Quetzaltenango, nestled between a chain of volcanoes and located at a 7,640 feet, is a small city with international flavor. After a few days, you’ll likely join the locals in calling the city by its Mayan name, Xela, pronounced ‘SHAY-la.’

Although many places in Central America offer Spanish schools, this is the place to buckle down and seriously learn. Guatemalans speak slowly and clearly, which makes it a lot easier to decipher words. Hundreds of immersive Spanish schools are spread throughout the town, making weekly courses prices very affordable.

Due to the high cost of new books, teachers make copies instead of buying new textbooks. The photocopy centers on almost every corner are a visual reminder of the large student community here.

Where to Study Spanish in Xela

The value for your money is incredible at the Spanish schools here. A Spanish tutor in the U.S. can cost up to $75 per hour of private instruction. In Xela, most schools offer 22 hours of Spanish instruction for a standard price of $150. Even better, accommodation with a Guatemalan family and home-cooked meals are included with the price of your tuition.

Miguel Angel Asturias Spanish School

The teachers are incredible at Miguel Angel Asturias. They create a personalized syllabus on your first day, which always includes a healthy dose of conversation. They made a point of always correcting grammar mistakes, recommending Spanish books for your level and organizing afternoon activities that allowed us to practice even more.

Price. $150 USD per week, includes accommodation, 3 meals per day, 4.5 hours of Spanish instruction per weekday

quetzaltenango xela guatemala host family
Our host family in Guatemala.

Where to Eat in Xela

Cafe Nativos

This rooftop terrace cafe has the best nachos and wine. We enjoyed practicing our Spanish with the staff and illegally downloading movies over the blazing fast wifi.

Things to Do Around Xela

Fuentes Georginas, thermal pools

GPS coordinates: 14.8057743, -91.5345115 

The hot springs are worth a trip.

The 26 kilometer drive from Xela is beautiful.

The four pools will be crowded.

Kids will be screaming.

People will stare at you if you look like a gringo.

But it’s worth the cultural experience.

fuentes georginas baths hot springs

fuentes georgina cloud forest guatemala