Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Mexico & Central America
Reload this Page > Looking for a Spanish school? I had a good experience here
Notices

Looking for a Spanish school? I had a good experience here

Reply

Dec 14th, 2011, 06:24 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
Looking for a Spanish school? I had a good experience here

I recently returned from a very rewarding, and very intense, two week stay at la Mariposa Spanish School and eco-hotel near la Concha, Nicaragua. I was busy (in a good way) all of the time and came home physically and mentally exhausted, but I was also invigorated. This is quite a small school, and as a solo female traveler this was a good fit for me since there were opportunities for me to be by myself or to interact with the other students and to participate in a number of different activities. As far as the mix of students when I attended, there were several of us in our 60s (we referred to ourselves as the old people), one guy in his forties, and the bulk of the students were in their mid to late 20s. It made for a comfortable and interesting mix of people from all over the world.

Classes run every morning from 8:00 to noon, with a break between the two classes; they were all one-on-one and were excellent. Each student works with two different teachers at a time—one for grammar and one for conversation. La Mariposa has a set grammar curriculum that students go through, and in the conversation class the conversation teacher tries to introduce topics and questions that will also reinforce what the student is working on in grammar. I was told that for a student who is coming in with no knowledge of Spanish, it takes an average time of two months of study to be exposed to the entire grammar curriculum. You notice I say to be exposed; this does not mean that the student will have actually absorbed and incorporated all of this. If, however, you don’t want to do the typical curriculum, that’s okay too, and the school will customize what you want.

Afternoons offer different types of optional opportunities, but they are all included in the set price that covers activities, tuition, room and board. One afternoon a week there is a lecture (in Spanish) on current events in Nicaragua. Since I was there during the national presidential election, this made for some very interesting topics. Another afternoon each week there is a lecture (in Spanish) on Nicaraguan history. These are informal lectures with lots of time for questions and answers, and there is an interpreter available for students who don’t know much Spanish. For me--I’d say I am at the low intermediate level-- it was a nice way to reinforce that I’d actually pretty much understood what was being said. Other afternoons there are also field trips to local areas of interest—nature parks, markets, towns, the school’s organic farm etc.

Weekends offer further opportunities for longer field trips that take an entire day. And, there is also an option for trekking with a Spanish-speaking guide to local farms and a nature sanctuary to see the howler monkeys. I liked this so much I did it twice; if you go to la Mariposa and intend to do this, take your real hiking boots and trekking poles if you have them. I also went on the field trip to Mombacho, a nearby national park in a cloud forest but passed on a very long day trip to Leon because I felt I needed to study and I’d already been there. And, every Sunday there is a chance to go horseback riding through some very beautiful areas adjacent to the school.

Nicaragua is off the radar of most people because it is not nearly as developed and marketed as nearby Costa Rica. The school is in a lovely, hilly rural area about an hour away from Managua. For an additional fee they will provide roundtrip airport transportation—makes it very easy. The school is set in about two acres of beautifully planted property on the outskirts of a very tiny town that is about two block walk away. Meals are served buffet style at set times, and the food is primarily vegetarian, flavorful and delicious—we had a bit of fish twice while I was there and some rice with some chicken bits once. Rooms are fine, but nothing luxurious, with private baths; local homestays are also another option. There are lots of different places around the hotel to sit and read or study in private. However, there are lots of animals on the property—dogs and chickens, rescued parrots and monkeys, so if you aren’t comfortable with these, this might not be the best place for you. And, earplugs are a necessity for trying to sleep in the early mornings once all of the birds get going.

My husband was envious of my experience there, and he is actually considering going back with me sometime. This is quite the recommendation because he is someone who just couldn’t quite grasp learning foreign languages when in college.

Let me know if you have any questions.

http://www.mariposaspanishschool.com/
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2011, 05:18 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 12,269
Nice report thanks for posting. www.montanalinda.com and
tamarindospanishschool.com as well as www.casarosario.com
nice for me cheapest although I was robbed there one night.SA has my fav schools www.bolivar2.com in Cuenca one of my favs there also www.nuevalengua.com in Cartagenainfo.net. Sounds like your DH has his hand full keeping up with you. Happy Travels!
qwovadis is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2011, 06:31 AM
  #3
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
Great! Now I have some other possiblities to explore for future trips for language learning.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2011, 01:37 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,218
thx julies -- so the surrounding area was pretty? Were there lots of eateries in the town? How much did your 2 wks cost?

Qwo - you were robbed at Casa Rosario (in GUA?) -- that's awful!
fishee is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2011, 02:33 PM
  #5
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
No, this is not a place for looking for local eateries because the stay is all inclusive. The package is $350 a week for room, board and tuition. The surrounding area is definitely gorgeous, cooler than you might imagine too.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2011, 06:19 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,109
That's 2-3 times as much for small group instruction as I pay for 1-on-1 instruction in Guatemala. I may find my way to Nica to study eventually but there are so many awesome schools in Guatemala I just keep heading back there.

What is the elevation there? So many areas in Nica are hothothot when I travel in the summer. I've learned 1st hand that I don't study/learn as well in really hot places, another reason I head to the Guatemala highlands. Thanks for posting!
hopefulist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 15th, 2011, 09:02 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
This is one-on-one classes, not small group.

I don't know what the elevation is, but it was up far enough that I was surprised I felt the need to wear long sleeves sometimes during the day so I wasn't chilled. The climate was quite pleasant. I wore my really hot weather clothes very infrequently, shut my windows at night (to keep bugs out of the room), and usually slept with the fan off.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2011, 06:24 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,109
Good to know. I couldn't find a reference to 1-on-1 instruction on the website except that sometimes the "groups" were 1-on-1 and sometimes 3 or 4. In situations like that I've always ended up in a group which I don't prefer, unless I pay extra. Must be up in the mountains a ways to be that cool in Nica - would suit me well. I'm still likely to return to Guatemala year after year, though - mix of price, schools I personally know are great, and the fascinating indigenous population and Maya ruins. Happy trails!
hopefulist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2011, 11:19 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
I know this is more money than Guatemala because I was also contemplating returning to a school I'd attended a few years back in Antigua. OTOH, I felt this was a good value because it also included all of the afternoon and weekend activities in the package price. The only additonal things I paid for were entry fees at a national park, a meal out at a restaurant when we went to a local town for an evening of folkloric music and dance, a 4 to 6 hour guided private hike, and a couple beers in a local bar one evening when the group went out.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 16th, 2011, 03:09 PM
  #10
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 4,109
It is a good value and a unique experience I'm sure you treasure as I have treasured memories from all my immersion experiences, too. I'm glad you posted - I keep a file of bookmarks and references so I can recommend to others even if I don't make it that way. I have an avenue for granting university credit for immersion studies and volunteer projects so help a lot of folks plan trips to Latin America. Happy holidays!
hopefulist is offline  
Reply With Quote
Dec 24th, 2011, 01:43 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,876
Thanks for this julies. Mariposa is on my list of possible language schools in Nicaragua. I'm thinking of going second week of March. I guess it will be quite hot then. Tell me, does the place have a great view? Is there a little town nearby for walking to and hanging out in? I had a fantastic experience in a school in Guatemala earlier this year and it's touch and go whether I return there or try Nicaragua. But pastures new etc.
gertie3751 is online now  
Reply With Quote
Dec 26th, 2011, 11:04 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,229
The school/hotel itself is in more of a compound of a couple acres a couple blocks away from the small local village where you can easily walk around if you want. There is no view, but the grounds are lovely, and the owner takes students on a very interesting tour of the gardens and grounds as a part of the stay there.

There is another larger town a mile or so away, but you'd want to take the microbus there because it is all uphill, and a really steep climb. The bus stops almost in front of the school. There are a couple bars and restaurants there that people from the school occasionally go to together, but this is by no means a touristy spot with lots of options for tourists to enjoy local restaurants and bars and coffee shops. If you want that type of scene, you'd be better off in Granada.

For the most part, students hang out at the hotel itself, and there are numerous nice places to sit on the ground. Beer and wine are also stocked with an honor system for keeping track of how many a guest has taken.
julies is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:28 PM.