For many years, Colombia was not a destination that you’d really considered going to if you wanted to study Spanish. Not so anymore. Nowadays, more and more foreigners are making the trip to this South American country in order to perfect their language skills.
As a result, throughout the country, the number of schools, institutes and private teachers offering Spanish tuition has expanded dramatically, in order to meet the higher demand. In other words, if you’re planning to go and study in Colombia you will not be short of people willing to teach you.
Of the various options available, the general rule is that longer and more formalised courses tend to be taught within universities or language institutes. These are better if you’re serious about improving quickly.
If you’re just passing through Colombia and want to learn a bit of Spanish to make life easier as you get around, you might want to look into getting a private classes or two. Some backpacker hostels even run Spanish schools on site, so you won’t have to venture too far from the dorm room.
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Aside from the type of tuition you’re after, you’ll also need to decide what part of the country you want to use as your base. I have my own ideas about which is the best place to study, but you can also consult our community of Colombian Spanish lovers for their recommendations.
In either case, the aim of this post is to help you research which of the various options and locations might work best for your travel plans, studying requirements and budget. To that end, I’ve outlined below all of Colombia’s major Spanish study destinations and schools, for you to examine further at your own pace.
If you’re still unsure about which option to plump for, remember you can also sign-up to the Conversational Spanish for Colombia video course, where you’ll find interviews with teachers from several of the top schools. These might help you decide which one will best fit with your learning style and personality.
Studying Spanish in Bogota and Medellin
Colombia’s two largest cities are, not surprisingly, also the most popular places to study Spanish in the country. Both of them have so many studying options that I’ve split them out into their own separate pages in order to do them justice.
Your Options for Studying Spanish in Bogota
Colombia’s capital doesn't have the greatest weather, but some like studying here because it has all the trappings you’d expect of a big urban centre: plenty of places to eat, shop, drink and dance.
It is also home to the country’s largest concentration of expat staff, English teachers, volunteers, and long-term backpackers. There's high demand for Spanish tuition and plenty of establishments have sprung up to meet it.
Studying Spanish in Medellin: the City’s Best Schools
Colombia’s second largest city is smaller, more laid back and warmer than Bogota. Fewer expats live in Medellin, as there aren’t as many commercial opportunities than in the capital.
However, a steady stream of international students, digital nomads and the gringo party crowd means that there is still a decent selection of Spanish schools and courses out there.
If you’re looking to be elsewhere in Colombia, there are still plenty of Spanish studying options open to you in Cartagena, Cali, the Coffee Region, Barranquilla and elsewhere. These are all listed for you below.
Spanish Schools in Cartagena
Cartagena is the number one destination in Colombia for Spanish students who want to go to class in the morning, before heading to the beach in the afternoon. Nightlife is not as good here as in Bogota, Medellin or Cali, but you might not care too much about that if you’re happy enough chilling by the sea.
Cartagena’s main centers for Spanish learning include:
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, windsurf, and diving courses in Cartagena, 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 Tecnológica de Bolívar
Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar is Cartagena’s highest ranking private university, offering programs in Engineering, Economic and Administrative Sciences, and in the Humanities. It has numerous partnership agreements with top national and international universities. Additionally, its language center is Cartagena’s only academic institution accredited by the Instituto Cervantes, the world’s leading organization responsible for promoting the study and teaching of Spanish language and culture. We have created the Spanish and Cultural Immersion Course for students who want to learn Spanish while gaining a deeper understanding of Cartagena’s rich culture and history.
Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano – Caribe
We teach our class sessions with quality, dynamism and multiculturalism. Our groups have a maximum of 8 students per classroom and every lesson lasts 50 minutes. Courses are designed so that students develop their Communication Skills, defined as “the sum of knowledge, skills and individual characteristics that allow a person to perform actions”. This will allow the student to function effectively in the different contexts of everyday life. The course includes group lessons of 20 lessons per week, Monday to Friday from 9:00am to 12:40pm.
Babel International Language Institute
BABEL International Language Institute Cartagena offers a prime location in the heart of the walled city of Cartagena. The school has a large common area for students, with access to a library, computers, Wi-Fi, water and coffee. On the top floor there are terraces with an excellent view of the wall, the Castle of San Felipe, the Cerro de la Popa, domes of churches and the beautiful nearby rooftops. At the school, you’ll find all the information on cultural, tourist and adventure activities, as well as advice on what to do in the city and its surroundings.
Enforex’s Cartagena Spanish School
Enforex’s Cartagena Spanish school sits on a truly privileged location. Close to the “Ciudad Vieja”, the city’s charming and fascinating old town, your classes will be set in surroundings that will help you put the cultural aspects of the city into historic perspective. The school is also close to the beach, which means that after class you can go take a dip in the Caribbean. The school building is fully equipped with modern comforts including internet, a cafeteria… even a garden that is the perfect place for taking a break or studying between classes. In a beautiful city like Cartagena, we couldn’t help but choose a unique location for our school in an area that allows us to offer you quality service. This is an ideal place for you to quickly advance in your Spanish studies while immersed in Spanish-speaking culture.”
- Contact via website
Centro Catalina – Spanish School
Centro Catalina is even more than a Spanish school; it is also a cultural center in charge of transmitting to students all the historical and traditional riches of this wonderful region. Besides the cultural activities, the school also organizes some recreational activities, look for your accommodation either in host families or apartments as well as transfer from the airport to the hotel. The school proposes several levels of Spanish as well as different Spanish program that will adapt to your needs. The founders of Centro Catalina are from Switzerland all professionals knowing exactly what the foreign students really need. Therefore, they are accurately looking for the excellence maintenance of the best service and quality. The Centro Catalina team is composed by Spanish teachers from Cartagena and they are all highly qualified and motivated. Currently, Centro Catalina is the only school in Cartagena that can propose the preparation for DELE examination.”
Spanish World Institute
We offer semi intensive courses 20 hours per week, intensive courses 30 hours per week, as well as DELE preparation. Our Spanish courses are carefully structured; classes will include the functions of grammar, reading, oral comprehension, written and oral expression (communication) exercises, as well as cultural activities. Some classes will discuss various aspects of Colombian and Latin American culture and society; students learn the language in the context of our culture.
Spanish Schools in Cali
Cali is arguably the world’s capital of salsa music. The city is a popular destination for those language students who are as game for improving their linguistic prowess as they are to strut their funky stuff.
Fewer institutions and companies offer Spanish courses here, but there are still a number of institutions knocking around:
We are your go to place to learn Spanish in Cali. With over 25+ years’ combined experience as licensed educators that are 100% bilingual, we guarantee that we are fun and dynamic. Our mission is for you to walk away with confidence in your new language skills, based on a thorough understanding of Spanish grammar that will help you feel comfortable in your social interactions, as well as a meaningful use of the language in your daily life; offering a friendly ambience in class and out of it with immersion activities. We also help our students to contact salsa schools, volunteering activities and accommodation in town.
Universidad del Valle – Escuela de Ciencias del Lenguaje
Studying Spanish in Cali can be an unforgettable experience: Come, see, study and speak Spanish in no time at all. Enjoy the music, rhythm, diversity, nature, high academic standards of the Spanish for foreigners course at Universidad del Valle.
Classes with Leandro @ Iguana Hostel
Hello my name is Leandro – I teach Spanish as a second language. I have six years of experience in teaching, and studying Social Sciences. I worked for two years in Costa Rica, in international school “EF International”. Since 2008, I teach spanish classes in Colombia (from Iguana hostel). Classes tailored to your own interests, area or vocabulary you need.
Spanish School – Pelican Larry
With 20 Spanish lessons per week, you’ll make quick progress with your Spanish language skills. All of our school teachers are highly- qualified, experienced and very patient. Classes take place in the mornings, Monday to Friday leaving you plenty of time, free to explore Cali and Valle del Cauca! You can also combine study with salsa dancing lessons to make rapid progress with both.
Villa Migelita – Spanish Immersion School
We are an all inclusive Bed and Breakfast in La Buitrera de Palmira. We offer Spanish immersion for 2 weeks or 4 weeks, including those who have no knowledge of Spanish. Personal instructors who are one on one with our clients while staying in Paradise in the mountains. Wonderful service, food and accommodations.
Spanish Schools in the Coffee Region
Colombia’s coffee region has a fresher climate and luscious landscape. Fewer foreigners stay here for a long while so you’ll probably meet more Colombians if you study Spanish here. Not the best option for fans of big cities though; all the cities here resemble large towns rather than bustling metropolises.
Spanish courses in the coffee region are mainly offered in the universities:
Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira
This immersion course in Spanish as a second language is an opportunity for students from different countries to visit Pereira and immerse themselves in the language and environment of Colombia’s coffee region. The extraordinary beauty of the Technological University of Pereira, plus the vibrant and entrepreneurial spirit of our people, make the institution an attractive and unique destination in the region; a perfect balance between art, nature, environment, architecture and academia.
Universidad de Caldas (Manizales)
The Spanish for the World Program at Universidad de Caldas is designed for international students interested in communicating in Spanish and offers them the opportunity to achieve language proficiency within a communicative context. Sutdents will find: small groups which guarantees individualised instruction from the teachers; a program that fits the needs of the students; highly qualified teachers with plenty experience in teaching Spanish as a second language; and flexible schedules which fit students’ needs.
Universidad la Gran Colombia Armenia
Universidad La Gran Colombia Sectional Armenia offers “Sperience” – a real Spanish immersion experience that will help you to learn the different skills in an easy way and without altering your holiday or business plans. “Sperience” offers a variety of courses Spanish for everyone, regardless of your current level. It is designed for people who wish to learn the language and enjoy the learning process while sharing with native speakers in a cultural environment.
Spanish Schools in Barranquilla
Barranquilla is another beach city, which is famous throughout the country as being a party town. If you can tear yourself away from the rumba here are a couple of places where you might want to study Spanish:
Universidad del Norte
Part of being a Universidad del Norte student is taking advantage of everything the University and Barranquilla have to offer—culture, athletics, food, academics, and more. And the best is that you will have endless opportunities to meet and interact with native speakers taking part in a wide range of activities. Students can request free one-on-one tutoring with a native Spanish speaker. They will as well be offered the opportunity to be part of a Spanish conversation club, a great place to learn commonly used idioms, practice conversation skills and learn all about Latin American culture!”
- Contact form on website
Universidad Simón Bolívar
Our Spanish programme offers great possibilities to learn, speak and understand the language in authentic communicative situations. To do this, we focus on practicing the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) via regular, intensive courses. We also seek to familiarise students with some cultural aspects of Spanish speaking countries and in particular the Colombian Caribbean, its festivals, music and traditions.
Spanish Schools in Bucaramanga
A mid-sized Colombian city that hasn’t really taken off as a destination for studying Spanish. As such, the number of language schools remains fairly limited:
Universidad Santo Tomás de Bucaramanga
The Spanish course at the Santo Tomas University, Bucaramanga branch, is designed to help foreigners interact and communicate effectively with Spanish speakers. We encourage social integration among the participants themselves and with native speakers, in order to foster intercultural communication and the appreciation of other cultures, especially the Hispanic one. The programme is designed for students over 17 years without any language pre-requisites.
Universidad Autónoma de Bucaramanga UNAB
Course for foreigners and aimed at strengthening communication skills in Spanish as a foreign language through social and cultural activities. The methodology used is the communicative approach that allows the development of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing through activities in real context with special emphasis on the cultural component and fluency.”
Spanish Schools in San Gil
San Gil is principally a destination for adventure tourism which lies towards the Venezuelan border. If you decide to stay here a while, here’s one school where you can improve your Spanish:
Centro de Idiomas Connect4:
Advantages of studying at Connect 4 include: 1) Courses geared towards traveling and making friends; 2) Qualified experienced teachers with great conversational skills and fun methodology; 3) Well organized material to keep practicing; 4) Great value for money in Colombia; 5) Recommended in the Lonely Planet; and 6) Central location.
Spanish Schools in Leticia, Amazonas
Located as it is in Colombia’s heavily forested Amazonas department, Leticia does not offer a wide variety of places to study Spanish. You’d be unlikely to stay for months on end in this small humid city, but it could be a great place to have as a base if you want to combine studying with some serious jungle exploration adventures.
Amazon Spanish College (Leticia)
The College offers highly personalized courses of one to three weeks, starting each Monday throughout the year. Besides the standard and intensive courses we offer the possibility of combining your Spanish lessons with Amazonian studies, Brazilian and Colombian dances or visits to natural reserves. We also have volunteer and training programs which provide a great opportunity to interact with locals and practice your new Spanish skills. The standard Spanish classes are held in the mornings, leaving the afternoons free for exploration or participation in the college’s free cultural activities such as Amazonian handcraft, Colombian cooking and visits to local communities.
- Contact form on website
Spanish Schools in Socorro
EHE Spanish School
The perfect place to improve your Spanish in a short period of time as you can mingle easily with locals, and become fully immersed in your target language. We offer a family environment where daily interaction improves the rate of learning Spanish. We want you to feel comfortable, not just a place to learn Spanish. Our teachers and staff are so kind, dynamic and knowledgeable and the EHE atmosphere is friendly and welcoming. We offer Spanish classes for small groups of no more than 5 students, and you will also have a one-on-one class to provide you with the ultimate learning experience. We also offer cultural activities to allow you to practice your language skills and take advantage of Colombian culture, cuisine and daily life.
Note: The aim is for this directory to be as complete as possible. If you work for / have studied at school not included above, then please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add it to the list.
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Moving to Medellin? Here’s How to Do It
Medellin today has become something of a mecca for Spanish-language students, retirees, remote workers and digital nomads alike. The weather is great, locals friendly, nightlife lively and the prices still fairly competitive. The availability of decent internet, infrastructure and healthcare have all helped make living in the city a feasible option for people from all walks of life.
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.