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San Pedro Spanish School turns 23!

Ask any group of travelers where in Guatemala they learned Spanish and chances are that at least some of them will say, “San Pedro Spanish School.” After all, San Pedro is one of the most popular Guatemalan destinations among young travelers, so it’s only natural that many will choose to study Spanish here too. And where better to do this than at a school that has become a San Pedro institution?


San Pedro Spanish School is not only one of the most reputable Spanish schools in town but also the oldest. In fact, this year the school celebrates its 23rd birthday. It all started in February 1997, with a group of seven teachers from the local community. Over the years, this number has grown and today the school has 20 teachers. The number of students who have learned everything from the most basic Spanish to advanced Spanish specialized for their career field is too big to count.


Even the competition has San Pedro Spanish School to thank for their success.

Around 90% of the teachers at other Spanish schools in San Pedro were trained by San Pedro Spanish School

via the Rural University of Guatemala, the Instituto Guatemalteco Americano or IGA and MINEDUC, Guatemala’s education ministry. Most of these schools have also copied San Pedro Spanish School’s successful model.


So what is the secret of San Pedro Spanish School’s success?

It’s a combination of factors. For instance, the classes are very affordable, which really appeals to backpackers on a budget. However,

while cheap usually means poor quality,

it’s definitely not true in this case. San Pedro Spanish School prides itself on the exceptional quality of its classes and teaching methods.


Classes are one-on-one

And are presented in a beautiful, lush garden right on the lakeshore. You can choose how many hours a day you want to study, which means you can pick your own pace. Of course you won’t be fluent in Spanish within a week but if you work with your teacher, within days you’ll have the foundation to build upon and improve your Spanish. After you’ve moved on from San Pedro, you can take online classes to continue the learning process.


In addition to its one-on-one classes, the school offers a variety of activities and conversation classes where you can practice what you’ve been learning. This is the secret to improving your Spanish and not letting it get rusty: practice, practice, practice. Because in this instance you’re practicing with fellow students instead of with people who’ve been speaking Spanish all their lives, it’s less intimidating: you’re all in the same boat.


Of course you do want to interact with people who are fluent in Spanish too and learn more about local culture at the same time. Exposing students to local culture is in fact very important to San Pedro Spanish School: its motto is “Uniting cultures”, after all. In addition to cultural exchange through its classes and daily activities, the school offers two additional ways of uniting cultures:

through its homestays with local families and through Niños Del Lago, the non-profit it supports.

Homestay families are carefully vetted by the school, so it’s a safe way to immerse yourself in the language and learn about people’s daily lives. With Niños Del Lago, you can volunteer to work with local kids and help them with their education, so in the long run you also help to make a difference.


Studying Spanish is one of those must-do activities if you’re going to travel anywhere in Latin America, since it will help you communicate better and discover things you wouldn’t have experienced if you didn’t speak the language. Let’s be honest, though: most travelers don’t want to spend weeks or months in one place when there’s still so much to see out there. San Pedro Spanish School understands this and has found the perfect solution: it now has sister schools in San Juan and San Marcos at Lake Atitlán as well as in Lanquín. Or the online program.


The aim is to have six teachers at each of these schools at all times and to extend the network of Spanish schools to other popular tourist destinations in Guatemala. So, you don’t have to sacrifice anything on your itinerary: you can see the country and study Spanish at the same time, without disrupting your learning schedule.


Here’s to 23 more years of uniting cultures!
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© 2017 Study Spanish in Guatemala. 

Photography by Rene de Carufel / additional images by Martin Gray

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