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Language schools/Guatemala

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Can anyone share their experiences choosing a language school in Guatemala, either in Antigua or Xela? I've read bits and pieces about different schools there on this site, but I don't have a clear sense of a good way to go about winnowing down all the choices and choosing a school--what to look for, what to look out for. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

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    May be way late to answer, but here goes:

    Firstly, would recommend against signing up for any school from abroad. Antigua and Xela both have tons of language schools, and you won't ever find that they're all booked full. If travelling in high season (July/August and right around christmas) you may find that some are full, but never all.

    Pick a few possible schools, go there in person, visit the school, have a look around and see what vibes you get. The absolutely most important factor is your personal teacher - his/her qualifications, experience, teaching methods, your personal chemistry etc. But it's hard to know much of this before you've actually done some classes. You can never guarantee that your teacher will be great for you even though someone recommended him/her. Just make sure to change teacher if you're not happy. Never committ to more than week at a time, and certainly never pay up front for more than this.

    If you intend to stay with a host family, that is what I'd consider the second most important factor. Despite nice words about immersion and being part of the family and bladibladibla, having a student guest is primarily a business deal to the host families. While that attitude is totally understandable, it may come as a disappointment to the student - in his first host family, whereas the family's had a student a week for the last five years. Make sure:
    -you will have meals with family, not alone nor with only other lodgers.
    -you will be the only student living there at the time, if you think this will help you speak Spanish and not English.
    -you see the place before committing. Standards vary immensely.
    -ask around among other students, get recommendations.

    Volunteering: Most schools offer to set you up with volunteer organizations. If that's something you intend to do, I'd ignore the school part and go directly to volunteering org. School's offer may well be legit, but they do tend to charge some amount for arranging the volunteering, and there are also plenty of stories about school director's having people think they were doing aid work while actually building a road up to his cousin's private property etc.

    After school activities: All schools offer a set of activities, be it cultural lectures, dance classes or sightseeing tours. These are usually rather similar in all schools, wouldn't let it be a determining factor.

    "Non-profit" schools: Many schools will claim to donate to various good causes etc. This may or may not be true, very hard to verify. One thing that's easy to check though - ask how much the teacher's are paid hourly. This tends to indicate something about who pays for the ten dollar discount this one school may have and so on.

    All the warnings done - most people have a great experience and enjoy Guatemala, whether studying in Antigua or Xela.

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