Escuela de la Montana

Escuela de la Montana

About

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 result of the social disruption in Guatemala during and immediately after the civil war when the finca system of workers living and living on the finca collapsed.

Our sister school is Proyecto Linguistico Quetzalteco in Quetzltenango (Xela - the mayan name for the city). PLQ is the oldest spanish school in Xela with a progressive action theme. It is another learning option if you prefer the convenience of living in a city.

Reviews

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Melanie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

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

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

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

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

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!

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose La Escuela de la Montaña because of their unique mission of helping revitalize a rural Guatemalan community, because of the great reputation of their sister school PLQE, and because it looked so beautiful in the pictures! I was definitely pleasantly surprised by how clean the dormitories and kitchen were and also how beautiful the school grounds were.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The program provider organized our meals with host families, or morning snacks, and our other daily programmings, like trips and cooking lessons. The only thing we had to organize on our own was transportation from Xela to the village of Nuevo San José/Fatima — and we had to go to the store on our own to get snacks if we wanted them.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I would advise you to bring bug spray and calamine lotion and to treat your clothes with permethrin before coming! The bugs are vicious and I got about 15 bites on one leg the one day I didn’t soak myself in bug spray! It reminded me of when I used to go to summer camp and come back with hundreds of bug bites. If you’re one of those sensitive people, make sure to prepare.

This is really my only complaint and for most people, it won’t be an issue!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Every day you wake up and walk to the family home that makes your meals all week. Breakfast is at 7:30. After breakfast you walk back to the school, grab water or coffee, and start studying with your teacher.

The teachers are extremely knowledgeable, patient and experienced, and looking to discuss complex topics if you’re up for it! There is a break at 10-10:20 when they provide fruit for a snack in the kitchen. You then study again until 12, then head back to your host family’s home for lunch at 12:30.

Most days there is an activity in the afternoon, whether that be a caminata (walk) to an interesting nearby place or a charla (chat) with an interesting local person. Or you can just chill on your own and read a book from the library! Then dinner is at 5:15 with your family, and often you’ll have homework to complete in the evening.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was terrified of getting sick! I am prone to illness and so I had convinced myself I would get

a) a bad cold,
b) traveler’s diarrhea or
c) dengue fever.

I went to the travelers' clinic and got all my vaccines and hoped for the best. I also prepped all my clothes with permethrin and made sure to get bug repellent with DEET. I didn’t get sick at all! I felt great the whole time. The families are EXTREMELY well trained in hygiene and nutrition, so it was always totally safe to eat their food.

Why should I study here versus the many other Spanish schools in Guatemala?

In order to be a knowledgeable global citizen, it’s vital to hear the stories of people in developing countries directly from their mouths.

The people of Guatemala have been abused and traumatized for generations by their government and by foreign corporate entities. Both the Mountain School and its sister school, Proyecto Lingüístico Quetzalteco (PLQ), teach your not only amazing Spanish skills but the history and context of Guatemala.