La Democracia Spanish School

La Democracia Spanish School
9 Calle 15-05 Zona 3
Quetzaltenango
(+502)-7767-0013, 5966-2570
Rank 92%
Prices 185 USD for 25 hours of one-on-one tuition per week including host family with room and full board
115 USD for 25 hours of one-on-one tuition per week without host family
Study one hour daily more or less: add or subtract about USD 23 per week.
School Size 2 – 12 students
Openings This school currently has openings!
Summary La Democracia is a small school (founded in 2003), located in a quiet part of Quetzaltenango, housed in an A-shaped two story family house.
The director, Flory, is very enthusiastic and has over 15 years working with foreigners and has a long history of training her own teachers and even teachers for other schools.
The school has produced their own extensive study materials. Teachers establish weekly plans for each student and these plans can also be used as documents if needed to obtain university credits back home. The school has good learning materials and can also focus the instruction in different proffesional fields such as medical, teachers, social worker, among others.
The director will also help you to plan your trips around Guatemala doing reservations etc. and giving sound advice. You will be in good hands.

*La Democracia is very engaged in teaching English to local children and giving them grants.
The school is also running a social medical center named "Talita Kumi" with the vision of medically helping the less fortunate citizens of the community of Llanos de la Cruz in Olintepeque, Quetzaltenango; volunteers are welcome to help. https://www.facebook.com/dmstalitakumi Donations are also welcome to help the school run this medical center.* This school is very recommended.

Total immersion in La Democracia is excellent, because you are off the beaten track of other tourists.
The following holidays are observed at this school: September 15th, November 1st, December 25th, January 1st and Holy Friday (no lessons on these days).
Registration

This is a small school with very experienced teachers and tends to fill up any given time.
The director recommends future students to enroll at least two weeks in advance to secure a spot in school; earlier for busy times such as, end and beginning of the year, Holy Week and summer).
Please, note that starting 2014 the prices will be $195 per week

With a timely registration, the school can assign you the best teacher from its list. (Contact us for group discounts).
 Photo Gallery of La Democracia Spanish School (click here)








La Democracia Spanish School - Details

Teachers The 10 young teachers, have an average of 5 years of experience and have undergone a good formal training by the director, who has over 12 years experience teaching Spanish. Some are attending University and are working to help themselves to pay for their studies.
See details for recommended instructors. ...more
Methods One on one teaching. New students are evaluated in an informal 25 minute talk with the teacher. After this, a teaching plan is designed. The school has its own curriculum, study books and work sheets. The director and teachers elaborate a weekly plan for each student. These plans are used as documents if you need to obtain university credits. In about twelve weeks you learn all Spanish grammar and become fluent. In your twelfth week you can pick a theme for your thesis. Emma Chung-Ming Tai wrote about the exploitation of Hispanic migrants in the US. After her studies in Guatemala she was elevated from second to sixth level at her home University.
Materials The school has its own curriculum, study books and work sheets. Study materials are well done: clearly written and easy to understand. The school has also vocabulary cards and beginners cards. There is a small library and a small video library ad good video equipment.
Internet is also available to students.
Special Programs The school has a sound and recommendable program for children. For students with small children (3-5), there are couple of teachers that can take care of them, while the parents take Spanish lessons. For babies (1-2 years), they can be placed with a responsible family that will take special care of them. Children from 6 and older will take Spanish lessons at a discounted rate. ...more
Location A small school in a quiet part of Quetzaltenango (zone 3) housed in an A-shaped two story family house with a small garden around it. A well equipped kitchen and free internet (3 Computers). The school is five blocks north of the Benito Juarez Parque, or about 15 blocks from the center of Quetzaltenango in Zone 3. Near the school there is a bus stop, in ten minutes you are in the center of town. There are nice cafés and restaurants in zone 3 to hang out, and you will hardly ever see a foreigner.
Activities Free: go to a Spanish movie theater in town, listen to folk music. Lectures on anthropology and economy. Visits to Indian villages. Guitar and marimba concerts. Free Salsa lessons. On Fridays you learn how to prepare local food in the school. ...more
Host Families Families have been carefully chosen and trained from a big supply: the school is located in a residential quarter and there are no other Spanish schools near. ...more
Volunteering Volunteer students can give English classes to a group of local children during afternoons. This takes place in school and is a very worthwhile activity.
The school is also running a social medical center named "Talita Kumi" with the vision of medically helping the less fortunate citizens of the community of Llanos de la Cruz in Olintepeque, Quetzaltenango; volunteers are welcome to help. Donations are also welcome to help the school run this medical center. Volunteers also get a weekly discount on tuition at this school! ...more
Airport Pick-Up Service Upon request, the director can give you information on a trusted hostel in Guatemala City that provides, airport pick up.
How to get there How get there The school is five blocks north of "Parque Benito Juarez" in Zone 3; about 15 blocks from the centre of Quetzaltenango.

Students' Feedback

Vanessa Doyle
09 / 2013
La Democracia is an excellent Spanish school. Flory is a wonderful director who takes special care of each of her students. Let her know if you have any difficulties and she will come to your aid.
I had Elizabeth for my first teacher. She was excellent! I am an advanced Spanish speaker and I wanted to focus on my oral skills. We got along wonderfully and had lots of long discussions. She is very open minded and we had a lot in common. We also had lots of grammar lessons. I was able to tell Elizabeth what I wanted to focus on and she adjusted her teaching style. I asked for quizes and she was ready to give me lots of quizes. Next I had Taty. She is a good teacher. She brought me newspaper articles to discuss and we also had grammar lessons. Next I had Ruth. Ruth is an excellent teacher. She really knows her grammar. She is very personable and easy to talk to.
The school has an amazing garden where you can sit and have lessons. I forgot I was in a busy city in that garden. The school also has a group dinner every Friday night. It really helped us to get to know each other. I went on lots of Saturday outings hiking up mountains. It was beautiful.
Xela is not my favorite city since it is very polluted and lots of car smoke. But it is the best place to learn Spanish from native speakers. In other sections of Guatemala the teachers speak Spanish as a 2nd language. There are many indigenous languages. I lived with Teresa and Candy. They were wonderful. Teresa is very sweet and quickly caught on to my personality. She loves having students and is an expert hostess.
Anonymous
04 / 2013
I am an older woman who lives in Mexico and went to La Democracia Spanish School to boost my confidence and skills in speaking and understanding. I studied-homestayed for two weeks this spring (2013). For me the location away from the center of Xela and English speakers was a definite plus. As this was my first time in Guatemala, as well as my first immersion experience I was pleased. My teacher told me a lot about the country. I thought her teaching methods were okay, but one day when she was out sick and I had a teacher who probably would have advanced my Spanish more. I also thought the last day of each week we could have reviewed.
Beforehand, the owner-director,Flory, who is very professional in her work, responded quickly to my emails. Then when I wanted to change families for the second week, no problem and she arranged the perfect match for me.
Would I recommend the school to a friend? Yes, I think it is a good choice for someone like me who is more interested in knowing Guatemalans than being part of a throng of foreign students. And the fact that right off my teacher showed me the nearby Bogota bakery/cafe/internet made a great addition to each day!
The best part was going by bus to the Saturday market in nearby Zunil. The La Democracia market (near the school) is great too, especially to see women wearing traje (traditional dress).
Yomi Salami
01 / 2012
I studied for a total of 9 weeks at La Democracia Spanish School and it was fantastic. I can now hold conversations on a range of topics with ease and I have full confidence in my Spanish. The total immersion method really works and I am sure it would have taken years in the UK to reach the level I have reached in just over 2 months. I can not recommend enough taking some time out to visit Guatemala and study Spanish.
An important aspect of my time here is that I have lost my fear of speaking. If people do not understand what I have said I am calm and repeat it in a different form because I have total confidence in my Spanish. I was taught by Wilbur and Tatiana who both provided interesting exercises and had a wonderful "Grammar Guide" with detailed explanations. I stayed with Miriam who was fantastic at holding conversations with me and increasing the complexity when appropriate. The school is located in Zone 3, about 25 mins from the centre and tourist area. This was good for me because it meant I did not see many tourists and I had many opportunities to practice my Spanish. The school does not have many activities (2 a week at an extra cost) so I strongly recommend for people who this is important, to not to attend. For me I was there just to learn and rarely took part in them however I did go to the hot springs which were fantastic. I am travelling solo for a further 4 months in central america and it is extremely satisfying and enjoyable that I can communicate without too much trouble. The conditions of the school were fine with a nice garden. Buena Suerte!!
Anonymous
12 / 2011
The Democracia Spanish School was great. Very professional, very clear, and I learned a lot. I would highly recommend it to any of my friends.
Correspondence with the school was smooth and helpful.
Melinda Kukorelli
12 / 2011
I only could stay for 1 week before a holiday at, La Democracia Spanish School but, even though I spent some time to read references and information upfront from the schools. I made a good decision! The school, the location, the town all were pleased me a lot. I concentrated to brush my conversational Spanish before a 5 weeks trip and the teacher was really helpful on that. I did one afternoon short trip to local villages and also some hiking the last weekend.
The school has a nice, friendly atmosphere and in a quiet area. Probably in the summertime is more crowded, then the students need to sitting closer together, but I enjoyed it in December..))
I would recommend them to everybody, I am a woman close to 40 and also enjoyed the company of the University students who told me nice stories regards to their travelling.
We had everything what we needed to concentrate on our studies.
Sarah Lawrence-Lupton
sarah@greatriverschool.org
07 / 2011
La Democracia Spanish School was excellent! I had two teachers and both were very professional and fun. They were well prepared, well trained and were very enthusiastic about their work.

Flory, the director maintained a great atmosphere in the school; it felt like family. She has also trained Spanish teachers at the university level and her expertise shows. Our Friday Indian dinner was great with teachers, Flory and students all coming on their own time which to me says La Democracia must be a good place to work. The school has several contacts to help set up excursions. The guide I had for my hike was super knowledgeable and prepared.

My host family was phenomenal. I was very much a part of the family and felt warmly welcomed. I want to go back to La Democracia soon.
Xela is great. Big enough to have access to agencies and banks but small enough to feel like you were absolutely in Guatemala not just a generic international city (as you may feel in Antigua).
H. Turner
06 / 2011
Hi, I would like to submit my experience with La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I was there for three weeks in June 2011. I have only positive things to say about my time studying at this school, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in studying Spanish in Guatemala. It is on the smaller side, which means that they are really attentive to each student´s needs. They provide quality Spanish instruction, great host families, and interesting opportunities to learn about Guatemala and visit places in the area. I had a wonderful Spanish teacher, Libia, who taught me everything I needed to be a bilingual social worker. She was knowledgeable, creative, able to explain things clearly, and always had a positive attitude with a great sense of humor.
In addition, my host family, which was arranged through La Democracia, was incredibly warm, generous, and accommodating. I felt that the staff at La Democracia really cared about my well-being and provided me with everything I needed along the way. I also very much enjoyed the sightseeing trips arranged for students. If I return to Xela to brush up on my Spanish (which I hope to do), I will definitely choose La Democracia again. Thank you!
Anonymous
05 / 2011
La Democracia Spanish School is a nice little school and intimate scene. I learned a lot and my teacher was a good balance of professional and casual/fun. Out of the three other teachers I've had in other parts of Guatemala, none of them had quite the same level of expertise in grammar than he did. The activities, which each cost a small fee and were facilitated by a guy from outside the school, were pretty fun too. There were usually two per week. I would have preferred a few more activities like maybe a movie or game night or something, but it was nice to have plenty of time to explore and study. There's definitely a lot to discover in Xela. My host family was really nice too. I'm glad I came to Quetzaltenango.
I went to San Pedro later in my trip and took classes, but almost every minute outside of class I was speaking English. It's a big city but mostly walkable, which is really nice, and has some of my favorite narrow streets. The biggest drawbacks to the city would have to be the pollution and telenovelas, but unfortunately neither of these problems are exclusive to Xela. At one point on the streets of Xela I randomly walked into a tourist agency and encountered a zine called ENTREMUNDOS which changed the course of my travels. I met with their volunteer coordinator and she helped me find some neat places in the country, where it was actually possible to achieve total 100% immersion for a while. I would recommend this school to anyone looking to experience Guatemala on a deeper level.
Atinuke Awoyomi
opcydebby@yahoo.com
03 / 2011
I attended La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango, for only one week. I wish, I had more time and I expect to return for another 3 weeks during the summer. I had an amazing time at La Democracia. In my view, it is the best program in Guatemala if you are serious about improving your Spanish. My teacher (Tatiana) was very good. She is young and energetic. Above all, I never walked out of class without understanding anything that she had taught me. In addition, the director is extremely organized and energetic. She is passionate about the program and its size (small and intimate, which I like).
In addition, I had an amazing homestay. I stayed with Ann Marie and Neri, they are indeed great people. They were very nice and spent time teaching me Spanish and a lot more time speaking to me in Spanish. They have become my family and I hope to stay with them when I return next time. Moreover, when I was sick earlier on in the week, the family and the school took great care of me. The director, Flory, provides free medical care to sick students (I don't know what other school provides such service).
I highly recommend this school above all else. I met some people in Guatemala who told me about their programs and they were too large for my taste. You will not find a better one-to-one Spanish instruction outside of La Democracia. Please contact me at opcydebby@yahoo.com if you want more information.
Celeste Kelley
celestemargaret@gmail.com
02 / 2011
I enjoyed my experience at La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. My host Family was phenomenal! My one complaint would be that in comparison to my friend's teacher (she studied at the same time I did), my teacher was younger and less experienced. I also studied for two weeks at San Pedro, La Laguna and in comparison to my teacher in San Pedro, Manuela (who was amazing), I didn't learn as much from my teacher at this school.
The study materials were helpful, texts for reading aloud, exercises, and grammar rules, but I believe my teacher relied to heavily upon them. For example, she had me simply read lists of grammar rules aloud and then asked if I understood them.
Keira Duvernoy
01 / 2011
We were very happy with La Democracia Spanish School. The level of instruction was very good and the administration was very responsive and involved when appropriate.
The teachers were very personal and helped us to understand the culture and varied backgrounds of Guatemalans.
We enjoyed our host family and they took their job of helping us practice speaking very seriously.
Study materials were mostly my own notes from the day's lesson and conversation. Thank you, Keira.
Michael Stutz
mstutz7@yahoo.com.au
08 / 2010
I studied at La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango, for 7 weeks. Having had no previous Spanish tuition, the course was a bit overwhelming at first, but I felt that it was designed well, such that I had learned a substantial amount by the end of my time at the school. My teacher, Pablo, was very patient in explaining the grammar, and went to lengths to help me understand concepts. Overall, I was very satisfied with the quality of the tuition. My only complaint would be that the school's website mentions organizing conferences on Mayan culture, as well as other regular after-school activities with the staff which are included in the tuition fees. While I was there, such activities rarely took place, and when they did, it was only after being specifically requested by students. However, it was easy enough to organize things to do with the other students. Xela was a great place to study because there are very few tourists and English-speaking locals, yet the city is large enough to offer all the amenities a Western traveler could need. I have a lot of good memories from my time here.
Marjorie Patterson
08 / 2010
I really enjoyed my time at La Democracia Spanish School. I had a great teacher, Wilber, who was able to really advance my Spanish. I have spoken and studied Spanish off and on for about 8 years, so I was already pretty advanced, but very rusty. So we reviewed all the basics, worked on my confidence while speaking, developed my vocabulary, and improved my listening comprehension (listening to news on the radio and music). It was really challenging, but I learned so much. My host family was really good too. Their house was one of the farthest from the school, but it was only a 10-15 minute walk even then. The food was really good. I'm vegetarian, but the host mom (Rosy) made lots of different vegetarian dishes (by the way, I'm not a very strict vegetarian, and a lot of her food was made with meat, but the meat was taken out for me, so just a heads up in case you're more strict than I am). Her enchiladas (which are what Americans call tostadas) were amazing! My host mom also boarded students in colegio and university, so I spent a lot of time hanging out with these guys. It was good for my casual Spanish because they were 15-20 year old guys who weren't used to speaking with foreigners (meaning they didn't slow down or use proper grammar while speaking).
Also, La Democracia is located in Zone 3, and the majority of the tourist things are in Zone 1. Zone 1 is only a 10-30 minute walk from the school (depending on where you want to go in Zone 1). I liked the school being in Zone 3 because I rarely saw any foreigners not from the school. But, Zone 1 has the tourist scene where you can meet other travelers and has more cafes/restaurants (although there are enough in Zone 3). I met plenty of other travelers when I would venture into Zone 1, but if you want to be surrounded by that scene, you may want to chose a different school. But, if you want to just be in daily Guatemalan life, La Democracia is a great choice.
I loved Xela. It's not like an exciting, cutesy, tourist town (like Antigua), but there are lots of cafes and places to go out if you want. They had good festivals while we were there too. And it's a nice base for making trips around to other parts of Guatemala. And it's beautiful. I was there during the rainy season, but when the clouds would break up, you could finally see these towering, lush, green, breathtaking mountains and volcanoes that surrounded the city. It was so nice (and it didn't rain every day, like there was a whole week and a half where it didn't rain at all, but the rainy season isn't a myth and it will rain, a lot).
Ben Powell
07 / 2010
My wife and I spent just under 2 weeks studying at La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. We are both at very different levels. I am beginner and she is fluent. We both enjoyed our experiences a lot. We had one on one instruction that was given to us with great attention and tailored for our individual needs. The school was pleasant and modest with a nice kitchen and lovely back yard. Being in our 30's did not make us feel odd as there were a variety of ages coming and going - albeit mostly folks younger than us. The staff was extremely friendly and gave us good advice on where to go on weekend trips and how to get there safely. Flying in and out of Guatemala City was our only sketchy periods of time as that place is unruly at best. We spent as little time there as possible and had a very secure hotel/hostel that was recommended to us from the school. A wonderful school and an experience that we will not forget.
My wife is a school teacher and went to visit some of the local public schools. She was interested in learning about the system there and more than once found herself in charge of a class while the original teacher disappeared. Which was a far cry from the observation stand point that she went in with. The classrooms were absolute chaos and I expect that she would not recommend this experience to others.
Myself, I took a leisurely "mountain bike" tour set up by the school. Coming from Colorado, it was not at all like the mountain biking that I am used to. It was however, wonderful. We followed our guide who was on a dirt bike. We traveled on rough back roads and farm trails between corn fields. There were views of the volcanoes and we went to a famous church - all great photo ops. The villages we went through were off the beaten track and not likely a place we would have found on our own. Another wonderful experience.
Ian Ramsey
07 / 2010
I'm very happy to offer my highest recommendation for La Democracia Spanish School. I studied there for two weeks in July of 2010 and had an exceptional experience. My teacher was focused, enthusiastic and dedicated. My host family was right across the street from the school and was kind and helpful. The students at the school were certainly there to learn and were pretty focused, but also laid back and had fun.
It seemed like the students were a bit more dedicated overall at La Democracia than at other schools (probably because they had done their research on the guatemala365 website and seen that the school is rated quite highly).
I also like this school because it was on the other side of town from the more touristy/spanish school section of the city, so we had to use spanish more to get around. We were only a 15 minute walk from the other spanish schools and the many cafes that cater to language students.
The school probably doesn't have as many outside activities and excursions as other (and larger) schools, but I found it pretty easy to coordinate those kinds of activities outside of the school.
There were great volunteer opportunities (which I didn't do because I was only there for two weeks) which the other students really liked.

I think Xela is a great place to study spanish and a great city. Antigua definitely seems like one big touristy spanish school where you see as many foreigners as locals, whereas Xela feels like a bustling city where their foreigners are a small part of a larger city.
The city is a great mix of a working community with lots of markets, but also with some cafes and clubs that are more comfortable for foreigners. I was there during the rainy season, which meant rain or mist most days (especially in the afternoons), but I didn't mind it at all. My check-in was very smooth.
I'm planning on going back again this summer for another few weeks and I'll return to the same school. The school also helped me with advice and connections to get from Guatemala City to Xela. I definitely felt taken care of. Regards, Ian.
Noah Best
nbest8831@gmail.com
06 / 2010
Hello, I decided on La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for 5 weeks there. I got a good instructor, Pablo Espańa, and he was a great instructor, we talked about all sorts of interesting topics ranging from the guerilla wars in Guatemala to the world cup. Excellent. Study materials were sufficient, I found you don't need much, speaking and writing my own notes was plenty.
Gloria Zapata Castillo and her family were absolutely the best. They included me in so many activities of theirs, I felt part of the family. We ate all our meals together and talked after many of them, I met her extended family and we even went out to dinner together sometimes. It was great.
I would definitely recommend the school. If you are interested in a small school environment in a part of the city where virtually nobody speaks English this is the school to go to. Thank you, Noah.
Derek Ruediger
derek.ruediger@mail.mcgill.ca
06 / 2010
Hello, I decided to go to La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for 4 weeks, there. My teacher Libia, was a wonderful instructor. She is used to working with more advanced students, but even with my lack of any Spanish skills she was great. All of the teachers use their own materials (approved by the school), and Libia's materials were well prepared and tailored to my level of Spanish. There were also additional materials that can be taken out from the school for reference and studying. The school organizes optional activities through an independent guide, whose prices are normally below what you would pay with a tour agency. The trips that I went on were well run and well guided, definitely worth the money.
I had the wonderful experience of staying with Gloria and her two sons, Alejandro and Carlos. From the first day, I was made to feel at home and a part of the family. The food was great, the house was cozy and very clean, and between Gloria and the kids I had ample opportunity to practice my new Spanish skills, while still having privacy whenever I wanted it. The house is across the street from the school, making for an effortless commute, and only a short walk away from the main market. Mainly because of the hospitality of my host family, I decided to extend my studies by two weeks at La Democracia, and would definitely recommend staying with her family during your time in Xela. I would highly recommend this school, even for a beginner. Not knowing any Spanish, after four weeks I was able to conduct conversations, both everyday ones and ones on politics or other subjects. It truly helped me get to the level I needed to be for my travels - 4 months across Central America and Mexico. Situated far enough away from the tourist zone that you can go all day without seeing other travellers, but close enough that you can take in the sights and sounds with only a short walk, La Democracia was a great choice for learning Spanish in Xela. Thank you, Derek.
Karen Katz
karenekatz@sbcglobal.net
06 / 2010
Hi, I am happy to say that, I studied at La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango (Xela) for almost a month, this past June and July. My teacher was Vanessa Barrios Vizcaino. I definitely liked her very much and we are still communicating via e mail..., in Spanish. Languages are difficult for me to learn, and I found that Vanessa was very patient and used a lot of different study techniques to keep me interested. We went on outings to nearby pueblos (towns), speaking Spanish ongoing, went to the marketplace and local stores that were of interest to me. We even went to a carnival in a nearby town where we learned practical things, like which buses to take and how to ask for what we needed in Spanish. She not only taught me Spanish, but gave me many insights into the culture and customs as part of our lessons. I would recommend Vanessa, especially for students like me, who doesn't learn quickly and who need someone with patience and enthusiasm to keep me motivated. Study materials were mainly a couple of books that we worked out of most days. I didn't realize that there was a library of study materials we could check out. I think, I might have benefited from more study supplies. After school activities were offered by a tour guide who included students from nearby schools on his tours. The offerings were plentiful, about 2-3 per week. They ranged from a hike up a huge volcano, to visits to nearby craft towns, to bike rides, to overnights. Prices were very affordable. We were also, able to teach English to local children twice a week after school for an hour per day as a volunteer activity. Once, we had a school dinner prepared by the teachers, which I really enjoyed. I had asked to go to a nearby weaving village as part of my lesson, but it wasn't possible. So, instead, the school's director, Flory, arranged for a weaver to come to our school and do a demonstration for us. I had 2 families over the period of a month. The first, though lovely, had a young son who was very loud and I found it hard to sleep with all the noise he made. I asked for a new family and was moved across the street from the school at the home of Gloria and Angelica. They live in a duplex, but shared many meals and did things together as a family with their children who were 4, 6 and 18. I loved living there. We (my son and I were travelling together) each lived in one of the homes. I found our family to be much like a real family to us, caring and concerned, fun and engaging. One night, the 18 yr old, put on salsa music and she, her mom, me and my son danced into the night..., so much fun! I would definitely recommend La Democracia. It was quite small with maybe, 10 students, so even the school felt family like. I met other students from larger schools in Xela, and I don't think that any of them had the family feeling that we did, or felt as known and cared for as we did. Many of the teachers were in graduate school, and were bright and motivated, fun and interesting. Flory, the director, looked after all of us like a mother hen. She made sure we were picked up at the airport, escorted safely to the bus station and picked us up when we arrived in Xela. While we were there, if we had any particular needs, she would always tend to them. Hope this is helpful. I really loved my experience there. I intend to keep in touch with my teacher as well as my family. Regards, Karen.
Alan Jackson
phenomcaptain@gmail.com
02 / 2010
Hello, I attended La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for two weeks in February 2010. I must say it was an excellent experience. I had hoped to study under two different teachers, but ended up studying under Jessica for both weeks. Jessica was a good teacher, quick to correct my many mistakes but very flexible. We laughed a whole lot and her patience was much appreciated. She was competent and comfortable with her lessons. She gave me homework every night but didn't scold me too much when my social agenda precluded me from doing it. My Spanish did improve while I was there, but not to the extent I would of have liked due to the short time. I would definitely go back to this school again. The family I stayed with were excellent and made me feel very at home with three teenage children, the Edgar y Ada Hasedt family. The food was very good and I would go back there in a heartbeat. Overall, this small school met all my expectations. Thank you, Alan Jackson.
Michael Godfrey
mikegfrey@gmail.com
09 / 2009
Hi, I decided to attend La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango (Xela). I studied for 2 weeks there. I had 4 instructors, one was called José, and he was the best, the others were fine. Study materials were adequate. My Spanish improved, since I was a beginner. After school activities were good, went on a bike ride and taught some English to kids. My family was fine, friendly and good food, the father was called Marlon. I would recommend the school, even though it´s a little more expensive than some others. Thanks, Michael.
Katie Fizzell
katiefizzell@hotmail.com
08 / 2009
Hello, I attended La Democracia Spanish School in Xela. I was impressed with the detail and promptness of the director′s email responses prior to choosing a school; she does a great job of creating a family like atmosphere in the school, making all of the students feel welcome and cared for during their time in Guatemala. I studied for 4 weeks there. My instructor′s name was Sindy - she had all of her own notes and plans for our studies and I was so happy with her, that I studied with her for the entire four weeks. She was really adaptable to my needs from day-to-day and could easily switch between formal lessons and casual conversation, which was just what I needed. The school does not have a lot of study resources (i.e. they don′t have a big ′library′) but the resources they did have, such as practice exercises and their own lesson plans were sufficient. My teacher also did a great job of bringing in poems and short stories for us to read. I brought a few of my own books too, so there was no problem with resources. There were always lots of activities to do - every weekend and usually 2 afternoons per week. Their trip organizer is fantastic - always speaks in Spanish, but can translate when necessary and, because the school is so small, he was able to plan trips based on our requests, which was a real bonus. A lot of us, especially liked the mountain bike rides and hikes. I stayed with the family of Anna-Maria and Nery (I don′t remember their last names) and they were AMAZING! I had a very comfortable living situation, was fed great meals, and always had someone to practice my Spanish with. At the same time, I felt comfortable enough to do my own thing, and they encouraged me to spend time in town etc. I would definitely recommend the school! Best regards, Katie.
Gary Phillpott
grphillpott@yahoo.co.uk
07 / 2009
I also attended La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for 3 weeks at this school. The instructor, Libia was very good at La Democracia. Study resources at both schools were more than adequate. After school activities were brilliant at this school. The host families were very good in both Xela and Antigua. I will and have recommended both of these schools. Thanks again for your recommendation. Sincerely, Gary Phillpott.
Brienne Thomson
raceher_b@yahoo.com
07 / 2009
I attended La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango as well. The school is located in a quiet residential area in a converted house. They had coffee and tea and computers available to check e-mail. The first teacher I received, Marvin, was unprepared. Day 1 was a slow process of him trying to figure out my level and trying to think of what exercises to work on. I gave him one more day because I thought he might have needed time to prepare, but I was wrong. I directed our activities on the second day and then changed teachers to Ruth Galicia, who was excellent! She trained with the school’s director, Flory, and literally wrote her own 200 page book on lessons and exercises. Although, I was at the school for just a week, and thus had Ruth for just 3 days, they were very productive. Ruth is highly recommended. The school also had activities that were mainly organized through a very nice and interactive guide, Martin, who took us the ′Fuentes Georginas′ hot springs and on a tour of cathedrals and to a place that makes ′Caldo de Frutas′, a potent sangria-like drink. La Democracia is however in zone 3 of Quetzaltenango, which is a good walk from the centre in zone 1, where most of the restaurants, markets, bookshops and cafes were. I didn’t mind the walk, but unless you were with a group, it was recommended to take a cab home at night for safety. I stayed with Flor de Maria and Eduardo who are a sweet older couple. My room was lovely too. However, in zone 3 the water gets shut off at about 3:00. The house had a water tank but not enough for an evening shower, which prevented me from joining the nightly soccer game through the school. I would have requested a house that didn’t have a shower constraint if I had known. Gracias, Brienne Thomson. San Diego, CA.
Lottie Kingslake
lottie-k@hotmail.co.uk
07 / 2009
Hello, I studied at La Democracia Spanish School in Xela for 5 weeks and really loved it. I had 4 different teachers, Sindy, Ana Luce, Ruth and Enid; they were all really good and friendly. I think, it worked well for me because almost all were studying at a university, so they were a similar age to me, and we got on well. Each, seemed to have a different set of books and materials that they had sometimes prepared themselves but the structure of the week with each teacher seemed pretty much the same. My spanish improved loads over the 5 weeks and I was definitely happy with my improvement. If I remember correctly, the whole course that they run through is 8 weeks long for all the grammar from the beginning, so it depends where you begin to how far you get. The school activities were a great chance to get out of the town and get to know the people in your school, especially if you′re on your own when you arrive. Although, all the activities were in the afternoon so you missed out if your lessons were in the afternoon too. They had a good variety of weekend trips as well, to Lago Atitlan and Chichicastenango. A good mixture of active hiking and cycling and cultural trips to villages in the area. Flory, the coordinator was great and always got a pińata for the break time whenever it was someone′s birthday which made it seem really cosy and friendly. I liked how small the school was, it meant that you got to know the other students well. Also it seemed most of the students stayed for at least 3 weeks which again meant you had time to get to know people. My host family was lovely. The mom was called Leslie and she had two young daughters, Abi and Nathali. Leslie couldn′t have been more friendly despite being quite busy. I think the time I most improved in my spanish was chatting to Leslie after school. It′s definitely good practice talking to someone other than a spanish teacher who may be used to your mistakes. I would definitely, recommend the school. For me, it being out of town was a good thing because you never bumped into any non-Guatemalans unless they were at the school and it was good for your spanish. Although, it meant you had to walk back from town in the dark which is fine in a group. The majority of the students there, spoke spanish whenever they were in the school, which really helped me, especially when starting off because it forces you to try. I really enjoyed it at the school and Xela is a lovely place. I plan to return whenever I can. I found out your website... helpful to be able to read peoples comments about the schools, and it was the main reason I chose La Democracia. I hope that is useful to you. Kind regards, Lottie Kingslake.
James Frew
jsafrew@hotmail.com
07 / 2009
Hi, I went to La Democracia Spanish School in Xela. I thought, it was an excellent school, very well run and professional. I was taught by several different teachers but I thought they were all very good, and the study materials were fine. I studied for 2 months, and lived with a host family who were also very nice. The after school activities were also excellent. Thanks, James.
Cory Nelson
cory.nelson4@gmail.com.
06 / 2009
Hello, I studied at La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for six weeks there. During my time there, I had 4 instructors; Ana Luz, Edna DeVacki, Yesika, and Alex. They all had different methods of teaching and the all typically served me well. If I had to pick the best it would have been Yesika when I began learning the subjunctive, she was very knowledgeable and had great conversational exercises that aided me in my understanding of this tense. All of the study resources, are provided by the school or the teachers. There are no workbooks or anything like that, though, you may get some photocopied handouts every once in a while. I mainly took notes from the teacher and then for homework used what I knew (or though I knew) to write stories and sentences then we would correct my mistakes, so that I would understand better the grammar and vocabulary. For after school activities, they had everything from bike riding, to salsa dancing, to the standard day trips to the ′Fuentes Georginas′ and other near by ′pueblos′. We also took trips to Panajachel and Lake Atitlan. The students are also free to organize their own trips. I went with some fellow classmates to Antigua to climb the Pacaya volcano and see the lava. Other students, planed trips to Monterrico or Tajumulco. If you do, want to do something like that, the school will help you out as much, as they can. I ended up staying with Cory, who was great. The only thing I didn′t like, was that the ′pensionistas′ were all very quiet, which made it difficult to practice my spanish. But, after I got more confident we would watch TV and discuss fútbol and ′El gran defile de las estrellas′. I would definitely recommend the school. After 6 weeks, I felt as though I had a family there and I plan on going back as soon as I have time. I hope this helps, Cory Nelson.
Catherine Orr
h.catherine.orr@gmail.com
06 / 2009
I also attended La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for three weeks at there. My instructors were good. I had two teachers, the first was fine and I stayed with him for two weeks but then I switched to Libia who was phenomenal. Libia really pushes you to the next level, challenging you to read about and discuss subjects beyond your normal vocabulary and providing creative at-home exercises. I wish, I had had more time with her! Study resources at the school were fine. La Democracia offered one mid-week after school field trip, usually led by Martin, a fantastic guide and former Spanish teacher who is constantly teaching you. There were also, weekly salsa classes, soccer games, and dinners. This school, also organizes weekend trips to areas around Xela and throughout Guatemala. The best part of the activities sponsored by La Democracia is that the teachers, all of whom are college-aged, attend the activities too, so you′re constantly surrounded by local Spanish speakers who become your friends, as well as your teachers. In Xela, I stayed with Betzabé and Marlon and their small children Alicia and Daniel. I felt like a part of their family, playing with the kids every day, eating every meal with the family, and even befriending members of the extended family. I could not have asked for a better situation and I miss Betzabé, Alicia, and Daniel terribly. I would absolutely recommend the school, 100 percent. My time in Guatemala was wonderful (but too fast), and the schools I attended were both great. Thanks to Guatemala365 for helping me find them! If anyone has specific questions for a former student you′re welcome to give him/her my email address. Sincerely, Catherine.
Brooke Magid Hart
hart@usfamily.net
06 / 2009
Hello, I just completed 3 weeks of studying at, La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango, and then 2 weeks more of travel in Guatemala. La Democracia is smaller than most of the schools, with a limit of only 10 students in the morning and 10 others in the afternoon. The director, Flory is wonderful, and runs the school as though all of the teachers (university students, in general) and all of the students are family. The school is located in Zona 3, which makes it a 20 minute walk from the Parque Central; close enough to get there everyday, but in a quieter neighbourhood where you don′t ever see other non-Guatemalans outside of the school itself. For the most part, home stays are close to the school, and all are within walking distance. Flory plans a calendar for the month, which includes all sorts of extra activities, from free salsa dancing lessons, to informal conferences on Guatemalan history and society, to trips to local sights and sights around Guatemala. She is open to planning activities requested by the students, and works with a local guide to provide trips at discounted prices. Flory provides opportunities for students to volunteer, teaching English to neighbourhood kids who come to La Democracia because they can′t afford private lessons (they don′t pay for lessons provided by student volunteers), or working at a local school or orphanage. While, there for 3 weeks, I also took back strap weaving lessons from an indigenous friend of Flory, who comes to the school to teach weaving to interested students, for a small fee paid directly to the weaving instructor. But the best part of this school is the teachers. My teacher was Libia, and after a couple of days with her, I asked if she could be my teacher for all 3 weeks. I know the others were excellent teachers, too, but the two of us clicked (though I am old enough to be her mother!), and I learned so much from her. Everyday, Libia and I would talk about politics, history, social issues, and life in Guatemala, and through our conversations, I was not only enlightened about the country in which I was studying, but I improved my Spanish as well. This school, and my teacher in particular, provided me with the experience that I was seeking when I began to research schools; the opportunity to study Spanish in a part of Guatemala that is not teeming with gringos, where I could speak, read, write, think and dream in only Spanish for my entire stay; where I would feel safe, and where I would have opportunities to explore and make the most of my limited time. I highly recommend this school to others. I used www.guatemala365.com to search for a Spanish school, and am so happy with the one that I chose. Best, Brooke Magid Hart.
Miriam Jeschke
miriam.jeschke@web.de
03 / 2009
Hello, I decided to go to La Democracia Spanish School in Xela. I studied for 5 weeks and another week two months later, even though I planned to attend several schools during my time there, I ended up staying all the time at this school. It′s such a great school and the director is doing a fabulous job, she is so supportive and takes good care of both students and teachers as well as offering a great programme. I got an excellent instructor and stayed with him all the time because we worked so well together and I improved a lot. His name is Marvin Loarca. Study resources were good, especially for beginners. They have all kinds of picture books for beginners and advanced grammar books with lots of exercises that we used occasionally. Since I was intermediate, we worked more with the black board, literature like books and newspapers and mostly just talked a lot and then practiced my weak points. My teacher had a great method to explain words in spanish and made me train my understanding and speaking skills a lot by giving me exercises to present topics, etc. The school offers routine activities like conferences, salsa lessons and trips every day except for Mondays and lots of extra activities whenever anything special like concerts or exhibitions come up. In the weekends, students can optionally go on several trips that the school helps to organize. The teachers are very open and take parts in the activities which is great. They even took me to a soccer game during the weekend and every Friday there is a dinner with all the students and teachers which I think is a really good thing to interact. My host family was extremely friendly and warm, they treated me like part of the family and cared for me in a very nice way. The food was great and they were really flexible with my plans and likings, so I felt very good there. The husband`s name is Marlon Hurtado and his wife′s name is Betzabé who is a great cook. I would definitely recommend the school! I just loved it there because it has more of a family feeling, and everybody is very dedicated to their work and to providing the best options to the students. I got to know so many friendly people and enjoyed it a lot, that the teachers were so accessible. I also liked that they support a social project, offer volunteering options and pay their teachers and host families fair. It was a great experience and I am really glad to having picked that school and having met all those great people. Thanks for offering all that information on your web page. It helped me a lot! All the best to you and your work! I will definitely be back to beautiful Guatemala and La Democracia soon! Miriam Jeschke.
Andrew Menees
asmenees@gmail.com
03 / 2009
Hello, I decided to attend, La Democracia Spanish School in Quetzaltenango. I studied for a total of 8 weeks there. I received an excellent instructor and after my first week and a half, I asked to keep him for the balance of my studies, his name is Byron Koeppler. My instructor was highly skilled at recognizing my specific needs and creating a course of study, utilizing a select few of the many available books at the school. There were a variety of activities available from which to choose, and the director was always willing to make arrangements for personal excursions. My host family was excellent. My house mother provided a great variety in the meals (I don′t think we had the same main meal more than twice over the eight weeks I was there) and was always concerned that I have any need met. My house mother was Miriam Giron. I would very highly recommend La Democracia. It was exactly what I was looking for - a small school with exceptional teaching quality, personal attention, a variety of activities from which to choose, volunteer projects and located in an area away from tourists. Thank you very much for the services of your website. I found them to be tremendously helpful in making my selection of a Spanish school and I feel your descriptions gave an appropriate picture of the school in which I studied. Sincerely, Andrew Menees.