Speaking the language is vital when you’re in a foreign country. I cannot abide people who go abroad and fail to learn even one word of the native language, read one page of a phrasebook for Christ’s sake. Fortunately, my Spanish was quite handy before we came out, as I’d taken the time to learn, but I really wanted to improve it.
Aoife, as a beginner was equally as keen to learn, so we set-about finding a good school, of which there are plenty in Antigua. We settled on ‘La Union’ which was a short 5 minute walk from our hostel. Because it was low-season, we paid an incredibly low amount, $100 per 20 hours, bargain.
Usually it’s $150, which is still cheap, but hey-ho, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. We started on the Monday, 8am-12pm in the morning & 2-4pm in the afternoon. The classes are one-on-one and can be very intense. The first day we were both exhausted and speaking in English, never mind Spanish was pretty hard after.
However, you get used to it and very quickly your Spanish starts to improve tenfold. After the second day I was thinking & dreaming in Spanish, eager to speak to everyone and translating every sign, poster or menu that I saw.
The whole experience was fantastic, and after a week my confidence had soared. I’d learned more Spanish in a week than in months at school. It also made me much more appreciative of the natives that spoke English, as it’s much harder to learn than Spanish.
My experience was augmented in large part by my ‘Maestros’ Manolo & Maco, two men from Antigua. They were both incredibly helpful, but also hilarious. It wasn’t just intense learning all the time, there were good conversations and we had a laugh. So if you head there, make sure you ask for these two as they’re brilliant.
I even returned for three days towards the end of my time in Antigua, primarily for the Spanish but also to catch up with these two! So if you’re in Antigua, definitely seek out La Union!