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21 Best Places to Learn Spanish Abroad

So, you’ve got a bad case of wanderlust and an urge to learn Spanish.

One of the best ways to learn Spanish is by immersion in a country where the language is spoken!

There are thousands of opportunities to learn Spanish overseas. But which Spanish-speaking country is right for you?

In this post, we’ll cover 21 of the best places to learn Spanish, from the jungles of Colombia to the contemporary cities and Mayan ruins of Mexico, as well as tips for choosing a language school! 

Contents

From Spain to Latin America, from Andean cities to beach bases, here are seven of the best countries to study Spanish.

You’ll also find three best language learning locations within each country to help you get a bit more specific with your research.

Best Places to Learn Spanish in Mexico

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From sandy beaches and breathtaking Mayan and Aztec architecture to colorful and lively cities, there are so many destinations for you to choose from! Not only does studying in Mexico allow you to learn the language, but you’ll also be able to immerse yourself in the culture and experience some great traditions and celebrations throughout the year!

1. Guadalajara 

One of the most popular places for students is Guadalajara, located in Jalisco. Thanks to the mix of local and study abroad students, in Guadalajara there’s a real student vibe with plenty to do and see when you’re not studying. Combining a size that’s more manageable than Mexico City but offering the same trendy shops, bars and cafés, it’s a popular place to call home for a while. You could even escape the city and pop over to the town of Tequila or visit Lake Chapala in Ajijic!

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2. Oaxaca

If you’re not only looking for a language learning experience, but also a complete and immersive cultural experience then Oaxaca is a great option for you! Oaxaca is home to some of Mexico’s most renowned dishes like mole, tlayuda and chocolate. Oaxaca also has plenty of museums, markets and you can even visit the archeological site Monte Albán and experience indigenous Mexican traditions.

3. Tulum

Most famous for the spectacular Mayan ruins that perch right by the sea, Tulum is one of the best beach spots in Mexico. It’s no wonder that so many people decide to go there! Step out of your cabana for a bit of pre-breakfast yoga; take a quick dip in the sea or a cenote between classes and spend lazy days on the beach over the weekend. Is there anything better than studying in paradise?

Resources for finding a language school in Mexico:

Best Places to Learn Spanish in Guatemala

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Just south of Mexico, Guatemala is a fascinating introduction to the wonders of Central America. Studying Spanish in Guatemala will bring you close to indigenous cultures, active volcanoes and a whole wealth of history. 

4. Antigua

In addition to Antigua’s colonial history, nature has shaped this place with volcanic eruptions that have brought a number of its buildings to their knees. Yet these century-old ruins just make Antigua all the more beautiful. With mountains and bright colors all around, the only problem with studying here is that you may struggle to keep your attention inside the classroom!

5. Lake Atitlán

In Lake Atitlán, Guatemalan traditions hold strong as the fishermen work the lake and the local ladies tend to the duties on the banks. However, if you’re looking for adventure, you’ll be pleased to find that plenty has moved with the times. There are several settlements/villages around the lake to choose from. If you’re looking for a real sense of cultural immersion while you study, this is the place to do it.

6. Flores

Flores is a great place for learners who want to immerse themselves in the Guatemalan culture in a more remote area. Most people come to Flores and use it as a base when visiting Tikal—the ancient Mayan ruins hidden within the Guatemalan jungle—but the town has much more to offer for a longer stay. When you’re not diving off the jetty to take a break from the heat, wandering the narrow streets is a pleasure. Stay more than a day and you’ll feel very local very quickly.

Resources for finding a language school in Guatemala:

Best Places to Learn Spanish in Ecuador

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Ecuador is full of natural wonders. Most people are familiar with the Galapagos, but that’s just part of it. There’s the Andean mountains, Amazonian rainforest and colonial cities with such impressive altitude you can study Spanish with your head in the clouds. Literally.

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7. Quito 

Land in Quito and you might struggle at first to make sense of the urban sprawl, but soon enough the city starts to take shape. With an old town that has UNESCO World Heritage status and a huge handful of real life to consume, Quito will keep you occupied when your classes don’t. Stay more than a day and you might come to think of Quito as the center of the earth, which, actually, it is—it’s home to the equatorial line.

8. Baños 

If you’re looking to combine your studies with an adventure, then head to Baños. From white water rafting, mountain biking and horseback riding to waterfalls, there are so many activities to choose from when you’re not studying. And when your muscles are feeling the full force of extreme sports, treat them to a dip in the thermal springs.

9. Cuenca 

Those who want to experience city life but are put off by the size of Quito usually find Cuenca does the trick. With UNESCO World Heritage status for the city’s center and huge wealth of museums and impressive local handicrafts, it’s not surprising that it’s such a popular choice for visitors and learners alike. And, if you’re in the market for a Panama hat (which are actually from Ecuador, not Panama), Cuenca is a good place to find one.

Resources for finding a language school in Ecuador:

Best Places to Learn Spanish in Peru

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Peru is a vast country with an array of incredible places to explore from north to south. From the capital city, Peruvian beaches and Machu Picchu to the all-famous Cusco, study spots in Peru are tough to choose between.

10. Cusco 

Many visitors only visit Cusco for a few days to acclimatize to the altitude before tackling one of the hikes to Machu Picchu. However, most visitors are surprised at the beauty and charm of this city. Thriving with life, culture and colonial history, Cusco is a great option for those wishing to study Spanish abroad and learn some Peruvian slang.

11. Lima 

From grand museums to a thriving culinary scene, to cliffs that drop dramatically into the Pacific, Lima is a city with many faces. Studying in Lima will not only allow you to immerse yourself in the language, but also discover this city’s pre-Colombian past, modern Miraflores and, of course, experience the nightlife that will let you get your salsa on from dusk ’til dawn.

12. Máncora

Most people don’t think about Peru’s northern areas, but those who do are delighted to find a coastline filled with incredible beaches. If you’re looking for a combination of Spanish school and Peruvian beach life, Máncora is your best bet. With sands that stretch for miles and an abundance of fish and seafood, beach and ceviche can be on the menu any time you like.

Resources for finding a language school in Peru:

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Best Places to Learn Spanish in Colombia

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Colombia is an attractive option for students wishing to learn Spanish. Between the Caribbean coast, the salsa craze and the buzz of city life, it’s understandable why Colombia is such a popular spot for Spanish students. 

13. Medellín 

Medellín hasn’t always had the best reputation worldwide due to the presence of drug cartels and Pablo Escobar, but nowadays, this city is one of the most popular places to visit in Colombia. The bars, restaurants and cafés are world-class and the salsa scene is buzzing. If you’re after a good dose of culture, music and food, this is the perfect place to learn Colombian Spanish.

14. Cartagena

Cartagena is one of the most beautiful places in Colombia. The old town brims with narrow streets and vibrant buildings while the street food will have you craving for your study break. Add in the dreamy Caribbean sea and the chance to pop out to white sand beaches on a casual day trip and it will be hard to say no to a stay in Cartagena.

15. Bogotá

Sitting more than 8,000 feet above sea level, Bogotá is one of the highest spots in South America. Culture fills the city from the Gold Museum, with over 50,000 pieces of pre-Hispanic gold, to graffiti tours that show more modern displays of Colombian art. To add more altitude, hike up Monserrate, a mountain in the middle of the city, for a panorama of awe. Studying here will be a true adventure!

Resources for finding a language school in Colombia:

Best Places to Learn Spanish in Spain

Home of Spanish as well as a diverse range of architecture, art, cities, beaches, delicious food and rich history, Spain is another great destination for those who want to learn Spanish. And what better place to go and learn the language and its history than in the country from which it came

16. Seville 

If you’re looking for an immersive experience full of language, history and flamenco, Seville is a great option! From its majestic cathedral complete with gold and silver fairy-tale decor, to the Moorish influence that’s so typical in Andalucía, Seville is a fantastic Spanish study base and one of Spain’s most impressive cities.

17. Madrid 

With tons of museums, parks, beautiful streets and a great transport system, Madrid is one of the most popular study abroad destinations in Spain. The regal architecture combined with a 21st-century vibe will hold your interest while the tapas culture, trendy rooftop bars and legendary nightlife will make you want to stay for more. 

18. Málaga 

What’s most appealing about Málaga is the blend of city and sea. Whether you want to spend time at the beach after your Spanish class or explore the historic center, the choice is yours! And with affordable fixed price lunches and a healthy student vibe, Málaga is a smart choice for learning to speak Spanish in Spain.

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Resources for finding a language school in Spain:

Best Places to Learn Spanish in Panama

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Panama is a long, thin stretch of Latin America quite unlike any of its neighbors. The Panama Canal has allowed Panama to race along in the 21st century while a more rural setting maintains the country’s historic peace and charm, providing an array of destinations for Spanish learners.

19. Bocas del Toro

Just off the coast of Panama, the archipelago of Bocas del Toro is a great option for those with an adventurous spirit and a free soul. Rustic beaches will let you relax and take a break from your studies while the night promises a complete contrast—a party vibe that draws locals and visitors alike. Study Spanish in Bocas del Toro, and you’ll get the best of everything.

20. Boquete

If you love coffee, then consider studying in Boquete! Panama more than holds its own in the coffee stakes, and this is the place you’ll find it. Nature at its finest, Boquete and its cool mountain feel provide the perfect climate for getting your brain around all those verbs.

21. Panama City

Between the old town, the modern stretch of skyscrapers in the financial district and the close proximity of the Panama Canal, you’ll quickly get the impression that Panama City is one of the most international cities in Latin America. Fine dining, top-class hotels and cool clubs make Panama City an attractive study destination.

Resources for finding a language school in Panama:

Benefits of Studying Spanish Abroad

  • Immersion, immersion, immersion. There’s not a single tutor, blog, textbook or study course that will disagree: The single best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. Sure, Spanish immersion software is good, but being in a Spanish-speaking country wins—you can easily spend way more time speaking, reading and thinking in Spanish than any course can offer.

    Of course, you can always use FluentU to assist your Spanish immersion, whether home or abroad. This language learning program uses authentic videos—like music videos and movie clips—to immerse you in the language so you can see the vocabulary used in context. Learning with authentic clips will help you identify how to use the Spanish vocabulary and phrases you are learning.

  • Getting a grip on cultural nuances. There’s more to language than grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. Learn how locals use phrases, intonation and slang to really get a feel for Spanish-speaking culture.
  • A country’s worth of Spanish speakers to practice with. Not sure how to say a word? Ask your accommodation owner…or the person next to you on the bus…or in a café. You have a country of potential teachers at your disposal.
  • Friends you can continue to learn with. Meeting people is the most fun part of travel, and if you can exchange details with even a few potential pen pals, you’ll have someone to practice Spanish with even once you’re home.
  • Taking the study out of studying. Spending an hour working out your grocery list in the supermarket or buying a train ticket most certainly won’t feel like a Spanish class, but you’ll be learning all the same.
  • Focusing on the most practical topics first. Starting with “survival Spanish” (greetings, numbers, food and drink and directions), and moving on to more complex topics, you can really focus your Spanish learning in a practical way when you’re living and breathing the language abroad.
  • And going abroad is just awesome, obviously.

What to Consider When Picking a Language School

Pointing your passport towards a Spanish-speaking country is definitely a step forward in your quest to learn the language, but signing up for formal language classes will get you to your goal much quicker.

From learning correct grammar structures to having someone on tap to answer all your questions (the lady on the bus might get frustrated after your 45th query), language classes provide a valuable foundation when you’re learning a language in another country.

Here are some things to think about when looking at language schools:

  • Class size. Are you interested in small groups where you get more speaking time, or a college-style setting where it’s more about language structure, note-taking and homework?
  • Seriousness of the curriculum. Do you want a flexible study program where the teacher goes at the pace of the students, or are you more motivated by a test-focused process?
  • Course materials. Do you want to walk away with a textbook? If so, is one available, and are the materials adequate? Or would you rather make your own notes as you go along?
  • Extracurricular activities. Some schools put as much emphasis on outings and experiences outside the classroom (city tours, salsa classes, meals out) as they do lessons.
  • Where exactly the school is located. Do you want to be in the center of a city for facilities and nightlife, or are you after some escapism in a rustic town where you can truly immerse?
  • What the reviews say. Everything gets reviewed these days. What do the reviews say for the schools you’re considering? If possible, book a school that comes with a personal recommendation.
  • If you’re getting what you pay for. Shiny brands can look impressive, but how does the school stack up in terms of cost per hour of tuition and the price of any extra activities?

 

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With Spanish spoken in so many countries around the world, it can be hard to choose where to study it.

But with this list, you’ve got some great options to get started.

And One More Thing…

If you've made it this far that means you probably enjoy learning Spanish with engaging material and will then love FluentU.

Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos, as you can see here:

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FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

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Review a complete interactive transcript under the Dialogue tab, and find words and phrases listed under Vocab.

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Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s robust learning engine. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

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The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and gives you extra practice with difficult words. It'll even remind you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning with the same video.

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