Habla Ya Spanish Schools - Spanish Immersion Programs & Eco-Adventure Vacations

Habla Ya Spanish Schools

About

Learn Spanish by the Caribbean Sea, in the cloud forest, in Latin America's most cosmopolitan city, or at the three of them!

With locations in Panama's most exciting destinations by the beach (Bocas del Toro), in the mountains (Boquete), and in Panama City, Habla Ya provides quality Spanish programs combined with unique vacation experiences, volunteering and active adventures such as surfing, scuba diving, yoga and much more.

Whether you're looking for a chilled out town in the mountains, a cosmopolitan and trendy city, or a funky island in the Caribbean, Habla Ya Spanish Schools got you covered with authentic Spanish immersion programs, loads of eco-adventures, passionate Spanish teachers and a wide selection of accommodation options from home stays with local families and budget hostels to mid range bed and breakfasts or upscale boutique hotels.

Founded
2005
Headquarters

G Street and 9th Avenue
Bocas del Toro
Bocas del Toro
Panama

Summer Promo: get a FREE weekly tour when you book 5 weeks or more of Spanish classes!

Learn Spanish and have the vacation of your lifetime:
- Hiking
- Daily Yoga Lessons
- Surfing Courses
- PADI Scuba Diving License
- Rock Climbing
- Ziplining
- Whitewater River Rafting
- Horseback Riding
- Island Hoping
- Sailing
- Caving

Reviews

Default avatar
Nika
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent two weeks at Habla Ya, Bocas del Toro in October 2019 (October is considered low season).

First of all, I have to say that I only chose a language trip because I wanted to travel alone but easily get in contact with others.
As I am 29, in a stable job and only have a limited time of vacation, I did not picture myself in a noisy 12 bed dorm to get contacts.

Before the trip, I had quite a tough time at work, so I only knew that Bocas was a group of Islands and that the weather should be better there during rainy season than in Panama City (which is true).

Coming with little expectations, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the place and the friendlyness of the people. If you come by plane, make sure to get a window seat - the sight and especially the landing is a magical experience itself.
Bocas lives mainly from trourism, so everybody is super friendly and willing to help. Just be careful with prices. E.g. a taxi in the city area should not cost you more than 0.60$, a taxi boat to the neighbouring island about 1$.

From all over the place, you can have a beautiful sight on the sea and other islands. At the hostels Mamallena or Selinas terrasses are open for visitors and invite for a swim or a drink in the afternoon. Many students also stayed there as especially Mamallena is quite close to school. I stayed at the Palma Royale because, as mentioned, I wanted a rather quiet sleeping environment.

For me, what made my journey outstanding, where my teachers at Habla Ya. I have done courses in Spain and Mexico before but this wasn´t comparable. Every person I was in contact with, was keen to provide the best experience to the students and to get their Spanish to the next level. Furthermore, they also took part in evening activities, partied with us and tought us not only their language but their culture.

To me, this is outstanding because we tend to forget that for them, people change all the time. Every week, new people come and others go. And each and every time, they immediately connect with new arrivals and celebrate last evenings with leaving students. They all have friends and family but invest so much more than the teaching time they are paid for.

To summarize it: Bocas del Toro is a paradise. Yes, you can see beautiful beaches, dolphins, sloths and have the filthies friday party of your life. But more importantly, you should go there if you want to meet people that are honest, open and invite you to discover their real culture, far beyond happy hours, Caribbean style island bars and raggaeton parties at the beach.

Default avatar
Chilenka
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I would absolutely recommend Habla Ya en Panama City. I was in the advanced class, given by Leidys Pattí. She is a very good teacher and really nice. I was already able to read, write and speak Spanish but I always had difficulties with speaking out loud. After just 2 classes of Leidys Pattí I felt secure enough to speak up. She makes you feel really comfortable with Spanish. The lessons were fun and very interactive. She explained the rules of subjunctive, a form I already had in school. In school I wasn't able to use it well. But with Leidys Pattí it was very simple all of a sudden.

Every thing was very clear and easy to follow. Thank you Leidys Pattí for this great experience. Habla Ya is modern school and the people are all very nice. Thank you all!

What was your funniest moment?
Our teacher is called Leidys and we sang the song from Lee Fields and the Expressions.
Default avatar
John
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Habla Ya was a great experience for both learning Spanish and experiencing the culture of Panama. I speak some Spanish and wanted to improve my language skills for an upcoming trip to Ecuador. I spent two weeks at the school in Boquete and definitely accomplished my objective.
My teacher was Leidys Pitti and she was excellent. The classes lasted 4 hours each weekday and were conducted entirely in Spanish. This contributed to the total immersion concept and really worked quite well. Leidys also spoke very clearly and slowly which was a great help for improving my comprehension. She followed a structured lesson plan complete with workbook and examples on the whiteboard, but there was also plenty of free-flowing conversation about subjects in which I was most interested. Leidys was a joy to work with and you would be lucky to have her as your teacher.
Boquete is the perfect location to study Spanish. It's a pleasant little town in the mountains of Panama with plenty of restaurants, etc. Importantly, few of the locals speak English so I had to use Spanish. Luckily, everyone was patient and appreciated that I was there to learn their language. I stayed with a host family a short distance from town. The Del Cids were a wonderful, traditional, couple who also did not speak English. This provided a great opportunity to practice my Spanish and learn about the local Panamanian culture.
One final note about the Habla Ya school staff and policies. Every staff member I had contact with, whether the initial phone conversations with Tori, helping organize a tour with Ivan, and arranging my ride back to the David airport with Giselle, was great. They all made sure my experience went well.
I was scheduled and paid for group lessons. When I arrived, they felt I was not at the same level as the rest of the group, so I ended up with private lessons for no additional charge. This worked out great and demonstrates the school's focus on the needs of the students.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
I was there in October. The town is about 3,500' high so it's cooler than the rest of Panama and very pleasant. However, it is very humid and doesn't get cool enough to need a jacket. Bring plenty of lightweight, short sleeve shirts, etc.
Default avatar
John
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I am 60 years old and live in Boquete, Panama. I just finished a 3-week, 5-hr per day, 5 days per week intensive Spanish course at the Habla Ya facility in Boquete, Panama. My teachers were Erian and Kimberly. I had one hour of private lessons, a lunch break, followed by 4 hours of group lessons. My teachers were fantastic. They did not speak English during the lessons, which greatly aided my listening comprehension. We had a set curriculum but there was flexibility to review aspects of the language that I was having difficulty with. Although I did not participate in the extracurricular activities offered through Habla Ya, we did activities outside the classroom to expand our understanding of the language and culture. I have learned another language and find that immersion is the best method for me. I highly recommend Habla Ya and if available, schedule classes with either Erian or Kimberly. Both are very energetic, knowledgeable and patient.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Anyone anticipating travel in Latin America should make an effort to learn Spanish. It will be received well and will provide insight into other cultures.
Default avatar
Amabel
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I was a student at Habla ya for 2 months this year and really enjoyed my time there.
I had 4 hours of group classes in the morning and 1 hour of private classes in the afternoon.
My group class teachers changed from time to time, which was a little bit inconvenient at times, but overall the classes were good. I especially want to thank my private class teacher Lineith, who taught me a LOT in a relatively short amount of time every afternoon. Especially, the way she explained the grammar things to me, was very efficient and the classes were always a lot of fun and we had a lot of great conversations during our lessons. :)

The school organizes a lot of activities and it was always a lot of fun! However, if you consider Habla Ya in Bocas, consider that it is a Party Island and most activities (except the coffe tours, hiking..) revolve around going out and partying... So if this is not your thing at all I would recommend you a different location in Panama.
I was living in a Hostfamily ( Maribel), which was a good experience. She is a very warm hearted person and cares about her students. Also, she accomodates several students from the School, so you're likely to meet & connect with people easily, which made settling in very easy.

What would you improve about this program?
Maybe advertise more globally, so that not just people from Switzerland and Germany come here.
Certain weeks, we were almost only Swiss and German people at the school, which was a little bit sad... as I would have loved to meet more people from around the world.

Sometimes the school was a little unorganised when it came to changes. If you stay there for several weeks/months and the school is very busy, it could be that you're group class teacher will change. As this is generally not a problem, I would have liked a heads up before. :)

Programs

Displaying 1 - 5 of 5

Alumni Interviews

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

Lisa Graf

Lisa is a 19-year-old from Germany who recently finished high school, and has spend time living and working in Bocas del Toro, Panamá.

Why did you choose this program?

I want to study Spanish and languages in the future at university and I've also wanted to visit Central America. I chose a country where Spanish is the main language, so I could learn how to speak fluently.

Additionally, I always wanted to work with kids, so I was really interested in the school project that was offered and involved teaching little children.

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

My program provider, an organization from Germany called "Multikultur", helped me with planning my trip. They also helped me learn more about "Habla Ya", the Spanish lessons offered there, and assisted me with finding my volunteer project and my host family.

I also learned a lot on my own by surfing the Internet, and the information on the Habla Ya website. When I arrived in Bocas, I was picked up and was brought to Habla Ya and my host family.

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

When it comes to a long trip and traveling on your own to an unknown country, it is important to try to organize almost everything from your home country, because then you will feel safer and you can be sure someone will care about you and support you when you arrive.

The best thing you can do is being open to everything, because it might be completely different than expected, yet still an unforgettable experience.

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

When I took Spanish lessons at Habla Ya, class started at 8 am. I had breakfast first thing in the morning at my host's house and then walked to school or took the bike. I had classes until noon, and afterwards Habla Ya offers a lot of activities to join, both during the week and also the weekends.

For example, we could take surf lessons, salsa courses, visit different beaches, and coffee plantations. There are a lot of different activities students can sign up for!

When my volunteer work started I had to take the watertaxi to the other island, and had the opportunity to spend time with the indigenous children from 8 am to 12pm.

After school, I always loved to spend time at Habla Ya. I felt very welcome there and made a lot of friends. In the evenings my host family, which I love a lot, prepared dinner and we talked about our days.

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

One of my biggest fears was getting homesick, feeling lonely and that I might not like the life and the culture, because I knew before that it would be totally different for me.

I think those are fears anyone who is traveling for a long time deals with. But after one week in Bocas all my fears were gone, because I felt welcome from the first day. I lived with other students, so it was easy to keep in touch and make friends quickly.

It is important to believe in yourself, to enjoy each day and not to get caught up in your fears, then you will be open for anything and anyone, and then there is no way that you will suffer.

What did you learn during your time abroad?

I wouldn't change anything I did, because everything I experienced here was a new life lesson, and never a loss or a fault.

This trip changed my life and my whole view I had about the world, it made me a better person.

It taught me to appreciate every day, and being thankful for little things, like for a smile from a little school kid when you buy him an apple. The volunteer work showed me that you are special just the way you you are, and when you're kind you will also be accepted for the person you are, and you can make a little kid's life better just by showing them attention and respect.

I had the chance to meet so many different nationalities and it helped me to understand how people from other countries think and live, and that we are literally all the same and you can be the friend of anyone, independent from where they are from.

You learn how to solve problems by yourself, how to react to new situations and how to be independent, positive, and strong.

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Benita Aneth Goerget

Job Title
Academic Coordinator & Spanish Teacher
Benita is a proud mother of 3 with a Bachelor's Degree in Ecological Tourism.

What is your favorite travel memory?

The trip I made to Costa Rica with my family in 2009. We visited San José and Guanacaste. I really enjoyed the different climate and customs, but mostly experiencing a place different from my own for the first time.

Culturally it was really fun and interesting to celebrate New Years over there in a different way than how I have all my life.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Every week I learn so much, there's always something new. So yes, I've grown a lot. Meeting people from all over the world and also being able to share the same values with like minded people, like growing some fruit and vegetables at home. Here at Habla Ya we get that.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

The beauty of Bocas is breathtaking. I had a student from the UK, Rachel, who came back to us just 6 months after her first trip, and we went to Wizard Beach. And when she got there, she just started crying as she was so grateful to be in Panama again and couldn't believe she and I were the only people there at that specific moment having all of that raw beauty to ourselves.

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I'd just like to do anything related with the Instituto Cervantes. They are the experts. As a student I'd want to do the DELE, and as a teacher I'd want to get a masters approved by them.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

It feels really nice to be part of such a prestigious school. I'm quite proud of myself and our team because of the work we do. Our students always tell us how we're the best, and it's also very good to be part of a team where it feels like a family, where we each look out after each other and where we feel the support of everyone. That's very important for me.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

The people. Us. Getting the right people on the team. Sometimes it can be tricky but then everything clicks and you take off.