Taking Spanish Classes at Universidad EAFIT

EAFIT entrance on east side of campus, close to the Languages office
EAFIT entrance on east side of campus, close to the Languages office
EAFIT entrance on east side of campus, close to the Languages office
EAFIT entrance on east side of campus, close to the Languages office

Universidad EAFIT offers the largest Spanish language program for foreigners in Medellín with over 500 students each year. The school touts its program as the largest Spanish language program for foreigners in Colombia.

I have been taking Spanish classes at Universidad EAFIT for almost a year now and highly recommend the program.

Since I am studying Spanish at EAFIT this also enabled me to receive a Colombian student visa good for a year, which I received in August last year.

With the student visa, I am no longer limited to the six months per year restriction which comes with the tourist visa. I can now stay for a full year.

Building 31, where to enroll for EAFIT’s Spanish program
Building 31, where to enroll for EAFIT’s Spanish program

Last year, I prepaid for six Spanish classes at EAFIT and applied for a student visa.

The detailed process I followed for my Colombian student visa I received last year is documented in the comments to How to Get a Colombian Student Visa.

Mapping EAFIT’s program to Common European Framework
Mapping EAFIT’s program to Common European Framework

The Spanish program at EAFIT

The Spanish classes at EAFIT follow the Cervantes Institute Common European Framework for learning Spanish. The Spanish program at EAFIT has 14 levels.

Each Spanish class level at EAFIT is 38 hours and is taught in either an intensive four-hour per day format or a semi-intensive two-hour per day format.

Intensive Spanish classes

  • Classes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Monday to Friday
  • Four hours a day for a total of 38 hours over two weeks

Semi-Intensive Spanish classes

  • Classes from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Monday to Friday
  • Two hours a day for a total of 38 hours over four weeks

The number of students in the Spanish program at EAFIT fluctuates from month to month. Currently there are nearly 50 students in the program. Since the school is offering 14 levels in intensive and semi-intensive formats, not every level is necessarily available each month.

The number of participants per class ranges from two to 10 students. EAFIT reserves the right to not offer a class when it does not have the minimum number of students required.

For example, the last Spanish class I completed at EAFIT was the semi-intensive level 8 class as I had to skip level 7, as it wasn’t offered that month. I am now enrolled in the level 7 semi-intensive class.

Typical classroom for Spanish classes at EAFIT
Typical classroom for Spanish classes at EAFIT

My experience at EAFIT

I am currently taking my sixth class in EAFIT’s Spanish program.

When I enrolled in the Spanish program last year I took a free placement test, which put me initially in EAFIT’s Spanish level 3 class. You don’t have to start out in the level 1 class if you already know some Spanish.

I have to occasionally travel for my US-based job so I have been taking Spanish classes at EAFIT every other month for nearly a year. I normally take a class one month then skip a month to enable traveling for work.

EAFIT’s campus in Medellín is a nice green campus with many conveniences including a food court with several restaurants/cafes, one of the largest libraries in Colombia, gym, swimming pool, bank, travel agency and medical center.

All the Spanish classes I have taken at EAFIT have been in Building 11, on the west side of EAFIT’s campus. The classrooms are small and outfitted with laptops, televisions, whiteboards and air-conditioning plus the building has free WiFi available.

My six Spanish classes at EAFIT so far have only had two to four students in each class, much fewer than the maximum of 10 students which EAFIT indicates is the maximum class size. This small class size enables more individual attention from the teachers.

My experience is that it takes an additional one to two hours of study outside of class per day in addition to two hours in class daily for the semi-intensive classes. Since I live in Belén, where few speak English, I am able to practice what I learn in class on a daily basis.

The combination of taking Spanish classes at EAFIT, immersion by living in Medellín, having a Colombian girlfriend and using Spanish daily definitely has helped me accelerate my learning Spanish.

Building 11, where EAFIT Spanish classes are taught
Building 11, where EAFIT Spanish classes are taught

Calendar of 2014 Spanish classes

EAFIT has classes throughout the year, which start on a regular basis. The university doesn’t have class during holidays, which are frequent in Colombia. The Spanish program also shuts down from early December to mid-January.

The following is the schedule of EAFIT’s Spanish classes for the remainder of the year:

EAFIT’s 2014 Spanish class schedule
EAFIT’s 2014 Spanish class schedule


Each Spanish class at EAFIT currently costs 910,000 pesos ($484).   You can receive a 7 percent discount if you pay in advance for six classes or a 3 percent discount if you pay in advance for two classes.

Class material is not included in the class cost and the series of books for the Spanish classes are sold in the bookstore on the EAFIT campus.

The most recent set of books I purchased is entitled Maravillas del Español volume 3 (includes a text book and work book), which is used in EAFIT’s Spanish class levels 6, 7 and 8. The cost for volume 3 was 110,000 pesos ($58).

EAFIT’s Luis Echavarría Villegas Library
EAFIT’s Luis Echavarría Villegas Library

More about Universidad EAFIT

Universidad EAFIT is a private Colombian university based in Medellín. The university was established in 1960 by a group of business leaders in the city to establish an academic institution focused on business administration.

The university now offers programs in five schools: Management; Sciences and Humanities; Economics and Finance; Engineering and Law. The university has over 11,000 students.

EAFIT offers 19 undergraduate programs, three doctorates, 21 master’s degree programs and more than 60 graduate certificate programs, as well as continuing education programs, language courses and more. The university also has satellite campuses in Bogotá, Pereira and Rionegro.

Universidad EAFIT was recently ranked #77 in a list of the best universities in Latin America according to the 2014 QS Latin America University Rankings, moving up from being ranking #89 in 2013.

How to get to EAFIT

Universidad EAFIT’s campus in Medellín is conveniently located in the Aguacatala barrio of El Poblado, near the Aguacatala metro station.

Building 11 on the on the west side of the EAFIT campus, where all of the EAFIT Spanish classes I have taken were located is only about a five-minute walk from the Aguacatala station.

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    • Hi Dan, yes, it works out to roughly 24,000 Colombian pesos per hour plus the cost of books. Each volume of the books are good for 2-3 classes.

  1. I took the free class then paid for a course. I found it so misleading and the fact that you could of sat in juan valdez with the work book and done it cheaper. I did a total of a day and a half before asking for a refund. Also 4 others asked for their money back and one tried a different teqcher. The teacher was good but the structure was rubbish. I have heard many bad stories and all reccomended UPB but I have yet to try that. Maybe doing all their courses or maybe their structure has changed?

    • In my experience in taking six classes at EAFIT, only one student dropped out of one of my classes and I believe it was due to him being in over his head in a higher level than he should have been in.

      My teachers at EAFIT have all been good. The structure of the classes uses texts/workbooks that were developed by EAFIT. I don’t see how you could learn the language sitting in Juan Valedez just using the workbooks. The classes provide the opportunity to practice spoken Spanish and also learn by listening.

      Plus if you are not enrolled in a University Spanish program you can’t get a student visa to Colombia, which enables staying in Colombia for more than the six month restriction as a tourist.

      I understand that Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana’s (UPB’s) Spanish program is smaller than EAFIT’s program without as many students so it couldn’t offer as many levels as EAFIT’s program. Also EAFIT’s location is more convenient to El Poblado where many foreigners stay.

      The bottom line is that the combination of taking Spanish classes at EAFIT in a structured format, immersion by living in Medellín, having a Colombian girlfriend and using Spanish daily has helped me accelerate my learning Spanish.

      • Hey Jeff. When I leave the army I will be recovering a gi bill which means that my education and living expenses will be covered by the government. one of the stipulations of getting free education and living expenses is that the course must be full time and does this course end up in a degree or is it just how to learn Spanish. I’m wondering how this course compares to a normal bachelors degree.

  2. Hi,

    UPB propose to participe for free to some primary graduate class when you subscribe for spanish programs.

    Can you tell me about the relation you can have with colombian students to help you to be better in spanish or help you to discover Medellin and know extra activities ?



    • Hi Julian,

      Students in EAFIT’s Spanish language program can attend undergraduate courses at EAFIT on a no-credit basis, at no extra cost.

      EAFIT also has a Conversation Program that provides participants with the opportunity to practice Spanish on a one-on-one basis with other students and at the same time provides the opportunity meet people from different walks of life.

      I have no need for this program as I live in Medellín with my Colombian girlfriend so I have the opportunity to practice Spanish at home every day as she speaks very little English. I also have been living in Medellín for over three years so I know the city very well. In fact I sometimes act as a “tour guide” to my Paisa girlfriend who doesn’t know several parts of the city as well as I do.

  3. My experience with EAFIT is a few years old now – however poor class structure, teachers canceling lessons at the (very) last minute on a frequent basis, Classes consisting of watching videos, not starting of time, excessive breaks….. I stopped classes there for that reason and so did numerous others I knew of. Hopefully, as indicated by the article, they have improved somewhat.

    • My experience at EAFIT over the past year has been completely different than what you describe, otherwise I wouldn’t have recommended the program at EAFIT.

      In the six Spanish classes I have taken at EAFIT over the past year, I haven’t experienced a single lessen being cancelled, teachers have been more punctual than me and there aren’t breaks in the two-hour semi-intensive classes I have been taking. Each of my teachers has also clearly had defined lesson plans that are structured. And none of my classes has consisted of videos although some teachers occasionally use short videos as part of their teaching methods.

      In several of my latest classes I have seen the same students that are taking multiple Spanish classes at EAFIT like me and I received good feedback from all of them.

  4. By far, the most effective Spanish course is at Berlitz. Their course is completely geared for speaking” with less emphasis on the rules of grammar.

    • Berlitz looks to be expensive. In Colombia per their website the cost is 2,260,000 pesos ($1,216) per level in a semi-private plus class with 3-4 students or semi-private classes cost even more at 3,360,000 pesos ($1,808) per level with two students. I am aware that Berlitz has an office in Medellín in El Poblado about three blocks from CC Oviedo.

      My Spanish classes at EAFIT have only had 2-4 students in each and currently cost 910,000 pesos each.

  5. Hi Jeff,

    Do you have any information on what schools or universities in Medellin that offers Spanish classes on the weekends?


    • Hi Genalyn, I am not aware of any universities in Medellín that offer Spanish classes on the weekends. I understand the Black Sheep Hostel has Spanish classes with flexible schedules that may be an option. Nueva Lengua offers a Saturday program but only in Bogotá and Cartagena. In Medellín, Nueva Lengua offers individual private lessens. If you prefer a one-on-one approach then there are plenty of private teachers in Medellín that may be available on weekends.

      • I have been googling for spanish classes there but I am satisfied of the information I gathered in the web but I am considering U of EAFIT though. Also I’ve read your apartments posts and I was thinking If you know someone that would like to rent out a room.

        I am coming in Medellin on the third week of September. Will be working for a software company in Ciudad del Rio. I was offered a home stay living arrangements for US$650/month but i’m not really too too sure of agreeing to it as as much as I’d like to learn spanish I’d like to cook my own food.

    • Hi Genalyn, I understand why you are unsatisfied with the information about Spanish classes in Medellín found on the web, I also found it lacking when I was looking – that’s why I wrote about my experience at Universidad EAFIT.

      If you are looking for a room to rent I recommend looking at the CompartoApto.com website. This site has listings for rooms and apartments for rent, most of which are offered by Colombians. I am sure you can find something cheaper than US$650/month.

  6. Hey Jeff. How did you get a years student visa by paying for only six months of classes? Why wouldnt you need to pay for 12 months?

    • Hi Ryan, I prepaid for six classes and they gave a me a visa good for a year. I have heard this is pretty standard. I think there is a realization that a student isn’t going to take classes for a solid 12 months straight without taking a break to travel back to the US or go on vacation. The student visa is good for multiple entries into Colombia – when I enter with the student visa they don’t put a duration on the passport stamp like they do with a tourist, instead they write TP-3 with no duration.

      In fact you can’t take 12 months of classes at EAFIT if you wanted to as they don’t offer Spanish classes in December or for half of January – they go on break for about six weeks. I also need to travel for work so I can’t take Spanish classes every month.

  7. Hi Jeff. I’ll be moving to Colombia in January under the EAFIT Sharing Culture and Language Program and I’m looking for available nearby apartments for rent. Any suggestions?

  8. Wow! I really appreciate your very comprehensive post on this school’s program! Just a few quick questions as I delve deeper into my Spanish immersion research:

    1. Does the school assist with homestays if that should be something I’m interested in?
    2. Does one Spanish class correspond with one EAFIT level listed in the chart?
    3. Are their extra fees involved with use of the library, swimming pool, etc?

    Thanks so much! I look forward to learning in this wonderful city! 🙂 Keep the great posts coming!

    • I don’t have an answer about home-stays since I don’t have experience with that as I was already living in my own apartment in Medellín. You can contact EAFIT via their website to ask about this.

      Each Spanish class at EAFIT corresponds to one EAFIT level in the above chart. There are no extra fees that I am aware of to use the library, swimming pool, etc.

    • Just go to the languages office in Building 31 on the EAFIT campus and fill out a short application. They will also be able to schedule you in a short placement test to see what level is appropriate if you already know some Spanish. You can start any month they offer classes as they offer many of the levels each month. If you send an email to spanish@eafit.edu.co they may be able to send the application form to you electronically and would also be able to answer any other questions.

  9. Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for the comprehensive information. If you would be so kind to answer the following questions, I would be grateful:
    – It appears that I would be able to enter Colombia on a tourist visa (coming from the US), and, while in Colombia, the tourist visa could be converted to a student visa, correct? If yes, how long does this process take?
    – To confirm, classes are on a rolling basis? I am planning to be in Colombia in late August / early September, and could commence classes then, depending on whether a specific level is being offered?
    – In connection with renting an apartment, are apartment rentals month-to-month? What about security deposits?
    – If I would not obtain a student visa, how many tourist visits can be obtained back-to-back? For example, if the tourist visa is 90 days, if I leave Colombia on day 89, for example, could I then return for a second 90-day period? How many times would that be possible?
    – From where EAFIT is located, do you need a car, bike, subway, etc. to get to a residential neighborhood would apartment rentals would be available?

    Thank you so much!

  10. Hi Rich,

    Yes, you can enter Colombia as a tourist and get a student visa while in Colombia. The process to get a student visa doesn’t take long – you can use a visa service from Medellín and it will take about a week or so or you can travel to Bogotá and do it yourself. The two student visas I received the same day I applied in Bogotá. You can now apply online for visas and travel to Bogotá once approved to get the visa in your passport.

    Classes at EAFIT are every month and there is a schedule on their website: http://www.eafit.edu.co/idiomas/spanish-program/Paginas/schedules-and-dates.aspx.

    Technically you aren’t supposed to take classes without a student visa but EAFIT never checked when I went there even though I had student visas.

    You can extend a tourist visa by 90 days without leaving Colombia, which has been covered on this site. You are limited to 180 days in Colombia during a year as a tourist.

    You can find furnished apartment rentals that are month-to-month. We covered furnished rentals here: http://medellinliving.com/2015-furnished-apartment-rental-costs/.

    There are some furnished apartments available close to EAFIT. But EAFIT is next to a metro station so you could live elsewhere. Also there are several bus routes that go to EAFIT and taxis are cheap so there is no need for a car.

  11. This is a very helpful article, thank you so much for sharing this information. I have an additional question when applying for the student visa is there a policy where you have to pay half of the course upfront in order to get the one year visa? Or how does that process work, get visa then pay etc? Also if I am an advanced speaker and maybe at level 10 would that deny me a 1 year student visa because not many levels are left in the program?

    Thank you for your time

    • When I went for both of my 2 student visas they wanted to see a receipt proving that I had paid for classes in advance even though that isn’t listed as one of the requirements for the student visa. One of the agents said this is because of fraud they have seen with some folks applying for student visa but not taking classes.

      In both cases I paid for six classes in advance and received a full year student visa. Note you receive a discount at EAFIT for paying for classes in advance. The documentation I requested from EAFIT showed that I would take the six classes over a year period since I couldn’t take classes each month since I sometimes travel for work.

      I can only tell you my experience.

    • Classes start at a specific time. All the classes start at 9am — both the two-hour semi-intensive classes and the four-hour intensive classes.

      The cost per class is now 1,010,000 pesos with a 3% discount if you pay for two classes in advance and 7% discount if pay for more than six classes in advance.

  12. FWIW, I paid for three 2-week courses (to get the discount) and have just finished my first two Spanish courses at EAFIT (level 1 & 2), and so far I’ve been very happy with it. My first class had 5 students, and 2 of those guys left after the class, and us remaining 3 were in “curso 2” with a new teacher. I feel that both teachers (Jose & Diana) have been very good, although one of my fellow students preferred the style of one over the other. At the beginning of curso 2 I emailed Clara (the languages office coordinator, who is very nice to deal with) and requested a language partner. She quickly replied back with three names & email addresses of (presumably) EAFIT students who had put themselves on a list to do an English-Spanish exchange. I emailed them all and heard back from one, and she and I have now met 3 times and it has been a great experience.

    The campus is currently undergoing a fair bit of construction & updating. It’s my understanding that the former Idiomas (languages) office building is gone, and they’re now located in a tall building across the big Avenida Las Vegas from the main campus (it’s about a 5 minute walk between that office and the main campus). My classes have so far all been on the main campus, in nice, modern facilities. The library is also nice & modern, and the campus has a fair number of little snack shops & cafés. The café “Lolita” has very good coffee and is right next to where my classes have been.

    I haven’t decided yet if I’ll stay here past 3 courses. I’d like to visit some of Colombia’s smaller university towns, so I may take my next Spanish lessons elsewhere. I know that EAFIT has classes in Pereira, so that may be where I go next.

    • FYI, I continued at EAFIT and in a couple of days I’ll have completed 8 two-week intensive courses in a row (January – May). I continue to be very pleased with the quality of the teachers here, as well as the textbooks and other resources available. But now my brain is “full” and I need to work more on practicing what I’ve learned.

      I’m one of those people for whom book-learning is something much more comfortable and easier than in-the-streets learning, so I still feel weak on being able to understand what I hear native speakers say, and weak on being able to express myself. On the other hand, I think I now have a good foundation of grammar and vocabulary to build on, and I just need to push myself in conversation more (and I’m way ahead of where I was in January).

      A classmate here also took some classes at UPB, which he said seemed to be more focused on oral communication ability than the ones at EAFIT. He also liked the fact that he could pay by the hour there (so if you’re sick, or want to take a day off, you don’t pay), and he liked the teacher there that he had.

      One issue in both places: if you’re hoping to find group class rates, you need to be lucky enough to find at least 2 other people at your same level. I’ve been able to accomplish that here at EAFIT, but from what I’ve heard, it hasn’t always been possible for other students. For example, one classmate took an extra couple of weeks off after Semana Santa to travel, and when she returned, there weren’t enough students at her level to permit her to take a group class. When I inquired about transferring to EAFIT in Pereira, they weren’t able to guarantee that there would be enough for a group class at my level when I arrived, so I decided to continue in Medellín.

  13. Hi,
    I’m british and staying in rionegro in Feb, March and April. Any recommendations for institutions or tutors in rionegro, so I can learn Spanish?
    Thanks! Adam