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Taking classes in Mexico is a great way to meet people and get an inside angle on local life as well as study the language, culture or cuisine. The country specializes in short courses in the Spanish language, and as the flavors of Mexican food gain a growing army of fans outside Mexico, cooking classes are becoming ever more popular.

In addition, Mexican universities and colleges often offer tuition to complement college courses you may be taking back home. For long-term study in Mexico you’ll need a student visa; contact a Mexican consulate about these.

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Oaxaca is Mexico’s cooking-school capital. Fans of Mexican food can also learn from experts how to prepare delicious dishes at excellent cooking schools in Monterrey, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Puerto Vallarta and even little Yambigapan.

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Many of Mexico’s most attractive and exciting cities are home to Spanish language schools, among them Cuernavaca, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, La Paz, Mérida, Morelia, Oaxaca, Mexico City, Monterrey, Pátzcuaro, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Escondido, Puerto Vallarta, Querétaro, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, San Miguel de Allende, Taxco, Veracruz and Xalapa. Many schools are private; some are affiliated to universities.

Depending on the school, you can study for any period from a few hours to a year. In many places you can enroll on the spot and may be able to start the same day. You may be offered accommodations with a local family as part of the deal, which can help your language skills as much as the formal tuition. In a growing number of schools, extra or alternative courses in art, crafts, dance, indigenous languages and in-depth studies of Mexico are also available.

Costs per week, with accommodations and meals included, can range from around M$2000 to over M$5000 depending on the city or town, the school and how intensive the study is.

Useful information is available from the National Registration Center for Study Abroad (www.nrcsa.com), AmeriSpan (www.amerispan.com) and the Council on International Educational Exchange (www.ciee.org).

For advice on Spanish language learning opportunities in Mexico, our Thorn Tree travelers' forum is a goldmine!

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