Thinking about going to Spanish language school as a family? With more and more parents looking to travel with kids, from worldschooling to families looking for more adventure than theme parks can provide, language school is super popular for good reason. It's a great way to learn and explore another place and culture. We got into language school because we love traveling as a family, but we wanted to go beyond the fun of beach vacations and find some purpose and adventure! Here are my top four reasons why you should take your kids to language school in Guatemala plus our family’s school recommendation.
1. Learning Spanish with your kids
Any level of fluency and comprehension of Spanish is an invaluable skill in life and on adventures. When you stick to resorts and tourist destinations, it's easy to get by with little to no Spanish–but the deeper you want to travel and the more you want to connect with the people you meet, the more you need to learn the language. And the more you know Spanish, the more you find opportunities to speak it at home, in your community, and at work.
Years ago on the beaches of Mexico, our daughter would make friends with just an hola and some squeals. Now she asks kids if they want to be friends, what they would like to play, says vamonos. She doesn't feel discouraged by a language barrier, and so not only does she learn from her awesome Spanish teacher, she learns from kids in the centro.
And she's not the only one: we are all learning and sharing together. We each have an individual teacher, and we are each working on a different growth edge. Chris has been studying Spanish and traveling in Latin America for decades; I took Spanish in college but never really turned it on through practice–but we are all students together, and that's a cool thing for a kid!
2. Exploring an awesome country: Guatemala!
Guatemala is popular for Spanish language school because rumor has it that Spanish in Guatemala is spoken more slowly there and it is easier for beginners to comprehend and practice with locals than many other countries. Who knows if that is exactly true! However, we can say that Guatemala is a fun and vibrant place to explore as a family while you're learning Spanish.
Chris first visited Guatemala twenty years ago–and had been talking about family language school and Lake Atitlán for years. He was excited to show us what makes Guatemala special: the volcanoes, the lake, the boats, the markets! While travelers who prioritize sterility and predictability might find Guatemala to be stressful, it is an absolute must visit for families looking for authentic adventure.
3. Cultural immersion
We want to explore outside of the resort bubble in Latin America so that we can experience local culture. When we go to Spanish language school in Guatemala, we stay in San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlán. Our teachers speak English and Spanish as well as Tzʼutujil Mayan. Tzʼutujil is one of 22 Mayan languages spoken in Guatemala. Along with language, artisan specialties and traditional dress differ in these Mayan groups. Along with smartphones and WhatsApp, you will see traditional Mayan dress and Catholic pageantry. We have so much fun getting around without cars--once we are in San Pedro, it's just boat rides to other towns on the lake, tuktuks, and a lot of walking.
The school offers students Mayan culture, cooking, traditional dance, and more tours and experiences--along with hospitable homestays so you can live and eat like a local.
Typically we will have four hours of 1:1 class, meeting up for a walk with our teachers to buy mangos or ice cream for a little break. Or we will take a field trip with our teachers to ride horses or shop for nail polish or take a lancha for an adventure in another town. We are immersed in the culture through friendships and real life connections.
4. Affordable experience with meaningful impact
Traveling to Guatemala, having fun adventures with our family and going to school together is super affordable. We have been finding great deals to Guatemala City on Frontier. Lodging ranges from around $20 per night for homestays (meals included) to $50 for a two bedroom Airbnb. School tuition starts at $120 per week for one student at San Pedro Spanish School.
There are a lot of Spanish language schools in Guatemala and around Lake Atitlán! We recommend San Pedro Spanish School, the director, the teachers, the gorgeous lakeside classrooms, and the support that they give for our family. They will connect you with transportation from La Aurora, coordinate activities and ways to connect with local kids and hikes and just help you have an awesome time. Your tuition at San Pedro Spanish school contributes to Ninos del Lago, an educational program for local kids at the school campus.
Wherever you go, family Spanish language school is awesome! It's great to learn Spanish alongside and with your kids, explore another country and culture. A language adventure in Guatemala is an affordable way to have an unforgettable experience.