Escuela de la Montaña: Spanish Immersion in the Guatemalan Mountains

Video and Photos

Jorge rebuilding a ranchito roof. This is where we had classes.
with the teachers on our last day - they had become like family at this point!
Sign at the front gate of the School
main house
View of Escuela de La Montaña school building
View of Escuela de La Montaña school building
outdoor learning!
Reading after dinner on the corner.


Study Spanish in Guatemalan mountain villages outside Quetzaltenango. You will receive first-class one-on-one instruction from skilled maestros. You will eat your meals with local families of Mam origin, giving you the opportunity to witness rural life first-hand. Students sleep in the school house, once the home of a local coffee farmer, now set in a beautiful garden.

Supplementary activities are included, and will enhance your understanding of Guatemala - talks about history and aspects of rural life, current events, hikes in the country, and a cooking class. There are optional weekend field trips to Mayan ruins, a coffee finca, the beach, and more (at student expense).

La Escuela de La Montaña is focused on improving conditions for our neighbors by providing work and a fair wage. We also provide scholarships and free art and music classes, and have built a community library.

Founded in 1997, we are a project of Proyecto Lingüistico Quetzalteco de Español in Quetzaltenango.

Questions & Answers

Hi Blake! There are safe spaces to run here, but usually we recommend you don't go alone. One of our teachers that stays at the school during the week runs in the mornings, and usually there are one or two students who want to run. Usually they run into a local finca in the mornings. There is also space on our property to exercise and run! Hopefully that helps :) --Amelia, Coordinator, La Escuela...


based on 13 reviews
  • Instruction 9.6
  • Support 9.6
  • Fun 9.2
  • Housing 8.9
  • Value 9.7
Showing 1 - 13 of 13
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Spanish Teachers and a Wonderful Cultural Experience

I attended classes here one week with a group of high schoolers. The teachers were well prepared and fun to work with. They worked very well with the teens and kept them engaged. We also learned so much about the culture and history of Guatemala from the talks and the activities. Time with local families gave us all a personal experience of life in that region and really added a great perspective to the students' overall trip. We enjoyed the cooking class, and our trip into town with our teachers was a great way to put our Spanish skills into practice. We also were able to speak with some locals who told us personal stories of their experiences during the civil war. We loved the afternoon we spent playing and talking with students from the local elementary school as well. I highly recommend this language school and hope that I am able to go back again someday.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

EDLM: a deeply personal, unforgettable shared experience in Spanish.

I came to EDLM in Fall 2015, and even three years later I don't know where to begin this review. The unforgettable warmth of time spent with homestay families could have an entire review of it's own-- I was consistently welcomed as a part of the family and was grateful every day for the most delicious handmade tortillas I've had to date. The teachings about local politics/coffee fincas/education/history still come up for me in conversations with friends-- it is rare that organizations lift up the voices outside of city limits the way EDLM does, and as someone committed to indigenous justice I felt incredibly honored that community members were willing to share their stories, homes, culture, food, and love. At EDLM you are able to not just hear unfiltered testimonies about the realities of post-genocidal Guatemala and *help keep these stories alive*, but can also then support this community, cook and break bread with them, joke with them, and connect genuinely with a people whose noble endurance is undefeated.

Furthermore, I can't speak highly enough about the staff facilitating the Mountain Program. Every single person there is phenomenal, full of humor and patience, absolutely passionate about EDLM's mission, and a wonderfully encouraging teacher. Furthermore, you're in a calm and relaxing atmosphere to practice your Spanish and study-- there's a little hut near the edge of the properties, nested in the trees, where I would take my homework and a cup of coffee each morning and I really saw my Spanish lessons stick during my time there. There is also, hopefully still, a verrrrrry funny black cat who likes to sit on your homework and encourage you to loosen up a little and pet him. Hammocks, an incredible library, straw huts where you have your daily lessons, unlimited local coffee, and incredible opportunities to learn: you will not find a more fulfilling opportunity. Be sure to sign up for their newsletter so you can keep up with the community once you go-- you'll miss them.

What would you improve about this program?
I hope that someday technology will facilitate internet to that area so EDLM can start doing Skype lessons! When I was there it wasn't possible to get an internet line out to that area, and I wish I could still learn with you all!
Yes, I recommend this program

Unique experience in a beautiful mountain setting

I came to the mountain school for a week and loved it so much i ended up changing my trip in order to return there 2 weeks later, it was a definite highlight of my time in Guatemala. Classes take place in cute (rain proof) cabanas in the back garden. Though the housing is communal, bathrooms are cleaned daily and there was always space if I wanted some time by myself. The school has activities or talks everyday. While I was there there, some activities were: using native plants for illnesses, a talk on Mayan cosmovision, a Mayan ceremony, cooking classes, and a visit to an ex-combantante community. Both families i ate meals with were friendly and had no problem serving me vegetarian meals. Candace and Thomas are amazing, even changing money for me when I ran out of quetzales for the bus ride home when I forgot that ATMs were closed on Sundays! Can't wait to go back if I get the chance!

Yes, I recommend this program

It's a beautiful place with beautiful people

I am so grateful that I went to the La Escuela en La Montana. I spent 3 months in Guatemala 2015-2016 and this was one of my most memorable and impactful weeks. It really helped put things into perspective for me. All of the staff and host families are so amazing! I even got to go to one of the host families daughters fourth birthday party and help with the piñata!
There weren't many students when I was there so I really got to practice my Spanish with the staff. I especially remember having a really interesting conversation about problems in the village with two of the guards.

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Joy and learning

I traveled to Escuela de la Montana in 2009 with my sister and two dear friends. Knowing only the days of the month and directions, we found traveling to and from the school easy to navigate. The community of teachers and fellow students was warm, encouraging and playful. I remember two parts of the course/stay that made an impact on me. First, I remember how animated and curious my instructor was. He used visuals, examples, and conversation opportunities to help me practice what we were learning. Then, he challenged me to go try it with the local ninos! I had a blast visiting the families and talking with the women who provided meals to the students in the Mountain School. The ninos and I danced like monkeys together, sang songs in Spanish and read children's books together. Everyone helped bring my conversation skills to life. I highly recommend visiting the school and sharing cultures as well as language exchanges. Bueno suerte!

Yes, I recommend this program

go to the mountain school

I was a student at PLQ in Xela for 5 weeks in 2014. I spent 2 weeks at the Mountain School and LOVED IT. I tried to spend more time there instead of Xela, but some logistical reason did not allow it. The Mountain School offers a glimpse into what life is like for most Guatemalans. The location is in a community that has suffered directly and formed from the impacts of capitalism. The school has an intimate feel due to it's size and location. I particularly loved this communal feel. The nights are spent at a table chatting, doing homework, learning from the directors about the history of Guatemala, cooking together etc. The place offers a space to think, fresh air to breath, nature to explore and a family like atmosphere. The instructors have been there many years and have relationships with the community. When you stay at the Mountain School not only is it an opportunity to learn Spanish, but the schools mission and presence are a direct benefit to it's community. There are programs for the children, programs for women, abundant opportunities to serve if so desire. Overall, if you have any inkling to go to the Mountain School, don't hesitate. =D

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Wonderful Experience

I came to PLQ and only intended to spend one week at the Mountain School, and 8 weeks at the main campus in Xela. I loved the Mountain School so much I ended up staying for six weeks! The staff is small so you get to know them all well. Our days were filled with long walks, lots of Spanish instruction, and jokes. We always felt safe at the mountain school and loved being in the mountains. The scenery was gorgeous and it was interesting to live outside of the more touristy parts of Guatemala. I was taught by each of the teachers for at least one week, and some multiple weeks. I can genuinely recommend them all!

Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience, Didn't want to Leave, Felt Like a family!

I only spent a week there but I would have spent longer if they weren't full. I ironically ended up going to the mountain school for a week because PLQ in Xela was full my first week of three. I soon fell in love with the tranquility of the place and simplicity of life. I got to know how most Guatemalans live and that was an inspirational experience. I became close with all the classmates because there are only 12 or 14 total (PLEASE EDIT THAT NUMBER AS YOU KNOW THE REAL NUMBER). We would play nightly games together and we just became close because it's such a small group and share tricks of the trades as we learned how to get hot water in the shower or wash fruit. The grounds itself are GORGEOUS, like a real rain forest feel and nothing can beat it. You learn in a small hut outside - one for each student and teacher. It's fabulous! You go have meals with your families three times a day and they soon start to feel like your own. I didn't want to leave and hope to one day return to continue learning Spanish and explore Guatemala with the wonderful folks at the Mountain School.

What would you improve about this program?
Less bugs :) which they can't control. More communication prior from program, more excursions to learn and explore together
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Best out of 5 schools attended

Although the Mountain School is isolated, the experience here is one that can not be replicated. From the interactions with the community to the dedication of the teachers, it is unlike any school I have attended (and I've been to a few: Spain, Mexico, another school in Guatemala, and Costa Rica). For me, over 40 and over home stays, the Mountain School offers the best of all language learning worlds: a safe, clean, comfortable place to sleep that in no way feels like a hostel (but has warm showers, a shared kitchen, and lots of great spaces to hang out and study in) and shared meals with local community members. The school is so intertwined with the community it's hard to separate them out and that's a good thing. The only reason I gave it a "9" for the social scene is because there isn't one. I don't tend to travel abroad to meet people; I travel to work on my Spanish and learn. The activities that are offered are modest: talks about the health care system in the communities, one man's experience of exile and return during the internal armed conflict, a trip to a coffee and banana cooperative. This isn't the place to go for zip line tours and oodles of foreigners lining up for the next greatest experience (I'm talking to you, Costa Rica). But if you are going abroad to learn Spanish, you can't do much better. The instructors are well trained, highly experienced, and happy in their work. The communicative approach has high yield for your time, each class is one-on-one, and since there aren't many distractions, you can really focus on studying, reading, and interacting with the community. Note: I'm a Spanish teacher, and I'm speaking from my professional experience. My favorite part of the Mountain School is reading to the kids each evening on the street from a favorite children's book (in Spanish, of course), or the week where a group of us decided to do a sing-along for the kids. This is my #1 top recommended school. I have been there twice and will return.

What would you improve about this program?
I enjoyed partnering with PLQ for weekend activities.
Read my full story
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Escuela de la Montaña

After studying a month at PLQ in the city Quetzaltenango I kept hearing other students talk about la Escuela de la Montaña and decided I should go there for a week. It was a completely different experience than living in the city - I got a completely different perspective of how many Guatemalans live in impoverished rural areas. The school is absolutely beautiful, the surrounding mountains are majestic, the people are so nice. The school is very invested in the community and has several projects going on to further education of the youngsters and provide work to many families. I personally spent more time exploring social issues that plague the campesinos/rural population of Guatemala and how they affect their daily life. It was truly an eye-opening experience.
The daily activities and trips were great, the one-on-one Spanish instruction is incredible. Very competent teachers who really enjoy their job. Shout-out to Tito, looking forward to the next fútbol match. Watch out, his son is getting good too...

Phillip Anuta
Osteopathic Medical Student DO'19
Des Moines University
Des Moines, Iowa

What would you improve about this program?
One of the most difficult things is being housed in a building where everyone is learning Spanish. Almost inevitably people start switching to English. I personally did not like this at all, but it's just human nature. Maybe there should be more Spanish conversation enforced among the students :)
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Spanish Immersion At It's Best

My plan in coming to Guatemala was to study Spanish at this school for 5 weeks and then travel around Central America for 6 or 7 more weeks. Well, I feel in love with this place and ended up studying here for 10 weeks. I not only learned Spanish from amazing teachers, but also learned so much about the politics, social justice issues, and life in rural Guatemala through the teachers, through time spent with families talking and doing life with them, through talks given by people from the villages, and great trips. My view of Central America changed through sitting and listening to stories of this amazing people. It is also a really good place to learn Spanish because you can not fall back on your English. The families and teachers and most staff only speak Spanish. You must learn it. I can't speak highly enough of this place. I have friends now in Guatemala. You will not regret choosing to come to this place.
It is rural. And I loved this. It is away from the business of the cities and way to totally immerse oneself in the language and the people.

What would you improve about this program?
Possibly have a few more trips to immerse oneself in further in the different places of Guatemala.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Learning Spanish in a Paradise

An incredible setting with extremely experienced teachers. Very affordable with great daily opportunities to interact with the wonderful people who live near the school. My Spanish was improved markedly after only two weeks. The lesson plan was tailored to my level.

We did field trips to a nearby town and felt that were well cared for by the school. We will return soon.
We took hikes in gorgeous terrain, saw a volcano erupting, and played with the children in the villages close to the school.

What would you improve about this program?
More of a suggestion for those headed to the school: Ask about the driver from Quetzeltenango who, for a very reasonable charge, will drop you right at the school or pick you up and take you into Quetzeltenango.
Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Unique language school in the countryside

I ate with a different family every week and had a different instructor each week. Every one was excellent. All but one family had many kids that either lived there or were related. I brought spanish children's books from the school library and read to these kids. I will never forget this.

What would you improve about this program?
Tough question. There were no restaurants around or coffee shops, but this was really part of the charm. The students created our own community and our own entertainment as there was none in the country.


Guatemalan Quetzal
90 F / 36 F
91 F / 43 F
91 F / 46 F
88 F / 37 F
La Aurora International Airport
( GUA )
Mundo Maya International
( FRS )

If you want to spend a trip chasing waterfalls, meandering through lush jungles, and seeing world heritage sites; Guatemala should be high on your list. Guatemala can be easy to overlook when there are more travelled destinations in the area, but don't be fooled, this country is filled with incredible landscapes and culture, all at a great price.


Alumni Interviews

About Escuela de la Montana

Located in rural Guatemala between Quetzaltenango and Columba, this accredited immersion spanish school for up to 14 students, features sleeping dormitory-style and eating with local mam mayan families in local communities. The communities are the...