Main Claire's Itchy Feet logo

Antigua Guatemala Spanish Schools: Taking Spanish Classes in Antigua Guatemala

If you’re considering taking Spanish classes in Antigua Guatemala, this guide to Antigua Guatemala Spanish schools is just what you need! When I decided to visit Latin America, I knew I would need to learn Spanish. I did a lot of research about what language is spoken in Guatemala and chose to attend Guatemala language schools. In this post, you’ll learn about the best language schools Guatemala offers and tips and advice to prepare you for your Spanish immersion Guatemala experience.

Did You Get Travel Insurance Yet?

The Insurance companies I recommend are Hey Mondo and Safety Wing

Hey Mondo is great if you are looking for a great value flexible policy. They offer single-trip cover, annual multi-trip cover, and long-term travel cover. Safety Wing is great value, with monthly coverage starting at $39. It’s super easy to use, and it just renews each month. I currently use them as they offer me free cover for my son as part of my policy.

Read my full travel insurance post here, where I go into detail about all companies. 

What Language is Spoken in Guatemala?

If you’re wondering, “What language do they speak in Guatemala?” I’ve got you covered. Regarding what languages are spoken in Guatemala, Spanish is the most common. Over 20 Mayan languages and two Indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country.

Why Should You Attend Antigua Guatemala Spanish Schools?

There are many things to consider when choosing Spanish classes in Antigua Guatemala. Every Spanish-speaking country speaks the language slightly differently, so where you decide to learn Spanish is very important. If, for example, you plan to travel to Latin America, but you learn Spanish in Spain, you‘ll experience difficulties as the accent is completely different.

As someone who has traveled extensively in Latin America and taken Spanish classes in multiple countries, I can attest Guatemala language schools are a great place to start your Spanish learning journey. In Guatemala, they have a neutral accent, and, most importantly, they speak slowly. 

Quick Tip: Book accommodation, tours, and transport ahead of time online to save money and stress. 
Best Antigua ToursClick here to check out the top Antigua tours
Best Antigua Accommodation: Click here to check out the best accommodation in Antigua
Best Antigua Transport: Click here to book a bus, ferry, or train in Antigua

Why I Recommend Spanish Immersion Guatemala

I researched the best places to learn Spanish in Latin America: Guatemala and Colombia were the top picks. After finding out Guatemala is just underneath Mexico, at the top of Central America, I decided it was the perfect starting point for my travels in Latin America.  

Reasons to Consider Guatemala Language Schools:

  • Guatemalan Spanish is slow—they speak slower than other Spanish-speaking countries like Mexico and Colombia.
  • It’s the cheapest place to learn.
  • It’s close to the top of Central America, making it the perfect place to start your journey.

Top Places for Spanish Immersion Guatemala:

Here are some personal notes and observations to help you decide which Guatemala language schools to attend.

Spanish Schools Antigua

There are many language schools Antigua Guatemala is home to, making it many people’s first choice. Antigua is a stunning city with beautiful architecture and some of the best nightlife in Guatemala.

Learning Spanish in San Pedro Guatemala

Love Salsa?

You’ll find a dance party most nights in Antigua! With this comes many Westerners, which has its positives and negatives. On the plus side, you’ll have a great time. If you’re in a homestay, you will probably be there with a few other English speakers, and you won’t lack people to talk to in English.

The negative side is that you will struggle if you want a complete Spanish immersion Guatemala experience, as it’s easy to default to English. The school I attended, La Savilla, is the oldest in Antigua, and I can’t recommend it enough—my teacher, Lorena, was incredible!

I also returned to attend Spanish schools Antigua in 2019 and wrote more in-depth about my learning experience here.

Quick Tip: View my full Guatemala packing guide here including a downloadable checklist. And check out my Guatemala Essentials shopping list here.

Guatemala Language Schools Xela

Otherwise known as Quetzaltenango, Xela is the second-largest city In Guatemala. I chose not to visit because it didn’t appeal to me. From what I can gather, it’s just a big city, and there aren’t as many reasons for tourists to visit besides the language schools. It is, however, located in the mountains, which is pretty cool!

Why I Chose San Pedro Language Schools Guatemala

I‘ve read a lot that serious learners go to San Pedro. If I was investing in Spanish immersion Guatemala, I wanted to be serious about it. Generally, locals don’t speak English in San Pedro. Spanish is their second language, their first being Tz’utujil. Coupled with the fact that you’ll likely be the only student in your Guatemalan homestay, it’s hard not to speak Spanish outside your lessons. So, if you want to challenge yourself, go to San Pedro.

About San Pedro La Laguna

San Pedro is exceptionally safe. This was important to me as a non-Spanish-speaking solo female traveler. I wanted to study somewhere I felt comfortable and wasn’t too busy so I could feel safe walking around alone at night. There isn’t a lot of crime in San Pedro, especially involving tourists.

Learning Spanish in San Pedro Guatemala
The Cooperative School

Spanish Schools Lake Atitlan

There are many reputable Spanish schools Lake Atitlan offers. Some of the most highly-rated options include the Lake Atitlan Spanish School and San Pedro Spanish School. With hundreds of positive customer reviews, I recommend researching these schools to see which is the best fit for your goals and learning style.

How to Choose Guatemala Language Schools

I try to be a conscious traveler, so I did a lot of research on Antigua Guatemala Spanish schools before booking. Studying at a school that positively impacts the local community was important. When I found the Cooperativa Spanish School, I knew I had found the one! They do a lot of work in the local community and have a beautiful garden where all the lessons are held. They also offer activities outside the classes, a great way to get to know the other students. There are several other local schools with great reviews.

When considering which language school to attend, consider the cost, curriculum, and reputation. Compare the prices of each school and research how Spanish is taught to set yourself up for success. Don’t forget to read student reviews for honest feedback on the school.

Should You Book Spanish Immersion Guatemala Schools in Advance?

It’s not always necessary to book Spanish schools in advance, so I recommend checking out a few before you decide which one to study at. Book your spot beforehand if you plan to visit around Easter or summer. Also, I suggest paying for classes weekly if you decide the school isn’t for you.

I booked classes five hours a day, five days a week for three weeks, which was too much for me, so I stopped my lessons after two weeks. I did get some of my money back, but it would have been much easier to pay as I went. Most people do this since you won’t be tied down if you decide the school or teacher isn’t for you.

You can book San Pedro, Panajachel, San Marcos, Xela, or Antigua Guatemala Spanish schools through GuateGo. Also, check out Heart of Travel’s Spanish Immersion Guatemala Program here.

Guatemalan Homestay Experience

When I first arrived in Guatemala and met my host family, I was given a lovely welcome, and all of my anxiety melted away. To be clear, if you choose a homestay, don’t expect a glamorous experience. You’ll live in the family home, which will likely be very different from your own. My room was pretty large but simple, and the showers weren’t always hot (the longest I went without a hot or lukewarm shower was about four days). The host family provides cleaning and meals—the food, in my opinion, was excellent. 

Learning Spanish in San Pedro Guatemala
The view from my bedroom window in the homestay!

My Guatemalan mum, Anita, looked after me well, and there was nothing I didn’t like. I’m a vegetarian and was pleased they could accommodate my dietary restrictions. I ate three meals with the family Monday to Saturday at set times. On Sundays, Anita took a well-deserved day off, and I enjoyed the local food (read more about that here). A typical menu for the day looked something like this:

Breakfast

Pancakes with bananas and eggs or pureed beans with rice, tortillas, fruit, and toast.

Lunch

Cauliflower cooked in egg with rice and tortillas or salad and beans.

Dinner

Spaghetti with tomato sauce or soup and (yes, you guessed it) tortillas.

If you’re a meat eater, you‘d normally get meat with your lunch. In Guatemala, lunch is the main meal of the day, with dinner being smaller. You will be given tortillas for every meal—sometimes, especially at lunch, I turned them down. They also put a lot of salt in their cooking, so go easy on the added salt.

The host family won’t do your washing for you, but there are many nearby places in town to do it cheaply.

My Spanish Immersion Guatemala Experience

As I said, I left after two weeks, deciding not to do my third and final week. This decision was difficult, but I felt so overwhelmed with the information that I couldn’t take one more week! I needed a break to let my brain catch up and digest all the information I was given. 

This is why reading my Learning Spanish Abroad guide is essential so you don’t make the same mistakes I did. I did too many hours and wasn’t clear about what I needed from the school and my teacher. If I could do it again, I would have done two weeks with 3-hour classes each day with my focus on talking, NOT grammar. I got a lot of grammar, which burnt me out, and the whole thing felt pretty miserable.

That said, I loved the school, and my teacher was lovely—he just wasn’t the right teacher for me. I did learn a lot, and after 50 hours of classes over ten days, I got a pretty great foundation.

Week 1

I spent most of the first week confused and mute, struggling to understand most of the questions the family asked me—I could hardly answer anything. The dad asked me most days what I’d learned that day. After five intense hours, I had no energy to recall anything! So, I usually responded with “mucho” or “mas.” I also spent most of the week repeating “si” while nodding like a fool. The school was quiet, and I hadn’t found any friends because I pretty much went to school and returned home to eat and sleep.

Week 2

By the second week, I could easily follow the family’s conversations. I understood their questions, even though I struggled to find the correct words to answer them. By the end of the week, I could join in conversations and answer questions using my very broken Spanish. I decided to put myself to the test, taking an overnight trip to Pana and the Chichi Market. It helped my confidence to go out and speak to people.

Week 3

It was a tough decision, but I decided to stop classes. Thankfully, I could continue my homestay and practice my Spanish with the family while reviewing my mountains of notes from the previous two weeks. However, I made the most of this time by practicing my Spanish as much as possible.

By the end of the three weeks, I was far from fluent! However, I was able to understand the gist of most conversations and questions, as well as read a fair amount. My talking still needed a lot of practice, but I felt I had a good basic grasp.

If I could advise anyone learning a new language, it’s to get a head start and book an introductory Spanish online course like this one offered by Heart of Travel. It’s a super interactive course you can do in your own time—the best part is it’s centered around travel!

Looking for somewhere to stay? Check out these options!

Hotel Museo Spa Casa Santo Domingo
Meson Panza Verde
Camino Real Antigua

Antigua Travel Guide Planning

🧳 Any recommendations on what I should pack for Antigua?

Yes! I have created a whole packing guide to Antigua which you can read here and you can also check out my packing list for Antigua on Amazon here.

🚗 Where can I book bus or private transportation while I’m in Antigua?

I strongly recommend using GottoGo. You can book almost all transport in the major tourist destinations through them online. They don’t just cover buses they also cover shuttles, ferries, and private drivers.

🎫 Where can I buy tickets for museums, attractions, and tours in Antigua?

I recommend either Viator or GetYour Guide. They have a lot of options!

👩‍⚕️ What is the best insurance to have while traveling?

I recommend using Heymondo for a great value policy. The app also offers you 24/7 Dr Chat. For Digital Nomads check out SafetyWing digital nomad insurance.

I have also written a blog post covering all my recommended travel insurance here

✈️ Any flight recommendations?

WayAWay offers you cheap flights with cashback. You can use this code CLAIRE22 to get 10% off. Otherwise Skyscanner or Expedia are my go-to flight searching platforms.

📱What do you use for internet connection while traveling?

I’m a big fan of personal WiFi devices and they have saved my ass so many times when traveling. I wrote a full review of the top travel WiFi devices you can read here. I personally use GlocalMe as I can either pop in a physical sim card or use their local carrier.

With regards to my phone connection, I use e-sims while traveling, so rather than having to swap out my regular sim card I can download the app and buy a virtual sim card. I recommend using eitherAirhub or Alosim. Both have great coverage of multiple countries and are very easy to use.

🛏️ What is the best platform to use for booking accommodation?

The 3 best platforms that I normally use are Booking.comHotels.com, and Expedia They offer great deals and multiple options. I always check all three to be sure of the best deals.

🛅 Do you have any luggage recommendations for traveling?

I do have a complete list of the best packing and luggage products that I recommend, you can check the list here. I’m currently traveling with this suitcase and this backpack. 

Learning Guatemalan Spanish in San Pedro Lake Atitlan

Antigua Guatemala Spanish Schools: Final Thoughts

I recommend San Pedro and the Cooperativa School for learning Spanish. If you want to know more about San Pedro, I wrote a post about it here. Hopefully, this guide to Guatemala language schools has answered all your questions about what languages are spoken in Guatemala and where to learn Spanish!

The only company I recommend for booking transport, tours, and Spanish classes in Guatemala (other than the individuals and companies I have named) is GuateGo. They are a Guatemala-owned company that has painstakingly brought together all the transport and tour options in one easy-to-use website. You can book travel and Guatemalan tours with them here.