I emailed about 7 schools in Quito, Ecuador to get prices and find out a little more about what the schools had to offer.Certainly seven schools got back to me… eventually!
Cory was heading off to climb some ‘Scary Mountains” or actually ” Scary Volcanoes” (5 of them in Ecuador). And although I enjoy a long walk…think Pacific Crest Trail, Oregon Coast Trail, West Highland Way, Hadrian’s Wall Walk, St Cuthberts etc. ok you get the idea, ‘Big Scary Cold Volcanoes’ aren’t my idea of fun!
So I thought trying to refresh some of my ‘long forgotten Guatemalan Spanish’ might be a nice way to spend a couple of weeks in the highest capital of the world. (Quito is in the Andes mountains, at an elevation of 2,850 metres (9,350 ft) above sea level).
In fact Cory was off to climb Chimborazo (6,268 metres) and it’s most interesting fact is that it is ‘higher’ or rather further up than Everest, or the closest ‘terra firma’ on planet earth to space. Ecuador’s highest mountain tops Everst on that measure, and it’s all because of the Earth’s funny shape. Everest only wins when measured from sea level. But if instead you measure out from the centre of the Earth, Chimborazo wins easily – and Everest wouldn’t even get into the top 20 mountains.
Ok back to the Spanish Schools, those I contacted were:
Atahualpa Spanish School https://spanish-school-ecuador.business.site/
Andean Global Studies Ecuador – https://www.andeanglobalstudies.org/
Banana Spanish School Ecuador – http://bananaspanish.com/wp/
Cristobal Colon Spanish School – http://colonspanishschool.com/
ISE The Instituto Superior de Español – www.superiorspanishschool.com
Spanish in Quito – https://www.spanishinquito.com/
Yanapuma Spanish Schools – https://www.yanapumaspanish.org/
What I was looking for in my school? A focus on actually learning Spanish, 1 to 1 with my teacher (not in a group), a homestay with a family with a private room, meals included, wifi and shower/ baño (no point in waiting for the shower after my morning run). Added bonus if there were free afternoon activities or the potential perhaps for a two-centre school to get to know another city.
What I discovered about studing Spanish in Quito and the Spanish Schools and why I finally choose the school I did.
- Some schools want to charge you for simply registering with them! So you have decided they are the right school for you and you are about to pay them hundreds of dollars and they want to charge you extra for the privilge of studying with them e.g. $40! (hmm i think not!)
- Prices of course hiked up if you wanted one to one teaching (which I did). I got the feeling that many schools were pushing for you to join in with a group class.
- A lot of the schools seemed to have a big focus on what appeared to be ‘Gap Year’ students, as they often included arranging trips to the Galapagos or Amazon, sort of semi travel agencies. They seemed quite ‘gimicky’ in what they offered
- There photos included a lot of 20 year olds having a waayhayyy ‘fun time’
Ultimately I decided on Cristobal Colon Spanish School – http://colonspanishschool.com/
- They were the quickest to respond to my emailed enquiry (Although admittedly the Director, Jose, kept getting my name wrong! Mady, or Oran, when I’d sent an email from our B&B email address?!?!)
- They were the first Spanish School established in Quito
- The director told me the name of the family that could accommodate me with my requirements of private room, shower etc and I could find out more about the family on the schools website
- They didn’t charge more for ‘registering with them’
- They only do 1 to 1 classes, no pfaffing about with ‘group lessons’
- There prices were very good!
I ultimately paid $140 per week for 4 hours/ 5 days a week of Spanish lessons (December 2019) and $17 per night to stay with my family with breakfast and evening meal included. Some schools were as much as $240 per week for classes alone, just to have 1 to 1 lessons.
What was it like at Cristobal Colon Spanish School? My host took me to the school on the first morning. She has received a message from the director to take me down at 9:15am on my first Monday morning. Then I filled in some paperwork and paid for my two weeks of classes and my accommodation. I was then informed that my teacher was Cristian and he was ready for me. I was surprised at this as I had been ‘promised’ a female teacher (not that I had asked for one) in the initial email correspondence and actually a bit annoyed as this because ‘the seed had been planted’ that I would get a female teacher, therefor this is what I had expected. (Attention to detail does in fact count for me!). Ah well never mind…
So first day classes started about 9:45am and my teacher got down to assessing my level of incompetence by chatting to me (in Spanish), then after the chat he had formulated a plan. This guy was slick and proficient in his profession and I was impressed with his quick grasp of my skills and coming up with a plan for my two weeks at school.
The school itself is on a busy street, tucked down a long corridor with a hostal above for those wishing to live in a hostal rather than a homestay. There are lots of little nooks for the 1 to 1 classes, a clean toilet and free water to stock up your water bottle. Around 11am it is time for tea-break and ‘pan’ (usually mini empenadas with pinapple jam inside, yum). The break was between 15 minutes to 30 minutes.
The school wasn’t busy as I was there in November, which is ‘winter’ in Quito. There were a few students when I was there but most appeared to be doing one or two hours per day rather than the 4 hours I had arranged. The benefit of shorter classes is that you will actually get your full 2hrs. I was happy enough to have the tea-break, just to give my brain a rest and get some tea down my dry bacteria laden throat, but essentially you are getting 3.5 hours of classes and not 4 hours.
Also time-keeping was a bit too relaxed for Mandy The German, I like to start promptly and finish promptly. A teacher arriving at Ten past, Quarter past and one day Half past 9 (traffic with building the new metro) leads to a grumpy Mandy The German.
Lessons were great though. As mentioned above Cristian kept me engaged, was patient, had a clear plan and had lots of ideas for going over the same thing until I ‘finally got it’ (sort off!)
p.s. I didn’t get my certificate! Perhaps I was too rubbish at pigeon Spanish!