Xela, Guatemala – a great place for kids to learn Spanish. Sometimes – quite often actually – when you travel internationally roaming this glorious planet we live on as a nomad or like us, a nomadic family, you come upon opportunities you didn’t realize even existed.
The ‘it just happened’ type of scenario. Or ‘that one just walked into my lap’ kind of thing. And you feel lucky.
Landing in Xela, Guatemala years back was that kind of experience for us.
The then preteen had a great experience at a small, private (they are all private pretty much) elementary school; what the ‘great place for kids to learn Spanish‘ thing in the title of this post is all about.
Yet I’ve never written about our experience spending a month at an elementary school in Xela, Guatemala.
It was pretty simple to enroll my son and start classes.
The school we chose out of about 10 (it’s a small town, there are a lot of families and many schools) we discovered by simply walking around was very welcoming and excited to have a gringo participate.
The only requirements were a valid passport, pay the monthly fee (under $200 USD, prices vary) and to purchase the required uniform (clothing is very inexpensive in Guatemala).
Then you simply just show up and hope for the best.
School is school, the same the world over. Kids begin at a set time, eat lunch at a set time, are arranged in groups and taught curriculum by licensed teachers.
To help my son feel supported I brought him a homemade lunch everyday. If he had a bad morning or was feeling the stress of bring the only white kid in a primarily Spanish-speaking school he knew I would be there for him… every single day.
We had no bad days. My son is social and adapts to new situations well; friendly and smart too, which helped. The school staff was lovely; friendly, supportive and very welcoming.
The English teacher became his good buddy and would ask him questions about the English curriculum and have him help to teach the class.
It was a bit of a heady experience, being under age 11 and being looked at as an authoritative source of information. We made sure to bring her a special gift at the end of our stay, as well as a lovely cake from the local bakery for all the teachers to enjoy.
If traveling through Guatemala with kids and you want them to have an immersive language learning experience, consider checking out the elementary schools in Xela.