Bogota is Colombia’s capital and its largest city, making it a natural-enough base for many a student of Spanish. The main downside of staying long-term in Bogota is that the weather isn’t among Colombia’s greatest, but plenty of expats still rave about how enjoyable life is in the city. That’s largely thanks to the fact that Bogota offers all the major trappings you’d expect of a big urban centre: in other words, a dizzying array of places to eat, shop, drink, dance and enjoy yourself.
Aside from all that, Colombia’s capital is also home to the country’s largest concentration of expat staff, English teachers, volunteers, and long-term backpackers. The higher number of foreigners means that there is more demand for Spanish tuition here than in much of the country and thus also plenty of establishments which have sprung up to meet it.
I’ve not personally studied in Bogota so can’t recommend any places to study Spanish first hand (though some readers have spoken to me highly of Whee Institute – a non profit school). Below you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the Spanish study options available in Bogota.
To share / request recommendations directly from your fellow students, please either add a comment at the end of this article or post in the Facebook group, Learning Spanish in Colombia.
Nueva Lengua – Escuela de Español
Nueva Lengua offers intensive Spanish course that include: 20 hours of Spanish class (Monday-Friday mornings); course materials; one hour cooking lesson a week; tasting of Colombian fruits and some other typical snacks; three hours of dancing lesson per week (Salsa, merengue, bachata, etc.); two hours per week of tutoring in group, as well as daily cultural activities in the afternoons (including trips to museums, excursions, conferences, sports, volunteering, etc.). Students can also combine their studies with a dance or music course, volunteer programs, as well as courses for specific purposes like Business, Medicine, SIELE exam preparation and on-line courses. All Nueva Lengua’s Spanish teachers are required to have accredited degrees in teaching, which includes at minimum 5 years of study, in addition to previous experience in the classroom. Classes cost USD185 for one-two weeks, with gradually increasing discounts available if you sign up for three weeks or more (going as cheap as USD120/week for 24 weeks or more). Private lessons start at USD24 per hour.
Universidad del Rosario – ELE
Our programme seeks to further foreigners’ Spanish learning through flexible courses that allow participants to develop their linguistic skills by interacting in real life contexts and social and cultural activities. The programme is designed for exchange students, foreigners interested in learning Spanish in an immersive context and foreigners resident in Colombia that are looking to improve or perfect their Spanish skills.
EAN is the first Colombian University to gain international accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) for its business programmes. The university’s flexible education model allows business professionals, who have limited spare time, to rapidly take Spanish courses and quickly acquire the necessary vocabulary, and cultural and linguistic tools needed to effectively and efficiently carry out business tasks.
Universidad de la Sabana
The Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures offers a high quality Spanish Program to foreigners living in Colombia. School students, university and college students, young people, adults, professionals and executives will find our courses their best option to improve communicative competences in the language and will have the opportunity to learn about the Colombian and Latin American culture. All Spanish courses are complemented with a great variety of cultural activities and extracurricular courses that enrich the experience. Participants are also offered flexibility in the number of weeks they want to study and the starting date of the course. Classes start every week on Monday.
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Class activities, individual study and the contents of the educational materials contribute to the development of the four linguistic skills (speaking, understanding the spoken text, reading, and writing) as well as to the achievement of the course objectives. Since we receive students of different nationalities who speak different languages, Spanish is the only language used in the classroom. Cultural outings and the participation in social activities are an essential part of all our courses. These give the students the opportunity to have first-hand experiences related to the Colombian culture as well as the chance to develop their linguistic and socio-cultural competences. These activities take place in and out of the city, as well as at the University.
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Universidad Externado de Colombia – Centro de Español para Extranjeros
Stressing the inter-relatedness of competency and broad cultural literacy, the courses are designed to provide non-native speakers essential tools to develop and improve their communicative skills in Spanish and also to promote better understanding of Latin American cultural heritage and the current context of Colombia. CEPEX offers students several choices: intensive and semi-intensive educational modalities, group and private courses, as well as the opportunity to attend seminars and lectures in the Faculty of Finance, Government and International Relations. Additional benefits include as small groups, thematic versatility and full 60 minute academic hours.
Classes designed for foreign people willing to learn or improve their proficiency level in Spanish as a foreign language. Courses last 144 hours per level, over a period of 14 weeks. Classes are held on Monday to Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 m. or from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Universidad de los Andes
The programme seeks to help students develop and strengthen their communicative skills while at the same time involving them in a critical reflection of the social and cultural practices of a multilingual and multicultural country like Colombia. Our programme offers various modes of study such as: semester, summer, intensive and private courses for groups and business people. Students can also participate, in accordance with their level of Spanish, in the courses offered by the University on a variety of academic subjects.
Universidad Sergio Arboleda
This course is intended to develop communicative skills at three levels: basic, intermediate, and advanced. We apply a communicative approach teaching in the class-room, together with homework exercises and projects to use what students have learned in class for them to be able to naturally communicate outside the classroom and fulfill their real communicative needs. Teaching is highly personalized as class-size is small. We also plan monthly cultural activities, such as visits to museums or other sites of interest, for students to put into practice what they have learned in class and have a meaningful learning experience.
Universidad del Rosario
This course aims to provide participants the opportunity to become familiar with the Spanish language in communicative contexts and to explore ways of working in basic interactions, and particularly in the academic context. In addition, classes will provide the opportunity to develop the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), emphasising production and listening comprehension as well as in the analysis and interpretation of academic texts.
Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Spanish classes run Monday to Friday from 4pm to 6pm. There are 6 levels, each lasting 2 months and including a total of 80 hours tuition. Following the Common European Framework, after taking these 6 levels of Spanish, the learner would acquire, approximately, a B2 level in the language.
International House Bogota
Our intensive Spanish courses are 20 hours per week in groups with a maximum of 8 students. The courses are offered at all levels and students will be able to stay for as many weeks as they like. If you already have some knowledge of Spanish, you can start any Monday. The course price includes booking, the pre-course level test, our programme of social and cultural activities (if taking place in the school) and access to all the school’s facilities, including free internet usage.
Learn More Than Spanish
You will learn extremely quickly with our highly-attentive style – our classrooms are designed for only 2 students per teacher. And we’ll provide all the materials that you need. We are situated in a great location close to the most prestigious shopping and entertainment streets in Bogota, well-served by public transportation and surrounded by proven accommodation options. Our roof terrace provides an opportunity to take a short break from the classes and to take in the views of Bogota. Twice a week our certified guides can take you to interesting places around Bogotá where you can practice Spanish with locals in a safe and friendly environment. These activities are free.
Motivated by the creative freedom inherent to our profession, but also in prospect of an adequate remuneration as linguistic and cultural mediators, we strive to provide our students with effective tools, fitting their needs and context, to comprehend the Spanish language and to improve their communication skills. Beyond providing guidance on linguistic matters, we are committed to familiarize our students with Latin-American history and culture from another angle, involving them in a critical reflection about ongoing changes in Colombia. ¡Habla español con nosotros! … and be Lenguaricha or Lenguache.
A non-profit school which aims to pay its teachers a decent wage while making classes affordable for its students. The school doesn’t use textbooks and instead tries to incorporate games or other activities into classes to make the learning process fun. Courses are given mainly in the classroom, but at least once a week the class is taken outside in locations, such as museums, gardens, or markets.
Glhee Spanish School
Glhee Spanish School open’s the door to our students to live an unforgettable Spanish learning experience of 100% cultural immersion. You can study courses ranging from 15 to 22.5 hours per week, or we can also arrange classes to fit your individual schedule. All our programmes include different activities, such us cooking lessons, dance lessons, theatre and cinema trips, excursions round Bogotá, talks on current affairs, ping pong tournaments and others. We also offer trips to experience local indigenous community life, volunteering, eco-walking, and sailing opportunities to see pink dolphins. Courses start from USD185 and private lessons at USD25 per hour.
And one just outside Bogotá…
University of Santo Tomas – Villavicencio
The University of Santo Tomas in Villavicencio offers full immersion language courses in which students not only learn and practice their Spanish, but they also participate in cultural and touristic activities. The University of Santo Tomas is a private University in Colombia with a high level of accreditation. There are two courses offered to students, an 8-week course where students will progress to the A2 level as well as an 18-week course where students will progress to the B2 level. Both include accommodation and social activities. Students will also be able to take advantage of the universities athletic facilities and library. We invite all Spanish learners to participate in this life-changing experience with us!
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Learning ‘Social Spanish’ in Medellin: An Interview with Violeta
Rarely do Spanish teachers embrace the philosophy of teaching their students to speak like a real native, instead of simply getting them to converse like some kind of living textbook. One of the few exceptions to this rule in Colombia is Violeta Bernal, a Medellín-based instructor, who runs an independent teaching outfit called “Social Spanish”.
Is Colombian Spanish Really the World’s Best?
During my time in Colombia, I was frequently told by local friends and acquaintances that Colombian Spanish was the “best in the world”. This was invariably expressed as: “yo no sé, pero dicen que el español colombiano es el mejor del mundo” (“I don’t know myself, but they say that Colombian Spanish is the best in the world”) which led me to think this wasn’t just an opinion, but rather an objective fact.