It’s not easy to master another language, but it’s a lot easier when you have help! From backpackers traveling through Latin America to expats who are looking to make Colombia their home and even professionals, who just want to spice up their resume, a Spanish class might be the boost of confidence, or in qualifications, you need.
There’s no shortage of Spanish schools in Bogotá so how do you sort through all of them and what qualities should you look for? Since I came to Colombia with the goal of improving my Spanish and I was intent on getting the absolute most out of classes, I did some fairly extensive research into my options before finally going with Whee Institute and these are 5 features they have that you should look for in any school, should you want to do your own research:
1. Easy Accessibility
If you have any questions or want more information than you can find online and you contact the school through any medium, they should respond promptly and with as much detail as possible. I emailed Whee and received a response within a couple of hours! While everyone might not answer this quickly, they shouldn’t take more than 1-2 business days to respond. Remember, good customer service is important and is a good indicator of how the school runs things!
2. Sufficient In-Class Time
You should get a minimum of 15 hours of class time a week; any less and it won’t be sufficient to retain anything. Whee has an option for 15 hours a week and another one for 20 hours a week. I took 15 hours a week with them and I thought it was the perfect amount of time to learn and practice without feeling burned out by the end of the week.
3. Low Student to Teacher Ratio
Obviously the fewer students in a classroom, the better and more personalized the learning experience! Whee places a maximum of 5 students in one class. If there is only one person in the class, some schools will reduce the hours since it’s a private class at a group rate. This isn’t uncommon or unreasonable, but you’re still better off getting your 15 hours a week, which Whee recognizes and holds to regardless of the number of students.
4. Interactive Learning Methodology
Sometimes it’s just not possible to avoid lecturing, like when you are first learning a concept because some things simply require an explanation. However, the entire class should not be lectures and worksheets. You learn the most when you actually get to use what you’re learning, so your class should include lots of interactive activities, which are especially excellent for an advanced level! As someone who came in with a higher level, this was one of my favorite things about Whee, but don’t worry as they cater to all levels.
5. Outside Activities
This one isn’t totally necessary, but why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of extra opportunities to experience Colombia and immerse yourself?! One of the benefits of taking a class in Bogotá is getting to know the city and the people! Whee was great because they organize social gatherings outside the school too, like a once-a-week trek up to Monserrate, a dance class on Thursday evenings (style changes every week) with a language and cultural exchange afterward and yoga on Fridays. On the weekends, sometimes there are excursions to Bogotá’s surrounding areas, but if you don’t go with the school, feel free to do it on your own and check out Places to Visit and Stay Near Bogotá! And wherever you go, just make sure you’re prepared for the Weather!
One of the biggest reasons I chose Whee was the overwhelmingly positive reviews I found on Facebook and Trip Advisor. If you want to give them a try, go ahead and send them an email at [email protected]. They’ll send you a registration form through Google Docs, which takes about 10 minutes and a week before your class starts, you’ll have a quick 10-minute interview to determine your level. You just need to decide whether you would like to take group or private lessons.
For 15 hours are 470,000 COP/week, 550,000 COP/week for 20 hours, both with a discount for booking 4 weeks or more. Private lessons start at 540,000 COP/week.
The three weeks I spent in Spanish classes made a world of difference and I’ve gotten the compliments to back that up! If you want to take it one step further to get more practice, do a homestay with local hosts. I opted to go with Whee because they hit all of these requirements that I was looking for and on top of that, past students only had great things to say about them. And it wasn’t a requirement of mine, but it’s just a bonus that the place feels like home once you walk through the doors.
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