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Student ratings for Celas Maya Spanish School
Evaluation from hwilson:
It is not often that a program meets the expectations created by the school website. This program exceeded all my expectations.
Evaluation from hydavis:
Everything I have learned here will benefit me personally and professionally for the rest of my life.
Evaluation from msmith:
I really enjoyed the full immersion program. I had a wonderful experience.
Evaluation from yschulz:
I do not learn languages easily, however I can now easily communicate.
Evaluation from phschmidt:
Everyone at the school is helpful and professional. The format and instruction are excellent. I gained a lot of confidence in speaking.
Evaluation from xbtaylor:
The volunteer program and the full array of activities made for a memorable stay.
Evaluation from hollyteech:
I spent 3 weeks at Celas Maya and had a great time. I had a teacher I totally clicked with and we had a blast while learning spanish. I met great friends, and had a really good homestay. I would recommend this school to anyone considering going to Xela.
Evaluation from mpyra:
The school was an amazingly friendly place, where I felt very comfortable. They provided all the info I needed to feel comfortable traveling.The other students were great and there was always something to do – plus you get access to the internet cafe. I learned lots of Spanish and would definitely come back here.
Evaluation from randy22:
The school has excellent instructors who are compelled to rigidly follow their curriculum. My teacher was very good and she excels in making Spanish a lot of fun. I had two homestays and both were great.
Evaluation from donna78:
I had an excellent teacher but that is all I can say positive about the school. The students were very cold, impersonal and cliches. If you studied in the afternoon you were screwed as all the activities were in the afternoon. I was told in several emails that they would accomodate my request for a family with children and to be close to the school due to medical reasons only to find once I arrived that the person I was corresponding with was fired and my emails were never redirected. My homestay was horrible and the school made no effort to help me out.
Evaluation from rmclinn:
Evaluation from priscilla:
Je recomende cette ecole.j´ai apprit beaucoup en peu de temps. Anna est tres patiente et genereuse Merci
Evaluation from wsberkeley:
I stayed at Celas Maya for a month, with my 18 yo nephew and 32 yo son stopping by for 2 weeks. I started low intermediate and had incredible improvement. As a nurse, I can talk to patients pretty well now. The teachers were brilliant and so engaging. The administration was super helpful. They took special efforts for us several times. Lots of internet and low cost phone access, quite helpful. Trips great. The other students were fun and really nice to me. I'm 57. The students were mostly in their 20's, really interesting and all different. 3 or 4 people over 40. Weekend trips great. Homestay good. The first one too damp, tho people really great, so changed. The second one excellent. I think people who can't make their needs known are always going to have a hard time. Just be respectful and polite! I loved Celas Maya and learned an incredible amount!
Evaluation from marie33:
A good Spanish school, without a doubt, is Celas Maya . I was a student there earlier this year. I could not have asked for a more excellent experience! The teachers were superb, the homestay clean and comfortable, and everyone was really, really friendly. I will go back again when I get a chance! Feel free to write to me to ask any questions about the school.
Marie [email protected]
Evaluation from marie44:
Evaluation from jaimee456:
I studied at this school and was thoroughly impressed. The quality of the teaching was excellent but the best thing about the school is how each student is valued. The coordinators organized some great activities but also went out of their way to help every student, they really made you feel part of the family of the school. I will definitely be going back on my next trip.
Evaluation from muskie462:
Everything was excellent. I arrived a day earlier than expected, calling Celas Maya only 2 hrs before I arrived. They had my teacher's schedule re-arranged and my family at the school to pick me up 10 mins after I arrived. This school provides courteous, professional service. Being a large school means better facilities including serving very well as a meeting place where students organize spur-of-the-moment activities or just hang out. Give this school serious consideration for your language studies, at the very least email them with any comments or questions.
Evaluation from firesand:
I give the school overall good ratings because it does provide a good value for the money, technically speaking. However, the program ended up being a HUGE disappointment for me. I came here to study for 4 weeks with the intention of working on speaking. Lots of grammer already, etc. but needed to work on playing the instrument so to speak. And I had a few key questions about grammer I wanted to address. I have had the unfortunate experience of having 4 very talkative teachers who barely let me have a word in edge wise. While I learned many things, I did NOT get what I wanted. Teachers of language need to be patient and need to be good listeners. They need to provide a safe atmosphere for speaking. We can over grammer til I am blue in the face but at the point of speaking, I think we all know it changes. Speaking is a different skill set from knowing grammer. NONE of my teachers were good listeners, they were all good talkers hablaron sin parar durante 5 horas. Normally, I enjoy listening to the Spanish spoken around me but now I can´t even bear to listen to another word. I really wanted some floor time so to speak but did not get much of that at all. One teacher even told me to "escucha!" when I would interrupt him with questions. Another fidgeted restlessly in their seat and made faces while I tried to practice speaking. My confidence level dropped. I spoke better Spanish when I got here than I feel I do upon leaving. My Spanish when I arrived was pretty fluid and flowing (with definite room for improvement) and now I find myself stuttering and questioning every word that I say. Another disappointment was the disconnect between teacher plans. I had 4 teachers and each new teacher had no idea what I had reviewed with the previous teacher and so I got redundant, overly redundant, reviews on topics. Time to move on from the lecture to the application. Even though I explained what i wanted I did not get it. My sense is that teachers arrive with their own objectives preformed. Also some of the grammer explanations were more confusing than helpful. I actually got online a few times to watch videos/read grammer pages to review the grammer point and get myself out of the confusion the teacher(s) were getting me into. And, finally, I brought some expressions here that I already know and use as I have been working with the latino community for some time. Some of the teachers refused to believe me when I told them that these expressions exist. Well, not only do they exist in my world at home, they also exist online. Somewhat condescending attitude at times from the teachers which is also frustrating. This is a good program is you are a beginner or intermediate student, it is not good if you are a more advanced student.
Evaluation from dionoreilly:
I would go here again. They were organized and professional.
Evaluation from Ernesto06:
Evaluation from francinedespres:
Evaluation from Chickadee:
I came here to study for three weeks, but left halfway through. My first teacher was fine, but unfortunately, after a week I changed to Astrid who was horrible. Her approach was rigid and traditional. For example, even though I had requested working on conversation and fluency, sometimes she would interrupt me and demand that I recite verb conjugations. She admitted to me that she had no idea of how to teach grammar communicatively, and only knew the old style drill & fill (in the blanks). This style of teaching went out in the 80s; it is not modern language teaching. She never seemed to understand my level, and my homework was always just super easy grammar fill in the blank exercises, even after I told her repeatedly that they were too easy for me. I was undergoing some personal problems at the time (two recent deaths in my family, one a suicide) and she was stunningly unkind to me about my grief. I finally got so fed up, I walked out in the middle of class and never went back. There are a lot of other schools in Xela and in no time I found one where I was much happier and it was US$50/week cheaper to boot. Celas has nice facilities, I'll give them that. Their activities were so-so. I liked a cooking class I took, but most of the others weren't interesting to me. I made my own arrangements for accommodation and was glad I did because otherwise I couldn't have changed schools. I cannot recommend this school. There are other, better options in Xela.
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Latin America’s indigenous languages and where to study them
I won’t deny that learning Spanish is both necessary and fun—I studied for a month in Quito before traveling around South America. However, as anyone who has trekked across Bolivia or Guatemala or Mexico can tell you, Spanish is not the native language of the region.
And while most countries have done a remarkable job of wiping out native languages through a mixture of brutality, exclusionary educational policy, discrimination and intimidation, some of these languages have managed to hang on, and some have even seen a revival in recent years.
Travelers now have a chance to get a more intimate look at Latin America and its diverse cultural groups, and to aid in the preservation of distinct cultures and languages in danger of being usurped by mainstream Hispanic culture.
The following is your guide to Latin America’s indigenous languages and where to study them. The languages mentioned below are only a sampling—there are literally hundreds more, but I’ve tried to select the ones that are still spoken by a large number of people and that are offered at fairly accessible language schools.
Zapotec is spoken by around half a million people in the southern Mexican states of Oaxaca, Puebla, and Guerrero. There are more than 50 versions of the language, but the largest three are mountain Zapotec (spoken in the Sierra Norte and Sur), valley Zapotec (spoken in the central valley of Oaxaca), and Zapotec from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
Of these three, the latter two are the most accessible.
Valley Zapotec can be studied in Téotitlan del Valle (a village a stone’s throw from the city of Oaxaca), and in the city of Oaxaca. In Téotitlan, you’ll need to ask around for private tutors and negotiate prices.
In Oaxaca, the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca (UABJO) offers semester-long courses in Zapotec, with four evening classes a week, for 500 pesos (around $50 USD). These courses usually go from September-December and February-May.
Zapotec from the isthmus can be studied in Juchitán, Oaxaca, where the Casa de la Cultura offers courses. The University of California at San Diego offers a summer Zapotec immersion program in Juchitán which sounds wonderful, but costs $4,000.
But for those interested in anthropology or in working with indigenous groups, the price may be worth it.
The official language of the Incas, Quechua is spoken today by more than 10 million people from southern Colombia to northern Chile, with the largest concentration of speakers in Peru and Bolivia. In the latter two countries, Quechua is recognized as an official language.
The best place to study Quechua is Bolivia, where Quechua and Aymara (another official language recognized by both Peru and Bolivia) are as widely used as Spanish. Aymara and Quechua share similar structures and over one-third of their vocabularies, so learning Quechua is practically a two-for-one deal.
Sustainable Bolivia , an NGO based in Cochabamba, offers full time Quechua language study, as well as a host of volunteer opportunities in Cochabamba and the surrounding communities. For total immersion, this is your best option.
For more information about where to learn Quechua, this page offers plenty of information.
Sometimes it is difficult to believe that those elusive, mystical places and peoples featured on National Geographic specials (the ones where the narrator speaks in booming tones and the dramatic musical score plays in the background) actually exist.
The Maya are one such example; much has been written about ancient Mayan culture, but few people actually get involved with the present-day Mayan community, which, like most other indigenous communities in Latin America, is largely marginalized and poor.
There are more than six million Mayan speakers in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras. By far, the biggest number live in Guatemala, which remains the best destination for full immersion Mayan study.
The Celas Maya language school in
Quetzaltenango, Gautemala, offers full immersion Mayan classes as well as local volunteer opportunities.
Guaraní is the language of the indigenous group of the same name. One of the two official languages in Paraguay, Guaraní is widely spoken throughout that country, as well as throughout parts of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay.
Paraguay is an exceptional example of a country that has embraced an indigenous language and enforced a policy of bilingualism in education. All Paraguayan children are required to speak, read, and write Guaraní as well as Spanish.
Asunción is the best place to get started on Guaraní study. The National Registration Center for Study Abroad offers study abroad programs in Guaraní in Asunción (for a bit of a steep price!) and South America Inside offers slightly cheaper courses.
Both websites mention private language schools that I couldn’t dig up online, but I’d imagine that roaming around Asunción (or taking a glance at the Lonely Planet) you could find the addresses of these schools and save money by approaching them directly.
The language of the Aztecs, Nahuatl dominated Mesoamerica for over a millennium, first as the lingua franca for merchants and politicians under Aztec rule, and then as the language favored by Spanish conquistadors for communication with local subjects.
In a policy that seems an anomaly within the larger history of colonization, Spain’s King Phillip II decreed in 1570 that Nahuatl would be the official language of New Spain.
During a period lasting over two centuries, Nahuatl spread from modern-day New Mexico to El Salvador. In the 16th and 17th centuries it became a literary language in which poetry, theatrical works, histories, chronicles, and administrative documents were written.
In 1770, a Spanish decree calling for the elimination of indigenous languages in Spanish colonies did away with Nahuatl as a literary language, but didn’t entirely eliminate it.
Today, it is spoken by more than 1.5 million people, mostly in Mexico. You can study it in Cuernavaca at the International Center for Cultural and Language Studies (CICEL) , which also offers seminars on traditional medicine and “reality tours” focusing on Mexican traditions and foods.
So instead of signing up for a Spanish course, go further back into Latin America’s history and get a little closer to its roots by studying Quechua, Guarani, Zapotec, Nahuatl, or Mayan, and in the meantime contribute to greater cultural diversity in this globalized world.
Matador offers resources for students of all languages! Check out 5 Questions to Ask When Picking a Language School , 5 Tips for a More Productive Language Exchange , or 10 Steps to Recovering a Language You’ve Forgotten , for a start.
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