Escuela de la Montaña: Spanish Immersion in the Guatemalan Mountains

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About

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

Mareika- thanks for your answer and appreciate hearing that children come along and that there are animals at the Escuela. I hope you don't mind this follow up: Did you feel safe traveling to a rural part of Guatemala? Also if you are female, how did you find traveling around? I am an East Asian woman and was fearless in my youth traveling around the world but now I'm not as nimble as I once was...

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...

Reviews

9.75 Rating
based on 16 reviews
  • Instruction 9.7
  • Support 9.7
  • Fun 9.3
  • Housing 9.1
  • Value 9.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 16
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Melanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Can’t wait to go back!

Studying Spanish at The Mountain School was a dream! I only stayed for one week but would have loved to stay longer, a few months would be ideal. The teachers are so caring and passionate. There is no doubt that your Spanish will improve. The school itself is a really fun and beautiful learning environment with tons of books and other students to practice with. I will definitely go back in the future! Their were people of all ages and backgrounds in our group. I would recommend the program to students, backpackers, retired people, families, kids, etc.

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Harrison
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Place to learn spanish

I learned tons of Spanish here. Everyday I received a helpful dose of homework, and the one on one lessons are quite awesome and efficient. All of the teachers are super fun and helpful, and make their lesson plan for YOU, not a place where they give the same boring routine to each student, they make sure you get the most out of your stay and of you abilities, when I came I was simply bad and not knowledgeable at spanish, when I left I could hold a ( simple) conversation with most locals. Highly recommend, 10/10! The meals were with host families also which was pretty awesome and everyone in the shcoolnwas super super super fun and nice, On of the teachers in paticular named tito was quite hilarious and fun, and made the whole experience better, also Rony another teacher there was a GREAT teacher.

What would you improve about this program?
Nothing, only complaint I had was how much it rained which had nothing to do with the program whatsoever.
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Mareika
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Excellent instruction, environment, and experience

There are lots of affordable Spanish schools in Guatemala, but the Mountain School is a truly unique experience and worth the trip. The Spanish language instruction is extremely good — the teachers have years and years of experience and can adapt to any level of learning. My teacher Maria Jose consistently challenged me and made sure I was growing and learning throughout the week. She gave interesting assignments that were exciting and challenging to complete. The grounds are very beautiful — the school has a big area of land with flowers, fruit trees, a koi pond, and mountain views. It is gorgeous and peaceful. They have books to take out from the library at all levels. I managed to get halfway through and Spanish language YA novel while I was there for a week. The school also places your learning in political context, which is extremely important in Guatemala. I plan to return for both the experience of living in the rural community, the companionship with other students, and the excellent Spanish instruction.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure you bring bug spray and try to treat your clothes with permethrin before leaving — there are lots of bugs!
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Natalie
10/10
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.

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Rogan
10/10
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!
Jen
10/10
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!

Julie
10/10
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.

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Beth
8/10
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!