How is the Mountain School different from other Spanish schools in Central America?
You will probably discover that like us, most schools offer 1 on 1 instruction for at least 4 hours a day plus room and board for an exceptionally low cost. Guatemalan schools generally have the lowest cost of all. So how do you differentiate? Here are some things we offer that few if any other schools offer:
- Escuela de la Montaña is located in the countryside among several small communities of indigenous Mayan people. We have only been able to find one other school in Guatemala that is not in a major city such as Quetzaltenango or Antigua. So in addition to great language instruction, you learn firsthand about the life of the poor Mayan family by eating with them and getting to know them one on one. In the city schools you will likely live and eat with a local middle income family and come to the school for classes only.
- Our school is a Guatemalan project, run by an Association of Guatemalan Spanish teachers. Like our “parent”school, Proyecto Lingüistico Quetzalteco de Español (PLQ), we are committed to Social Justice in Guatemala. We are “not for profit”, and all income after expenses for both schools support several projects [link to projects] to support the local communities. Most other language schools are for profit and for the benefit of the owner of that school.
- At Escuela de la Montaña you stay in a dormitory room with the other Spanish students. This helps the immersion experience because everyone is there to learn Spanish and the staff are all Spanish speakers, so if you really want to talk English you probably can, but it is easier and more socially acceptable to speak Spanish. On the flip side of this, if your plan for a Central American experience involves being able to go out to a restaurant or bar and visit with other gringos and talk English when you are not studying, this might not be the place for you. The nearest decent restaurant is about an hour away on the bus and there are bars 15 minutes away, but they are a little shabby and frequented mostly by locals who speak only Spanish or maybe Mam (the local Mayan dialect). Also after dark there is no transportation back to the school!
- We have highly qualified teachers, many of whom have been with us for over 10 years. We have 3 teachers who live in larger cities, but commute every day here to the Mountain School because they believe in our unique social justice mission to support the poor people of Guatemala, as well as the special people who come here as students. We also pay our instructors at the top of pay scale for Spanish teachers in schools for extranjeros (foreigners).
- The students who come here and love it here are almost exclusively motivated by social justice and a strong desire to make a difference in the world. If that sounds like you, then you will find many kindred spirits here. In as little as a week you will develop a network of like-minded people around the country and possibly around the world.
- We have dogs, cats, birds, and cows here. This is the country. The school itself has two friendly guard dogs outside and a cat inside. We have a wide variety of birds in the many trees in the garden, and down the road there is a dairy with cows, pigs, and geese, whose owners love to have students visit. You can learn to milk a cow!
- Students here have access to many local resources: for example, guided hikes in the country to a waterfall, or to see a volcano. Students can also choose to visit local coffee plantations, or communities of ex-guerillas or refugees from the armed conflict.
- We have our own small coffee property which makes us truly unique, plus a garden full of a variety of tropical fruit trees. Our high quality organic Arabica coffee can only be purchased here at the school, or occasionally at PLQ. We often have fresh fruit from our own organic garden for snacks at breaks.