There’s a good reason that Medellín abounds with travelers stopping in to learn Spanish for a few weeks or even a few months. It’s a lively, energetic city. It has all of the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars that a traveler could ever ask for. It’s safe and affordable. There are day trips and weekend trips aplenty. And there are TONS of high-quality and inexpensive Spanish schools. So, if you need to brush up on your español (or start from scratch), why not learn Spanish in Medellín? We studied Spanish for two weeks at Total Spanish in Medellín, and our experience was awesome!
Where should I sign up?
I had been wanting to improve my Spanish for some time, since it is embarrassingly bad and I need to use it sometimes at work. Ethan was a total beginner and was excited to learn something new! We decided to enroll for two weeks at Total Spanish in Medellín. This was one of many highly-rated Spanish schools right in the upscale El Poblado neighborhood, but in our (totally unbiased) opinion, it turned out to be one of the friendliest, most community-oriented, and overall best! (Caveat: we didn’t study at any of the others. But they just seemed more corporate-y, ya know?)
Added bonus is that when I returned home to New York, Total Spanish agreed to continue to meet with me for private lessons via Skype!
How much does it cost?
There were several class options available. I decided to enroll in ten hours of group classes plus four hours of private lessons per week, for a total of just over $230 USD/week. Ethan enrolled in the ten hour group lesson only, and paid only around $180 USD/week.
We stayed nearby in an Airbnb. The one we had originally booked cancelled on us about a month before our arrival, so we were left with somewhat slim pickings. We ended up getting one that was a little bigger and nicer than what we usually go for (it was huge by our NYC standards, with two bathrooms, wowow), but it was still totally affordable ($744 USD split between two people for 15 days). And it was a in a lovely neighborhood, right near an incredible CAT CAFE, and walking distance to our school!
What’s it like?
The quality of the lessons was excellent. Upon enrolling, we took an online placement test focused on our grammar knowledge. We were sent a tentative schedule for our courses the weekend before they began. When we arrived at the school on the first day, we were given a brief in-person oral language interview, and our class placements were adjusted accordingly.
At any one time, there were about twenty students enrolled in Total Spanish, which is in a small, two-story building. Each class had a very small group of students and a teacher. The first week, I was one of three students in my class and Ethan was one of only two! The second week, I was still one of three and Ethan was in a group of five. Our classmates were cool people of all ages (although mostly twenties or thirties) from around the world. Many were on long trips and would be in Medellín for much longer than we were!
The teachers were knowledgeable about language pedagogy and adjusted their instruction to the level of the class. In my class, we practiced advanced grammar concepts through conversation exercises and some writing activities. In Ethan’s class, they learned and practiced basic grammar and vocabulary. We each had a little bit of homework each night, but it was super informal and optional (although helpful – you should do your homework!)
My private lessons were focused really specifically on what I needed to learn. They were great one-on-one practice with a native speaker. And, Total Spanish was very flexible with scheduling; when I told them we were planning a weekend trip to Guatapé, they switched my Friday afternoon lesson to another day.
What else is there to do?
We tend to take it easy when we travel, and we loved the schedule and pace of the classes. We would wake up pretty early each morning for our classes and have breakfast at home (nothing like fresh South American fruit, yummm). We’d walk to class and spend the morning practicing our Spanish. Then we’d stroll back home for lunch. In the afternoon, we’d maybe hit up a coffee shop, or else we’d head to a site or activity in the city that we were interested in (like paragliding!) In the evening, we’d usually walk to dinner somewhere, maybe grab a drink.
We were definitely on the we’re-getting-old (late twenties is OLD, okay??), we-like-to-sleep train. But many of our classmates were not, and there’s definitely room for all-night partying and
reguetón-dancing if that’s what you’re into!
Did it work?
Like, did we actually learn Spanish in Medellín? YES! When we arrived in Medellín, I had difficulty giving directions to a taxi driver, and by the end of my visit I could navigate an emergency room visit in Spanish! Ethan arrived with almost no Spanish at all, and by the end he could order food and drinks and ask basic questions! So, progress! Definitely recommended!
Have you gone abroad to study a language? What were your experiences? Tell us about it in the comments!