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Spanish Immersion in Mexico

Updated on January 3, 2015

Merida, Yucatan: A Charming City to Study Spanish

Love Spanish-colonial architecture? How about swaying palm trees in the tropics? You may find that the city of Merida on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula is the most delightful place to study Spanish. My husband, Kurt, and I certainly thought so.

photo credit: wikimedia commons

Spanish Institute of Merida
Spanish Institute of Merida

A Blissful Two Weeks in Colonial Merida

A Magical Place

If you have ever wanted to explore a beautiful, tropical locale while learning Spanish, Mexico's Yucatan may be your best choice.

I suggest Merida, the capital of the Mexican state of Yucatan. Merida is only four-hours by first-class bus from the resort beaches of Cancun.

Merida is a colonial city, one of the the oldest in the Americas, and is considered the safest city in Mexico -- a point the U.S. State Department failed to mention in their April, 2010 warning against travel to Mexico. The Spanish in Merida is considered pure and lacks the heavy regional accents found in other Mexican locales.

My husband, Kurt, and I recently attended The Spanish Institute of Merida for two weeks of one-on-one instruction. I can not say enough good things about the experience. Here's a quick overview of a typical day:

1. Wake up in my private, air-conditioned room with its en-suite bathroom. Eat a hearty, Mexican-Caribbean breakfast prepared by the mother of my host family. Chat in Spanish with my host mother.

2. Walk to the bus stop to meet Kurt and take the fifteen-minute ride to the school. (We chose to stay with different families.)

3. Enjoy four hours of one-on-one language study with mi maestra (my teacher). Sometimes we'd walk to a nearby cafe to practice conversation skills over a cup of coffee. By the second day of classes, my teacher had my learning style figured out -- I'm a visual learner and she accurately pinpointed my strengths and weaknesses. And in one sentence she described the bedeviling Subjunctive Mode in a way that cleared a lifetime of cobwebs from my head -- I now crave every chance I get to practice the subjunctive. (In a nutshell, a subjunctive verb is used when doubt or uncertainty exisits within a sentence. Since the subjunctive is rarely used in English, its common use in Spanish poses a learning challenge.)

4. Break for lunch with our fellow students and "headmaster" for lack of a better word; the conversation was maintained in Spanish and the topics fascinating. Most meals were taken at Don Pepe's, an authentic Yucatecan restaurant located within the actual home of Don Pepe. As I chowed down, I could see within a roped-off area Don Pepe's living room, complete with sofa and TV.

5. A two-hour, one-on-one conversation with my guia, or guide, whose job was to correct my spoken Spanish as we visited museums and any other places of interest within walking distance of the school.

6. A return trip on the city bus and a refreshing swim before more fun and enlightening conversations in Spanish with members of our host families.

In short, we enjoyed our two blissful weeks in magical Merida. We can't wait to go back!

Spanish Institute of Merida - my recommended school

When Kurt and I studied in Merida, we attended the Spanish Institute of Merida. Check out their link.

This is Yucatan - Music to Dance the Night Away

I LOVE this video. Catchy music. A colorful slide-show of fascinating places found in the Mexican state of Yucatan. Enjoy! And if you love the music as much as I did, scroll down to buy your very own copy of La Maravilla.!

Spanish language Tips - How I improved my Spanish Skills

There are numerous way to learn Spanish fast. Consider incorporating the method featured here in addition to your Spanish immersion program.

Spanish Study Tools from Amazon

Spanish Immersion Poll - Mexico or Somewhere Else?

Cathedral in Merida's Main Plaza
Cathedral in Merida's Main Plaza

Pictured is the main cathedral in Merida, Mexico, Yucatan.

(photo courtesy of wikimedia commons)

If searching for a Spanish immersion program, would you chose Mexico or another Spanish-speaking country?

See results

Reader Feedback

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    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      The best way to learn a language is to do what you did and immerse yourself in it. Sounds like a brilliant idea. I travelled to Central/South America for work for 12 years, and decided to learn Spanish. It's now very rusty, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it helped me to understand the culture a lot more. I also enjoy the music. Excellent job, blessed.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      6 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This sounds like a great way to learn Spanish! My son learned Chinese by spending a year in China.

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 

      6 years ago

      ohh.. this would be good for my kids

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      6 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Mexico is some place I've still never been, but it's on my list. :)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Mexico is not for me, but you do good work with this lens, and I thank you for sharing.

    • lyttlehalfpint profile image

      lyttlehalfpint 

      6 years ago from Canada

      I am apparently a mono language kinda girl ... when I was learning French, I stopped speaking English, when I was learning Japanese, I stopped speaking English and French. My accents are atrocious! Great lens.

    • Showpup LM profile image

      Showpup LM 

      6 years ago

      Very pretty! I'd love to travel and see these things in person.

    • Joan Haines profile image

      Joan Haines 

      7 years ago

      Immersion seems the way to go. Mexico is gorgeous.

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 

      7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Love the idea, love the lens. We want to go to Santiago, Chile or Ecuador to learn it:)

    • katiecolette profile image

      katiecolette 

      7 years ago

      Oh what a fun way to learn a language - one-on-one language study must have helped you a lot :) I love languages- I speak 3 different languages and have a master's in Linguistics.

    • ltraider profile image

      ltraider 

      7 years ago

      I would love to immerse myself in Spanish Culture. Maybe one day.

    • profile image

      poutine 

      7 years ago

      I would have loved to do this years ago.

      But now, I can't travel.

      It sounds like a lot of fun.

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      7 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      Nice lens Joyce. Can't see that you're "squidoo-challenged" at all...I think you've been "shining us on!" LOL

    • Joyce Mann profile imageAUTHOR

      Joyce T. Mann 

      8 years ago from Bucks County, Pennsylvania USA

      @Spook LM: Thank you for your kind words and for reading my lens. Joyce

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 

      8 years ago

      Welcome to Squidoo and what a great start. I'd love to learn how to speak Spanish in Mexico. Blessed by an Angel.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      My niece went to Mexico to improve her Spanish. She raved about it.

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