For many travelers, the main reason for being in Cuenca is to learn Spanish. Noted by many as one of the better areas to learn Spanish – in part because of the locals slower pace of speaking (especially when compared to other Latin American countries) Cuenca is a hub for foreigners studying Spanish.
The city has dozens of great schools, including:
- Simon Bolivar Spanish School
- Si Centro Spanish School
- Andean Global Studies – AGS
- Nexus Lenguas y Culturas
We studied at Simon Bolivar Spanish School, and found that one teacher to 2 students was a great format for learning. The classes moved along at our pace, with the teacher able to spend more time on things we needed and skipped over other parts we knew, which is something that’s impossible in a larger class format.
Costs were surprisingly low – just $180 for the week for two adult, at 4 hrs per afternoon (our daughter sat in on the classes for no charge). This works out to just $4.50 per hour, per person. This is fairly typical, although the costs will be significantly higher if your teacher travels to your home. Located just off Parque Calderon, you can skip out to one of the many cafes/bakeries on one of the afternoon breaks, or simply take a quick stroll through the Parque.
We brought a few books with us – but not enough – its nearly impossible to get English books here in Ecuador. Well, truth be told, there are a few book stores – here in Cuenca, and a few both in Guayaquil and Quito, but the selection certainly isn’t what I’m used to.
Also we were using Rosetta Stone before moving to Ecuador, and continue to use the course. Although much of the vocabulary didn’t stick (like we hoped) it really helped us to get a “feel” for the language – its flow and general sounds.
This really helped us on our arrival and in the Spanish classes. That being said, it might have helped us more, if we weren’t so busy with preparing to move abroad – selling everything we owned including our home, business, and all of our stuff, with the exception of 6 bags of checked luggage and our carry-on electronics. Given more time, I think we could have come with much more Spanish – the Rosetta Stone format is very good. It works on the premise of complete immersion. There is no English in the course – you learn everything in Spanish. And although it sounds overwhelming and quite possibly impossible – it really isn’t. The one point of note – be sure to order Latin American Spanish – otherwise you’ll arrive talking like you’re from the “old country” (Spain) and although you might be understood, you’ll also raise a few eyebrows.
Here is the complete list of books and courses we used to learn Spanish.
We’ve arranged for you to receive a free trial of Pimsleurs with Audible, to see if this is a good learning format for you. Might be worth a try – its free after all!
After we arrived, an Ecuadorian friend recommended Madrigals Magic Key to Spanish and loaned us a copy. Since then, everyone (every gringo at least) tells us how much that book has helped them. So its been ordered from Amazon.com and is coming with Canadian friends in February. There really is nothing like a personal copy that can be truly studied.
Along with all these different ways of learning, immersion has been our best teacher. We have been involved in a significant amount of volunteer work and this has improved our Spanish more than anything else. After just over 4 months, we are really surprised with our level of comprehension and ability to communicate. Still a long way to go, but we aren’t nearly as mute as when we first arrived.