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Bloviator

Nov 24, 2006, 6:05 AM

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Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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I'm seriously interested in spending a month in a language school somewhere in Mexico or Guatemala to improve my Spanish from horrible to mediocre. Antigua, Guatemala has been highly recommended as has Cuernavaca and Xalapa in Mexico.

Would appreciate any suggestions, particularly regarding schools in Antigua and the advisability of driving from Lakeside to Guatemala. Evidently the best route is through Oaxaca, possibly not the wisest place to travel at present.



moonfam5

Nov 24, 2006, 4:17 PM

Post #2 of 18 (4112 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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It may sound too simplistic, but try the language cd's they sell at Costco. If nothing else, it will help you with vocabulary, the rest is mostly practice anyway, which you have plenty of participants to help you there in Lakeside. As I have mentioned in other posts, the native speakers are very helpful when they see that you are making an attempt at communicating with them in their language.
I had to learn my spanish the hard way. I fell in love with a mexican girl, and she told me that if I wanted to marry her, I would have to talk to her Dad...in spanish! That was 21 years ago, we will celebrate our 20 year anniversary on the 29th of this month, and yes I still speak spanish!
WinkThe more I learn, I less I know.


Bubba

Nov 24, 2006, 4:35 PM

Post #3 of 18 (4106 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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Would appreciate any suggestions, particularly regarding schools in Antigua and the advisability of driving from Lakeside to Guatemala. Evidently the best route is through Oaxaca, possibly not the wisest place to travel at present

Dlyman, dear boy, the best way to Guatemala trom Ajijic is not through Oaxaca City but through the magnificent states of Michoacan, Mexico, Puebla, Veracruz and Chiapas. When you go this route you will discover the true Mexico of which dreams are made. When you pass through San Cristobal de las Casas, the Bub will buy you a beer. You will probably not return more proficient in Spanish but you will have had a hell of a lot of fun.


rvnpikes

Nov 24, 2006, 4:42 PM

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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We've attended three or four language schools in Antigua. They all seemed pretty similar, and all were very good in helping us with Spanish. We stayed with local families on all occasions, and that too was a great experience, although the cuisine tends to be a bit boring - but there are some good restaurants in the city.

Our first visit was arranged by Amerispan http://www.amerispan.com but on subsequent visits we just showed up and found our own schools and accommodation. Amerispan was very helpful, however. I think that on our last visit we paid $155 for five days of 4-hour, one-on-one lessons, 7 nights room with private bathroom, and 6 days meals; the prices seem to have gone up a bit since then. If you drive, you'll have to have a secure place to park your vehicle.

We have driven once (from Ajijic), taking an easterly route around the north of Mexico City and then on to the coast to see Palenque, then south through the mountains to San Cristobal de las Casa, and then east into Guatemala. The border crossing took all of about fifteen minutes - a piece of cake - although, because it was a Sunday and the bank was closed, we weren't able to buy Guatemalan auto insurance.

The trip to Antigua was very easy - no heavy traffic - and through some outstanding mountain scenery. We left San Cristobal in the morning, and since we didn't think we could make it all the way to Antigua before dark, we spent the night at the Rancho Grande in Panajachel.

We took the more coastal route back from Antigua to the Mexican border, and checking out of Guatemala in that border city was a bit of a zoo - there are signs all over the place telling you that there is no charge to leave the country, but we were swarmed by men offering to "help" us. The procedure is quite straightforward so you could certainly do it yourself, but I wouldn't leave my vehicle unattended to do that.

Once in Mexico we followed the coast highway from Tapachula then crossed the isthmus on highway 185 and then retraced our original route back to Ajijic.


jaybear

Nov 25, 2006, 3:57 AM

Post #5 of 18 (4069 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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DLL, it would no doubt be worthwhile to take the trip south, BUT there are language schools closer to home that might fit the bill. Besides Guadalajara schools, look at www.lacatalinaschool.com - in this one, you get to go to the school at the beach in beautiful La Manzanilla and (if you like) stay with a Spanish family for immersion purposes. When we were at La Manzanilla, I met a US high school Spanish teacher who was there perfecting her skills, and she said the school was quite good. Now that I think of it, it would be fun to get a group from Lakeside and all go together. But, our Spanish is no doubt worse than yours! One way you can practice is to volunteer to have someone stay in your home--I learned a lot during the recent stay of a Maestra del Arte from Patzcuaro. Or, you can volunteer at one of the old folks' homes or the organic farm in Jaltepec (ACA) or somewhere.


Bloviator

Nov 25, 2006, 4:48 AM

Post #6 of 18 (4067 views)

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Re: [moonfam5] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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Moonfam5 - I've done all that you suggest except marry a Mexican girl. I don't think my wife would approve. I use three computer programs, a couple of texts, and speak regularly with a variety of Spanish speakers.

Bubba - Thanks for the directions. You've already pretty much convinced me to take the bus or fly. If I do, drive, I've been the route you suggest, so want to consider a different one, but will use it one way at least.

rvnpikes - Thanks for the suggesation. My daughter got on a plane, went to Chile with no Spanish, got off the plane, wandered around until she found a Spanish program she liked, returned to the US a year later and became a bilingual teacher. Just do it may be a great idea. One can only get the real feel of something by seeing it. The internet is good, but experience is better.

Jaybear - Again thanks. I am considering Guadalajera (added bonus, getting to know the city near where I live), Queretero, and now your suggestion La Manzanillo. Both are good as they are far enough from home to provide new experiences and departure from the day to day, but close enough to get home some. The idea of several people getting together does not appeal to me, as we would spend our time speaking to each other in English. A local group of three or four people with a good tutor, though, might be a good addition.


(This post was edited by dlyman6500 on Nov 25, 2006, 4:57 AM)


tonyburton


Nov 25, 2006, 8:06 AM

Post #7 of 18 (4044 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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In addition to the responses you've already had, see this previous thread on this very forum: http://mexconnected.com/..._string=jovel;#62177
and also http://mexconnected.com/...orum_view_collapsed; on the Spanish Forum.


(This post was edited by tonyburton on Nov 25, 2006, 8:09 AM)


Bubba

Nov 25, 2006, 9:47 AM

Post #8 of 18 (4027 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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I´ve discovered this propensity within myself to think that the farther away something is from that place in which Bubba resides the more important it is. This is not a joke. For my first years down here, I always took my autos to Riberas del Pilar for repair because, well, doesn´t Riberas del Pilar seem like a place where tinkerers would naturally reside? I always bought swimming pool supplies in San Antonio Tlayacapan even though there is a swimming pool supply house a couple of blocks from my house.

Now, I happen to think that Antigua, Guatemala is among the most beautiful places on the planet and I, like Dlymann, have thought that the magic of this place would be transforming. It just seems logical to me that if I study Spanish in Antigua or Sedona or Andalucia or Huehuetenango as opposed to Dubuque, I will, by virtue of having simply been in those places, have experienced personal transformation and magically become a master of the language I seek.

How can the onerous task of mastering a foreign language in Guadalajara or, God forbid, Lake Chapala, be compared with the magic of learning a new language among those peasants slated to be your new soul brothers and sisters whose insights are far more insightful than anything Cousin Billy Bob ever placed on the table back in Montgomery.

I am convinced that the pristine mountain air of San Cristobal will open my mind and within six months I will not only speak Spanish but Tsotsil aand perhaps a smattering of Zapoteco. Fortunately, at my age and after countless humiliations in life, if I fail it doesn´t matter. Maybe rather than learn Spanish I´ll finally finish that book on the war in Iraq before it´s actually over.

Auspicious beginnings keep us alive up to a point.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Nov 25, 2006, 9:50 AM)


Georgia


Nov 25, 2006, 3:52 PM

Post #9 of 18 (3995 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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I'll second what jaybear said about local language schools ... there are good ones in Guadalajara. And that other business: having a Mexican family in your home. We hosted a family from Oaxaca for the Maestros de Arte fair ... and, having been and still am, a student and admirer of Latin American fiction, I discovered that the wife and I shared a love of the same authors. We chatted all night about Rulfo, Cortazar, Borges, Garcia Lorca, and a score of others. My Spanish gets lazy, and these intense conversations notched it up a lot.

And speaking of artisans from Oaxaca: THEY ARE SUFFERING. Many of them want to leave the state until things settle down and various embassies no longer discourage their citizens from visiting that city. They survive on tourism. Recently the Latin American exposition of crafts at El Refugio, in Tlaquepaque, which normally charges $10,000 MN for a tiny room for artisans, opened up their largest area where booths could be set up free of charge for Oaxacan artisans. You might want to reach out to some Oaxacan artisans and invite them to your home in exchange for Spanish language lessons. Many of us who hosted them were enriched far more than they were.

Most of us have so much in comparison to what they have.


Bubba

Nov 26, 2006, 6:24 AM

Post #10 of 18 (3959 views)

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Re: [Georgia] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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You might want to reach out to some Oaxacan artisans and invite them to your home in exchange for Spanish language lessons. Many of us who hosted them were enriched far more than they were.

Georgia:

The unrest in Oaxaca has been nothing short of a catastrophe for artisans from that area because of the lack of tourists and this is bound to go on indefinitely. If you want to help the artisans from Oaxaca, rather than invite them into you homes to teach you Spanish, buy their beautiful carpets on sale on the carretera in Ajijic. At least three families have members selling there near El Torito. These are honorable and highly skilled people who could use your help and you will get a good deal on carpets there. That money goes back to Oaxaca to support large extended families so you not only will add beauty to your home but you will be supporting hard working people who could use your support during this time of crisis.


This ain´t charity, folks. Our home is graced by several of their beautiful carpets so these people have added tremendous value to our lives. This will be money well spent.
.


(This post was edited by Bubba on Nov 26, 2006, 7:39 AM)


Georgia


Nov 26, 2006, 7:10 AM

Post #11 of 18 (3946 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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I agree, Bubba, and we have. But there are many other artisans who can not reach this market. Our Oaxacan artisans left many of their works behind and we have been visiting boutiques, shops, and galleries in the Guadalajara area (not Lakeside) hawking their wares with great success. Another artisan family that stayed with us after the event also went into the Guadalajara area to make contacts for future sales and exhibitions.

In my mind, if the artisans in an area fail, then the art can become "lost", the cultural distinction of their area will fail, and tourism will decline. Part of the beauty of Mexico and its culture is the tremendous diversity among the states, cities, villages and little towns, both in terms of custom and creation.

In indigenous communities the need for support of their artisanry is critical because having to leave their villages will ultimately result in the loss of their language as well as their craft and ultimately lead to the loss of their identity.


Bloviator

Nov 26, 2006, 11:19 AM

Post #12 of 18 (3918 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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I have no doubt that there is good language instruction in Guad. I have not seen anything in Ajijic that I think would be very helpful, though I will be searching avidly if I do decide to go away for a month of intensive study. Before going, I intend to spend a good bit of time studying here so that I will get the most out of my trip.

My reasons for wanting to go away are twofold. First, I love to travel and see new things. Second, I want to get away from my wife - but only because we would spend the whole time speaking to each other in English and would thereby waste a lot of the value of intensive Spanish.

Now that I've got this thing going and you all are witnesses, I'd better follow through.

Also, I appreciate your comments about the carpets from Oaxaca. We need some and I'll check out what is available by El Torito.

Again, I appreciate all the good information and suggestions.


(This post was edited by dlyman6500 on Nov 26, 2006, 11:21 AM)


Bubba

Nov 26, 2006, 11:26 AM

Post #13 of 18 (3916 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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Second, I want to get away from my wife

I know what you mean, Dlymann, I´d master Lithuanian to get away from my wife.


Bloviator

Nov 27, 2006, 4:58 AM

Post #14 of 18 (3859 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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Bubba - I know you are joking, you know you are joking, your wife knows you are joking. I'm not sure everyone else reading your post realizes you are joking. You have more faith in the subtlty of the forum than I.


Bubba

Nov 27, 2006, 3:08 PM

Post #15 of 18 (3816 views)

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Re: [dlyman6500] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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Look, Dlymann, You may know that I´m joking and I may know that I´m joking but I still don´t have a set of keys to the San Cristobal house. Not only that but my keys to the XTrail no longer work and an that old Ford Ranger has a new personalized license plate that says BUBBA´S BACK. I still can´t figure out how she found I like it from the back.


esperanza

Nov 27, 2006, 7:02 PM

Post #16 of 18 (3788 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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<faints>

http://www.mexicocooks.typepad.com









Bloviator

Nov 28, 2006, 3:18 AM

Post #17 of 18 (3765 views)

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Re: [Bubba] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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I've often wondered if she would ever come to her senses. If she's taken away your keys, she's even smarter than I knew her to be - especially when she has leaped to your defense and attacked me unmercifully when she thought I was being unfair to poor helpless Bubba.


sfmacaws


Nov 28, 2006, 3:40 AM

Post #18 of 18 (3764 views)

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Re: [esperanza] Antigua, Guatemala Language Schools

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In Reply To
<faints>


<laughing so hard I can't get any water to throw on you>


Jonna - Mérida, Yucatán


 
 
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