Guatemala: Spanish Language Intensive (Summer)

Video and Photos

About

At dawn a howler monkey cries from the branch of a giant ceiba tree. In the Cuchumatanes Mountains, a young woman rises to grind corn on a stone petate. Along Avenida Reforma, street-children juggle oranges for change as businessmen tuck into air-conditioned office buildings. Students explore this complicated country of contrasts where steamy jungles rise to meet towering volcanic peaks and traditional traje walk alongside Armani suites.

4- and 6-week options available.

We offer comprehensive, personal home visits so that we can answer your questions in person. One of our expert staff members will present on our program options and share stories from their own formative Where There Be Dragons program. To request a home visit in less than 2 minutes, fill out this form.

Highlights
  • 2 weeks of one-on-one interactive instruction, four to five hours a day; language immersion throughout.
  • Home-stays in 2 to 3 different communities, including 2 weeks during language school.
  • Volunteering in schools, clinics, and farms. Tree planting with the Chico Mendes project. Approximately 20 hours of service credit earned.
  • Modernization and globalization, impact of education and tourism on indigenous culture, free trade, exploration of minority empowerment issues.
  • 4-day trek through Cuchumatanes Mountains. Day treks through Biotopo del Quetzal cloud forest. Volcano ascents. ABOUT COMPONENTS ENROLL

Questions & Answers

Reviews

100%
based on 7 reviews
  • Growth 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.7
  • Housing 9.3
  • Safety 9.6
Showing 1 - 7 of 7
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Sylvie
10/10

Life-Changing Program

What an incredible experience! I can't begin to count the valuable lessons I leaned and the memories I made. The program was the perfect blend of bonding within our Dragons family and spreading out as individuals to witness the beauty and complexity of Guatemala. Our instructors were knowledgeable and supportive, and they molded the trip to fit the personality of our group. The small group environment provided opportunities to explore how we get along with other people, and our instructors facilitated sessions to allow ideas to be shared and feedback to be given. Throughout the trip, I always knew I was supported and cared for.

Each aspect of the trip brought new challenges and triumphs, and through those I formed unbreakable bonds with the other members of the group. We traveled together to many different towns and areas, experiencing both the serenity of Lake Atitlan and the majesty of the mountains of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes. Before going on the trip, I was worried that I my participation would be limited because I did not speak Spanish, but that was a non-issue. My confidence with Spanish increased exponentially, and I even developed a love for the language. This program has had such lasting impacts on my life and I am grateful for it every day.

How can this program be improved?
I don't have any improvements!
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Hailey
10/10

Could not recommend more highly!

I can say without a doubt that my trip changed my life for the better. I attended the four week language program in Guatemala with Where There Be Dragons and could not have had a better experience. Their trips are thoughtful, beautiful intellectually interesting, and fun! I learned so much about the local culture while living in homestays and my Spanish improved in leaps and bounds. Where There Be Dragons trips are not vacation-y, they can certainly be intense and challenging at times. However, the instructors are an amazing support system and they always work hard to make certain everyone is safe and happy. You will learn so much about yourself, make lifelong friends, and become a more global citizen doing a trip with Dragons!

How can this program be improved?
Make sure to ask for a contact with someone who has done the trip previously. They give helpful packing tips and added insight that you would not otherwise get.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Scott
10/10

Time of My Life

This voyage of exploration was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. It may hurt my credibility to put near perfect score for everything, but ti is hard to come up with bad parts of the journey I went on. The only two I marked down are for housing and safety. I did this for the pure reason that going on this trip means accepting being out of your comfort zone and some of the housing is included in that. My first home stay house was, as my instructor best put it, very materially poor, but it did not diminish the great family I was staying with or the great times I had in the city of San Antonio Palopo. This trip was the experience of a lifetime and I cannot recommend it to anybody enough. In fact I implore you, if you are not interested in this particular dragons program, to go to there website and check out other programs that they offer. For if it is a fraction as good as the one I went on I can promise you that it is well worth it. If you want to know more contact them and experience it for yourself as I promise any descriptions I could give about how it changed my life or the experiences I had cannot properly do it justice.

How can this program be improved?
Not in many ways.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Anna
10/10

Trip of a Lifetime

Guatemala was a life-changing experience. I made some of my closest friends, met the most wonderful local people, and learned from the most qualified instructors. I learned about a forgotten Guatemalan history, I learned the Spanish language, I learned about a new culture, and in the process I learned about myself and my place in this world. I was pushed to challenge myself and try something new, and this push changed the person I am today. One of the most memorable experiences of my Where There Be Dragons trip to Guatemala was on our trek. It was the last day of the trek, it was pouring rain, and I didn't have a rain jacket. I was pushing myself through the muddy ground, drenched in water. We got out of the beautiful mountains into a little village. I look up at this little house and saw a smiling little boy. There were horses outside his house that were so skinny you could see their ribs. Although he didn't have much, he looked at me and saw my discomfort. He reached out his hand and offered me a garbage bag to use as a raincoat. That little boy helped me see the bigger picture. Putting others before yourself, embracing the true meaning of community, and doing good deeds, not just because you know it is the right thing to do, but because you genuinely care. Guatemala changed me, and if anyone has the privilege to go on this trip, they should take it in a heartbeat.

How can this program be improved?
I really don't have many improvements. Maybe being able to incorporate more of the independent study aspect.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Sarah
10/10

Authentic, rugged, and life-changing

I gained a vast amount of newfound confidence as a self-reliant and responsible traveler. I have come back with much more confidence and a stronger ability to take initiative in various settings, which will benefit me in the rest of my high school career and beyond. The program helped me understand how to be leader while respecting the environment I was in. I lived with three different host families and worked beside them and their communities during my stay, such as Cooperativa Tejidos Cotzal. The cooperative, composed of 45 women widowed by the Guatemalan civil war, was founded on the ideals of self-sustainability and community through maintaining the indigenous tradition of weaving.
Becoming a leader through this program meant learning how to become a poised, attentive, and understanding traveler rather than imposing my values or opinions. I learned how to immerse myself into a new culture without relying on ethnocentric beliefs, keeping cultural relativism in mind while being exposed to new, unusual experiences. I became comfortable with the idea of being there simply to help a community while soaking up and learning about a unique and fascinating culture instead of being there to change it. This was as amazing experience, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a Spanish intensive program and is ready for a rugged, authentic journey.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Hadley
10/10

Best Decision I've Ever Met

My summers with Where There Be Dragons were without a doubt the most valuable experiences in my life-- and I cannot recommend any of their trips enough. Dragons combines language/cultural immersion and rustic travel so you can really get to know a country's culture and what every-day life is for it's people. It's also a great way to get comfortable with travel and backpacking in general. One of my favorite aspects of the trip was our amazing trip leaders who led us through hikes, learning Spanish, home-stays, the culture and history of the country, and creating activities to help us grow. I also enjoyed getting to know everyone in our group, and all of the wonderful locals you meet along the way. There were definitely challenging moments when we had difficult hikes in very rural areas, but it was all part of creating an amazing experience. Anyone who has done Dragons absolutely loves it and it truly gives you a new perspective on the world and everyone in it!

How can this program be improved?
If you're not interested in working hard on your Spanish or having difficult hikes-- try looking into some of the Dragons programs that focus more on cultural immersion.
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Susannah
10/10

Central America Semester

I really, really enjoyed my semester in Central America (Guatemala and Nicaragua) with Where There Be Dragons. I actually decided to return to Central America withDragon's internship program, which was also a great experience!

During the Central America semester, we lived in home-stays, worked with local community organizers, and went to language school. One of my favorite highlights of the program was my time spent with my home-stay families. I was nervous going into the program about living with families, but it is such a special and uniques experience. I immediately felt a part of the family and was included in all activities. I think it is one of the best ways to gain insight about the country and also the best way to improve your spanish. I am still in touch with one of my families today--we talk by phone every couple of months.

The instructors are awesome. They are super supportive and caring and overall, just great people who love what they do. My group experience was also great! We all become close friends by the end and still keep in touch today. Even tough we mostly lived in separate home-stays, there was still plenty of time for group bonding as we would spend all day working together and had some free time on the weekends to explore in nearby cities.

I felt pushed out of my comfort zone many times throughout the trip, but in a good way. I felt myself being challenged, which made me feel stronger and more confident about myself, and my beliefs.

I could talk about my gap year for hours. I am now a junior in college and took a gap year right after high school (Fall 2011 and Spring 2012) and I am still so glad that I did. I really valued my time abroad and it shifted my interests as to what I wanted to study in college. If you're thinking about taking a gap year--do it!! One of the best decisions i've made!

How can this program be improved?
I get this question a lot.. and I was very happy with both of my semesters with Dragons!! I really find it hard to pin point something that I would want to change. It is a really well organized semester where we were also able to voice our opinion about things that we wanted to do or see.
Yes, I recommend

About Where There Be Dragons

Dragons programs are authentic, rugged and profound learning adventures that expose the beautiful and complex realities of the countries in which we travel. Featuring extended itineraries, Dragons programs encourage deep immersion into strikingly...