Volunteering and studying Spanish in Guatemala

When I wrote a quick blog about learning something on vacation, Issert asked “Does anyone know volunteering abroad programs with language classes or language immersion programs within Spanish speaking countries?” in the comments section.

Joe replied that he has been going to Guatemala for 15 years to study Spanish and volunteer. He also mentioned Antigua.

I know I’ve gotten requests for more articles for single travelers – this would be perfect for single travelers. The school makes sure you meet people and homestays probably work better for singles than for families anyway.

Anyway, I contacted one school in Guatemala to get some more information for everyone. If this reads like an ad for the school, sorry but what you’re about to read was written by them – I won’t take nay credit and I don’t want any blame.

We have included information below about the school so that you may read over it and get to know us and our works. We are very open to working inside your parameters and needs. We would very much like to start this relationship and will welcome any more questions that you

have.

Guate Spanish Language School is a young, small, self-sustainable cooperative of host families, language instructors and volunteer organizations managed by Guatemalan Maya Spanish Association, a Guatemalan NGO. Our mission is to “Give socioeconomic support to our members by offering genuine Guatemalan cultural experience to help our participants reconnect with their authentic selves.”

We would like to invite you to immerse yourself in:

* Authentic homestay

* 1-on-1 Spanish lesson

* Volunteering opportunity

* Cultural activity/excursion

AUTHENTIC HOMESTAY

Your host families are the primary and integral part of the immersion experience. They will open their homes, their hearts and their lives to you. You will see how children are raised, marriages are celebrated and slangs are used in daily life of middle class Guatemalans. Your room

will not be extravagant but will be clean and comfortable with sufficient privacy. When you are at their dining table, you will enjoy the authentic Guatemalan food which will be a learning experience in itself. And of course, your host can fix you a wonderful vegetarian meal as well. A life-long friendship will be built as you would sit after dinner and talk for hours or go out to a Sunday mass, shopping and fiesta with kids/adults your age. If you have a special diet and/or medical need, please feel free to let us know. Your host family will accommodate your needs as much as possible. It’s completely OK and we encourage you to communicate your preference on foods, time to be woken up, etc. There is no need for you to eat something you do not like. Just leave it aside and your host will understand. But if you can let them know what you like and do not like to eat beforehand, your host will appreciate that greatly. If you would like to change your host family for any reason, please feel free to let us know at anytime. We will have a new arrangement ready for you right away.

1-ON-1 SPANISH LESSON (We also teach various indigenous languages.)

Your personal Spanish / indigenous language instructors are talented men and women who possess a deep knowledge of the languages and Guatemalan culture in which they live. Our instructors have a unique understanding of foreign students and how they learn best. They teach not with prepackaged curricula, but with passion, creativity and responsiveness to student interests and needs. All of our instructors are certified with diplomas in the teaching of Spanish as a second language. In addition to theoretical training on methodologies of immersion instruction, the instructors have practical experience in teaching for between 3 and 12 years. They have worked with students of a variety of learning styles and levels of previous experience (total beginners to advanced students). The lesson can be customized to accommodate each student’s need in oral and written proficiency, special interests / needs of the student (according to his/her major, learning disability, etc). Let us know what interests you. Mayan cosmo-vision, natural medicine and nutrition, history, anthropology, law… Whatever it may be, we will work to pair you with an instructor who has similar interests. Our normal class schedule is 8am-1pm or 2pm-7pm, Mon-Fri. Each session lasts 5 days. You may start your class on any Monday of the year. If you prefer to start on another day or time, special scheduling can be arranged upon your request. Starting from no knowledge of Spanish, majority of our students reach advanced level of proficiency in 10-12 weeks of study. We encourage you to offer suggestions in terms of what materials you would like to use, grammatical topics you wish to cover, or what percentage of each class you would like to devote to conversation versus drills and exercises etc. If you have special learning needs, or a learning disability please inform us or your instructor so appropriate accommodations can be made.

VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITY

It will be a truly humbling experience to witness the poverty and hardship of the students, teachers and families in Chiquilaja. The grassroots effort to support the school is led by our volunteer coordinator, Leticia Sacalxot. The school structure and curriculum are continually evolving, thanks to the support we receive from program participants. The Chiquilaj?school and the girls’ orphanage are in need of your help. School supplies that are so carelessly used (and wasted) in your home country will be great gifts for them. They are enduring familial and community poverty and face a general lack of parental support to attend the school. More than anything else, your generosity helps these children realize that someone cares.

EXCURSION & FIESTA

Panajachel at the shore of lake Atitlan: 1 day trip 530-1900. We will be crossing the one of the most scenic lakes in the world to visit 2 indigenous villages. We will stop by a hotspring and natural reserves. Guides, boat, entrance fee to the natural reserve, breakfast, lunch, bus are included.

Takalik abaj: 1 day trip 800-1900 We will visit the spectacular Mayan ruin. Bus, guide, lunch and entrance fee are included. We will have fun at nearby pool too!

Irtra Xocomil: 1 day trip 800-1800 A wonderful break at the Guatemala’s largest aquatic amusement park! Bus, entrance fee and lunch are included.

Fiesta ind?ena: In Quetzaltenango, we always have various celebrations such as engagement, godfathership, marriage, “a post-hangover” party, etc. Dress up yourself in tradicional dresses and dance with the rhythm of marimba. Join us to become a part of the Mayan culture! Meals,

drinks and good time are included. These are just a few examples and if you have a specific destination of your interest, please let us know.

Well they sent me more, but that’s enough for this blog. If you’re serious about volunteering in Guatemala, Guate Spanish School provided me with the information above.

Filed Under: Meaningful Travel

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Comments (5)

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  1. sally says:

    i went to Guatemala to work on learning the language for 4 weeks 2 years ago and would love to return.

    What is the cost for the Guate Spanish school?

  2. k. lane says:

    current cost spanish school, $150 per week for 7 hours per day one on one instructor, less for less time. five hours a day recomended. Stay with a family is $ 70 per week including meals. cheap enough, I just did it for 4 weeks. kl

  3. Housam says:

    Can you provide any pictures ? How far are these schools from a beach ? Can you share additional comments from people who recently attended these schools?

  4. Debra Wasserman says:

    I am a low income senior citizen working on my master’s thesis. I would like to improve my spanish skills, and this may be a possiblity for me during the summer break. I would not want to be away for more than 3 weeks, or need more than 4 hours study. I would like to volunteer as an english teacher. Where is the school located and is it relatively safe? DW

  5. James Trotta says:

    I can’t provide any details – contact the school via their website and they should be able to gather all the information you want.

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