12 Wonderful Spanish Schools in Mexico (2018)
Interested in learning Spanish in Mexico? Trying to choose a Spanish immersion program can be overwhelming. Here are 12 of the best Spanish schools in Mexico, broken down by region. These are all programs I’m personally familiar with, or that have outstanding reputations.
Costs are very reasonable by North American and European standards, with group classes starting as low as US$105 for 20 hours per week and private lessons from $15 per hour. Schools can arrange homestays with meals for around $20-30 a night. Additional costs commonly include registration fees and extracurricular activities.
When is the best time of year to study Spanish in Mexico? North American and European summer is high season for Spanish schools — a good time to avoid unless you only have summers off.
Research the seasonal climate; try Googling “best time to visit ____.” Keep in mind that central Mexico can be chilly in winter, and homes and schools are often unheated. On the other hand, the Yucatan can be incredibly hot and humid outside the months of November to February.
Perhaps you can time your stay to coincide with one of the special holidays for which Mexico is famous? Semana Santa and Día de Muertos are incredible celebrations to experience, and schools will often hold special workshops and outings related to the holiday.
Blessed with a mild climate and studded with spectacular colonial cities, Mexico’s central highlands region is a prime location for Spanish immersion programs.
Puebla, a city of 1.5 million inhabitants, is famed for its traditional food and opulent colonial architecture. Despite its charms, Puebla attracts few foreign tourists, facilitating Spanish immersion. The proximity of the charming village of Cholula plus easy access to Mexico City make it a great choice for studying Spanish.
Excellent small language school in the cozy atmosphere of a historic home near Puebla’s gorgeous colonial center. Provides a full immersion experience with family-style lunches after class followed by two hours of conversation practice in a fun, relaxed setting with a local university student. Many diverse activities and excursions included. For more details, read about my experience attending Livit in 2017.
This highly regarded institution has provided an intensive Spanish immersion program for more than 30 years. Both SIP and Livit feature a similar daily program of four hours of instruction in the morning coupled with two hours of afternoon conversation practice with a local guide. However, SIP has set start dates every three weeks for group classes, whereas at Livit classes start weekly.
I have communicated with SIP several times and each time they were extremely responsive. They even graciously gave me a tour of the premises the last time I was in Puebla. The school is atmospherically located in a 17th-century ex-convent not far from the main plaza.
- Adult students wanting a full-day immersion experience with a thorough grounding in grammar as well as conversation practice at a medium-size school
- Students with a minimum of three weeks to devote to a group course
- Students preparing for a formal exam like DELE
This gorgeous colonial gem makes an ideal place to study Spanish. A lively university town, Guanajuato offers an endless variety of cultural events as well as colorful festivals. Outside the classroom, you can explore its picturesque cobblestoned alleyways and lovely tree-filled plazas, as well as take day trips to Pueblos Mágicos like San Miguel de Allende or Dolores de Hidalgo.
This highly rated school has provided Spanish courses in Guanajuato’s historic center for more than 20 years. Escuela Mexicana offers students a flexible schedule and a variety of different programs to suit individual needs.
Students have from two to four different teachers a day, with a new schedule weekly. Specialized classes such as literature, history, dance, and cooking are also available. The school organizes optional cultural and learning activities as well as weekend trips.
An excellent budget-priced option in Guanajuato with a welcoming and warm atmosphere.
Spanish-language schools in the same town often tend to have similar offerings and prices in order to compete with one another. Like Escuela Mexicana, Escuela Falcon (EF) offers students a flexible schedule tailored to their individual needs, with each subject taught by a different instructor.
In addition to standard classes like grammar and conversation, you can spice up your schedule with more than a dozen fun electives like Mexican cooking, Latin American literature, Mexican muralism, salsa dancing, or painting. EF also organizes an extracurricular activity every day and on most weekends. For more details, read about my experience attending Escuela Falcon in 2016 and 2017.
- Budget-minded students wanting a totally customizable schedule with a wide variety of instructors and creative, hands-on electives
- Families with kids
The Centro de Enseñanza para Extranjeros (CEPE) at the prestigious Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México offers both Spanish classes and cultural courses. The main UNAM campus is in Coyoacán in the southern part of Mexico City; there is also a smaller campus in the posh district of Polanco that attracts older students.
CEPE’s intensive Spanish courses are taught in six-week blocks. Fascinating cultural courses on art, history, social science, literature, and creative writing are also offered as both intensive sessions (30 hours in six weeks) or semester classes (60 hours in 18 weeks). These cultural courses are also attended by native speakers. The student population is highly international with most students from Europe and Asia.
CEPE hosts many cultural activities on campus as well as weekend excursions. A placement test is required the Friday before sessions start.
CEPE also has a campus in Taxco spectacularly located on the grounds of a historic hacienda.
Accommodation: UNAM does not have student dormitories, but CEPE can provide a list of rooms for rent with Mexican families close to the university. You can also opt to find your own accommodation in a hostel, hotel, or apartment.
More reviews: It’s surprisingly difficult to find official reviews for this prominent institution, and CEPE’s website is lacking in information. Try Googling “CEPE UNAM review” (without the quotes) as there are many mentions in various forums and blogs.
- Students wanting a more traditional academic environment with a minimum of six weeks to devote to a course
- Students seeking university credit, a certification, or a Spanish teacher diploma
- Advanced students with a preference for cultural courses
Universidad La Salle is a private Catholic university with campuses throughout Mexico. The Mexico City branch has a student population of 10,000 and is centrally located in the beautiful bohemian neighborhood of La Condesa.
La Salle offers year-round three-week and five-week Spanish language modules as well as Spanish for kids and private lessons. The school also has a three-week Summer Language and Culture Program that features 45 hours of Spanish instruction, Mexican history and culture courses, and cultural activities.
La Salle also provides Service Learning opportunities, in which you can improve your Spanish while volunteering with local non-profits in areas such as education, healthcare, the environment, economic development, and agriculture. These placements last from six to 16 weeks and allow a variety of start and end dates.
Accommodation: La Salle does not have student dormitories, but they offer homestays with two meals included with selected Mexican families. You can also opt to find your own accommodation in a hostel, hotel, or apartment.
More reviews: I’ve heard excellent reports about La Salle, but it’s difficult to find official reviews. I recommend contacting the school and asking to be put in touch with a recent graduate of the program you’re interested in.
- Students wanting a more traditional academic environment with a minimum of three weeks to devote to a course
- Students seeking an intensive summer program
- Students wishing to improve their Spanish while getting hands-on volunteer experience working side-by-side with locals at an NGO
Morelia is a lovely colonial city that sees few foreigners and a great place to study Spanish. Consider timing your stay to coincide with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), as the nearby Pátzcuaro area (see next section) is internationally famous for its celebrations. From November to March, you can also take a trip to witness the monarch butterfly migration at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacán.
This cozy school in the heart of Morelia’s historic center has been offering Spanish instruction for more than 30 years. I met Baden-Powell’s director and got a tour of the school while in Morelia in 2016 and was impressed by the school’s organization and friendly atmosphere.
Classes are small and individualized. Interesting elective subjects include Mexican literature, Latin-American literature, Mexican history, Latin American studies, short stories, phonetics, medical and business terminology, Mexican art, and Mexican studies. Courses in Mexican cooking, salsa and folk dance, guitar, and arts and crafts are also offered. The school also hosts a daily language exchange on the patio with the Mexican students learning English there, a unique opportunity to meet and chat with locals.
Accommodation: Homestay or some truly excellent apartments nearby owned by the school
More reviews: Like many smaller and less Internet-savvy Spanish schools, it can be difficult to find online reviews. TripAdvisor (reviews for the school’s apartments mixed with some school reviews), 123 Teach Me. Also try Googling “Baden-Powell school Morelia” as there are many positive mentions in various forums and blogs.
This picturesque colonial village with deep pre-Hispanic roots is spectacularly sited on a lake surrounded by mountains. The area is world-famous for its artisan traditions and colorful Day of the Dead celebrations.
CELEP is a non-profit organization whose earnings fund the Center for Social and Ecological Studies (CESE), which promotes rural projects in education and environmental conservation in the Lake Pátzcuaro area. CESE is dedicated to fostering cross-cultural understanding of the indigenous Purhépecha people, culture, and homelands with sustainable tourism.
CELEP offers small classes and an abundance of cultural activities in addition to interesting lectures and workshops. Two-week course sessions begin every Monday throughout the year. Consider attending in November during Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), as the local Purhépecha celebrations are regarded as the most unique and beautiful in the country.
Accommodation: Homestay, hotel
More reviews: As a small non-profit, CELEP does not have a slick website or social media presence, and it can be difficult to find online reviews. Try Googling “CELEP Pátzcuaro” (without the quotes) as there are many positive mentions in various forums and blogs.
- Students interested in studying in an area of natural beauty with rich indigenous culture and artisan traditions
- Students with a minimum of two weeks to devote to a group course
Famed for its colonial architecture, rich cuisine, and colorful crafts, Oaxaca is unsurprisingly popular among Spanish learners. This relaxed and friendly destination is well-known for its indigenous peoples and cultures, and the state’s legendary folk dance festival Guelaguetza takes place in July.
This highly rated school located one block from the spectacular zócalo (main square) focuses on developing effective oral communication. Small classes with a maximum of three students emphasize speaking and listening with some emphasis on grammar.
Schedules are highly personalized with the goal of improving conversation ability, and there is great flexibility in choosing both the time of day as well as the number of classes. Español Interactivo also offers cultural excursions as well as special sessions on colloquialisms and specific grammatical concepts.
- Students seeking a highly personalized program with a flexible schedule focusing on conversation practice in a rich cultural setting
- Students preparing for the International Spanish Diploma (D.I.E.) exam
- Families with kids
San Cristóbal de las Casas
This lovely colonial mountain town surrounded by pine forests is a terrific place to learn Spanish. San Cristóbal is a major cultural and political hub for the indigenous peoples of Chiapas. Its cultural diversity and beauty have long made it a favorite among travelers, but there are still plenty of opportunities for language practice with patient, friendly locals.
This top-notch school ideal for serious learners provides a lovely learning environment, with classrooms arranged around a beautiful courtyard. Class sizes are small.
Interesting electives include cooking classes as well as courses on the indigenous cultures of Chiapas, salsa and merengue dance, and history. Regular intercambios (language exchanges) with locals are also a possibility. Jovel also offers special programs for professionals like teachers and healthcare providers who need Spanish for work.
In addition to Spanish, Jovel provides language classes in English, German, French, Italian, and the Mayan languages Tzotzil and Tzeltal. This linguistic diversity attracts an interesting community of students and teachers with a wide range of ages and backgrounds.
More reviews: TripAdvisor, 123 Teach Me
- Students seeking a serious language school with high-quality teachers and a commitment to immersion
- Students interested in indigenous history and culture
- Professionals who need Spanish skills and a knowledge of Mexican and Latin American culture for work
Merida’s tropical climate and reputation as the safest major city in Mexico attract many snowbirds in the winter months. This delightful town has become justifiably popular as an expat mecca and a hotspot for Spanish learners.
Merida offers many cultural activities as well as interesting possible day trips. Recommended excursions include the pretty yellow Pueblo Mágico of Izamal, the Mayan archaeological site of Uxmal, the flamingos of Celestún, and the spectacular cenotes of Homún.
Habla’s students rave about its family atmosphere and deeply supportive, immersive approach to teaching and learning. Small, personalized classes balance the four blocks of language learning: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. While Habla might not be the cheapest school in Merida, it represents excellent value for money. For example, a delicious daily home-cooked breakfast and lunch at the school are included. Habla also offers frequent cultural outings as well as special thematic courses at different times of year on topics such as Day of the Dead or Mexican cuisine. A summer Spanish immersion course for kids is also available.
This relaxed, friendly school owned by a Mexican-French couple is centrally located in a gorgeous remodeled colonial house featuring a lovely tropical patio with pool. Group classes are from 9am-1pm each day; private lessons are also available. An on-site chef prepares a tasty gourmet lunch daily for a reasonable extra charge.
Excellent short city excursions and budget-priced weekend outings are available. Other optional school activities with a small fee include cooking classes and a weekly movie night on the patio.
For more details, read about my experience attending La Calle in 2018.
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Note: My blog does include ads, but I never accept any compensation or freebies for my reviews. If I recommend a business, it’s because I loved them and think you will too.
– Escuela Mexicana: Photos by kind permission of Escuela Mexicana
– Instituto Jovel: Photos by kind permission of Instituto Jovel
– Biblioteca Central, UNAM: Carlos Alvz. Cor. on Flickr / CC BY-ND
– La Condesa: By Marianasies [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
– Banner (Traditional costumes, Oaxaca): perceptions (on holiday) on Visual hunt /CC BY-ND
– Monarch butterfly at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve: jiuguangw on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-SA
– Pátzcuaro street: Timothy Neesam (GumshoePhotos) on VisualHunt.com / CC BY-ND
– Night of the Dead, Pátzcuaro: mickou on Visualhunt / CC BY 2.0
– Pátzcuaro sunset: Armando Maynez on VisualHunt.com / CC BY 2.0
– Oaxaca procession: perceptions (back in the universe) on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND
– Traditional costumes, Oaxaca: perceptions (on holiday) on Visual hunt / CC BY-ND
– San Cristóbal street: Rod Waddington on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA
– Street vendor, San Cristóbal: www.adachphoto.wix.com/portfolio on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA
– Embroidery, Chiapas: Pasha Kirillov on Visualhunt / CC BY-SA
– Pinterest image (Bougainvillea, Yuriria, Guanajuato, Mexico): Cristian Newman on Unsplash
Have feedback about studying Spanish in Mexico or a Spanish school recommendation? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
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