Instituto Chac-Mool

Old Jul 24th, 2007, 11:53 AM
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Instituto Chac-Mool

Has anyone been to Instituto Chac-Mool Spanish immersion school in Cuernavaca, Mexico? I'm considering going there in October for 3 weeks and I was wondering about your experiences with the school. Would you recommend it? Are there better schools in Cuernavaca to consider? Gracias!
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Old Aug 4th, 2007, 12:22 PM
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Hola- I have not studied at Chac-Mool. I attended the Spanish Language Institute. The classes were very small- there were only 3-6 of us depending on the class. I stayed with a family during both summers that I attended classes.
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Old Aug 7th, 2007, 11:58 AM
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Thanks, Freeman. I'll take Spanish Language Institute into consideration. Did you learn a lot during your time there? Would you go back? Does the school offer any excursions or activities?
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Old Aug 8th, 2007, 08:29 PM
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I studied at Instituto de Chac-Mool a couple of years ago. I thought the instruction was very good overall. Just my own opinion, but the next time I go to a langugage school I will pay the extra money for a private class. It's too hard trying to learn at someone else's level, although they do make an attempt to place you properly.

The facilities at Chac-Mool were okay. Their website makes it look nicer than it really is, in my opinion. All classes are held outside in the shade. The weather should be very pleasant in October, but miserable in the summer.

The neighborhood in which the school resides is typical for Cuernavaca: run-down, grafiti. Lots of people around so I never felt in danger.

I attended the school's cooking class, which was interesting and also explored the city with other classmates.

The owners (an American woman expat and her Mexican husband) seem to generally care about the quality of the instruction.

I, personally, would never stay at this school for three weeks. In fact, I was bored after four days and played hooky on the 5th day. The school had a small computer room with VERY slow internet access. It also had a very generous supply of language books and videos in their lending library.

During breaks they provide really yummy sandwiches for a reasonable price. They offer lots of accomodation options ranging from living w/a host family to a hotel type unit with meals provided by the hotel owner. I tried the host family option for a few days and then moved to a hotel. I never felt comfortable living in someone else's home. I felt as if I got lots of real-life Spanish interaction simply dealing with cab
drivers and restaurant waiters and shopkeeper. I didn't feel the need to suffer through forced conversation throughout the evening with the host mother. But, that was just my experience.

That's all I can remember about my experience. Let me know if you have other questions.
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Old Aug 12th, 2007, 08:45 AM
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Charlotte,

Thanks so much for your detailed response. I went to a language school in Ecuador last year and had a great experience, so I have been looking for a similar type of school in Cuernavaca.

What I liked about the school in Ecuador was that it was not too big but not too small size (about 50 people), the many planned visits to attractions near the school during the week and longer trips on the weekends, the beautiful facilities (which included a snack bar for breaks), and, most importantly, the quality of instruction.

Chac-Mool seems to have all of the above (although I don't think they offer as many sight-seeing opportunities, but rather, activities like dancing and cooking lessons). However, the cost of the school, and apparently all the language schools in Cuernavaca, is much higher than the cost of the school I attended in Ecuador, where I was able to afford individual classes 4-6 hours a day for the three weeks I was there. My biggest concern about Chac-Mool is that I won't like being in group classes because I'm at an advanced level and have very specific things I'd like to work on improving.

How many people were in your group? Would you describe yourself as beginning, intermediate or advanced? Were there many advanced language learners at the school when you attended?

I've read Chac-Mool uses a conversational approach to teaching Spanish. Did that work well for you? Were the teachers competent? Did they correct you often when you made mistakes? One of my biggest gripes is when I ask a native speaker to point out my mistakes and they don't for whatever reason, especially when I'm paying them to do so!

My other concern is that I am going to the school alone and I am hoping to meet others there to travel with on the weekends. I am in my early 30s and enjoy doing adventurous things, like zip lining for example. Would you say there's a good chance I will meet other students in their 30s who don't have families with them at the school?

One more question: When you were in Cuernavaca, did you come across any other schools that you thought might be better than Chac-Mool? It's so hard to make a decision based on what I'm reading on the Internet. However, of all the schools I've read about, Chac-Mool seems to have the most positive comments. In fact, I've read hardly anything negative about the school.

Thank you so much for your honest opinions.
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Old Aug 17th, 2007, 01:00 AM
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Chac-Mool's tuition seemed quite a bit higher than other local schools. I also recall they had a one time registration fee which bumped up the overall cost. I registered with them, quite frankly, because I liked their website... it seemed to provide more information than other schools' sites.

I am a higher level intermediate Spanish speaker. They placed me in a class with two other women who were obviously quite a bit more advanced than me. I felt that I was holding back the group and was frustrated and nervous the entire time. I did express my concerns to the instructor and the other women, but they all assured me I was appropriately placed. If I pushed the envelope I'm sure they would have bumped me down to the next lower class but they were really too low for me. Hence, my comments about paying extra for a private lesson next time I go to language school.

I felt that the teachers were extremely professional and experienced. I do recall being corrected frequently when making mistakes. Like I said before, the quality of instruction was excellent.

When I was there I was told the number of students was lower than usual. So, there were two advanced students, me and then quite a few beginners and lower intermediate students.

I, too, traveled alone. I found that most the students were by themselves and were just a eager as me to pal up with fellow students for sight seeing. There were people of all ages, with a concentrate of students in their twenties. I am older than that, however, but never felt out of place.

I did not check out other schools while I was there. If I were you I would register with Chac Mool for one week and then take it from there. You can always change schools after that point. However, you may be reluctant to do so considering you would have already have paid their one time registration fee. I guess to them it's an incentive to keep you loyal.

To sum it up: excellent instruction, average facilities, better to pay extra for a private class, yucky neighborhood, friendly fellow students, quite a bit more expensive than other local schools.

Write again if you have more questions.

Charlotte
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Old Aug 17th, 2007, 08:12 AM
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Thanks again, Charlotte. Your comments are very helpful.

I think I'll take your advice and go to Chac-Mool on a trial basis the first week and visit one or two other schools I've been considering. Chac-Mool does stick you with that $100 registration fee, though! I don't mind paying a little extra for a quality school, but that will make me think twice about changing unless I am really unhappy. I hope I'm not in an uncomfortable situation like you were with the other students in my class, but I will take individual lessons if that's the case. Maybe they would give me a discount.

Thanks again for all your advice. I'm looking forward to my time at the school!

Julie
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Old May 4th, 2009, 09:39 PM
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Julie, What was your experience with Instituto Chac-Mool? I am going in July, and would like to hear your opinion.

Thanks,

Stephen
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Old Jan 6th, 2010, 09:56 AM
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I've had two visits to study Spanish at Instituto Chac-Mool in Cuernavaca, the most recent was this past summer and I'm still faithfully recommending it. The school offers plenty of field trips plus other things in the afternoon. These include individual tutoring sessions and study groups led by teachers at different locations around town.

All the Cuernavaca schools seem to charge the registration fee and some don't have it as a one time fee. I found it best to find one that has the life-time fee because I, among others I've met at Chac-Mool, are faithful "returnees".

The quality of the teachers is remarkable at Instituto Chac-Mool plus they really do offer an easier way to pick up the language. The school calls it language acquisition which they say is more about absorbing what the instructors are offering you. I picked up more ability to speak Spanish than I ever did in my college classes.

Tourism has been off in Mexico so you'll probably see the smallest class sizes, at least for awhile. I've heard tourism is starting to pick up again, I guess people are realizing staying home is just no fun.
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Old Feb 14th, 2010, 07:05 PM
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Katie2Travel-

Were you asked to send your $100 deposit to an individual and not directly to the school? This seems strange to me

Thanks for your help!

LT
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Old Feb 26th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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Since mail isn't reliable in Mexico it is better if the school has a contact in the United States to send deposits too. Plus if sending to Mexico they can't take a personal check, their banks won't accept them. I made my initial payment payable to the school Instituto Chac-Mool but they did give me a U.S. address to mail it to. Call them 1-866-439-9634 and ask them their policy. I'm sure they'd let you send money directly to Mexico if you wanted to, just probably as a travelers check because that is all you can really cash down there. If you do mail to Mexico, use a service other than the U.S. mail because that only gets it as far as the border. Then the Mexican mail (ugh) takes over.
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