Aprendiendo Espanol en Guatemala

I am completing my third week of school in Antigua, Guatemala.  Most people wonder why I left Spanish-speaking Panama to learn Spanish here.  In Boquete, it is difficult to learn Spanish quickly for a number of reasons.

First, many people speak English only and that includes most of our friends.  Second, many of the locals want to learn English and will answer your Spanish-spoken questions in English for practice.  Third, although we have an excellent Spanish school in Boquete, their bread-and-butter clients are students who come in for several weeks of intensive study, not us locals who can’t/won’t devote 20-30 hours a week to classroom instruction.

I chose Antigua for a few reasons.  David and I have been here before so I would not be distracted by shopping or sightseeing.  My homestay hostess, Sarah, speaks to me in Spanish only although I think she speaks more English than she lets on.  For the last week, I have been the only guest in Sarah’s house so she has plenty of conversation directed solely at me.  More importantly, she corrects my mistakes – which are almost always verb tenses.

My classroom under the avocado tree

My classroom under the avocado tree

I chose the Don Pedro Spanish School.  The most popular schools were all rated high but I chose Don Pedro.  Most likely, the teacher is more important than the school and I got lucky.

Claudia deserves a halo and a bottle of Jack for putting up with me

Claudia deserves a halo and a bottle of Jack for putting up with me

Claudia was the unfortunate soul that got me.  She was a kindergarten teacher so has a lot of patience with ‘slow learners’.

I have one more day of instruction before leaving Saturday morning.  I have learned a lot.  For four hours each day, Claudia (my private instructor) teaches, drills, practices, corrects and otherwise pounds Spanish into my brain.  Today I read a ‘longish’ story, maybe on a 5-6th grade level, and I understood almost everything.  I did not know words from the story dealing with skiing, knolls etc. but I knew that the pretty girl turned out to be a battery powered robot.  I still need a few seconds to remember the correct verb tense but I am much better.

Learning another language after a certain age is difficult.  I was always a great student that could read and remember everything.  Bit here, I felt like I rode the short bus to school almost every day.  I would study 15-20 irregular verbs at night until I “knew” them.  The following day it seemed like I never saw those words before.  I am not used to being the dumb one but the harder I studied, the worse I got.  I never understood how my very bright students just didn’t “get” something.  Now I fully understand.

I wish I had taken more Spanish in Florida before we moved since it was available at every community school, community college, public libraries and colleges for little or no cost.  I must make an effort to continue practicing or I will lose much of what I gained during the last three weeks.  All in all this was a great experience but I’m ready to be home!

Other classes under the vines

Other classes under the vines



living in Panama
Blog Expat: living abroad




expat exchange


4 thoughts on “Aprendiendo Espanol en Guatemala

  1. Life on the short bus! I fortunately found the link Kris has on her website to Duolingo and the TED talk of how it came to be. Duolingo is so much more my learning style than Rosetta Stone — not really sure why. I’m loving studying española and knowing I am learning it!

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