Medellin may be one of the most pleasant places in South America to study Spanish, and there are numerous schools and courses available. Whether one is a visitor or a part-time resident, anyone can benefit from improving Spanish with formal lessons. When I first visited Medellin the first thing I noticed was that very few resident Colombians spoke English. That may have been due to the fact that few tourists visited the city previously, and Medellin was just emerging as a travel destination. In any case, I knew I would have to improve my Spanish to enjoy this amazing city.
EAFIT University: Spanish Courses in a Campus Setting
When I decided to make Medellin my home the next year, I knew that I was going to find a way to take my Spanish to the next level. I looked around and decided on a semester long course at EAFIT University, one of the best colleges in Colombia. EAFIT offers different levels of Spanish courses for foreigners, and they give a short test to see where you fit the best. Classes were reasonably priced, and by enrolling there were student discounts available on food and supplies.
I ended up in a beginning intermediate class since I already had some Spanish skills. The teachers were young and enthusiastic, blending the history and culture of Medellin to keep the lessons interesting. We listened to Colombian pop music and films to refine our ear for the unique accent and vocabulary of the country. Colombian Spanish may be one of the easiest accents to understand for foreigners since they speak in a slow, measured cadence. Although the teachers all spoke English, they rarely translated and taught the whole class in Spanish. I had classmates from the United States, France, Germany and Japan so the dynamic in class was truly international in flavor.
The Social and Cultural Benefits
The campus is relaxed and spacious, with a modern, multi-story library of glass and stone that makes for the perfect study spot. One great advantage of studying Spanish at EAFIT was that one could attend other courses being taught to practice listening to the professors. It is a challenge listening to fast spoken Spanish on a complex topic like politics, but it presented a great opportunity to be a part of the campus life. Of course, just like all residents of Medellin the students were welcoming, and willing to invite foreign students on any social occasion. As a result, I made many new friends and felt quickly at home. This may be one of the real advantages of studying in a University setting, compared to a private language school where the only students are foreigners.
Medellin is famous for its weather and the spectacular city setting, surrounded by green mountain hillsides. When you add the exciting nightlife, shopping and many excellent restaurants it is hard to imagine a better place to study Spanish. Some students like myself often decide to stay, and become a part of this vibrant community.