Why learning Spanish is a good investment.

A recent study, the Urban Investment Attractiveness Index (INAI for short), published by Bogota’s University of Rosario and a Chilean business intelligence firm has shown the growing importance of Latin America for long term investments. The buying power, reputation and global presence, urban comfort, the potential for financing new projects and the quality of university education are taken into consideration, and shows the increasing availability of Latin American countries offering a platform for investments.

Mexico City and Santiago rank in the second and third place for the best investment environment, and Bogota, the Colombian capital, rose from ninth to fifth place, thanks to recent internal developments. Lima also saw a rise to fourth place,  and the Argentinean capital of Buenos Aires continues to be attractive to developers.

With the growing importance of Latin America in the business world, speaking Spanish language will give you the advantage of outpacing your competitors in this challenging business world. While it may seem like a bad time to enroll in a Spanish course, it doesn’t have to be as expensive as you might think.

There are so many internet resources available. To keep up your Spanish, or to learn new vocabulary that will be useful to your business venture, read the online newspapers in Spanish, sign up for Skype language exchanges, or download Spanish language podcasts to listen to on your commute. Just that little bit of daily Spanish can keep your language skills growing.

Keep and eye out for special offers on language courses, especially with the summer sales on at the moment! Make sure you do sufficient research before you enroll, especially with in-country language courses. How much more are you missing out on for that cheaper course, would the intensive option be more effective for you?  While the big cosmopolitan, capital cities are really appealing, would it be cheaper to live in a smaller town? Every little helps.

Ask around for advice; locals are a great source of knowledge. You could save yourself the money buying a guidebook by going to the nearest tourist information office. It’s free, and a great way to sneak in some language practice!

Language graduates are always in demand. Translation or interpreting jobs aside, the education, marketing and sales sectors really appreciate language skills and major global companies value bilingualism too. Furthermore, if you have your sights set on greener pastures, English teachers are finding work the world over. Why not get qualified to teach English as a foreign language, and travel the world with your linguistic skills.

Alajuela Spanish School: A Teen’s Perspective

DSCN0622By Erin K., Teen Delegate Scholar and AmeriSpan Blogger studying at AmeriSpan’s Alajuela Spanish school

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a school as beautiful as this one. Nestled in a valley between coffee and sugarcane plantations, it’s not at all unusual to see a family of cows wander by the classroom window.  The classrooms are simple but comfortable; one even replaces chairs with hammocks.

We get there every morning around 8:00 when the bus we meet in Carrillos drops us off outside the gate. Each week we’re assigned a new teacher and a new classroom.  The classes are so relaxed and the teachers are friendly, making everyone feel right at home even though we’re thousands of miles away from our hometowns.  One of the first days we’re there, we take a break from studying to wander through the school’s gardens.

It’s time for our lesson on “plantas medicinales,” a huge part of Costa Rican tradition. Minor, the gardener, tells us how most Costa Ricans turn to the garden before they call the doctor.  Every plant has some use, like the “sleeping plant” that folds its tiny leaves in when touched. It’s used to treat insomnia.

Most days, the first half of class is spent learning about the Preterit tense (among others) or Spanish grammar. Then after a twenty minute break, usually spent chilling in the hammocks, we learn about some aspect of Costa Rican cultures. From legends to slang, food to traditional games, the school fully immerses us in all aspects of their culture.

228836_2278203000876_1422794534_2626672_1386026_nThe school is one of the best parts of my trip so far.  The people are warm and welcoming, with the typical Tico friendliness, and I’m learning more than I’ve ever learned during summer vacation. The campus is like a paradise with its sprawling gardens and panoramic views of the mountains.  I don’t know how I’ll be able to go home to Wisconsin now.

See AmeriSpan’s Teenager Programs Abroad

Find out how you can learn Spanish in Costa Rica


Volunteer in Honduras: Work with Children in Need – Video

Honduras_volunteers2Those who opt to volunteer in Honduras will have a life-changing and soul-nourishing experience. There are many children in need and many placements that need volunteers. By participating in one of these programs, you will be doing a service to these incredible organizations and making a difference in these childrens’ lives. See the video after the jump to hear from a volunteer and to learn more about the volunteer programs in Honduras.

See AmeriSpan’s other Volunteer Abroad & Intern Abroad opportunities

See other Honduras study abroad programs

Learn Spanish in Guanajuato: First Week

Blog2By Laura K., Guest Blogger who wants to learn Spanish in Guanajuato, Mexico

Hola. It has now been one week since I arrived in Guanajuato. I feel much more at home now as I am in a routine. Every day I wake up at 745am and eat breakfast at 830 with my house mom and my roommate from Japan. We eat a plate of fruit covered in yogurt, usually melon, papaya and mango. I never liked papaya before, but now I love it! It’s supposed to be very healthy for your stomach too. We also eat toast with jelly. One thing I found is that peanut butter is incredibly expensive here compared to the US, but it’s one of those things that makes you feel more at home.

I also feel more at home now because I have girl friends from school and no longer have to go places alone all the time. Today we took a city bus an hour outside of town to the world’s second largest Jesus statue, Christo Ray. It was a good experience and there was a very nice view of the surrounding mountains.  The photo above is of the church in San Miguel de Allende, La Parroquia de San Miguel Archangel, at night. There was a wedding going on and I was was lucky enough to be outside as a bride and groom were saying goodnight. A mariachi band was playing beautiful traditional music as they made their exit. Mexico is a place where religion is omnipresent, which is much different than where I live in Denver. I am excited for tomorrow as new students arrive every Monday. I can’t believe how fast this week has gone.

Guanajuato_dQ_guitarist_with_mosaicSome things i have noted about life in Mexico either funny, frustrating, enamoring, or otherwise are: “machismo” in the men takes a bit to get used to, and it’s best to completely ignore. It is especially hard to camouflage when you have blond hair and blue eyes. There are “Perros de la calle”, stray dogs, everywhere! They are generally friendly but I wouldn’t pet them!  Things run on a slower time schedule, or none at all. Things will happen when they happen, it’s best to slow down and enjoy life. A ham sandwich with mayonnaise for breakfast is totally normal, and it is always a good idea to have small change if you are in public and need to use a bathroom, toilet paper’s not free!  I am having a great time and look forward to going to the mummy museum this week. Hasta luego!

See other Mexico Spanish schools

See Laura’s other blogs

Peru Study Abroad: My Great Homestay Family

Cusco_budget_excursion03By Courtney C., Guest Blogger and Peru study abroad participant


Now for a little bit about my family…..

When I arrived at the airport, my host parents, Belinda and Cesar, were there to pick me up with great big smiles on their faces.  I explained to them that I don´t speak much Spanish yet, but that I wanted to try to speak as much as possible.  They were very understanding and they have been very welcoming.  That first day they explained to me that to avoid a bad  case of altitude sickness, I needed to drink some coca tea and go straight to bed for a few hours, and so I did.  That evening their family had a huge family gathering because one of their nephews, who now lives in New York City, was coming in for a couple of days, so when I woke up I had a lot of friendly faces to meet.  The food was fantastic—lots of vegetables and some grilled meats such as chicken, sausage, and even slivers of cow heart of a stick.  It was all really tasty especially when dipped in a special sauce that they made with various herbs and spices.

My host parents have three children: Ursula (I think she is around 30 years old), Adriana (I think she is in her late 20’s), and Cesar (I believe he is around 20).  Adriana is married and has two sons, Augustine (around 2 and a half years old)  and Nicolas (8 months).  Adriana’s family lives in an apartment that is enclosed with her parents’ home by a big gated wall.  Ursula and Cesar live at home.

All of the food is great so far and I help by setting the table or washing the dishes after a meal.  I love to cook, but I haven’t had the chance to help yet because of my class schedule.  I have had many dishes that I want the recipe for for!

My bedroom is simple and cozy and the view is pleasant too as I can see some cute houses and the mountains in the background.  The only two ¨social rules¨ that I have found different is that you should always come to dinner with your shoes on as it is considered impolite to come barefoot, and in fact, it seems that the whole family wears their shoes at all times in the house.  I prefer to be barefoot!  But I think I can manage.  Second, you are not supposed to dispose of toilet paper in the toilet (this goes for all toilets, not just in my host family’s home), but rather in the trash can next to the toilet.  This rule is more practical than cultural because the pipes here are old and narrow and they can easily clog, although it is hard to get used to because I have been trained otherwise.

This weekend I am going on a trip to Puno and Lake Titicaca, so next week I will fill you in on my trip there as well as about my school.

Learn more about Peru Spanish schools

See Courtney’s blog posts

Learn Spanish in Sevilla Spain – Bella’s Spain Tour, Part 2 – Video

Sevilla_Enforex_School03Last week we posted the first of four great videos by Bella L., AmeriSpan Guest Blogger. After her Madrid Spanish immersion, Bella moved on to learn Spanish in Sevilla Spain. Check out her video below for some great perspective on the school and city!

See some other great study abroad programs

See Bella’s other blogs



Chile Study Abroad: Feeling Comfortable Speaking Spanish

Chile_Santiago_Programs_General_Spanish_Course_005By William P., Chile study abroad participant studying Spanish and skiing in Santiago

Today was my second day and I was still very frustrated that I was having trouble understanding even the basic words that I know I should remember from high school or that I know on paper.  However, at least I was starting to understand most of what the teacher was saying today as she spoke to us in phrases that an intermediate beginner would know.  I know that learning a language does not occur overnight but because I know I am not very good yet I realized I was getting very nervous in front of people and ultimately too scared to talk.  My nervousness would make me forget simple verbs and phrases that I easily remembered later but was stuck without words at the time.  It also is very difficult to conjugate verbs on the spot and while I may know it on paper, speaking them efficiently will take many hours of practice.  Therefore, I did not have a lot of confidence in my abilities at all today.

Chile_Santiago_Programs_General_Spanish_Course_002However, when classes were over I went on my computer and decided to chat with one of my friends in the United States that speaks Spanish.  He was more than willing to help and in our conversation online I found myself finally being able to put what I have learned to good use.  There was no need for me to be nervous behind a computer.  I also had the comfort of both my verb book and dictionary and with the lag of the Internet and the numerous other reasons for pauses such as chatting with other individuals, I could easily communicate with my friend online and fill in gaps that I needed.  I started to learn a lot better this way.  I also for the first time gained some confidence that I can do this.  Due to the successful conversation I was able to control my anxiety a little better and therefore was more willing to talk in Spanish to others.  I obviously have a very long way to go but today I just might have gotten over the hump of not being afraid to make mistakes.

Therefore I strongly suggest for anyone else in the same situation where you are very nervous and afraid to speak do to worrying about mistakes and being embarrassed, then find a chat room in the language you are studying and start off by writing online.  Better yet, if you know a friend that knows the language, chat with him as friends will generally be more than willing to help you out.  Writing really does lessen the anxiety and it is also a great way to learn.

I will continue to chat with my friends that know Spanish using my very book and dictionary to build further confidence throughout the time I am here.  It was a great idea for me and I think it is a good idea for everyone providing of course you make the effort to speak to other people afterwards.  I don’t want the computer to be too much of a crutch for me  but I think as long as I make the effort to also speak the language here in the City, the computer is a good way to continue to lessen Spanish anxiety!

Read William P.’s blogs

See AmeriSpan’s Santiago Spanish schools

Check out AmeriSpan’s Language and Fun programs

New York Times: “Old Montreal, Newly Hip”

Montreal_buildingWant to study French in a posh city closer to home? Many major cities feature an “old town” or “old city” that undergoes the occasional renaissance period, and Old Montreal is currently experiencing a very fashionable period, so says New York Times Travel writer Michael Kaminer.

Rue St. Paul is now home to several high fashion boutiques, catering to a more fashion-conscious audience than the tourist traps of yore.

See the full article, “Old Montreal, Newly Hip”

Discover Montreal French schools


Spanish Study Abroad: The Dogs of Honduras

By Guest Blogger Liz L., Spanish study abroad participant blogging from La Ceiba, Honduras

In every third world country I’ve visited, dogs have been a large part of life. Dogs guard houses, dogs offer companionship and sometimes, dogs even provide food. Honduras is no different – every house has at least one guard dog and at any given time one can find a dog or two roaming the nearby streets.

Read more on “Spanish Study Abroad: The Dogs of Honduras” »

Learn Spanish in Madrid Spain: Bella’s Spain Tour – Part 1 – Video

Madrid_city11Guest blogger Bella L. recently returned from an incredible AmeriSpan trip to four different locations after deciding she wanted to learn Spanish in Madrid and expand on her immersion with a multi-site program. Check out her first video after the jump to see part of her experience in Madrid!

Find out more about Spain study abroad

See all of Bella’s Spain blogs