SOURCE: Guatemala Tourism Institute

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September 23, 2014 09:56 ET

Guatemala's Life Lessons Include Learning How to Speak Spanish

Spanish School Programs Allow Travelers to Take Home More Than Just Memories

GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA--(Marketwired - September 23, 2014) - While most enjoy the pleasure of complete relaxation or active adventures while on vacation, Guatemala invites travelers to try something different, Spanish language lessons. With the Guatemala Tourism Board's 2014 campaign entitled "Life Lessons," and the country's reputable offering that invites travelers to fully immerse in the country's culture by taking language lessons, the slogan is quite fitting. The country has approximately 50 language schools, several of which are accredited by international Universities and offer diverse itineraries from ranging from one-week courses to semester long experiences.

Aside from visiting Mayan ruins and colonial towns or climbing active volcanoes, the Spanish Language program is increasingly popular among Guatemala's young visitors. Approximately 75% of travelers who attend Spanish language schools in Guatemala are from Colleges or Universities, while the remaining 25% are made up of volunteers, tourists and missionaries. And with the number of retirees traveling and living aboard continuously increasing, older generations are also trying out this experience in Guatemala. While most language schools are open year-round, high season for Spanish courses is between January and July, with peak time being during Easter week or Spring break.

According to Pedro Duchez, Director of the Guatemala Tourism Institute (INGUAT), "the majority of tourists choosing to study Spanish in Guatemala are from the United States, Germany and Canada. These visitors spend an average of 40 consecutive days in the country with the main purpose of attending a Spanish Language School."

A popular program is the "Uno a Uno" or "One on One" course (http://spanishschools.visitguatemala.com/programs). Using a one-on-one system that pairs a student with a professor where the two work together on conversation development. This study style is offered at many different language schools found in Guatemala.

The one-on-one program is used at Antiguena Spanish Academy, which has been highly recommended by Lonely Planet, Foot Print, The Rough Guide and several other travel review books. A successful school that has been open for twenty-six years, it is located near Antigua's Central Park. Here classes are tailored to the amount of time each individual wants and tuition is paid one week at a time so students aren't tied to a preconceived schedule.

One highly ranked School is the Cooperative Spanish School in San Pedro La Laguna, where the monies earned go directly to local teachers and other outreach programs. This school also offers great Spanish lessons as well as activities like kayaking, zip-lining and salsa dancing. Ideal for travelers on a budget, four week packages, which include four hour Spanish classes a day and homestay accommodations, range from $426 or $666. 

The Instituto Central America (ICA), located in Quetzaltenango, offers all levels of Spanish from beginner to advance with programs that even focus on medical, legal and business terminology. Professionals can amplify their Spanish with lessons that average 25 hours per week (roughly $720 for a four week stay). ICA offers an all-inclusive program that includes both Spanish lessons and other activities, ideal for those who want to explore the country without having to organize the details.

Many of Guatemala's language schools are accredited by Universities in the United States and Europe. Often, the schools recommend accommodations at a local home, which allows one to fully immerse and practice Spanish on a daily basis and integrate into a cultural environment. Additionally, the programs integrate tourist activities that give travelers the opportunity discover many of the country's attractions and enjoy fun activities such as mountain hikes, horseback riding, canopying, cycling or golfing.

Guatemala's Spanish Schools have grown so much in recent years that this past July, the first language festival was inaugurated. The Feria de Español festival was coordinated by the Guatemala Tourism Institute and Guatemala's Chamber of Commerce. The fair took place in the colonial city of Antigua, where tourists were able to meet with representatives from top Spanish schools in the country to learn more about their programs. To learn more about Guatemala's Spanish Schools, visit http://spanishschools.visitguatemala.com.

About Guatemala

Nested in Central America is Guatemala, the heart of the Mayan world. A place where a modern capital city melds seamlessly with the country's colonial and indigenous past, Guatemala is the path less traveled offering enlightening experiences beyond what meets the eye. From ancient Mayan ruins that emerge from the lush rainforests and architecturally impressive colonial cities with colorful outdoor markets to countless adventures and natural wonders such as untouched forest reserves, volcanoes and pristine lakes, Guatemala presents Life Lessons worth living. It also is home to three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the colonial city of Antigua, the Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quirigua and the Tikal National Park. For more information, visit www.visitguatemala.com

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