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 for all ages, backgrounds, and language levels. Whether you're looking to advance your career, learn for the sake of learning, or just have an unique travel experience 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!

Highlights
  • Stay with a local homestay family.
  • Learn about modern Maya culture.
  • Study with trained native-speaking teachers from the area.
  • Explore the Yucatán peninsula from the comfort of safe and welcoming small town.
  • 10% of your fee goes directly to supporting our local nonprofit work teaching English.

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 35 reviews
  • Academics 9.7
  • Support 9.9
  • Fun 9.5
  • Housing 9.2
  • Safety 9.9
Showing 16 - 30 of 35
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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
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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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Amanda
10/10

Bespoke language learning in a warm and friendly environment

Learning Spanish was a wonderful experience at Na'atik, they really look after you! Catherine the owner is very supportive, ready to assist with anything you may need and really passionate about the local area and language learning.

My teacher Pedro was very experienced and adaptable, able to tailor the lessons to my very novice level but ambitious study goals. I barely knew any Spanish when I arrived, but familiarity with another romantic language and the small class size meant that we could speed up and slow down to focus on specific areas as needed. The host family were great too, immersion is really the way to go if you want to learn a language - after two weeks at Na'atik I had enough Spanish to survive another three months solo travelling through Central and South America.

The host family was lovely, I still salivate a little when I think of the food they cooked for me! The room had both a bed and a hammock, which I ended up sleeping in the whole time because it was so comfortable.

The little town of Carrillo, with its rich culture and welcoming people, was such a delight. It makes for a great base to further explore the area, Tulum is an easy combi ride away and there are plenty of other ruins and cenotes around to explore in your free time.

Yes, I recommend
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Joanna
10/10

As real as it gets

This program was exactly what I as looking for. As short as it was, I feel I've added much to my life.
My family was simply lovely and I will be leaving my heart with them. I was seeking an authentic experience and this feels as real as it gets. On top of the absolutely amazing food, to be so graciously welcomed into their home was a gift.
The warmth and friendliness of the other teachers was also special. The invitation to socialize on their own personal time is another gift that I do not underestimate. The attitude of the teachers, the students,a and the family combine to make Na'atik an admirable, warm and beautiful community.
I am a brand new beginner in Spanish and came knowing extremely little. Edwin was very patient and provided me with just the right amount of content and presented it very clearly. I truly appreciated how he listened to me and worked to answer my questions. The most powerful learning, I feel, was outside the classroom with Edwin. The drive to the lagoon, the walk through town, and the personal time with Edwin and his family allowed me to use and understand the content in a meaningful, practical, and thoroughly enjoyable way. These were more than lessons in Spanish language. They were intimate cultural experiences that made my time at Na'atik very rich.

Yes, I recommend
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Luke
10/10

Mi tiempo en Felipe Carillo Puerto

I would recommend this program if you have a desire to learn Spanish/Mayan and explore Mexico, the family I stayed with was very accommodating and invited me to do things with them, the staff was flexible as too what I wanted to learn (Mayan Legends, Poems, and Latin American History.) I was also able to visit many different points, via the bus and communicating with people around. I had a great time.

Yes, I recommend
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Carrie
10/10

Best spanish school experience I've had

I am so happy I found Na'atik! Catherine, the school's owner, is so thoughtful and takes care of every detail. I have studied Spanish at 4 different schools (2 in guatemala; 1 in Honduras) and this is by far the best.

Why? The amount of attention given to your academic needs as well as the details for the homestay and outside of school activities. The families actually care to get to know you (that is above and beyond most homestay family setups which typically are more "business like").

The teachers at the school are great and the town is a really lovely place to stay as well as an easy place to explore the region. I have never gone back to a school twice but I would go back here!

Yes, I recommend
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Kelly
10/10

Tres Semanas Increíbles!

So much to say about the beautiful people and culture of Carrillo and Na'atik! I am a 29 year old North Carolina native living in Brooklyn, NY. After much research on where to immerse, I picked Na'atik based on location, amazing reviews, and the overall, caring vibe I received from the staff there. Although I have done my fair share of world traveling, I had never ventured alone for such a length of time, making me feel nervous and excited about this trip to Mexico.

Arriving in Carrillo, I was met by Catherine, Na'atik's owner who picked me up at the bus station, as well as the amazing family I had the privilege of living with for three weeks. Any nerves were almost immediately calmed by such gracious and warm greetings. My host family could not have been more welcoming and wonderful in making me feel comfortable and at home. They took me to a local laguna, I attended the son's graduation, and would just hang out and get to know them as they tended their family run store. And the food! Oh my, the food! Three meals daily and so delicious, I still dream about it. She even accommodated my vegetarian diet which was such an incredible perk. The home stay was the aspect of the trip I was most nervous about. My new Mexican family ended up truly being the highlight.

As far as the Na'atik and the classes went, this place is truly special. From the beginning, every single person I encountered was kind and encouraging. Before and during my stay, Molly was a gem to have as an resource and friend. She eased so many of my concerns coming in, and while I was in Carrillo was always there for any questions or needs I may have had. Her and Catherine are truly a dream team.

I was fortunate enough to have one-on-one classroom instruction with Pedro, Catherine's husband. I couldn't believe how fast the four hour daily classes would fly by - challenging and fun. It was a perfect mix of technical language study with chatting and getting to know each other - all in Spanish! I was grateful for the times Pedro wouldn't let me cop out with a little "Spanglish". And to have classes outdoors in the palapas was such an incredible treat.

My biggest piece of advice to someone thinking of coming to Na'atik is to stay as long as you can! I remember thinking after my first and second weeks how fast it had gone by and that I couldn't imagine leaving so soon.

Na'atik exceeded my expectations and I look forward to studying in Carrillo again soon!

Yes, I recommend
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Theresa
10/10

Two Weeks that I'll Never Forget

I chose Na'atik for my first Spanish immersion experience after a lot of internet research, and it fulfilled all that I hoped for. Felipe Carillo Puerto is off the beaten track, no tourists, very low key, and a wonderful little city to wander and explore in. I felt very safe and every one I encountered was friendly and helpful. Na’atik has a special place in this community, since it teaches English to many of the local citizens, from little children to adults. The school is always filled with the energy of learning! Catherine - the school’s founder, Pedro - my teacher, and Molly - who helps in countless ways, were extremely welcoming, encouraging and fun to be with. The four hours of intensive Spanish class daily kept me working hard and focused -- exactly as I wanted. Especially helpful were the days that my classes were complemented by tours of the city and the Maya museum with a teacher who helped me apply Spanish in a real world context. I loved learning about the history of Quintana Roo and the Maya people - through my teachers, the school staff, and my host family. The experience of living with a family in Felipe Carillo Puerto was incredible! They were so generous, and the most amazing and fun teachers. They encouraged me to speak, and corrected me in gentle ways that kept the communication going and built my confidence. My host mother was a phenomenal cook! Delicious dinners every day. They truly welcomed them into their family, and made this experience unforgettable.

How can this program be improved?
I would have preferred two 2 hour classes daily, instead of one four-hour-long class daily - ideally, 2 hrs. in the classroom, the other 2 hrs. practicing Spanish in the context of daily life. This would be ideal for me, though I understand it's difficult to arrange! Na'atik gave me this experience for 2 of my 10 days, which is why I know it would have been ideal for me. But everyone learns differently, and the school bends over backwards to accommodate its students.
Yes, I recommend
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Hilary
10/10

Na'atik is great!

I chose Na'atik for three reasons. First, it was in the Yucatan, which meant it was close to the Mayan ruins. Second, the school was really cool about accepting and arranging to have my entire family at the school (two adults, two children, ages 12 and 10). And third, Na'atik is in a tiny town you have never heard of, which means you will learn TONS of Spanish. Despite my husband's protestations, all four of us did a homestay with a modern Mayan family. This seemed crazy, but turned out to be a highlight. Our boys slept in hammocks and we had all our meals with a family. We met neighbors, and lived like locals, and we loved our family. They probably taught us the most we learned in the week.

Catherine Gray, the founder of the school, and Molly, who corresponds with anyone interested, answered all my endless questions before my arrival, and when we got there we got incedible personal attention. When my son hurt his finger, Catherine took us to the hospital and translated for us. Catherine arranged for my sons to run with a local track team every afternoon. And our two boys, and the two of us, were in classes of two each. We not only learned Spanish, but also learned about local history, and the Mayan resistance. If we had special vocabulary, or certain things we wanted to focus on, that could be arranged. Our teacher was fun and thorough. And the woman who taught my boys (beginners) was creative and fun, teaching them songs, games and making them go shopping in town for fruit--both talking, and tasting.

We were there for one week. I think two weeks would have been perfect.

If you want a unique experience, and to learn Spanish in a town where no one speaks English, this is the program for you!

How can this program be improved?
I sometimes wished our teacher (adult) had drilled us more in class. I wanted intense. But we got enough practice outside school that it worked out.
Yes, I recommend
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Shayla
10/10

Me encanta esta programa!

Na'atik and Carrillo Puerto offer an experience of the real Mexico. It's a sleepy town filled with pleasant and friendly people that pokes out of the jungle. Mayan and Spanish are equally spoken around town, the food is delicious, lagoons/mayan ruins/pools offer adventures in the weekends/afternoons. The language instruction is tailored to your needs and desires; Catherine and Pedro are very attentive and so nice! They placed me with a welcoming host family that invited me to join them in festivals and dancing. For me, it was a wonderful experience. I think I really improved my Spanish and returned home with stories to boot! I would love to return in the future for a tranquil getaway/improve my Spanish more. It is a way to study Spanish off the beaten path, outside of strictly-structured classrooms, and to feel embraced within the community.

How can this program be improved?
This program is not for everyone. It's for the explorers and laid back. The accommodations are not such as what you would expect in the States.
Yes, I recommend
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Jessica
10/10

Experience of a lifetime

PROGRAM
I chose this program on a whim based on one positive review I found online, and I couldn't be more pleased with this decision. Prior to coming to Na'atik, I was only able to speak few words and phrases of Spanish. I spent 3 weeks learning Spanish from Pedro. Classes were 4 hours a day Monday to Thursday, 2 hours on Fridays, one on one for the first 2 weeks, and the third week another student joined my class, which worked seamlessly. Because the class was one on one for the most part, Pedro tailored the curriculum to suit my needs and level. I'm a nurse and take care of Spanish speaking patients often so he integrated a lot of related vocab, which was very helpful. 4 hours might seem long, but in reality, classes went by very fast. Pedro was a great teacher, patient, and passionate about the school and their mission. The team at Na'atik truly felt like family, always checking in with me and so welcoming. They even organized a couple outings, a taco dinner and a trip to a nearby ceynote.

When I first arrived to Mexico (before Na'atik), I was not able to communicate at all with the shuttle driver due to my (very) limited Spanish, and then AFTER, I was able get around town, talk to shopkeepers, buy bus tickets, order food in restaurants, talk to my host family, etc. I'm far from fluent, but now I feel comfortable getting around on my own and making my needs known. Pedro admitted that he was shocked with my quick progress and was super supportive and encouraging the whole time.

HOST FAMILY
I strongly suggest staying with a host family when doing this program because this is what helped most with my learning, not only the language but also the culture. My family was so generous and patient. They speak very little English but always talked to me and encouraged me to practice my Spanish. They welcomed me as a part of their family by taking me to see the beautiful towns of Valladolid and Mahahual, as well as to their son's college graduation ceremony. I even went to Zumba most mornings with my host sister.

The bugs took some getting used to but, for the most part, I felt comfortable in my home. I had my own room with a bed, hammock, and fan in it. I also had Wifi (what a luxury!), so I was able to communicate with my family daily via whatsapp and facetime. Slept most nights in the hammock because it surpringly was more comfortable. Meals were delicious and never had any GI problems.

TOWN OF CARRILLO
Na'atik provided a bike so I was able to get around town easily. The people are very friendly and I always felt safe. Because it is so small, I was able to navigate without difficulty. Na'atik also provided a town map and a walking tour. Because there are no tourist attractions in Carrillo, you get the unique opportunity to truly immerse yourself in Spanish and their Mayan culture. It is also very easy (and cheap) to get to other towns via combi because it is off that main highway.

**I highly recommend this program for anyone who is open minded and seeking a unique, off the beaten path experience.

Yes, I recommend
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Daniel
10/10

Mexico Lindo y Querido

BEFORE

One thing that made me decide on choosing Na’atik for my study abroad experience was because I consistently read positive online reviews on this and other sites. So once I started reaching out to the staff and asking more questions, I became convinced that this was the right program for me. The staff was incredibly helpful and answered all of my questions. Another thing that convinced me to attend Na’atik was the fact that it was off the beaten tourist path but still located in a safe and secure area. My grandparents are originally from Mexico and I was looking for a Spanish immersion program that not only helped with the language aspect of the culture but also immersed you in the way of life and traditions of Mexican culture. Na’atik covered all of that…and more!

DURING

I stayed with a host family that provided a private room with a cozy bed (and a hammock which was so comfortable). Additionally, my host family provided my meals and it was delicious…my host mom made the best chicken mole I’ve ever had….I still have dreams about that mole!

During your stay, you are given an itinerary of activities that Na’atik provides (Spanish instruction, taco night, trip to lagoon, tour of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, and more). In addition, I spent a lot of time doing things with my host family—for example, I had the opportunity to attend a college graduation ceremony for the oldest son, Luis. And another day I had the opportunity to visit a pueblo with my host mom to visit her mother and other relatives which was truly a unique and wonderful experience as you see how alive and thriving the Mayan culture is in Felipe and surrounding areas. You do have some free time during your stay and I used my free time to ride my bike around town and take trips to surrounding areas. One day I took a trip to Tulum (which is about an hour away by a collective taxi) and was able to return in time for my afternoon Spanish classes. I highly recommend taking advantage of this time in order to try and take a trip to a surrounding city/town!

The Spanish instruction that is provided by Na’atik is top notch regardless of your level. My own level is advanced and I needed help with the grammar of the language and Pedro was able to tailor the lessons to really help improve my understanding and comprehension.

AFTER

Spending a week in Carrillo really helped to improve my Spanish (both conversationally and grammatically). Beyond that, I was able to connect with my roots and learn more about my Mexican heritage. The people and city of Felipe Carrillo Puerto are beautiful and I plan on returning one day.

I really enjoyed my time and would highly recommend anyone to attend Na’atik if you are looking for a sense of adventure and an authentic taste of Mexico! If you have any reservations about the program, reach out to the staff and they will be happy to help and answer any questions you may have!

Yes, I recommend
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Jo
10/10

Naatik Brought My Love of Mexico to a New Level!

My husband and I have been traveling throughout Mexico for over twenty years. Mexico has a very special place in our hearts. Yet, I wasn't fully prepared for what it meant to live with a Mayan-Mexican family in Felipe Carillo Puerto. My family showered me with love and friendship. My room, bathroom (and the entire home) were clean and comfortable. The meals were absolutely great! I was even part of a family visit to a traditional Mayan pueblo, where I had bananas from the tree and fresh, delicious good. I felt safe, very well cared for and cherished. In only one week we developed fun routines and a friendship I hope will continue.

As for the staff of the school? Wow! My teacher, Pedro, was superb. He made sure that the class was specifically created with my level of Spanish and my interests in mind. On my final day, he took me to the historic places so that I could grasp the importance of the Mayan culture to the people of this area. Catherine, the administrator and founder of the school and Molly, who does anything and everything made my stay a total pleasure. Molly brought me kayaking, Catherine brought me to a pool, and we had a celebratory taco dinner one evening with all the teachers. The children of the town and school are just wonderful. This program has certainly enriched the town.

How can this program be improved?
I think that a lot of thought and care has been taken with this program. My experience was wonderful and I wouldn't change anything!
Yes, I recommend
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Cammy
9/10

Na'atik

I very much enjoyed my experience at the Na'atik school. The teachers were very fun and enthusiastic about teaching. The lagoon visit was a beautiful little break from learning Mayan. Overall I would definitely recommend this course.

How can this program be improved?
Slower pace.
Yes, I recommend
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Jo
9/10

Mayan Adventure with Na'atik

I decided to travel from Australia to Carrillo to take some classes in the Maya language at Na’atik to complement my studies in archaeology and anthropology. I find the Maya culture particularly fascinating and felt I could learn a lot from this part of Mexico and its people by experiencing life as a local. My expectations were more than exceeded!
I chose Na’atik as it had some great reviews, inspiring, up to date photos of their activities, and was in touch with, and involved in, supporting the local community.
My Maya teacher Linda was above and beyond just a language teacher. Her knowledge and enthusiasm for the Maya culture was contagious. And my home stay was as authentic as it gets, being invited to take part in this wonderful family’s daily life was an enriching experience like no other.
The staff at Na’atik were (and continue to be!) so supportive and encouraging. They were flexible in providing me with a personalized program of study to suit my needs, and always available for a chat or to give advice.
For me this course was a great balance of language theory and culture. Some people may prefer a stronger focus on just language, but I know that the staff at Na’atik will happily tailor courses to suit the needs of individuals.
It has been a wonderful experience I will truly treasure and benefit from for years to come, definitely recommended!

How can this program be improved?
No real critical feedback, the school is very flexible and open to any needs...bring mosquito repellent?
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...