Interested in learning Spanish in Mexico? Trying to choose a Spanish immersion program can be overwhelming. Here are 11 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.
November 2022 update: Most schools are back to offering in-person as well as virtual classes. Masks are still commonly worn in Mexico, and many schools still have mask mandates. Check with the school about current availability of homestays.
Cost of Spanish Immersion in Mexico
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 to Study Spanish in Mexico
What 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.
Where to Take a Spanish Course in Mexico
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 3.25 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 an excellent 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.
While Livit only teaches adults, in the summer a nearby private school offers an inexpensive camp where kids can have their own immersion experience while their parents are at Livit.
For more details, read about my experience attending Livit in 2017.
More reviews: TripAdvisor, Yelp, 123 Teach Me
Best for: Students wanting a full-day immersion experience with a thorough grounding in grammar as well as conversation practice in a small, intimate setting
This highly regarded institution has provided an intensive Spanish immersion program for more than 30 years.
Both SI Puebla 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, SI Puebla has set start dates every three weeks for group classes, whereas at Livit classes start weekly.
I’ve received only extremely positive reports of SI Puebla from friends and blog readers. I’ve communicated with the school on several occasions. Each time they were extremely responsive.
SI Puebla graciously gave me a tour of the premises on one of my visits to 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.
An excellent budget-priced option in Guanajuato with a welcoming and warm atmosphere.
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 is best suited for students who already have some Spanish, as complete beginners may struggle with the lack of structure and changeover of teacher each hour.
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.
Accommodation: Homestay, room, apartment, or house rental
More reviews: TripAdvisor, 123 Teach Me
- Budget-minded students with some Spanish who do not require a textbook or a lot of structure
- Students wanting a totally customizable schedule with a wide variety of instructors and creative, hands-on electives
- Families with kids
This highly rated school has provided Spanish courses in Guanajuato’s historic center for more than 20 years.
Spanish-language schools in the same town often tend to have similar offerings and prices in order to compete with each another. Like Escuela Falcon, 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.
- Budget-minded students wanting a flexible schedule with a variety of instructors that still provides a structured curriculum
- Families with kids
CEPE – UNAM
The Centro de Enseñanza para Extranjeros (CEPE) at the prestigious Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) 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 mature students.
CEPE’s intensive Spanish courses are taught in six-week blocks. The student population is highly international with most students from Europe and Asia.
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.
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
La Salle University
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 flexible 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. This provides a unique opportunity to meet and chat with locals.
Accommodation: Homestay or some 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. See TripAdvisor (reviews for the school’s apartments mixed with school reviews) and 123 Teach Me. Also try Googling “Baden-Powell school Morelia” (without the quotes) as there are many positive mentions in various forums and blogs.
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. The state’s legendary folk dance festival Guelaguetza takes place in July.
Amigos del Sol Spanish School
This highly rated school offers small classes with a maximum of three students with a focus on conversation; a half-hour of daily grammar practice is included.
Classes start any day Monday to Sunday. There’s no minimum duration or registration charge.
Amigos del Sol is housed in an attractive building in the peaceful residential San Felipe del Agua neighborhood about 4 km north of the center. The school offers free transport to and from the city center.
The school offers the opportunity to participate in language intercambios with Mexican students or to teach English as a volunteer on Saturdays as part of their social program.
Optional paid cultural activities include tours and cooking lessons.
- Students wanting to focus on conversation practice
- Students seeking a friendly, good-value school with a flexible schedule in a rich cultural setting
San Cristóbal de las Casas
This lovely colonial mountain town surrounded by pine forests is a terrific place to learn Spanish in Mexico.
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 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 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
- 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 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.
I have had only very positive reports of Habla from friends and blog readers. In my correspondence with the school, I’ve been impressed by their responsiveness and warmth.
More reviews: TripAdvisor, Yelp
- Serious students seeking a meaningful learning experience in a warm and supportive atmosphere with a focus on cultural understanding
- Families with kids
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 cost.
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.
You may also like:
– 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
– 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
2022 Update: I’m no longer actively studying Spanish in Mexico or reviewing Spanish schools, so I’m closing the comments but leaving the post up as a service to my readers.
I am going to keep this for when I pick a school, was hoping to see a recommendation for CDMX.
Hi Cardie, none of the private Spanish schools in Mexico City have consistently good reviews. UNAM’s CEPE seems like a very good program, but it’s difficult to find current student testimonials. I’m planning to research this more and add CEPE in a future update of this post.
Hola, Thanks for this great information. Do you know what schools might qualify for one to use 529 educational dollars? That’s money in the USA a parent can set aside tax free, usually used for a child’s college education. Our child got his 2 year degree and has no interest in going on to more years in college. so we have quite a few dollars we can use. The program has to have some kind of certification.
Hola, the schools that I know of that partner with US universities and give credit are Spanish Institute of Puebla and UNAM in Mexico City. You might start with SI Puebla as it’s a private for-profit school with an American director and will be more responsive than a public university. Good luck, and hope you can use those funds!
Thanks so much, I will keep following and hope for some tracking by students. I enjoy your site.
Hi Cardie, I’ve added a section on Mexico City. Please check it out. Would love to hear about your experience if you go to CDMX.
What an informative post! I have started learning Spanish as I fell in love with Mexico!
It is easy to fall in love with Mexico. 😉
Thank you so much for all of these recommendations! I have studied in Spain and Guatemala.. maybe Mexico will have to be next on the list!
Great list!! I’ve been learning Spanish for years and would love to get back to do an immersion course somewhere. Especially somewhere I love like Mexico 🙂 Which is your fave school??
Hi Rebecca, my personal favorite so far has been Livit in Puebla. On my next visit I’m considering Instituto Jovel in San Cristóbal or CEPE in Mexico City, in part because they’re in places I’d like to spend an extended length of time. 🙂
France Francois (@1stClassFrance)
Are there any schools on the beaches you’d recommend?
None came up in my research (I think the best schools are inland), but I’m certain you could find reasonably good schools in popular places like Puerto Escondido or Playa del Carmen. Search on TripAdvisor or 123TeachMe. I would avoid the chain schools though and go for privately owned.
Thank you! What a great article. I love your blog.
Hi Amanda, so glad you’ve found it helpful. 🙂
Thank you so much for your wonderful post. Would you recommend any of these schools for an advanced level of Spanish?
Hi Rachael, that’s a great question as I’m an advanced student myself. I’d definitely return to Livit in Puebla, and plan at some point to spend six weeks in Mexico City or Taxco taking cultural courses at CEPE. Spanish Institute of Puebla, Instituto Jovel in San Cristóbal, and Habla in Mérida are other schools catering to the serious or advanced learner.
Suerte and please let me know how you get on!
Your list is great! I studied for 2 weeks many years ago in Playa del Carmen but I’ve got the bug again. I’m a pastor by profession and want to improve my Spanish especially for conversation & communication. I’ve got the basics and can hold my own when conjucating verbs; have had very little teaching of past tense and no teaching of future tense. I love learning more about the culture, but at 49 years old and married for 26 years, I’m beyond the partying scene if you know what I mean. Would probably prefer to not stay with a host family again (just set in my ways now) but that’s not set in stone. I would enjoy salsa dancing again; would love cooking classes; and am thrilled with history & ruins! What would you suggest from your list?
Hi Bradley, that’s wonderful you’ve gotten the Spanish bug again! I think several schools on this list could be a good fit. Both Escuela Falcon and Escuela Mexicana in Guanajuato offer diverse electives like cooking and salsa. Lots of history in Guanajuato and the surrounding area as well as a minor archaeological site. Instituto Jovel in the lovely colonial city of San Cristóbal offers dance and cooking, and you can visit the Palenque archaeological site from there. Habla in Mérida is a wonderful school (although perhaps best left for the winter months if you are heat-sensitive) and offers workshops in dance and cooking. There are many fascinating Mayan sites nearby to explore, and the colonial city of Mérida is a gem.
All schools will help you find a nearby apartment or hotel, or you can find an Airbnb on your own near the school (that’s what I did last time in Mérida and it worked out well).
I would recommend writing to the schools that interest you and going with the one that impresses you most! Buena suerte and please let me know how you get on!
Excelente. ¡Muchas gracias!
Thank you very much for this informative post!
Which school could you recommend a student eithout experience, needing to get on the level B1 for a certificate?
Hi Lorelei, if it’s the DELE you need to pass, I would suggest a school with DELE preparation courses. Most of the schools on this list are focused more on conversational Spanish, but Spanish Institute of Puebla and CEPE in Mexico City are two that do offer DELE prep. You may also want to consider schools in Guatemala like Ixchel that offer DELE courses (I haven’t taken classes in Guatemala, but I know there are many excellent schools, and the costs are much lower). ¡Suerte! 🙂
I’m so glad google led me to your blog! Great detailed information but it just left me wanting to go to all of them! As a single 40s woman who speaks French but now wants a 2 week jumpstart to learn Spanish, which school do you recommend? Livit sounds great, but I’m also intrigued by Escuela Falcon and the other ones that have cooking classes too. I’m planning on going this December.
Hi Erin, glad you found it helpful! It can be hard to choose, as each school has its pluses and minuses; that’s part of the reason why I keep going back and trying different schools! One thing to consider is the weather in December… central Mexico can be chilly at night, and houses do not have central heating, so that is something to consider if you are sensitive to cold. Places like Oaxaca or Mérida would be warmer, of course. What I would suggest doing is writing to the schools that interest you most and asking detailed questions. Usually you can get a better feel for the school from their responses, and one school will stand out as the best fit. Buena suerte and let me know how you get on!
Thanks. I’m from Oregon so the cold doesn’t bother me! I’m deciding between Livit and Escuela Falcon. Which school do you think is better for total immersion and conversation time? The class schedule at Escuela Falcon is so different than the other schools. Did you feel like you learned enough taking a different class each hour?
For me personally I think I learn better taking four continuous hours of class from one excellent teacher, like the experience I had at Livit. I enjoyed the diversity of subjects at EF and being able to take fun classes on cooking and culture, but for focused language study for me Livit was better. Livit also has those two additional hours of conversation in the afternoon with the student guide, which are great for practicing speaking in a relaxed setting and providing an all-day immersion experience. Livit does cost more than EF, but you get 50% more class time for your money. I hope that helps.
Muchas gracias! You provided excellent information on the options you presented. I want to try at least two weeks of immersion program but I’m uncertain whether any are suitable for an absolute beginner like myself. I know a few words of “survival Spanish” but that’s it – and of course, no grammar or written. Are there programs (I’m interested in smaller places but anywhere is good) you would recommend? I’m newly retired so cost is a consideration but I want to ensure I learn as much as my tires old brain will take in! I do appreciate that you are answering questions! Thanks so much.
Hola Jane, I think any of the private language schools on this list could accommodate an absolute beginner… language schools always have English-speaking staff, and the vast majority of students are beginner or intermediate. Smaller schools I would personally recommend for a first-timer include Escuela Falcon and Escuela Mexicana in Guanajuato, Livit in Puebla, or Habla in Mérida.
Escuela Falcon and Escuela Mexicana would probably be the least expensive, since you mention cost as a factor (and Guanajuato is just amazing!). If you are sensitive to heat and humidity, I would avoid Mérida outside of the winter months.
May I add also that although the school will of course accommodate a complete beginner, you may find you get more out of your immersion if you do a little study beforehand, like a community college class. Mexicans are so wonderful and friendly, and you’ll have many opportunities for little conversations with your host family (if you decide to stay with one) and the locals. It’s one of the best parts of the experience to be able to connect with locals outside of class. 🙂
Thanks so much for your recommendations, Ingrid! I’m having fun researching. We love Oaxaca city and there is an appeal to exploring Mérida in the winter (and being warmer!) as we’ve just stayed there for a few days. However, Guanajuato sounds really nice (if chilly during winter nights!) and o love experiencing new places.
When it comes to options for beautiful cities and good Spanish schools in Mexico, we are certainly spoiled for choice! Do let me know what you end up deciding! Suerte and enjoy! 🙂
Thank you so much! Your info was wonderful! I would like to start my immersion program in February/March and yes I’m always cold so the weather might alter my decisions. It’s between Cali Colombia and Mexico for me. I really love Guanajuato but the Livit immersion looks wonderful too bc I am trying to learn as much as possible. So the idea of going to school all day doesn’t bother me. But I’m getting confused bc Guanajuato is so beautiful but I am also there to study. What do you suggest? Thank you!
Hi Shila, that is a tough decision. I think both cities are great for Spanish study in their own way (although you are right, Guanajuato is extraordinary). Ideally, I would recommend studying in Mexico more than once, so you could experience both. If that’s not possible, though, maybe you could add on a few days to your Puebla stay to visit Guanajuato and maybe San Miguel de Allende? Best of luck with your decision, and keep me posted!
Thank you! I have narrowed it down after more research. Spanish institute of Puebla ( very responsive ) . I can’t seem to get a hold of anyone at livit. Spanish interactivo in Oaxaca ( very responsive) or Academia Hispano Americana in San Miguel. Thoughts?
Hi Shila. I did two weeks at Livit in December. I know they went away for the holidays. It’s a great school, very relaxed, and Puebla is beautiful, although cold this time of year. Feel free to email me any questions.
Thank you! How about the Spanish institute of Puebla or the school on Oaxaca?
Shila, Erin is right, Livit is a small family-run school, and they typically close up over the holidays for their only vacation. I’m not familiar with Academia Hispano Americana, but there are many excellent schools in San Miguel… I just personally prefer to study in a city with fewer English speakers.
Agreed! I don’t want to be around a ton of English speakers. I know I will relapse haha. Thanks!
Agree on San Miguel! It’s a great town with a lot of creative people, but it could be too tempting to fall back into English.
Spanish institute of Puebla and Livit are both great. Livit is smaller and more informal, so it depends what style you prefer. I have not been to the school in Oaxaca but it gets rave reviews from everyone which is why I included it. Oaxaca will also be warmer that time of year which would be a bonus!
Thank you! Talk to the people at Livit today. Scott ? Seems great! I might try Livit for a month and then the otra school the next! Thanks again! And I’m so jealous of your travels hahah. How wonderful! I will be following your blogs!
Academia Hispano Americana in San Miguel has never responded to me! I have tried to contact them three different times.
Yes, Scott and Maru run Livit… they are both great. Sounds like you will have lots of time to study and achieve fluency – how awesome. Let me know how things go… Que disfrutes mucho!
Ingrid, thanks for such good review of these schools. I was wondering how do you reach Celep? I am not sure the website form is working.
Hi Annie, it looks like one of the links is broken… try this one instead and let me know if it doesn’t work for you: http://www.celep.com.mx/contact.html.
Thank you for this post. I am considering doing 6-8 weeks in Mexico to further my Spanish skills and will be looking into some of these schools. My first consideration actually was AHA in San Miguel but I will look into others. Do you have much experience with homestays and if so,how did you find them?
Hi Su, I’ve done homestays five times at schools in Mexico, Argentina, and Uruguay. Generally in Latin America I have found these are with older women who are widowed or divorced, which I prefer to a family with small children, for example, as it’s a quieter study environment. I do love the opportunity for language practice and to get to know the culture, but start missing the ability to prepare my own meals after a week or so! Check out this post I wrote with more thoughts on whether a homestay is right for you: https://www.secondhalftravels.com/choose-spanish-school/#Accommodation.
I have done homestays in a few different countries and they are great. But I would consider only booking it for the first part of your stay. This gives you extra language support and some time to look for an apartment or something else if you start to miss your own space.
Thank you so much for this list. It will be extremely helpful to pick my next school. Last year I attended Escuela Mexicana in Guanajuato for a few weeks. Communication for enrolling was poor and took several weeks to finalize enrollment and accommodations due to slow responses. Also, the classes/program were way too informal for me. It is a smaller school with turnover (most are just there one week) so they have to adapt to the turnover rather than having a structured program for those there more than a week. However, classes at Escuela Mexicana are extremely affordable and Guanajuato is one of my favorite cities in Mexico. This list is very helpful since I want to go to a new city and and the two schools in Puebla seem to have the structured program I am looking for. Thank you!
Thanks so much for your feedback on Escuela Mexicana, Katie; it’ll be helpful to other students. And agree that the schools in Puebla are more structured, especially SIP; Guanajuato is a really special place, though, and I loved my time there too.
I can’t thank you enough for this well-researched piece! Because of it I organized a trip to Puebla for myself, my husband, and our 9 year old son – my husband and I are now studying at Livit for 3 weeks and enjoying it. This is the school break for local kids, and Livit was also able to set up our son to attend a great (and very inexpensive) camp at a nearby private school so that he has an immersion experience as well. I’d definitely recommend Livit to families looking to all learn Spanish in Mexico.
So glad it was helpful, Shannon, and thanks so much for your feedback! I’ve added this information to the Livit section as I think it’ll help other families who want to study together in the summer.
After a spring trip visiting the Monarch wintering sites I decided to learn Spanish and have (in research) read, numerous times, your article “12 Wonderful Spanish Schools in Mexico” not sure I’ll study in Mexico, Calle and Jovel perhaps, as I like the idea of being surrounded by nature so leaning towards a small school in Costa Rica that borders a National Park. On the weekends I’ll go bicycle touring-camping preferred. Of course, I say this, but also looking at schools in Medellin. Not much nature in town, but nearby, and cycling is hugely popular. I probably need to start with private lessons as my linguistic skills are average at best and I’ll need to build confidence. I have up to 8 weeks for studies. So, anyway, I was wondering if you have any ideas about schools that would cater to my needs? Thanks, Jeff
I’ve heard very good things about Toucan Spanish School in Medellín (https://www.toucanspanish.com/toucan-spanish-school/learn-spanish-medellin). It’s a large school with many resources and activities.
Another friend who lived in Medellín for several years took private lessons with the owner of ABC Spanish School (https://spanishmedellin.com) and raved about it. This is a small school in the lovely neighborhood of Laureles run by a husband and wife team.
I’m not familiar with schools in Costa Rica and Quito, but a good place to start is going to TripAdvisor for that location and selecting the Things to Do category, then Classes & Workshops subcategory to find schools with excellent recent reviews. Here’s the listing for Quito, for example: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g294308-Activities-c41-Quito_Pichincha_Province.html
Suerte, and let us know how it goes!
Leslie Ramirez Bailey
What a wonderful blog post- thanks so much!
I want to learn Spanish and have no experience. My college subsides educational classes and trips if there is enough/extensive documentation such as budgeting, travel, and that it is for educational purposes. Which school would you suggest for someone like me that can not communicate at all to the school in Spanish but needs a lot of information?
Hi Kay, any of the schools should be able to correspond with you in English, but I would probably start with Spanish Institute of Puebla and Habla in Merida since they both have programs that offer university credits with partner schools in the US, so they are used to providing documentation of this kind.
Thank you for your advice, and for writing this very informative article!
You’re welcome! Good luck, and would love to hear how your experience goes.
Thank you for a Very informative and helpful blog. I have immersed my children in Japanese since they were tots and they are completely fluent now. I am planning to do the same now with Spanish and was wondering if you had any information regarding this. You noted a nearby camp for children at Livit. Any further information on that camp or anything else for children
Hi Tom, that’s a great plan. Another reader had a similar question on another post and I made a few suggestions… maybe you’ll find some of them helpful. https://www.secondhalftravels.com/livit-spanish-school-puebla-mexico/#comment-458
Just finished 6 weeks at Spanish institute of Puebla and it was excellent. Will probably study in Merida next so appreciate your reviews
That’s great! Would love to hear your take on your next study experience.
Many thanks for this list of schools. I am going to be 50 in December and would like to enroll for this January of 2020. I was looking at Playa del Carmen originally, but had someone mention San Miguel. I want to stay for 5 weeks. I have a very basic base of Spanish, ( survival), but want to use my new found ( hopefully) Spanish speaking skills to help families with the language barrier here at home. I am a family support specialist. I love the sun, don’t mind the cold. I am over the party scene, and would want to stay with a host family. I would love to get a recommendation from you. In gratitude. Michelle
Hi Michelle, I really need to add a San Miguel de Allende (SMA) section to my list as there are lots of people interested in studying there! It sounds like it would be a good fit for you. Any school should be able to arrange a stay with a host family.
I’m not too familiar with the schools in SMA, although as an expat hotspot I know there are a number of quality schools. I’ve heard good things about Academia Hispano Americana and also Warren Hardy. AHA has lots of positive reviews on TripAdvisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g151932-d153432-Reviews-Academia_Hispano_Americana-San_Miguel_de_Allende_Central_Mexico_and_Gulf_Coast.html.
I haven’t heard much about language schools in Playa del Carmen, but Chichén Itzá (https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g150812-d12214922-Reviews-Language_School_Chichen_Itza-Playa_del_Carmen_Yucatan_Peninsula.html) and TAAN get excellent reviews.
I’d read reviews on Google and TripAdvisor for the schools you’re interested in, and then write them with your questions to get an idea of their responsiveness and management style. Suerte, and do let us know how you get on!
Ingrid, I so appreciate your detail to my questions and concerns. I am looking at TAAN in Playa. I will certainly let you how it all goes. I want to start on January 6, 2020. I’m nervous, but that is where one grows, right? Thanks again. Greatly appreciated.
I took a closer look at TAAN and it sounds like a good fit if you get bored in a traditional classroom and prefer a more dynamic learning style in a variety of locations. If you’re not sure, you could book just a couple of weeks with them and then try another school like Chichén Itzá to see which style fits you best?
And travel really does take us out of our comfort zones, especially when we are on our own. Arrivals in a new place are always stressful, and if you’re not used to language school the first day can be nerve-racking (I know this from personal experience and that of other students). Fortunately, that quickly passes!
Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to hearing about your experiences. 🙂
Hi Ingrid! Love your blog! Also, I went to Livit immersion on your request and stayed for two months. I loved LIVIT. It was a great price for what you get, guias, and traveling once a week and the food! I also checked out another school in Oaxaca on your list and didn’t like it as much and it was wayyy too expensive and it really all depended on what teacher you received and I didn’t care for mine. I recommend LIVIT to everyone. Although, I would like to check out another school that you did attend just for another experience, if you can recommend another? I have a good base but crave more. My time is so limited these days, so I was wondering any tips on really improving on a daily basis when you don’t immerse yourself? And are you taking the tests to pass to get to B1 or c2 status? Thank you!!!
Hi Shila, so glad you’ve found my blog useful and that you loved LIVIT. It really is like being part of a family. And thanks for the feedback on the Oaxaca school… I’m going to follow up with you on email about this for more details, but it’s good to know when I decide whether to keep them on my list or not.
The other schools I went to were Escuela Falcon in Guanajuato and La Calle in Mérida. They are both good schools, but less expensive and don’t offer the full-service immersion experience of LIVIT, for example. If you’re looking for a place more like LIVIT with communal meals, etc. I would look at Habla in Mérida… I have two friends that went there and raved about it, and my contacts with the school were very positive.
When I’m home, I try to create a mini-immersion environment. I take classes with Mexican iTalki teachers, listen to podcasts, watch TV shows and movies, go to local Spanish Meetups, and read Spanish-language books. I change the system language on my devices (phone, tablet) to Spanish, follow Mexican news and culture pages on Facebook, and chat with Mexican friends online to practice my slang.
I’m not taking the tests… I don’t need the official certification for academic or professional purposes, so I just use feedback from iTalki teachers and my placements at language schools to figure out what level I am. But I know independent students who successfully used the tests as a metric for personal learning goals and who benefited from the structured curriculum and externally set deadlines. If you’re the kind of learner who finds external structure helpful in maintaining discipline in your studies, it would definitely be worth exploring.
Shila, just a quick update that based on both your feedback and that of another reader, I’ve removed Español Interactivo from the Oaxaca section and replaced it with Amigos del Sol. As you observed, Español Interactivo could still be a good fit for some students, but I want to highlight schools that work well for the vast majority of learners. Thanks for your honest feedback; it helps me improve the recommendations for other students.
Thank you for letting me contribute and give my opinion. I enjoy your blog!
You mentioned having attended a school in Uruguay, which school did you attend and what are your thoughts regarding that school ?
Hi Woody, it was Academia Buenos Aires (https://www.academiabuenosaires.com). In 2010 I spent one week at their Buenos Aires location and another at their smaller Montevideo campus in Uruguay. I chose them because of the ability to seamlessly transition between the two cities using the same lesson plans and materials.
Since then they have added another campus in Bariloche in Argentina’s Patagonia region. I found them a good school, well-organized and with quality instructors. I think they would be a great option especially for someone wanting to experience some combination of those three locations.
I attended Livit last year in May and loved it. Thanks for the great recommendation. Do you have any other suggestions for similar schools in Mexico or elsewhere. I like the idea of Merida but it might be a little hot in May. Thanks in advance for your help.
Hi Brian, so glad to hear you loved Livit. They have a unique immersive approach I haven’t seen too many other places (Spanish Institute of Puebla is similar).
Agree that Merida would be too hot in May. I would probably stick to higher-altitude areas. If you’re interested in Guatemala, some friends of mine love Sisai Spanish School in Xela… it has a community atmosphere and daily activities. Check out their report here: https://www.secondhalftravels.com/sisai-spanish-school-xela-guatemala/.
Hello Ingrid. Thanks for posting this. I studied at Cemanahuac Educational Community in Cuernavaca, Mexico back when I was in college and really liked it. Thought the teachers were good and they organized some field trips to places of interest. Seemed a little more geared toward college students though. At any rate, thinking about going back to Latin America for a couple of weeks to study Spanish. But since I’ve already been to Mexico, I would like to go somewhere else. Have you heard of any good Spanish schools in Colombia, Costa Rica, or even Puerto Rico? Thanks.
Hi John, thanks for the recommendation for Cuernavaca! Check out the series of comments on this post as there may be some helpful information for you: https://www.secondhalftravels.com/choose-spanish-school/#comment-835. Best, Ingrid
This post is so wonderful and informative thank you!! As soon as this coronavirus nightmare is over I am hoping to travel to Mexico and take a 1 month class. I’d say I’m an intermediate – high intermediate Spanish speaker so based on your suggestions and research I am reaching out to Habla, Livit and Instituto Jovel at least to begin. I’m a little worried about weather for summer (hoping the world is back to normal by then), but we’ll see. Any other thoughts you have are much appreciated!
The coronavirus crisis is certainly throwing a wrench in everyone’s plans, isn’t it? Fingers crossed things will be back to normal by then.
Mérida does get extremely hot in the summer, as it’s inland and doesn’t get the ocean breezes of the coast. However, if you have a high heat tolerance, it’s a good time as it’s low tourist season.
Summer is rainy season in Puebla and San Cristóbal, but many people enjoy that time of year… the rain improves the air quality in Mexico City and Puebla, and everything turns lush and green. The rain rarely lasts longer than a few hours.
As a backup plan, ask the schools you’re interested in about online learning. They are all going virtual now to try to survive this sudden downturn in their business. Suerte and let me know how things go!
> May 2020 update: Don’t let current travel restrictions…
AFAIK, Mexico is open to most travelers.
Land borders are closed to non-essential travel, but it looks like there are still some flights to Mexico.
Everyone has to make their own decision based on their personal situation and current conditions. Personally, I’ve canceled my international travel plans for 2020, with a great deal of regret.
Hey I need a help an email from this school and fone NUM . Was looking for a school in Mexico where I can learn Spanish .for more info kindly send me your email .thanks
Hi Yvonne, the best thing is to go to the websites of the schools you’re interested in and find their contact information there. Each school’s name in the post is linked to its website. Hope that helps!
I want to thank you for recommending the Livit Immersion school in Puebla. When I discovered your website, I read it from top to bottom. I followed your advice and did my research. The Livit school was a very good fit for me. I went there for a week at the beginning of March, before Covid 19 shut everything down. It was my first solo trip out of the country and I was very anxious. It turned out to be a wonderful experience. I could only go for one week due to my job, but next year I will go back for a longer visit. Baby steps! I was well-cared for at this family run school, and I was treated like a longterm student even though I was only staying for a week. Thank you for sharing your experiences; you helped me so much.
Hi Mary, glad to hear my posts have been helpful! It’s comments like yours that keep me going with the blog.
Kudos on taking the leap to your first solo trip overseas! Not an easy thing. Certainly having a reliable and caring school is very important. I hope we can all get back to travel soon and support great schools like Livit.
Partha Prateem Ray Choudhury
Hi Ingrid, thank you very much for posting this very informative article in your blog for aspiring Spanish learners. Well, I’m an Indian and it my 30’s. I’ve been searching for quality Spanish language schools in Latin America. Luckily, Google showed up your blog and I read it right from top to bottom. Well, I want to learn the most neutral Spanish accent that is understood by all in the Hispanic world. So, I’m torn between Mexico and Colombia. I’ve sorted out Livit Immersion in Puebla, Amigos del Sol in Oaxaca for Mexico. Is San Miguel de Allende a good bet for Spanish immersion for beginners (it seems to be one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico) considering the influx of foreign expats? On the other hand, for Colombia, I’m confining myself to Medellin as it is conceived to be safer and friendlier than Bogota. Toucan Spanish School, Colombia Immersion are my top picks. So, for a long term study (minimum 3 months or more), would you recommend me to head to Mexico or Colombia considering safety (I’m a solo guy who will travel all the way to Latin America from India), exposure to clean and neutral Spanish accent, lower cost of living, foreigner friendliness and most importantly authentic exposure to the nation’s culture and food?
I’m sorry to write a long post. Please bear with me. I hope you will guide me in the right direction. Thank you very much in advance for reading my post and providing suitable suggestions. I’ll be eagerly waiting for your reply. Stay safe, stay healthy.
Regards from India,
Hi Partha, I’m guessing you’re asking for when the pandemic passes? Right now I can’t recommend travel to either country. Mexico is one of the countries most badly affected by coronavirus in Latin America. Friends in Medellín tell me it’s under strict lockdown and all schools are closed.
However, once it’s safe to travel again, I think you cannot go wrong with either San Miguel de Allende or Medellín. They’re both highly popular with expats for good reason. Personally, I found San Miguel lovely and with many cultural attractions, but with too many Americans for my taste. Since I’m from the US, I prefer to avoid places with so many gringos, especially when I’m trying to practice Spanish. But since you’re not from the US, that may not be an issue. I do think it’s a good place for a first-time visitor to Mexico, and there are many excellent Spanish schools.
Medellín would definitely be my choice for studying Spanish in Colombia. It’s a dynamic, attractive city with an ideal climate. There are lots of foreign expats in Medellín too, but it’s not as dominated by Americans since it’s further from the US.
Since Medellín is a big city, street crime is likely more common there. While the center can be dodgy, the schools are in safer neighborhoods, so you should be fine if you follow basic safety precautions. Mexico suffers a lot of violence, but it’s not generally directed at foreigners.
Both accents will serve you well in the Hispanic world. The Colombian accent is more melodious in my opinion, but I’ve always found the Mexican one easier to understand. That’s just my perspective though as an American used to hearing that accent.
San Miguel is relatively expensive for Mexico, but still a bargain compared to the US. All Latin American countries are friendly, but in my personal experience, Mexicans are extra warm and hospitable.
If you are interested in culture and food, in my (admittedly biased) opinion, due to the strong indigenous influence Mexico’s history, architecture, gastronomy, and dialect are more rich and interesting. Mexican cuisine is globally famous for its flavors.
I would recommend watching movies and TV shows from both countries to get a feel for the culture and language, and starting with online courses. Once the time is right, you can write the schools to see which ones might be a good fit. What happens with me is that over time I get a clearer picture of which one is the right choice. Or you may become a language school junkie like me and end up studying in both places over time!
I really appreciated reading this. Thanks for your thoughtful and in-depth responses. You take your time giving feedback and I’m grateful for that!
Are you aware of any great Spanish language schools in Guadalajara? I actually live here and am comfortable with my Spanish skills. I tested Level C1. However, I’m a pretty traditional student and I like structure, homework, and someone I can ask all my questions to! In addition to Guadalajara, do you know of any great schools in PV, Morelia, and/or Patzcuaro?
Thanks for your time!
Hello! I’m so sorry. You had given recommendations for both Morelia & Patzcuaro. Thank you! I also went to La Calle (I think it was called Calle 55) in Merida a few years back. I would much prefer a school with a wide range of ages, with a slight lean toward those in their 30s and 40s. Thank you again and apologies for not reading clearer the first time!
Hi Ken, I haven’t heard excellent recommendations for schools in Guadalajara and PV, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist! I’ve gotten mixed feedback on IMAC in Guadalajara, but that could be one worth checking out. Classes may be suspended at many schools due to Covid, so if you opt for online lessons for now you may not even need to restrict yourself geographically.
Hi Ingrid, would you ever try a school in Guadalajara? I’m planning to move there in 2022.
Hi Robert, I’m not planning to study in Guadalajara (I prefer smaller colonial cities), but as a big city, it should offer a number of options. You may want to look into a university course, since you’ll be there long-term. If you prefer a private language school, as I mentioned above, I’ve gotten mixed feedback on IMAC, but it could be worth checking out.
HI Ken, If it’s not to off topic I would love to hear your thoughts about life in Guadalajara. It’s a place my partner and I have thought about. Just anything would be interesting. Also thinking about Merida.
We spent 3 months in Mexico City studying at UNAM and there is lots to like there except it has terrible air quality and we like to walk and walk and explore around. I came home sick though from the air quality.
Best, Thanks for your time,
Hi Maya, completely understand about the air quality. I love Mexico City too, but would find a long-term stay challenging since I’m sensitive to pollution.
Unfortunately, many Mexican cities have air quality problems. When I was in Mérida in February, I found bus fumes sometimes made it hard to enjoy walking in the historic center.
Here is the pollution reading for Mérida at the moment:
You can use the same site for other cities. In Mérida, air quality is probably worst from February to May. It’s still manageable, though, compared to Mexico City.
Also, if you feel comfortable, would love to hear some impressions of your time at CEPE. I know it would help a lot of readers to hear about your firsthand experience. Gracias! 🙂
Sure! My husband and I (we are a gay couple) have lived here for 5 months but have been to the city before about 4 times. WE LOVE IT. And can’t even tell you how much we love it! We come from San Francisco and we are so glad to be here. It offers cultural opportunities, great food, incredibly friendly people, beautiful neighborhoods, and fabulous weather. We actually loved the rainy season (June-September/October) for the nightly thunderstorms. We also have a car so we’ve been able to explore the surrounding states (Nayarit and Michoacán). We are coffee lovers and there are so many good cafes and coffee beans, cocktail bars, etc. We aren’t into nightlight life (we go to sleep early) but those opportunities exist!
We also spent a month in Merida, which is another city I love. Merida is much sleepier but beautiful. Slow paced, also great food. In my opinion, there is more to do (in the day to day) in Guadalajara (more neighborhoods to explore).
Regarding pollution, there is some air pollution here, though I’ve found it not as bad as Mexico City. My phone does tell me sometimes that the air is “unhealthy for sensitive populations”.
However, back to the original question. We are so happy to be here. It’s a fabulous place. Oh! In an effort to provide another opinion, I have a friend here who moved from a coastal city in Brazil, and feels that there is too much concrete here. I haven’t felt that way, but I do see a bit what she is saying. However, there are a number of city parks, and a big barranca nearby where you can get some nature. And the beach is 3-4 hours away!
I hope that’s helpful. Happy to answer any other questions you have!
I’m so sorry I never thanked you for your response!! I appreciate the time you took and will give you a heads up if I hear any great things about schools in Guadalajara or PV. Hope all is well!!
Hi Ken, thanks for sharing your experience in Guadalajara… I’m sure that will help a lot of readers. And do let us know if you find a school you love! Take care and be well!
Hi Ingrid, Yes and perhaps you can find a better place to categorize it.
My husband and I attended Cepe for a session (6 weeks) Jan – March 2020, overall it was fun, interesting, and a unique experience. The classes are around 15 students which is a lot. It might be okay for real beginners, not ideal for advanced beginners and advanced students imo. If you are very self motivated and study well outside of class you will likely get more than I did. Most of the students were from Asia: China, Korea, Japan, also England and Africa were represented with one other student from USA in my class. Makes for an interesting group but things move slow and your chance to participate is limited. Text books are provided, well done and very traditional in method. Placement is through testing (reading, computer scoring and a verbal test which is used to verify the machine test scores) most people seemed to be placed below where they perceived themselves to be.
Teachers are well educated and I believe well compensated (for Mexico). As teachers do everywhere they have varied commitments to teaching and students. Overall I was impressed with them. A big highpoint is there are a lot of additional classes one can take, music, dance, history, etc. Also all of the events on the Campus are available but you need a certain level of Spanish to read the Notice Boards and get to them. CEPE, “Centro de Enseñanza Para Extranjeros” is adjacent to the Psychology Dept and I saw amazing offerings I wish I had the time and talent to take advantage of. Exploring the campus and talking to Mexican students was definitely a high point.
Getting to be on the UNAM beautiful campus and having the resources of the school available are big plusses. The Library, Museums, physical campus, medical facility, are all at your disposal as a student. Also with your UNAM student card discounts at most museums in the whole city. Take a walking tour even if you don’t go there because it is amazing place. Lots of good eating options on campus.
We got apartments on airbnb within walking distance and that was fun to integrate a bit into community life.
I’m happy to try and answer any particular questions.
Thanks so much for this helpful review, Maya. I absolutely love the UNAM campus too.
I’m glad you had the chance to study in Mexico until March. I was at a language school in Brazil until March too, and got to experience Carnival there. It hardly seems possible to imagine those crowded street parties now!
Thank you Ingrid for a timely and informative blog. I will be in San Miguel de Allende, Morelia and Patzcuaro in February 2021. I am looking for an immersion experience somewhere in the area…..Morelia or Patzcuaro would work well with my travel plans. I am a senior early seventies and a serious student probably approaching intermediate level Spanish in basic grammar but could use more conversational practice. Do you have a recommendation for a school for probably two to three weeks in March?
Thanks for your help,
Hi Barb, I would start by emailing the schools in those sections. Not sure how many will be open for in-person classes during the pandemic, but they’ll be able to give you the latest update.