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Learning Spanish in Guatemala

Learning Spanish in Guatemala

Written by Lorena Bleker
Revised by Jake Mahon
Edited by Tom Lingenfelter

Considering learning another language as a new year’s resolution?  Guatemala is the no. 1 destination in Central America for students eager to go overseas to learn Spanish, the second most important language in the world.  Choosing our country to learn the language will give you the opportunity to acquire Spanish with a neutral accent, live with local families, and save a lot of money because the Spanish schools here are offering great deals for students.

Spanish is not just a fun language to learn, it is also very useful. If Spanish is involved in your career or if you travel  Latin America or Spain, you can at least have a clue what the boys or girls are gossiping about you!  After all, during your cultural travel experience, you also need to learn how you get your cold beer or ask directions to the toilet, instead of the dark room!  Yeah, that one!

Now, once in Guatemala you can choose different destinations for your language classes.  These are the top 3 most popular options:

  • Antigua
  • Quetzaltenango
  • Lake Atitlan
ANTIGUA GUATEMALA:Photo courtesy of TGW.

A beautiful Spanish colonial town with an 16th-century setting. It is a UNESCO Site conveniently located one hour away from Guatemala City.

Pros:   Offering great housing options, charming school settings, opportunities to volunteer and choose extracurricular activities. Antigua is classy and romantic with many services for tourists.  It has great hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, etc., as well as a clean accent that it is optimal for learning the language. The weather is perfect most of the time.  This place is really a cultural destination.

Cons:  The cost of living is more expensive, it can be crowded on weekends, and, as a popular tourist destination, where a large percentage of the local population speaks some English, it’s not always easy to practice Spanish.

Where to start looking?  

For more information about schools in Antigua, visit:

QUETZALTENANGO (XELA):  Photo courtesy of Inguat.

The second largest city of Guatemala, a mix of Maya quiche and ladino culture.  Don’t take it for granted, because Xela (its popular name) has an interesting flavor, unique personality and a great history.

Pros: Xela has a large variety of options and prices.  There are affordable plans of room and board, mainly living with host families or guesthouses. If you’re interested, there are more opportunities to volunteer here. People have a good accent in general.  The local food is good.  Xela has a more Guatemalan atmosphere with an international twist.  It is also cheaper than Antigua.

Cons:  Xela has many options that may make it difficult to choose and getting there may take up to 5 hrs. of travelling by bus. It can get cold at night because of the altitude (~7,600 feet / 2,300 meters above sea level)!

Where to start looking?

For more information about Spanish schools in Xela, visit:


Photo courtesy of Julian Ursano, Canada

Lake Atitlan is one of the top destinations to visit in Guatemala. Famous for being surrounded by 3 volcanoes, you can also visit the different towns around the lake, each with different atmosphere that worthy of exploration.

The most popular locations for study Spanish by the lake are:

  • Panajachel
  • San Pedro La Laguna

Pros: Without a doubt, Atitlan is one the most beautiful lakes in the world.  As the home of many expats of all ages, it has a very international atmosphere. There are good prices for schools and accommodation, as well as great dinner and party options in a bohemian atmosphere. It’s also fun to explore each town around the lake, as each has its own identity.  You should come to the lake if you need a break. Total relaxation! This is a destination for all generations. Life is cheaper in San Pedro than in Panajachel.

Cons:  The accent may not be as neutral as Antigua, since for some teachers Spanish is their second language, but it is good enough to make yourself understood. For beginners is a good place to learn as Spanish because the language is spoken slower than in Antigua or Xela. Weather is great, but It can also get a little chilly at night.

It may take a while to get to San Pedro, it is a bit secluded, but there are more transportation options to/from Panajachel and from there you can take a boat to San Pedro.

Where to start looking?

  1. Jabel Tinamit Spanish school (
  2. San Pedro Spanish school (

For more information about schools around the lake visit:

Ok. We hope this information help you to choose your next travel destination and give you a start for your educational journey.  Cheer up! We have seen Germans learning Spanish in 3 weeks, so it is possible to learn another language in a short time.!