Posted by Sarah Whitehouse 1 year 10 months ago
Not important, but obviously helpful. In the jungle you are among other students and can speak English. Basic Spanish is helpful for transportation and the in city/tourist areas. Kalu Yala offers 3rd party Spanish classes and most Panamanians appreciate any effort to speak their language regardless of how poorly you do it.
You can make it without Spanish but where is the fun in that? Learn some basic phrases and meet locals half way and mix in gestures! Kalu Yala is about expanding your horizons and being respectful to the many people and cultures of Panama. Other students and advisors will help and are fluent.
Hi Reader of Kalu Yala Reviews!
I was there with the KY company in Panama City during the dry season (U.S. spring time) of 2013. I also visit the KY HQ in the village of San Miguel, as well as the KY jungle base in the outskirts of Tres Brazos.
Knowing Spanish is moderately valuable if you are doing a program such as business interning in the city, most valuable in making closer connections with townsfolk in the village either teaching English or physical education, and least essential in doing the biology internship in the jungle.
Even in doing the biology internship, it may benefit you as it did for some interns I met. For example, one fellow went to the Indicasat company, and the Florida State University, offices in the "Ciudad de Saber" (City of Knowledge) to get more research done. And, if you are being very strict about making your student in San Miguel never hear you speak Spanish to encourage them to learn more English, perhaps you may exceptionally have a lesser need of knowing Spanish prior to going there.
Several interns didn't know much Spanish prior to arrival, and still survived just fine for a full semester. However, it is a great opportunity to practice everyday your growing language skills, especially if you know how to look up basic Spanish phrases and use them casually in appropriate situations during your time here in Kalu Yala. The top leaders in KY all have vast knowledge of speaking Spanish, so staying together with them will benefit you in traveling by bus or other means. These program directors at KY will help you get by for sure. Nevertheless, you will score instant friends if you speak Spanish very well to help fellow interns be able to ask for the most difficult things from native Panamanians, so it never hurts to know a lot of Spanish, but you will make it by just fine without any of it as well.