The reasons to learn a foreign language are many. “For those of us traveling or living in Mexico, there is no doubt that learning Spanish enriches our lives,” says Ohio native Anne Meyer, a social studies teacher.
Spanish differs from region to region, so studying Spanish in Mexico gave her advantage for retiring in the Lake Chapala area, where she plans to move in a few more years. But language schools abound. Which one do you choose? And how?
First of all, you want to make sure the school and staff are qualified. For example,
- How long has this school been in business?
- With what professional organizations is it affiliated?
- Has it been approved by any official government entity?
- Is the staff highly qualified? For example, do teachers hold a university degree?
- Can you obtain college credit for your efforts?
- Do you have access to a media lab? The Internet?
Also important are your own needs. You’ll learn best when there’s a good fit.
Are there specific courses available to suit your needs, budget, and interests? Are the Spanish courses designed for you to use the language on a daily basis? Is there a home-stay program for total immersion?
Finally, how much does it cost and what is included in the price?
- Does your Spanish course include conversation classes?
- What is the cost of living for a week or a month while you study?
- Does the school organize tours? Are they included or charged separately?
- Are there specials available where you can save money?
While studying Spanish with native speakers, Meyer wanted to get to know the area where she’d chosen to live. After doing her homework, she opted for IMAC Spanish Language School in Guadalajara. Why?
“IMAC has been in business since 1970 so I know they’re not a fly-by-night operation,” she said. “The courses range in level from beginners to advanced. I took a placement course when I arrived so I could be placed with students at my level. The school is accredited by Mexico’s Secretariat of Education, and I found the teachers to be excellent. Although Guadalajara offers accommodations in many price ranges, I opted for a home stay. It turned out to be more than just an immersion experience — I made some wonderful friends!
“As a high school teacher, I wanted to be able to apply my Spanish studies as continuing education credits, and I could. IMAC’s state-of-the-art media lab was a huge help in doing homework, and I used the computers there to keep in touch with family back home.
“The staff was so helpful. I took advantage of conversation classes, joined walking tours, and took guitar lessons and salsa lessons – all for free. Students also get a discount at a local gym. I couldn’t have made a better choice,” she says with enthusiasm.
Special Spanish courses for special needs
IMAC director Jorge Tamayo is a professional in language teaching while other members of his family are also educators. (mention degrees, etc.) My father, Luis Tamayo founded the school, and I majored in the teaching of foreign languages as well as marketing so I could join him,” Jorge says.
“We have students from all over the world. Some arrive knowing no Spanish at all, while others are fluent but need a vocabulary for a special field of interest or work. Based on our experience, we’ve developed special needs Spanish courses such as Spanish for the Clergy, Spanish for Business and Finance, Spanish for Law Enforcement, and Spanish for Social Services. Other specialized courses we provide are Survival Spanish, Spanish for Travelers, Spanish for Medical Personnel, Spanish for Hotel and Restaurant management, and Spanish for Household Management. Teachers need to understand grammar and punctuation, so we offer special courses for teachers and school personnel as well as communicative grammar. All these are immersion programs based on private tutoring or private group instruction.”
Tamayo recognizes the value of networking with other prestigious schools and institutes, and is a member of a number of professional organizations. “The world is a smaller place today,” he muses. “Therefore IMAC has become a DELE (Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language) Center authorized by Spain’s Instituto Cervantes and we also function as an Associate Center for this Institute. DELE is the sole standardized accreditation system for Spanish as a foreign language students accepted in more than 100 different countries around the world. We are perhaps the only language center in Mexico with official accreditation for DELE testing from the Ministry of Education in Spain and the Teaching of Spanish as a Foreign Language from Mexico’s Secretariat of Education. IMAC also works in conjunction with Bildungsurlaud in Germany so that German students can acquire their Spanish for professional development.”
“Apart from the individual student or group, we also work with colleges and universities such as Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario, the Castilleja School (Palo Alto, California), Yakima School (Yakima, Washington), Troy University (Troy, Alabama), Lander University (Greenwood, South Carolina), Metropolitan Community Churches (Abilene, Texas), Onslow College (Wellington, New Zealand), and El Paso Community College.
“The economic situation has everyone watching their budget, and we’re aware of the need to give our students value for their education dollar. So we’re offering discounts for courses of two weeks or more.” These range from $100 to $200 USD. Click here for details.
“I really love this school,”” Tamayo says. “There are days in the media lab where you can hear five or six languages as students speak with their love ones via Skype. It is truly an international situation with students from all over the world.”
Donato Guerra No.180
(Historic Downtown Area)
Guadalajara, Jalisco 44100, Mexico