Spanish School on Lake Atitlan: An Honest Review

There are many reasons to visit Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Often considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world, it is surrounded by volcanos that create an epic backdrop. The adventures and people you will meet while visiting are worth the trip alone. But what if I told you there is even a better reason to visit? Attending a Spanish school on Lake Atitlan is a unique way to learn a language and engulf yourself in Guatemalan culture.

There is a reason San Pedro on Lake Atitlan is a very popular place to learn Spanish. The view of the Lake is amazing while learning and the teachers are very genuine. Many people who are from Guatemala actually speak Spanish as their second language. Their first language is one of the Mayan languages. Because of this, they tend to speak a lot slower which is excellent for learning. The prices are very reasonable here and I easily would have paid more for what I got. Below I will go over what company I suggest using, what it includes, and my experience with them. We came back here a second time during our trip to specifically go to the Spanish school on Lake Atitlan.

spanish school lake atitlan

Why You Should Go to Spanish School on Lake Atitlan

When you first start doing your research on a Spanish school on Lake Atitlan, you are bombarded with so many different options. In reality, they are all going to be great and it will be hard to make a bad decision. San Pedro on Lake Atitlan is regarded as the best place in Central America to learn Spanish. I will tell you about my experience with the company Orbita. If you do choose to do Spanish school here, you will also be very close to many fun activities like hiking San Pedro Volcano.

There are so many reasons why you should spend some (if not all) of your time in Spanish school while visiting Lake Atitlan. If this isn’t your only stop in Latin America, it will be a good place to brush up on your Spanish before heading south. It is very cheap here compared to back in the United States, so it was well worth the investment. You will also have the option to stay with a host family. This will give you the opportunity to see what it’s like to live like a local and get away from the craziness of San Pedro. Speaking the local language of any country you visit makes it a completely different experience. This opens up a whole new world.

spanish school lake atitlan

Staying with a Host Family on Lake Atitlan

When my friends and I decided that we were going to come back to the lake and do Spanish school, we knew we were going to stay with a host family. If you are going to do it then you might as well get the full experience right? We jumped right in and the family accepted us as one of their own. We were only allowed to speak Spanish while talking to them. It was hard but it helped us out along our language learning journey.

guatemalan host family

The Meals

If you choose to stay with a host family then you will also be given the option to have three meals cooked for you every day (except Sunday). This was a no-brainer for us as it saved us money on food and it gave us more time to be fully immersed. At any time you are allowed to say you will not be eating a certain meal with them. We did this a couple of times but 99% of our meals were eaten with the family. I hope you like tortillas because they come with every meal!

host family meals
host family meal

Why You Should Choose Orbita Spanish School

From the moment we got an email back from Orbita to when we arrived, they treated us extremely well. I have seen reports of certain schools asking for a deposit before arriving. This was not the case for us. This is a bonus because there is always a chance that something comes up. The curriculum is based on your current knowledge of Spanish. In my experience, the teachers were going at your pace and your pace only. It is 1 on 1 so there is no one else that matters besides you. Plus the view of the lake from here is amazing! You are able to see Indian Nose directly from your desk.

spanish school lake atitlan

What Does Spanish School on Lake Atitlan Include?

Besides the obvious things, there are some events during the week that the students are able to attend. Some are free and some cost a tiny amount of money. We did a couple of them and they were both very enjoyable. Some of our favorite activities that we did was being a part of a traditional Mayan ceremony and watching a Spanish movie with English subtitles.

How Many Hours Per Day?

When signing up for Spanish school on Lake Atitlan, you will be given the option of a morning or afternoon learning session. The morning session runs from 8:30 to 12:30. The afternoon session will run from 2:00 to 6:00. This program is 4 hours per day Monday through Friday. It sounds like a lot of Spanish but they break it up well and time flew by.

spanish school lake atitlan

Break Time

Around two hours into class, everyone will stop and have a break. During this break, they will bring tea, coffee, and a treat. It will be a different snack each day which was exciting. Some of them were so good too. I looked forward to this part of the day every day. It was also the one part of the day where I could speak English with my friends before going back to strictly Spanish. The break lasted anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

spanish school lake atitlan

Mayan Ceremony

One of the activities that are available during your program is attending a Mayan Ceremony. This was one of the most unique experiences we had during our stay in Guatemala. They brought us up a hill in San Pedro. It was a tiny bit of a hike but nothing much. One of the ladies spread out a bunch of different colored candles. After that, she asked us to surround the candles with white and yellow flowers. Normally, each time they do a ceremony, it will be for something different. This all depends on what day it is. When we went we were doing the ceremony for practically everything. We were handed rocks and more candles to throw into the fire once it was lit. The ceremony went on for around 45 minutes or so.

san pedro view
traditional mayan ceremony

Study Games

During our time at the Spanish School on Lake Atitlan, we were put through different styles of learning. Some of those included flashcards and even games! It was a fun way to learn even though I lost. It was a version of Chutes and ladders that we combined with the flashcards of the verbs.

spanish school lake atitlan

Is one week enough for Spanish School on Lake Atitlan?

This all depends on your goals. One week of Spanish school will be a good refresher and will give you a good footing for the future. If you add in the homestay experience, then it is totally worth doing if you only have one week. I wish I could have done it for longer because it forces you to continually learn Spanish and practice it. I’m so glad that I decided to join this program even if it was only for one week.

spanish school lake atitlan

My Final Thoughts on Spanish School on Lake Atitlan

This was easily the highlight of my trip to Guatemala. I got to experience life in a different way and see how others live. My Spanish has improved since this but I could easily go for another week (or way more). The only other activity that can compete with this was hiking Volcan Acatenango. Everyone here at Orbita really seems to care about your experience and hopes you enjoy every aspect of it. I can see myself coming back in the future solely for the purpose of being a part of another great time at a Spanish school on Lake Atitlan.

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