Na'atik Language and Culture Institute

Na'atik Language and Culture Institute


We are located in the heart of the Maya Zone of Quintana Roo, Mexico. Our goal is to open students’ eyes to a world of possibilities. Through affordable, encouraging English language classes, we aim to help students in the local Maya community develop the skills and confidence to visualize and achieve their dreams. Our culturally immersive language courses in Spanish and Maya introduce visitors to the real Zona Maya (it’s not just ruins!).


Calle 57 entre 78 y 80
Colonia Francisco May
77240 Felipe Carrillo Puerto, QROO


Yes, I recommend this program

I traveled alone at the start of 2018 as a 15 year old male. I had gone to Na'atik once when I was 12 with my family, but I did not remember that much and I had never traveled alone to a foreign country. I was nervous at first but as soon as I met my guide at the bus terminal my fears dissipated. Ananias, my guide, took me to Catherine and Simon, who were in charge of my activities, and they took me to my home stay family. My family was very kind to me and they food they cooked was delicious. Once I was there, I never felt nervous and Catherine and Simon did a wonderful job taking care of me. Pedro, my Spanish teacher helped me improve my Spanish grammar and vocabulary and my family really helped me improve my overall fluency. I take Spanish in school but I can't practice like this. I also became more confident when I talked. Despite the fact that it rained for the first week, I loved the trip. This program was wonderful and I would recommend it to any looking for a way to immerse themselves in the Spanish language and improve their fluency.

Yes, I recommend this program

This was one of the best experiences I have ever had. I stayed for 5 weeks and loved every part of it - I wish I never had to leave! I already had a decent Spanish base before going, so the classroom portion for me was mostly practicing conversation and comprehension. Staying with a host family was my favorite part of the trip. I feel like I got to know them very well and loved how they involved me in all of their normal daily and weekend activities. My Spanish definitely improved throughout this time, although I don't think I realized it until I came back home. I cannot recommend Na'atik and their study abroad program highly enough. Do it! You won't regret it.

Yes, I recommend this program

My week of study at Na’atik and living with a host family was amazing, actually transformational. The small (3) class size, the experience of the teacher (Pedro) and the overall Na’atik experience exceeded my expectations in every regard. Our host family, Doña Fernanda and Don Modesto May, were lovely people, who were eager to know me and the friend who also stayed in their home. The simplicity of our housing surprised me initially, but it came to feel like “home” by the end of the week. The people of Carrillo Puerto are humble, hard-working people who were friendly and helpful. As far as I know, the 9 of us at the school this particular were the only Americans in the entire town- which meant that we stood out. It also gave us a great opportunity to speak to many different people, in stores, restaurants, and in the street. Carrillo is a quiet place, with not a lot going on socially, yet I had the feeling that if I had had more energy in the evenings, I could have found more of a social life. Overall, it was a wonderful experience!

What would you improve about this program?
The only thing I would change is sending the Orientation package out earlier to participants, to give us a clearer idea of what the entire experience will be like. I hope to be able to return with my husband soon.
Yes, I recommend this program

My companion and I spent 2 weeks at Na'atik in Phillipe Carillo Puerto Mexico. It was an amazing experience. From the information we received prior to the trip to the communication and support we received as we were traveling to the program to the wonderful staff and students, it was a thoroughly delightful and enriching experience. I could not have imagined how comfortable I would be bicycling around a small city, visiting local shops and restaurants and using my Spanish as I acquired it.
The school staff were so welcoming and conscientious that I was completely comfortable, and my host family was very experienced and made every effort to help me with my language skills. I greatly admired my patient teacher who "endured" 4 hours a day of Spanish conversation with me
as I learned and used my newly acquired Spanish. I was the only one in my class as my skills fell just above very beginning and below those accomplished conversationalists. I appreciated the care that was taken in placing me just at my level.
There were two field trips planned, one to a Mayan medicinal plant forest and one for kayaking and swimming. We also took a trip to Tulum (one hour) and to the beach town of Mahuhual on our own. Bus transportation is very convenient.
We will be returning next year.

What would you improve about this program?
Because I am a visual learner, I would have liked a workbook with vocabulary and phrases in it.
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent the month of July in Carrillo and had one of the best experiences ever. The classes were great, they were super small so I felt like I got plenty of attention. My host family was great. It was good practice to have to talk to them in Spanish and the food they made was amazing. I felt very safe in Carrillo, even as a 16 year old girl by myself, and had a great time exploring other cities nearby on the weekends. I would definitely recommend this program.


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Alumni Interviews

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

Jo Ryan

Jo Ryan is from Sydney, Australia. She graduated from the University of New South Wales with a degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies. Currently she works in administration, as well as furthering her studies in Archaeology, which is why she travelled to Mexico and spent a week learning Maya at Na’atik in early Feb 2014.

What made this study abroad experience unique and special?

What made my study abroad experience special was that it was tailored to my needs, I was looking to really immerse myself in the language and culture, and the staff at Na’atik made it happen. They placed me with a wonderful Mayan family, I was able to listen to their language, learn their traditions and take part in their day to day life. Backpacking around Mexico was a lot of fun and I visited some incredible sights, but living and breathing as the locals do allows you to see and appreciate a place from a different, more real point of view.

How has this experience impacted your future?

This experience has enriched my future in a big way. Academically it has fuelled my interest in the Maya language and culture, and I continue to research both now that I’m home. My aim is to continue building my knowledge of the language so that I can communicate with locals and learn more about the ancient and present day Mayas.

My professional development has benefited from this experience in that I’ve gained an even broader understanding of other cultures and communication, demonstrating initiative and an interest in learning to my employers. But most important to me, on a personal level, this experience has given me amazing new friendships and connections that I will treasure forever.

What was the best place you visited outside of your study abroad city?

Outside of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, the best place I visited would have to be Tulum. Just 1 ½ hours away and really easy to get to from Carrillo, Tulum is a Caribbean paradise. Mild, turquoise sea and white sand beaches, it took some serious willpower to come out of the water!

There is accommodation to suit all budgets and restaurants to suit all tastes. I stayed at a fantastic hostel, where the owner took us out on a memorable ‘taco tour’ of the town.

The highlight for me in Tulum was, of course, its magnificent clifftop ruins. The combination of ancient buildings set on a cliff overlooking that jewelled sea was simply magical.

If you could do-over one thing, what would it be?

I would make my stay longer! I experienced and learned so much in such a short space of time, to think what other treasures I would have come across and how much more of the language I could have picked up had I been there longer has me checking return flights...

Felipe Carrillo Puerto first comes across as a fairly quiet, slow paced town, but the more you get to know the community the more you learn, and the people are so friendly and welcoming, so proud of where they live, they want to show you everything. I was taken around the town, to the buzzing market, baseball games, a nearby farm, beautiful lagoons, an amazing seafood restaurant, nightclubs and a Mayan community village...just to name just a few!

Staff Interviews

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

Blaiqe Allshouse

Job Title
ESL Teacher

What is your favorite travel memory?

Only one?! I think my favorite travel memory would be hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province, China. It was one of my first solo travel trips and the gorge itself was a new experience for me as I had never done any kind of long-distance hiking or trekking. Of course, the internet had me scared out of my mind about being mugged or stabbed on the hike but I didn’t run into any of that. I had the most beautiful and peaceful two days hiking the gorge. I was on my own almost the whole way so I was able to take in every second of the serenity and calm that filled the gorgeous landscapes that surrounded me. I can’t wait to go back!

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

There are many qualities that are important for the success of any company. I think one of the most important factors is organization. Whether the company is a school a non-profit or a hotdog stand on the side of the street, organization is of the utmost importance for that business’s success. If a company is selling a product or providing a service, organization is something that is expected from customers as well as staff. As an employee of the company, organization is key when it comes to workplace expectations, consistent paychecks, and a general, pleasant working environment. Even though it seems like an easy thing to overlook, organization is a huge part of a company’s success as it affects everyone, in and out of the company itself.

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

Since I began working at Na'atik I have grown both professionally and personally. As a teacher, this is my first experience teaching teenagers so I have had to adjust my teaching style to suit this new age group. After teaching young learners for two years previously, it has been fun to be able to have deeper discussions with older students. It is interesting to hear both their opinions and life experience on the topics we discuss in class. Also with teaching a higher level of English to ESL students, I have been challenged in creating more in-depth lessons with more of a conversational or grammatical approach than simply vocabulary. I am definitely a more well-rounded teacher having worked at Na’atik.

What unique qualities does your company possess?

Na’atik is definitely a unique company in several ways. I really like how we provide services both domestically (to the local community in Mexico) as well as internationally to students looking to learn Mayan or Spanish. The community and lifestyle in Felipe Carrillo Puerto is an incredible look into modern Mayan culture for foreigners to experience. And on the other hand, we are providing to local students an opportunity that otherwise would not exist for them in this small Mexican town. Overall, I think this creates very unique opportunities for both groups of learners. I also think Na’atik is unique in its size. We are a small company which fosters a laid-back, open working environment, which from a teaching standpoint, has allowed me to thrive.

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

Na’atik seems to have a large percent of return students, unlike anything I was familiar with in my ESL work in China. It’s neat to see classes that have studied English together for years and their closeness. The best stories I have heard from students are in general the opportunities the school has to expand their learning. For example, each year the Na’atik staff organizes a trip for the teen groups to go to Playa del Carmen, or this year to Xcaret, an eco-archaeological park in Riviera Maya. They have scavenger hunts and enjoy lunch and shows together, using their English in new and fun ways. Our younger students are invited to a camp where there are games and snacks in another exciting way to use the English they have learned in the classroom. It is activities like this that students have come to love from attending class at Na’atik.