-on-one instruction time with your individual teacher.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com