Mexico's main language is Spanish. Many Mexicans working in the tourism industry also speak some English, often good English. In any accommodations catering to international travelers, you can get by with English. Still, it’s useful and polite to know at least a few words of Spanish – Mexicans appreciate you making the effort to greet with ‘Buenos días’, even if they break into fluent English.

Courses

Mexico has many professional, experienced Spanish schools, offering everything from short courses for beginners, with emphasis on the spoken language, to longer courses for serious students. Many schools are located in Mexico's most attractive and interesting cities, such as Oaxaca, Guanajuato, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Mérida, Cuernavaca, Morelia and Guadalajara, as well as Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. They present a great opportunity to get an inside experience of Mexican life, with plenty of extracurricular activities such as dance, cooking, music, excursions and volunteering usually available.

Some courses are geared mainly to college students wanting credits for courses back home, while other schools focus on travelers or independent language students. Some Mexican universities have special departments with tailor-made courses for foreigners (usually lasting between one month and one semester). Private schools typically offer shorter courses, from a few days to three months, with more flexible schedules and, often, smaller classes.

The website 123 Teach Me (www.123teachme.com) offers listings of over 70 language schools in Mexico.

The National Registration Center for Study Abroad (www.nrcsa.com), CIEE (www.ciee.org), AmeriSpan (www.amerispan.com) and Spanish Abroad (spanishabroad.com) are among US-based organizations offering a range of study programs in Mexico.

Costs

  • A typical rate for group classes in private schools is around US$14 to US$20 per hour.
  • Most schools offer a choice of living options, including homestays, apartments and their own student accommodations. Homestays are often the cheapest option (typically around US$150 to US$170 per week for your own room in a family's home and two meals a day).
  • All up, 25 hours of classes per week, plus homestay accommodation and meals, averages around US$370 to US$470.
  • Some schools charge extra for enrollment and registration and/or materials.