Study Spanish or Maya with Na'atik in Mexico!

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About

Our culturally immersive language courses in Spanish and Maya introduce visitors to the real Zona Maya (it’s not just ruins!). Na'atik Language and Culture Institute is located just off the tourist trail in the colorful, safe and cultural town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, in the southeast corner of the Yucatán peninsula, Mexico.

We offer immersive courses in Spanish and Maya, delivered by local native-speaking teachers. You are bound to have a great experience meeting friendly locals, trying out delicious local food and exploring surrounding areas of natural beauty. By enrolling in this program, you will also be helping keep English classes affordable for Mexican Maya students in our community.

We the tailor the syllabus to your level and provide classes with qualified, local native-speakers in our bright, modern school building with AC and WiFi.

Questions & Answers

There are no age restrictions. We are happy to accommodate students of all ages and levels, and can adapt classes to your specific needs.
The school actually matched us. I didn't know where exactly I was staying or the details until I arrived in Carrillo. This also could be because I did not ask.. I was very open to whatever experience the program was going to provide me. The family was awesome and had hosted many students already so they were very familiar with the process. A friend I made who was also studying at Na'atik had a...
Totally and exactly they are decided by the level and I never saw a class bigger than 2. I came alone and had one other person come into my program a week in and they were at a similar level.

Reviews

99%
based on 33 reviews
  • Academics 9.7
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.4
  • Housing 9.1
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 1 - 15 of 33
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Deborah
10/10

A fabulous week at Na’atik

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!

How can this program be improved?
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
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Karen
10/10

A rich cultural and academic experience

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.

How can this program be improved?
Because I am a visual learner, I would have liked a workbook with vocabulary and phrases in it.
Yes, I recommend
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Maddie
10/10

A Fantastic Experience

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.

Yes, I recommend
Renee
10/10

One week cram course

For a short review: I had a week to spare between semesters and I'm so glad I picked Na'atik as my program. It exceeded my expectations and I left learning so much about the language, culture, history, and the wonderful people that live there!

Academics:
Prior to Na'atik the only Spanish I knew was the little bit I picked up from Duolingo and that sort. Edwin was my teacher and he was very patient with me. Our 4 hour classes were very interactive and I was lucky enough to have picked a convenient week that allowed us to explore the community during class hours to gain real life experiences outside the classroom. We hit subject after subject in just a week and I learned so much more than I expected from vocabulary, confidence, to culture.

Support:
The school is 100% there for you. I think after every class I hung around the school to chat up with the English teachers, site coordinator and the owner. We went out for dinner, we went to a lagoon, we kept in touch through messages and I always knew who to go to with questions or concerns. I have so much love and appreciation for my host family. My host parents sat with me everyday after meals to help me practice my Spanish. Even though I was a total beginner in the language, they never stopped and they gave me just enough vocabulary so I can keep up.

Safety:
I'm 19, petite, and hadn't traveled much ever, so I had my concerns about flying into Mexico and navigating my way to the town on my own, but it was so, so easy. The bus ride from the airport to the town was my biggest concern, but there was absolutely no need to worry. The town itself is very welcoming. Everybody smiles and says hello, and when I practiced my very broken Spanish to people in the community they were so nice to me.

Yes, I recommend
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Susan
10/10

Living in Carrillo

After researching Spanish language schools for nearly 6 months and making contact with a few, I found Na'atik to be the most responsive and safest option. They have staff from the area as well as from the USA and UK. It was helpful having both the ease of being totally understood when needed but the challenge of being immersed in the culture and language in classes and at the home stay. My family home was beautiful with my private room and bath. I had the option of sleeping in a hammock which is the area norm, or in a double bed. I was able to go on a few outings with our home stay family and got to meet the mom's precious grandparents. The school provided an outing to a lagoon for kayaking and a fun optional class for learning to make tortillas and juice. Both activities were led by Spanish speaking individuals who loved what they were doing. This was another fun opportunity to develop my language skills. Carrillo is a very friendly and safe town with a lovely plaza in the town center. I would recommend this program to those who like to be away from the city center and like to feel a warm connection to new people and culture.

Yes, I recommend
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Kelsey
10/10

Incredible!

I stayed in Felipe Carrillo Puerto in a homestay and studied with Naatik for 2 weeks. I had the experience of a lifetime and loved every second! Both the staff contacts (Layla and Poppy) were responsive, helpful, and accessible throughout the entire process. I loved the classes, which allowed for so much more individual attention than I ever received studying Spanish in the United States. It was very immersive, the town is not touristy at all but it is easy to travel to nearby locations such as Bacalar and Tulum. My homestay was amazing, and I even loved sleeping in a hammock every night! I had my own room and bathroom, and the family had two little dogs who were very friendly :) The central square is a great place to go and people-watch and drink agua fresca and the mercado has tiendas to buy gifts and food.

This is a great program for anyone serious about immersing themselves in Spanish and having a unique, wonderful experience! If possible, I would try to schedule a weekend into your trip to explore other nearby towns as well..but day trips after classes are also do-able.

How can this program be improved?
I can't think of any way to improve the program! The staff are very receptive to any concerns. Just make sure you are looking for an off the beaten path experience, as the website suggests, because it is not a major tourist destination.
Yes, I recommend
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Farhad
9/10

An amazing experience

I went for a month to Na'atik to study Spanish. I had an amazing time while I was there, and I definitely recommend Na'atik to anyone that is interested in learning Spanish and gaining knowledge of the [email protected]/Mayan/[email protected]/Mexican culture.

Homestay/Food: My homestay family was extremely welcoming, and they were extremely nice and good people. They made some amazing food dishes (accommodated my vegetarian diet for the summer) and their agua bebidas were TOO DIE FOR!!! They also taught me a lot about the life of the people in the town, and I gained a lot of the Spanish language just by practicing with them. I miss them a lot!

FCP: I am more of a city guy, but I enjoyed my time at FCP. It was a colorful and chill town, and it was centrally located to many other amazing spots (Valladolid, Chichen Itza, Tulum, Bacalar, etc.). The people are very warm and friendly, and I always felt safe there. If you do want a city feel, I would check out other programs, but I think you'll have a unique experience at FCP. Getting around by combis was extremely easy and cheap (like everything else in the town!!!).

Program: I wish I could have given a 16 instead of a 10 (1-10 scale) for the program and how well they accommodated me. Being the spoiled guy that I am (living in the Bay Area weather), I requested a change of my housing because I had a hard time sleeping at night without any AC and in the hot weather (still would spend time and eat with homestay family though). They were extremely responsive and found something for me, and I didn't have to pay that much extra. They also helped me find places to visit outside of the town, located acupuncture services, and made a lot of recommendations on how to improve my Spanish.

Classes: Irene is a great teacher and a valuable resource with a lot of knowledge about the Mexican culture. She accommodated my needs and was extremely receptive to any feedback or concerns that I have, so please let her know if you want anything in particular. She was really encouraging when I doubted myself and diagnosed what I needed to continue with after I returned to the States. She also helped me with understanding the town better and helped me buy guayaberas for myself, father, and a friend of mine! I can't thank her enough! Ask her about her tours to other parts within the Yucatan and Quintana Roo!

I definitely recommend Na'atik, and I think you'll have a great time as well!!!! :)

How can this program be improved?
I don't have any remarks about how to improve the program. If you're looking for a good time to go if you're sensitive to hot/humid weather, I would DEFINITELY try to avoid the summer.

Just make sure you tell the teachers and staff if you have any concerns or needs, they will definitely address it!!!!!!
Yes, I recommend
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Erica
10/10

Speechless

I am a 31-yr-old Spanish teacher from Michigan who just had the time of my life. I had studied in Mexico before, but in Mexico City, so this experience was much different--it was AT LEAST equally amazing if not more amazing. I loved the Riviera Maya! I was a little nervous before I went because I thought maybe I was too old, but there is a place for everyone at Na´atik of any age and any language level. I was treated like family by the administration, faculty, other students and my host family even though I was practically a stranger. I needed medical care while I was there and a fellow student and the school subdirector accompanied me to the doctor. It made it so much easier since my actual family could not be there. My medical care was quick and low-cost---I actually had a better experience there than I often do in the United States. The cultural immersion along with the academic program at Na´atik was incredibly valuable and fulfilling. If you are lucky enough to have Silvia as your teacher--you´re in for a treat! If you are debating on enrolling in this program, you should dive right in--you have nothing to worry about! I´ll be back!

How can this program be improved?
update packing list
Yes, I recommend
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Elizabeth
10/10

Great, authentic homestay and immersion experience!

My 17-year old daughter and I were down in Felipe Carrillo Puerto (FCP) for a week in early July. We are very nostalgic for it now, a month later! She had a homestay with a local family with three daughters and studied four hours daily at Na'atik. I was down for a week to do some work, staying in a beautiful apartment that the Na'atik staff set me up with and catching up with my daughter on occasion.

I highly recommend this program. First of all, the homestay was terrific. She had her own room with a hammock and bed (she ultimately ended up choosing the hammock most nights) and a private bathroom. The food was great. She played with the family's 11- and 5-year old daughters and was invited to join the family for a daughter's graduation. The homestay was about a block from the school, so she managed her own schedule getting there and back, and it was really convenient. Second, the instruction at the school was great. It was my daughter and an instructor, one-on-one, talking completely in Spanish and working on high-level grammar for hours every day. She says she learned a lot, and I certainly relied on her as my interpreter while we were there. The staff at Na'atik are immediately likable. We were so grateful to Poppy and Catherine for their accessibility and their great advice for activities (don't miss Bacalar or Muyil!). Finally, there is Felipe Carrillo Puerto itself -- a manageable small Mexican town filled with surprising juxtapositions of old and new. You'll see big beautiful houses with palapa huts next door. Children playing in the streets, using flip flops as bases. The town is easy to traverse by bike. Everything is crazy cheap. You can go to the Mercado and get unbelievably terrific tacos, with inputs like carne asada or cochinita pibil, for a dollar or two. You would be hard-pressed to spend $5 per person eating unbelievable Yucatecan food in town. We frequently ate at the Mercado and other taquerias and never got sick. The jungle is nearby, and it is truly birdwatcher's paradise there.

If you want a homestay, language immersion, and an amazing cultural experience, look no further. She would definitely do this again, and I, frankly, would be delighted to go back down and absorb the atmosphere in this charming town again.

Yes, I recommend
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Bethany
10/10

Great Family Experience

This was a great experience for our family of 4 (including 2 kids, age 12 and 9). The Na'atik staff really went out of their way to make sure that we were all comfortable and had a great time throughout our stay. The kids' teachers were patient and fun and kept the Spanish lessons fun and interesting-- my youngest went to a market, to the town square, and out for games. My 12 year old's teacher taught "practical" Spanish using lyrics to songs to make the learning relevant for him. Our teacher was great, and mixed in some cultural education with the language learning. We thoroughly enjoyed our home stay and look forward to visiting our host family again. We would recommend this program without hesitation. Thanks Na'Atik!

Yes, I recommend
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Marcos
10/10

Learned a Ton!

It's hard to describe how fantastic the people at Na'atik are, but to put it this way: They're not your teachers, or your school, they're your friends. And that is what make all the difference.

Also, you get plenty of immersion from being in the local community, it's very reasonably priced, and the people of Felipe Carrillo Puerto are amazing. I had an amazing adventure every weekend.

It's better if you already have some grammar training before going, but I went with absolutely no Spanish background and was conversational by the end of my two months.

Yes, I recommend
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Holly
10/10

An amazing experience!

Studying at Na'atik was an experience I'll never forget! It was everything I'd hoped for in an immersion program. The staff was very supportive, and my teacher (Edwin) tailored my lessons to fit my level. My host family was very welcoming and I felt comfortable with them right away! The locals were happy to talk to me when I approached them, and I felt perfectly safe during my stay. I liked it so much, and learned SO much, that I'll be returning for a longer stay in just a few months!!!

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Zach
10/10

Just do this!

Ma'alob k'iin!
I came to Carrillo to learn a little bit of Maya. I didn't expect to learn much in a week. But after an amazing time with my teacher (including a private trip to a Maya pueblito) and my host family (oh my god the tortillas! I'll never forget them) I was already picking out Maya words on the local radio station and able to ask a few questions of people I met. I have every intention of going back, and that doesn't seem too hard to do for the price. If you go for Maya though you need to know some Spanish already.
I gave 'fun' a 9 because of the way the question was worded. There isn't much of a social scene in Carrillo. (Apparently it's super expensive fpr restauranteurs to get permits because of how touristy the rest of Quintana Roo is.) If you wanna get drunk, go elsewhere. But I had a huge amount of fun, so maybe that's more criticism of the question than the program. That said, Naomi was one of my favorite tour guides. She gave this real sense of having as much fun and exploring as much as any of us, but at the same time I felt super safe and comfortable that she knew what she was doing.
The fact that the program costs go to help pay for English classes for young (and ridiculously cute) Carrillo residents certainly didn't hurt either.

Yes, I recommend
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Michael
10/10

A Deep Dive into Mexico

After having considered other Mexico locations—like Merida, Oaxaca, and Puerto Escondido—for a week’s immersion to re-launch Spanish study, I’m very glad I opted for Na’atik in Felipe Carrillo Puerto. The instruction was top quality and involved a stimulating combination of grammar review and related drills, readings and discussion, and free forms conversations about life and past experience. During these discussions, the brain pressed up against its expressive frontier in Spanish; Pedro is a great teacher, and as necessary gently offered better expressive options and the grammatical reasons underlying them. Time passed quickly, and the sessions soon proved their short term value in a greater confidence in navigating the interesting and untouristed town of Carrillo. I wandered its streets on foot and bike with more confidence and sense of security than I would many neighborhoods in my hometown of Chicago. I am grateful to Catherine and Poppy for some orientation and a visit to a nearby clear and spring-fed lagoon. My home-stay host and hostess, Miguel and Dianela, were wonderful. Dianela was once a professional cocinera, and it showed. I dined well and avidly on chicken and vegetable stews, desayuno egg dishes and quesadillas, and warm fresh maize tortillas, among other things. Miguel’s commentary and a couple of Spanish language books he loaned me provided an introduction the history of this region, and the development of Mexico’s border with Central America. Although a sighting of American or European tourist is unlikely in Carrillo, the Na’atik school is a home away from home—the Mexican, American, and English staff were kind and welcoming, and “inclusive” in the natural convivial way, not the suffocating, politically correct way. On my trip home, I noticed that I missed the Na’atik folks I had gotten to know. I hope to visit Na’atik again at greater length, and I highly recommend the same experience to anyone wishing to take a deep dive into Mexico.

Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Brooke
10/10

YES!

If you're even remotely considering going to Na'atik for an immersion experience, DO IT. I cannot say enough good things about this school, their staff, and the community. From the beginning of my search for an immersion program, the staff at Na'atik were extremely responsive, personal and accommodating to all of my questions and needs. I was lucky enough to be able to join them for two weeks. During that time I took private classes with Irene. Again, I also cannot say enough good things about Irene! My classes were adjusted to meet my specific level and needs. I was pushed and challenged in the best way. Learning a second language is an adventure but can be extremely hard at times. On the hardest days I found nothing but encouragement from Irene and the rest of the staff.

My host family was so warm and welcoming to me. Of course living in a new country can bring its own set of differences, but my best advice is to be open. Try everything. Eat everything that's put in front of you. Embrace the hammock sleeping. You won't regret it and you'll learn a lot about yourself in the process. My family took me in and showed me their community and invited me to be a part of their life while I was in Carillo and that's an experience I'll forever treasure. To this day I still talk to my family often. I can't stress enough how wonderful they are and how wonderful the home stay experience is! :)

I highly recommend Na'atik, no matter what level of Spanish you're on. I have studied Spanish for many years but being totally immersed took me to an entire new level. There's no greater way to learn something than to place yourself right in the middle of it. This school is a real gem in their community. I'm already itching to get back there! :)

Yes, I recommend

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About 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...