Cost – tuition for the Spanish lessons at Habla Ya will appear reasonable in comparison to most European or North American countrys' standards, but know that for Panamanians, it is on the pricey side. An average monthly rent for one person in Panama City ranges widely from USD$200-700. The school is located in a safe neighborhood. There is air-conditioned classrooms, clean facility and dependable/wonderful front desk staff in a relatively newer building. One facility complaint I would make is the inconsistent wi-fi connection for the students. It is usable when in the lobby area but in the classrooms, it is not dependable. By no means, Habla Ya’s facility is not in a bad shape; in fact, I would rate it B+. The followings are suggestions given in hopes for the school’s continuous success. Given the high-end tuition, I hope that the school’s decision-makers consider upgrading the school’s wifi and its IT equipment. In my opinion, any school must keep up with the technology changes. Students no longer use the ‘book’ dictionaries; we use the dictionary app on our phones that requires wi-fi access. Teachers can enhance our learning experience by utilizing videos and other interactive applications but I think outdated laptops and weak wifi hold them back. The student lobby can use some comfy chairs/sofas. The lobby isn’t in bad condition but do not let “the lack of amenities” or costly tuition be the reason for students to leave and switch. Keep up with the neighboring competitions by maintaining a student friendly lounge and equip the school with technologically enhanced educational tools [strong wi-fi in the classrooms, faster laptops to play videos/musics for audio/visual teaching aids]
 Room & Board – this is handled separately by the front desk team prior to your arrivals. At first, I was randomly placed with a host family that didn’t fit my ultimate need. I needed to be with a family who would be around during the meal times so that I have opportunities to mingle/speak. Once I spoke up about my needs, changes were made almost immediately and I spent 3 wonderful weeks with an awesome host family. In hindsight, I wish that I had shared my expectation up front; perhaps, I could have avoided the unnecessary stress in the first week. Other options besides host family exist: Panama House (hostel plus hotel w/restaurant) is right across the street. Best western and mainstream hotels are near by. You can also search extended-stay or apartments with flat-mates independently. Let the front desk staff help you navigate through the available room&board options. They will know which area is safe, close to school, affordable…etc. They are a great resource and help with planning for afternoon/morning/or weekend activities. **If you want to be with a host family for the purpose of learning the language, then I would recommend a family with kids, more people or a host parent who is home most of the time. Panamanians work long hours and if you are paired with someone who is not at home much; you may be better off by staying at a hostel or B&B places instead. You will be forced to go out and buy food…in return, learn some Spanish during the process.
 Group class vs. Private Lessons: Habla Ya courses are organized in accordance with DELE / CEFR: A1-2, B1-2 and C1-2. I think their teaching material structure is helpful in estimating one's level and time needed to progress. I started at the level A1 and ended in A2. I began with a group class but switched to private lessons for 20 hours per week to address my needs better. With that said, there is a large difference in the group class and private one-on-one. Obviously one-on-one is much easier to meet the student’s needs; for instance, if student needs to work on speaking more than reading. The class can be designed to dedicate more time for such activity. Such flexibility is not present in group classes; there are certain objectives the teacher must go over for each group class. I spent 3/4th of my time learning in private mode. I liked the flexibility and the focus on improving my deficits. I could learn faster. As for Habla Ya Panama teachers whom I have interacted, (Yarixell, Juan and Jesus) they all have an excellent mastery of the Spanish language. Some teaching methods are utilized by all teachers: using the visual aids--white board, noting new vocabulary list when prompted, starting the class with daily course objectives. Regularly, the class is designed so that students are given opportunities to read, speak and converse in class. This occurs in both group and private classes. Teachers do have slightly different teaching styles but I actually enjoyed encountering the variety; as I found myself preferring one learning style over another. Eventually, we figured out a few styles that worked for me the best and used them in class. To share my preference, I liked reading a story, learning new vocabularies from the story, using workbook to apply the grammar rules learned. The workbook exercises became my way of confirming my deficits & knowledge. Based on my performance on the exercises, I could gage on what to review after class. I was actually very impressed by how my teachers figured out the best way for me to learn. Each teacher monitors the effectiveness of their teaching, documents daily/weekly progress of each student and look for student feedbacks. The teachers work as a team and consult with one another in regards to: what teaching methods to use [i.e. videos, index cards, interactive games, conversations..etc], assessments of weak & strong points of the student and to plan for the subsequent lesson plans. I really appreciated their attention to details, continuous notes on my progressing skills, resourcefulness with teaching materials [visual, audio, other interactive aids] and their teamwork. I went through many years in school but I never encountered such a successful collaboration by a group of teachers, until now. I think Habla Ya Panama City teachers are remarkable. They come from different backgrounds but with a common goal of teaching Spanish to non-spanish speakers. They are very good at what they do. What I likely most about them is their genuine wish for their students learn and succeed. They are all hard-working individuals who takes their profession seriously. I was lucky to have met this group of great teachers. When not teaching, they work on lesson plans or prepare for class. Of note, the textbooks are uniform throughout the 3 locations [panama city, boca de toro, and Chiriqui]. Both group and private classes are offered in all locations. Based on hearsays among the students, I felt that the school in Panama City is slightly more hard-core in academics than the other sites. There are more natural distractions to explore in other sites. I really cannot comment on Boca de Toro or Chiquiri.
 Yarixell is an awesome teacher. Not only did I learn Spanish from her, I also picked up a few teaching skills from her classes. She is calm, patient and understands the needs of a student very well. I can tell that she has taught a diverse set of students with no spanish knowledge to advanced levels. I never felt hurried, bored, or undervalued during her class. Her classes are designed so that each part has its purpose and all parts are equally important: with videos, interactive games, writing, reading...and with a very clear set of directions and daily objectives. She puts in time planning for her classes and her classes are well thought out. When she isn’t teaching, I imagine her sitting at a desk working on a lesson plan or consulting on a student with her colleagues. She is a natural born teacher in my opinion. I want to thank her for being so patient with me. Thank you. Thank you. She is a keeper and deserves a large raise!
What makes her stand out from other teachers is this: when she makes an important teaching point, there is an emphasis, either through a moment of silence, or by calling out the name of the student to gain the attention from the student. Then, the teaching point is explained in a clear manner. She uses Spanish words that the student already knows with least amount of words as possible. So that the student is not wondering about a meaning of a new word instead of learning the main teaching point. If not well received by the student, she goes further by writing out the complete teaching message once again on the board, and by providing a solid example. This really helped me because at times, I may not be able to understand everything just by hearing. I also liked her example that came with it; I can re-enforce the concept multiple times later by reviewing the example. This teaching technique works 100%. Knowing when to utilize this technique for which teaching point would distinguish an awesome teacher from a mediocre teacher. I do hope that this technique be considered by all teachers; especially to the beginner’s level group classes.
 Juan is also an excellent teacher. He is calm, nice and patient as well. He enjoys teaching the grammar and knows a lot about it. He is quite good at evaluating a student’s level of Spanish. This helps determine when to introduce new topics, in appropriate ways where the learner feels neither overwhelmed nor under-challenged. He took a part in challenging me by introducing new aspects of the language one step at a time...based on my progress. When I felt comfortable with the present tense, he would start to speak in past tense. This encouraged me to look up the unknowns and ask questions. In doing so, I learned new materials naturally and actively. This made learning Spanish fun for me. He is a good listener, intelligent and a natural born thinker. One would end up having random conversations about politics, education, literature/history or culture. It was a great way to speak the language, and also to learn about the Panama.
 Jesus is another a great teacher. Of course, he also is very patient with us. He has a pleasant and outgoing personality and is interested in learning about other cultures. We often discussed Korean food and culture, which became a nice way for me to speak Spanish. He is natural at making the students feel comfortable, less self-conscientious thereby allowing students to speak Spanish naturally. His classes are always full of energy, pleasant atmosphere and interactive. He genuinely enjoys teaching Spanish. He will be well received by younger students of primary & secondary schools. He prepares for his lessons and I really appreciated his readiness. Once he is ready to teach, I know that I will definitely learn something worthwhile. He is actually very good at explaining hard-to-grasp materials. Clear cut answers are provided so that I do not get confused later on. I really liked this part. This made my Spanish learning easy and I could move on to the next topic without any hesitation.