“Mon 2ème séjour au Guatemala a confirmé les raisons de mon attachement à ce pays et à sa population. Pendant la première partie de mon séjour, j’ai fait du tourisme “classique” en refaisant avec un autre regard, les grands sites archéologiques, Copán (Honduras), Livingstone et le Lac d’Atitlán. Ensuite, je suis restée 3 semaines dans une famille à Xela, avec 5 heures de cours d’espagnol dans l’école dirigée par María Antonieta, “INEPAS”. Une expérience tout à fait exceptionnelle auprès des Mayas, aussi bien dans la vie au quotidien que dans les cérémonies religieuses (avec encore des sacrifices de volaille!).
Pendant les trois premiers jours j’ai trouvé que l’adaptation était difficile: climat, nourriture et communication (je n’avais jamais fait d’espagnol à l’école!!!). Mais très vite ma vie “d’étudiante” s’est organisée et j’ai pris beaucoup de plaisir à vivre à Xela.”
Françoise Frapard, 64 ans. | France
“I just spent two weeks there. I have been to three other Spanish schools, but this has been the best. This place is for someone who is serious about learning the Spanish language. And, it was beyond learning the language. It was continuous discussions on various issues and I felt like I was taking college lectures in Spanish. I consider myself still a beginner but I was able to understand so well, as the topics were so interesting, and each of the teachers was genuinely interested in teaching. I made a tremendous progress in such a short period of time.”
Hisashi Uetake | USA / Japan
“I enjoyed studying Spanish at INEPAS for 2,5 weeks and was very surprised about the good progress I made. I started as a fully beginner and am now able to communicate as much as I need for travelling, even more.
The big advantage at INEPAS is, that it’s a small language school, which means there is more contact to teachers. It feels more like a little family than a school. The only language spoken in the school is spanish (including the breaks). That may be hard in the beginning, but improves the progress!
INEPAS is not only a language school but also runs social programs to support indigenous villages. We had very interesting discussions with the director of the school about projects, Maya culture and history of Guatemala.
If I’d come back, I’d absolutely choose INEPAS again!”
Gerlinde | Austria
“I had a wonderful time at INEPAS. When arriving in Xela I intended to study in a language school for about a week. At INEPAS I stayed three and greatly improved upon my Spanish skills. Also, living with a host family was a great opportunity to get a little bit of insight into the local culture.
The one-to-one lessons with a skilled teacher were the best lessons I’ve ever experienced. I had already studied in a language school in Cuba for two months, where the price was 6 times as much. At INEPAS I learnt at least as much in only 3 weeks.
In addition, the social projects that INEPAS runs are great. They don’t just talk they act. With the money earned from school fees they support Community Daycare Homes and scholarships for rural school students are funded. As a consequence, by choosing INEPAS you don’t only improve your language skills you also improve other people’s perspectives and quality of life. When I was looking around for a language school lots of them offered free coffee, free internet, etc. INEPAS talked about Spanish teaching. That’s why I chose INEPAS. I stayed there because the classes were very convincing and they made me feel at home in Xela.”
Christoph Liechti | Switzerland
“The team at INEPAS was incredibly friendly, professional and my Spanish came on very quickly whilst studying there and living with such an open, caring family. Afternoon and weekend activities and the odd evening dinner party were a great pleasure. Furthermore the very reasonable fees are raised solely to fund the social projects. I strongly recommend INEPAS as THE socially driven institution in Xela, and a class act in terms of service to its pupils.”
Dominic Busher | England
“Xela was the first stop on a 5 month trip through Central and South America. I’m one of those people who assumed they’d never be able to learn another language and came to Xela with a rudimentary knowledge of Spanish. After 4 weeks at INEPAS, I left with good, basic conversational skills. The language skills I gained at INEPAS allowed me to have experiences on the trip that would not have happened without them. The instruction is intense but tailored to your educational goals. If you can get away from your homework, INEPAS also offers terrific cultural experiences in the afternoons and on weekends. Now that I am back home, using Spanish at work, I thank the folks at INEPAS for helping me find my inner Spanish speaker.”
Bret Nelson | USA
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at INEPAS. I improved my Spanish greatly as all the students interacted with each other and the teachers. Previously I had been to Granada, Spain where I took Spanish in a class with 7 other people. However, the one-on-one classes at INEPAS proved to be much more intense and valuable. The interaction with the teacher is constant and I could determine the pace. They keep track of your advancement and focus on the topics you are interested in. Not only did I improve my Spanish, but I improved my knowledge about Guatemala as well. There were afternoon meetings in which we discussed the history and politics of the country. I also did volunteer work for INEPAS at one of the local daycare centers, (Community Nurseries) which was hard work, but worth every minute of my time. The children showed an eagerness to learn and this made us even more enthusiastic. INEPAS provides guidance and information about the community in which you are placed before you start working. The entire trip to Guatemala turned out to be wonderful and INEPAS played a big role in that.”
Lonneke van der Burgt | Netherlands
“J’ai pris 6 semaines de cours à INEPAS, et j’en garde un excellent souvenir. Tout d’abord l’école m’a permis d’acquérir le niveau d’espagnol requis pour participer à un projet dans le domaine des Droits de l’Homme, au Guatemala, qui me tenait à cœur. Les cours étaient à la fois intenses et stimulants, de part la variété des exercices (grammaire, vocabulaire, …), des activités et des thèmes abordés. Aussi, les professeurs font preuve d’une grande souplesse. Par exemple, les jours où je saturais de la grammaire et de la conjugaison, le professeur me proposait d’aller acheter le journal, ou une ballade, et nous favorisions la conversation.
Aussi, INEPAS, par le biais de ses conférences mais aussi en échangeant au quotidien avec les membres de l’équipe, m’a beaucoup appris sur la situation actuelle du Guatemala, son contexte historique, économique, … Enfin, toute l’équipe était vraiment sympa, et combinait très bien le sérieux de l’étude et la décontraction lors des activités ou des sorties. J’avais choisi la formule d’hébergement en famille d’accueil, et je ne l’ai pas regretté, tant la famille qui m’a reçu était agréable et chaleureuse. En conclusion, je ne peux que recommander INEPAS et ses programmes, qui sont une très bonne façon d’apprendre l’espagnol, et de s’immerger dans la culture guatémaltèque.
Armelle Failleres | France
“I came to INEPAS after having studied Spanish in a university in the United States, as well as another school in Guatemala, and I can say without a doubt my short time at INEPAS was the best. I wish I had found the school earlier. My instructor was extremely professional and thorough in his instruction – we did not leave a topic to start something new until it had been established that I understood, and we often reviewed past topics to reinforce them. In this manner I never felt like we were just blindly rushing forward from topic to topic. His assessment also revealed several grammatical problems that needed to be fixed, which actually solved a lot of issues I had been running into while speaking. I gained a lot of confidence, and also learned some small exercises I can do independently to keep in practice.
Since I was only in class for 2 weeks, I was not able to participate in the volunteer projects. However after meeting and talking with one of the volunteers, as well as with the school’s director and several staff members, it became clear to me that INEPAS is actually a social service program, with the Spanish school being used to support the social programs. This means that INEPAS is very serious about creating positive change in the community…a lot of schools say they have social programs and volunteer opportunities, but very few have anything close to the scope and seriousness of purpose that INEPAS does. Whether you volunteer or study, your money is going back into the community in the most positive way possible, which was very important to me.
Lastly, I never felt like I was treated like a commodity – a lot of schools seem to fight over students, or are mostly interested in the students’ money. I never felt like that was the case at INEPAS. “
Kawai Washburn | USA
“I discovered INEPAS through my travel guide and decided to get in contact with the Director before arriving in Guatemala. I had found many other organisations offering volunteer work of various kinds, but I have no doubt I made the right choice in committing myself to INEPAS for my time in Guatemala. It has been one the best experiences of my 5 months in Central America, not just because I felt I had made a significant and lasting contribution to the incredible work that INEPAS does, but because I had the good fortune of working with the General Co-ordinator – Maria Antonieta. She is an amazingly talented, knowledgeable and determined individual and anyone who experiences studying or volunteering with INEPAS will take away much more than they expected. I was exposed to the country in a way which most people never will be on the traveller’s trail through this part of the world.
As a volunteer I had the advantage of speaking Spanish already, and I was able to get involved quickly with important tasks in the administration office and in the general running of the school. But it was the opportunity to learn from Maria Antonieta, the skilled and experienced teachers and of course the local community itself that made the time there so unique. Any good travel guide will tell you a lot about what Guatemala has to offer. But it’s only by investing time in an organisation like INEPAS that you will really live and understand what Guatemala and its people are about. For all those who want to experience what it is to contribute to genuine community empowerment projects – without a doubt INEPAS is the place to do it.”
Former International Co-ordination AssistantDominique Doyle | England
“As a lawyer learning Spanish for work and research, I found the INEPAS Spanish program perfectly suited to my needs. My instructor was well-matched to my areas of interest and the classes were always well-prepared, interesting and challenging. I have studied Spanish at a number of schools in Canada and Latin America and the INEPAS instructors were second to none. There were no ‘language laboratories’ or computer exercises-I spoke Spanish live, one-on-one, all the time. The school is excellent value. And I made some great friends.”
Peter Shklanka | Canada
“When I started at the INEPAS Spanish School my Spanish was very rusty. By the end of my studies, I had learned a lot, not only about the language, but also about the culture! My teacher took the necessary time to find out my strengths and weaknesses so he could teach me accordingly. He was very good at finding topics of my interest and made me talk and write a lot. It was really easy to get to know everyone at INEPAS, since teachers and staff participated in the activities and everyone was really friendly. We went hiking, biking and dancing. We cooked and made music and most of all talked and laughed.
I also participated in one of INEPAS’s social projects, as part of the Service Learning Program. I began working as a volunteer teacher in one of the Community Daycare Homes. These were truly intense weeks, far off the beaten tourist track, where an orange is a treasure and the children take off their shoes to run because they are so worn out. It was not easy to teach the children (especially in Spanish!!), however it was a very rewarding experience. I don’t think I’ve ever been hugged so much in my life! While working in this rural region of Guatemala, I had the chance to get an inside look at a small community and its way of life. These weeks were the most important part of my whole time in Central America. “
Christina Matschke | Germany
“We chose INEPAS because of the school’s links to local communities and its social support programmes. We wanted to learn about Guatemala and its people, as well as the language. We had a great experience – going for a week and ending up staying for nearly a month. Though I could already speak some Spanish, Rob couldn’t speak a word, and after our time at INEPAS he could get by on his own – definitely worth all the effort. It gave us a great start to our trip, and we got so much more out of our travels knowing the language and also understanding some of the history of the region. We thoroughly recommend Inepas and everyone there”.
Phillippa Caswell and Robert Keynes | England
“As a native speaker of Portuguese, I acknowledge that Spanish may bear some similarities to my native language. However, the fact remains that I arrived at INEPAS without having ever had a single class in Spanish, and after two months of accelerated study I achieved working proficiency. In addition to its academic excellence, at INEPAS I also greatly profited from the opportunity to engage myself in the institution’s language and social aid programs’ administration.
Regarding the language school, I was exposed to how INEPAS works to select only well-certified Spanish professors and how after more than a decade in business it has developed trusting relations with the local families that provide home-stay to international students. My personal experience was particularly positive; I had as teachers two law students in their final years of education and a mid-career journalist, all of them certified Spanish teachers.The family with whom I stayed not only lived close to the INEPAS office, but also made me a part of their life, including cousin’s birthdays, out-of-town short-trips, school music presentations and group readings with friends.
Based on my experience of the social aid program, both in the Quetzaltenango office and in the highland’s communities, I could assess the comprehensiveness of INEPAS’ grassroots activities. INEPAS provides both pro bono social and legal guidance to low-income households, and material and technical support to fifteen Computer Labs spread across nearby villages. It also successfully runs four community daycare centers in rural communities in the highlands, and it fundraises and manages a scholarship aid program that keeps poor students—who otherwise would need to drop their education in order to work—in high-school and college.
Finally, through INEPAS’ direction and Quetzaltenango staff I was able to network with local personalities who provided me with valuable insights into Guatemala’s political life. While in Quetzaltenango, under the orientation of one of INEPAS’ professors and professional journalists, I was able to publish an article in one of the city’s main political magazines. Back in the US I had enough material to not only publish a press release about Guatemala’s 2007 presidential race, but also to handle the challenge of being an invited analyst discussing Guatemala’s first-round election on Voice of America’s morning news, in Spanish of course.
Thus, based on the quality of the language program, the importance of the social aid programs and the helpfulness of the director and staff, I am more than pleased to recommend INEPAS as a place to both study Spanish and volunteer in Guatemala. “
Thomaz Alvares de Azevedo | Brazil
“My first contact with INEPAS came about through its Spanish Language Immersion Program. Tired of spending my days memorizing the 300 most useful Spanish verbs or alternatively embarrassing myself while trying to order a taco, I looked into the immersion experience and decided it was the only way to truly learn a language.
Fortunately (for a variety of reasons) I attended the program at INEPAS.Choosing to participate in an immersion program was easy enough.Guatemala’s reputation for language schools certainly helped this decision along. Possibly the most difficult choice – without knowing anyone there at that point in time – was choosing the right school. I ended up spending a fair amount of time researching the different factors, such as location and organization, etc.
My final decision was for INEPAS. The quality of instruction is a vital factor when choosing a school. I chose to also consider other factors, such as involvement with the community and with social projects. According to these criteria, I came to the decision that INEPAS was where I would learn Spanish.It turned out to be a very good decision.
A few years after my studies at INEPAS I decided to return, but this time to participate in the social projets, as a volunteer. This experience is one which I will never forget. For me, it opened doors to a (world-wide) community of people attempting to take a less than perfect situation, and make something better out of it. What originally began as a short-term commitment of a few months eventually transformed itself into years of direct contact in Xela, and a long-term commitment to INEPAS from afar.
A long story made short – for those of you considering INEPAS, whether to learn Spanish or to contribute your time and effort to improving the situation in Guatemala through direct involvement – I can only say that the experience for me was personally rewarding, and has permanently enriched my life. I wish you the best of luck. Just remember to pack a few extra pair of underwear when you do go – the journey might last a bit longer than you had expected.”
Johnathan Branch | USA
“I worked with INEPAS for nine months as the International Co-ordinator. It’s difficult to describe in a few words such an amazing experience. During my time there, I realized how much can be achieved with vision and effort. INEPAS carries out incredible social work in the indigenous communities around Quetzaltenango. The experience offered me the opportunity to get to know these communities, and to understand and live in their reality. It is because of these people that I continue to give my support to INEPAS as an International Collaborator.”
Belen Garcia Amor | Spain
“After studying Spanish at a very basic level in other schools, I became convinced that one-to-one tuition was the way forward to be able to learn at the rate I needed. I did some research using the internet and found that cheapest place to do this was Guatemala and after looking through a number of Spanish Schools websites; I decided upon INEPAS for two reasons:
1) The website convinced me that I would make real progress in my goal to learn as much as possible.
2) I knew that the money from my classes was definitely going to the people who needed it most.
I studied from Beginner level I to Advanced level IIII and completed the course. What was great about the course at INEPAS was that they had an actual course syllabus, so my progress was recorded every week so I always knew how much progress I had made and how much further I would need to go to reach the level I wanted.
After I finished the course, I travelled for 2 months through Guatemala and Mexico and had plenty of adventures, which would not have been possible without knowing the language.
My Spanish now is at the level whereby I am currently reading Diego Maradona’s Autobiography (in Spanish of course!).
Although my original goal was solely to learn Spanish at INEPAS, I would greatly like to thank my teacher and María Antonieta, who showed me that in Guatemala, a knowledge of Spanish is only part of what can turn out to be a life changing experience.”
Andrew McLoughlin | England