I was going to take more Spanish lessons on Isla Holbox in Mexico, but the hostel where my friend and I were staying, Tribu Hostel, was full for the next week. In a split decision it was decided that instead of learning more Spanish in Mexico, we would just go find a Spanish school in Colombia. 12 hours later I was on a plane bound for Medellín. I ended up spending 7 weeks there over the next 6 months.
The Spanish School
After speaking with other backpackers and making a few searches online, I settled on the most popular Spanish School in Medellín, Toucan Spanish School. Their fee was 550 000 COP which equated to about 200 USD for 1 week intensive 20-hours of instruction, which was a little on the expensive side. This entailed group lessons with 3-7 students and many extra-curricular activities including a language exchange in the cafe below the school. Again they also offered a homestay, but I was having too much fun at my hostel. Private lessons were also offered but at an expensive hourly rate.
The school was located in a large building in the most ‘hip’ neighborhood of Medellin in Poblado. It appeared recently renovated inside and had many small modern classrooms outfitted with large whiteboards and video projectors. Also, underneath the school was their own cafe, which was a great place to grab a coffee before class in the morning.
This was my first experience in a full classroom. I had 5 other people in my class at all times, which was much different to having my own teacher. The teachers were very experienced, made good use of the whiteboards and showed many videos to drive home their lessons. Also, I found the coursework handed out quite useful for practicing outside of class. They also tried to spice up the lessons by taking the entire class outside once in a while to practice Spanish on the street. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at my first foray at Spanish school in Colombia.
There were a plethora of activities scheduled for each week. I participated in their Spanish language exchange in the cafe below the school a few times as well, which was a fun activity and good way to meet other people in the school. There were other extracurricular actives such as a coffee tour and graffiti tour, but they also had an extra cost.
I found the instruction at Toucan to be the best yet in a Spanish school. It was the most modern school I had been to thus far. Due to the effectiveness of the instruction, I learned much more grammar than in previous courses. The only downside was the fact I had 5 other people in the class so I didn’t get help with my individual weaknesses or as much practice with speaking and listening.
I really fell in love with Medellín and also enjoyed my first week at the school immensely, so I decided to stick around and learn Spanish for another two weeks. I also may have wanted to spend a few nights partying at my favorite bar, Calle 9+1, as well.
To conclude, I would strongly recommend Toucan Spanish School in Colombia. This is the perfect place to improve your knowledge of grammar. Toucan also had the best selection of curricular activities I’ve seen in a Spanish school in Colombia and Latin America. As I would come to realize later, group lessons are not very effective for actually learning to listen and to speak properly.