Editor’s note: This post was updated on April 22, 2019. The original post was published on August 17, 2011.
It’s no secret that Medellin is a great place to learn Spanish. With beautiful weather, reasonable cost of living, and friendly locals who are happy to help you practice (especially in exchange for practicing English), why would you learn Spanish anywhere else? Taking Spanish classes in Medellin is a no-brainer.
However, it can be intimidating to show up in Medellin knowing little to no Spanish. Daily activities such as buying groceries, ordering in a restaurant, and taking a cab can turn into monumental tasks without basic Spanish proficiency.
Luckily, there’s hope. We’ve put together a list of the best schools for Spanish classes in Medellin. Whether you just want to get beyond Hola and No hablo español or are looking to pursue a degree in Spanish, there’s a school for you in this article.
Note: where possible, we interviewed the founders and/or staff of the school to give you the most in-depth perspective possible.
Let’s get started!
Having offered Spanish classes online since 2016, in December 2018, BaseLang opened its first physical school in Medellín. The company differs from other language schools in that it offers weekly and monthly packages with unlimited classes which can be booked either online or in person. The school also operates on an extremely flexible basis, where students can schedule, rearrange and cancel last-minute using an online portal. This flexibility is ideal for nomadic lifestyles, as participants don’t have to be rooted in Medellín to join the programs.
CEO Connor Grooms was inspired to start BaseLang after shooting a film about his experience learning Spanish. He soon realized there was a large demand from extranjeros to become conversional in Spanish in a short timeframe. As a result, BaseLang uses a non-academic structure, instead focusing on building students’ fluency and confidence. Classes are specifically tailored to each students’ preferences and tend to center on being able to communicate before perfecting all the small linguistic details.
All classes are one-on-one and students can choose from a range of teachers with a variety of accents and specializations. The school is located in Laureles, intentionally to avoid the tourist-feel of Poblado and to provide students with a more authentic Colombian feel. Inside the school, visitors can enjoy a ping pong room, cafe (serving free artisanal coffee), garden area and plenty of breakaway rooms.
Here’s everything you need to know about BaseLang:
Location: Laureles, Carrrera 77 #39-40 (and online)
All students with BaseLang have the option to take classes online or in-person at the Medellín school. The school is open Monday – Friday from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm, 8.30am to 12.30pm on Saturdays, and students can continue their unlimited hours online outside of this time. There are three available courses at BaseLang: the ‘Real World’ package, ‘Spanish in a Month’ and ‘Dele’.
As a widely-recognized language proficiency certificate, the BaseLang Dele course caters to people looking to prove their level of Spanish. Equally, the Dele course is great for students who prefer a more structured way of learning. Dele costs just $699 a month (a bargain in comparison to other DELE prep courses that exceed $1,000) or students can sign up for a test week for just $1.
Cost: $699 per month (roughly $2,182,840.00 COP) or $229 per week ($715,122.00 COP)
- The Real World Program
The Real World program is one of BaseLang’s most popular, appealing to anyone who not only wants to understand Spanish but apply it to everyday situations too. This course places emphasis on fluency and speaking without having to think, and ultimately, building confidence. Whether looking to date, work, make friends or simply get around, the Real World program is the link between knowing Spanish and interacting in Spanish. The course costs $599 per month for unlimited classes either in-person or online (and is the only program not available at weekly prices). Prospective students can get a test day for $1.
Cost: $599 per month (roughly $1,870,560.00 COP)
Grammarless is targeted at beginners looking to quickly progress in a short space of time. For a full month, students work with a specific teacher to identify strong and weak points in their vocabulary, and practice in real-life situations. Students with Grammarless have four hours of class a day, five days a week (either at the school in a location they prefer), as well as access to unlimited online teaching. The course guarantees participants will be at a conversational level of Spanish upon completion. (Note – BaseLang now offers a two hour per day version of Grammarless which is done over two months, instead of one. For the two-hour version, email email@example.com)
Cost: $1,200 (roughly $3,747,365.00 COP)
Get a $200 per month discount with any Medellín BaseLang program – simply enter the referral code “medellinliving” when you sign up.
To learn more, visit BaseLang’s website.
When Colombia Immersion’s founders opened the school in 2015, they were looking to provide an experience beyond the traditional classroom. As Avalon, Colombia Immersion’s marketing director, explained to me, the owners felt that there was a gap between the grammar students learn in the classroom and the Spanish that people speak in the real world. Colombia Immersion aims to close that gap.
How do they do it? As the school’s name implies, the focus is on an immersive experience. Classes are small, ranging from 4-6 students. This allows students and teachers to get to know each other and build a rapport that isn’t possible in a large class.
The classroom, however, is just the beginning. Where Colombia Immersion excels is in the opportunities it provides students outside the classroom. In addition to a weekly language exchange in Envigado, Colombia Immersion also organizes a field trip each week to a different location around Medellin.
These aren’t traditional tours, either. These are real encounters with locals, and they give students a chance to practice what they learn in the classroom. Furthermore, Colombia Immersion also holds weekly activities such as salsa and chocolate-making classes, giving additional opportunities for cultural immersion.
Here’s a breakdown of the details:
- Intensive Group Classes
- The intensive group classes consist of four levels: Beginner, Functional, Conversation 1, and Conversation 2.
- Each class focuses on getting you to speak the language and communicate with people, covering the grammar necessary to get you there.
- Intensive group classes are offered 20 hours per week, Monday to Friday 9am – 1pm.
- Each level consists of 60 hours of intensive class time.
- The cost is 550,000 COP/week or 1,980,000 COP/month
- Night Classes
- These classes follow the same curriculum as the intensive group classes, but at a more relaxed pace. They’re perfect for digital nomads or other people who work during the day but still want to study Spanish.
- Night classes take place Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9 pm in Laureles.
- The cost for night classes is 110,000 COP/week.
- Full Immersion Program
- The Full Immersion Program gets you everything in the intensive group classes, plus a weekly educational field trip and 5 hours of language coaching (practice with a native speaker) per week.
- The cost is 650,000 COP/week with a minimum commitment of 4 weeks, and a homestay is available for an additional 300,000 COP/week.
- Private Classes
- If you want to study one-on-one, Colombia Immersion offers private classes. They follow the same curriculum as the group classes and are available in packages of 5, 10, or 20 hours per week.
- The cost for private classes is 550,000 COP for 10 hours.
- If you just want to practice conversation or want to supplement your classroom learning, then Colombia Immersion offers coaching.
- Coaching is not a private class, but rather one-on-one language practice with a local.
- The cost is 35,000 COP/hour.
No matter what course you take, the school will work to place you in the class that best fits your current Spanish level. Each week of each level is designed to stand alone, presenting new material and reviewing past topics. So it’s no problem to start in the middle of a course if you place past the first couple weeks.
To learn more, visit the school’s website.
OLSA (Official Language School of the Americas)
Next up on our list is the Official Language School of the Americas (OLSA). With over 20 years’ experience as a teacher and administrator back in the US, the school’s founder, Shane, has seen all sides of the education system. He founded OLSA to offer students a curriculum that has all the official cachet of an American university without neglecting the speaking practice and immersion that are so essential to fluency.
So what does student life look like at OLSA? As Shane explained, the goal is to engage students and teach them just as much about the culture as the language. He’s taken an American university Spanish curriculum and adapted it to be both more rigorous and more immersive. The ultimate goal is to partner with a Medellin university to offer students the credentials of a degree with the benefits of immersion.
Shane is adamant about keeping his classes engaging. The classes at OLSA use audio and interactive teaching, as well as a weekly language exchange and extensive trips around Medellin and the surrounding pueblos. Furthermore, OLSA is located in the authentic Colombian neighborhood of Estadio, away from the tourists while still being safe. The school is also connected to an authentic Mexican restaurant, ensuring that students won’t go hungry.
Finally, OLSA also offers English classes. In fact, they’re the official English school of the Colombian National Police and are working with a local military base to teach English to officers. This means that as a Spanish student you’ll have plenty of chances to interact with locals and practice conversation while hanging around the school.
Here’s the breakdown of what OLSA offers Spanish students:
- Accredited University Program
- For students looking for the rigor of a university program with the immersion of an abroad experience, this program is perfect.
- It includes accredited Spanish grammar classes based on Facetas and Vistas, two systems that are used by more than 100 universities across the United States for Spanish 101, 102, 201 and 202. These classes meet four days per week for two hours each day. As Shane explained, “Students can complete one three-credit semester of Spanish in one quarter (ten weeks). This gives our students the opportunity to complete two full years of university Spanish in just one year abroad at OLSA.”
- Additionally, the Accredited University Program includes Spanish Daily, “a Spanish conversation curriculum designed to help foreign students, expats and/or full-time students learn, understand and speak colloquial Spanish.” Spanish Daily has 3 levels that take students from the very basics of communication all the way up to advanced conversations.
- Finally, the program includes South American Cultural Immersion, which involves a different excursion in and around the city each Wednesday. The theme of the trips varies with the semester, but past themes have included “Medellín, Past Present and Future” and “Medellín, the Land of Adventure”. It also includes two 60-80 minute Salsa classes each week for eight weeks taught at OLSA by professional dance teachers.
- This series of excursions culminates in a week-long trip to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, where students will get to put their skills into practice exploring the beaches of Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta.
- Cost: The full Accredited University Program costs 14,000,000 COP, though each component of the program is also available individually. The tuition also includes placement with a homestay.
- Edu-Cation Immersion Program
- OLSA’s other flagship program offers travelers the chance to get the fun of a Colombian vacation with the personal and professional development of studying Spanish.
- This all-inclusive cultural immersion vacation includes 4 days of conversational classes, 4 days of salsa dance lessons with a dance partner of the opposite sex, and local excursions on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- It also includes a 7-night stay at a nearby hostel and provided lunch and breakfast.
- You also get Monday and Friday off to go explore the city and surrounding pueblos.
- Accredited University Program
- Cost: The Edu-Cation Immersion Program costs 2,000,000 COP for 1 week, 3,000,000 COP for two weeks, and 4,500,000 COP for 3 weeks.
- Spanish Daily Classes
- If you just want to focus on learning conversation and aren’t concerned about university credit, then OLSA’s Spanish Daily classes are a great option.
- As OLSA’s site explains, “These interactive conversation classes are an excellent choice for travelers, expats living in Medellín, and/or full-time university students looking to gain Spanish fluency in an immersive environment.”
- These classes will teach you the Spanish that you’ll hear and use on the street, taking taxis, buying groceries, and going out salsa dancing. They’re available in 3 levels, and you can start at whatever level fits your needs, taking as many classes as you want.
- Spanish Daily Classes
- Cost: Spanish Daily Classes cost 180,000 COP for 1 week, 345,000 COP for 2 weeks, 487,000 COP for 3 weeks, and 600,000 COP for four weeks. Each week includes five classes with a native speaker.
To learn more, visit OLSA’s website.
Toucan describe themselves as “the original Spanish language school in Medellin with over 7 years of history”. They have small classes and offer a variety of cultural activities, including salsa lessons, welcome lunches, language exchanges, soccer matches, and volunteering opportunities.
In addition, Toucan is also the home of a cafe that hosts weekly language exchanges. And through Toucan Tours, you can see the graffiti of Medellin, tour a coffee farm, and experience a guided coffee tasting.
Here are the details:
Location: El Poblado
- Intensive Group Classes
- These classes are designed to get you speaking quickly so that you can get out and experience all that Medellin and Colombia have to offer.
- Classes are no more than 7 students and are 20 hours per week starting each Monday. You can book as many weeks as you like.
- Since Toucan is the largest Spanish school in Medellin, they can offer classes to all levels at once, making sure there will be a space for you.
- These classes also include a free welcome lunch, a free salsa class, free tropical fruit tastings, free language exchanges, and other free activities.
- Cost: Intensive classes are 625,000 COP/week, with a progressive discount for booking additional weeks in advance.
- Private Classes
- Toucan offers 3 types of private classes:
- Private 1-2-1 Classes. These classes are just you and the teacher, allowing the teacher to tailor the course to your needs. The cost is 650,000 COP for 10 hours or 1,300,000 COP for 20 hours.
- Private “Closed Group” Classes. If you want to study with a friend, partner, or family members, these classes are perfect. They feature the same benefits of a 1-2-1 class at a reduced per-person price. The cost is 450,000 COP per person for 10 hours, 675,000 COP per person for 15 hours, and 900,000 COP per person for 20 hours.
- Toucan offers 3 types of private classes:
- Intensive Group Classes
- Skype Classes. If you want to continue your classes after you’ve left Medellin, Skype classes will let you do so. Skype classes are 65,000 COP per hour, 600,000 COP for 10 hours, or 1,100,000 COP for 20 hours.
To learn more about Toucan, visit their website.
All the schools we’ve covered so far are excellent, but they won’t be able to help you get a student visa. If you need that and/or are looking to study at an accredited Colombian university, then UPB’s Centro de Lenguas is an option to consider.
If you’re planning to study at UPB for less than 6 months, then they will require you to get a PIP-2 visa (unless you are from the Schengen area). You apply for this visa on arrival in Colombia by presenting an invitation letter from UPB to Migración Colombia. To receive a letter, you will need to complete UPB’s registration process. For stays longer than 6 months, you need to apply for a TP-3 visa prior to arrival in Colombia. More info on the visa process for prospective UPB students is available here.
When it comes to the courses, UPB offers a lot more structure than the other schools on this list. If you prefer learning in a traditional classroom setting, it will be perfect.
Here’s a breakdown of the school info:
- Group Classes. These classes have five levels: Beginner, High Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and Proficient. Each level corresponds to a level of the Common European Framework of Reference (A1-C1). As UPB’s website explains, “Each level includes class hours, academic tutoring hours with our pre-service teachers, and independent work. You can take 10 hours per week (semi-intensive course) or 20 hours per week (intensive course).” Group classes are 28,000 COP per hour with a minimum commitment of 20 hours and range from 3 to 10 students in size.
- Semi-Private Classes. Offering a more intimate experience, semi-private classes are made up of 2 students and the teacher. The cost is 42,000 COP per hour with a minimum commitment of 20 hours.
- Private Classes. These 1 on 1 classes cost 63,000 COP per hour with no minimum commitment.
UPB also allows you to combine the above types of classes to meet your needs, and they have a placement test for students who already know some Spanish. If you need official proof of your Spanish level for work or immigration purposes, they offer a (paid) test to receive an official certificate of your Spanish competency.
For more info, visit UPB’s website.
Last on our list, we have another Medellin university. EAFIT’s Centro de Idiomas offers students the chance to study Spanish on a vibrant university campus in the south of the El Poblado neighborhood. Like UPB, they’re a good option if you’re looking for formal Spanish studies with an accredited Colombian university.
To study at EAFIT, you’ll need a TP-3 visa. Other than that, their visa process is much the same as for UPB. More info on the process is available here.
Here are the key details on EAFIT:
Location: El Poblado
- Semi-Intensive Course. This 38-hour course lasts 4 weeks. Classes meet M – F from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. or 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Classes are offered from June – October as of this writing, though you should refer to the official schedule for more info. There are 15 total classes offered, starting at complete beginner (A1) and going all the way to advanced topics such as Business Spanish. The cost is 1,600,000 COP per person for a course of 2 students, 1,198,000 COP per person for a course of 3 to 8 students, and 2,425,000 COP for a private class.
- Intensive Course. This 38-hour course lasts two weeks, with courses available in the same subjects as the semi-intensive courses. Classes take place M – F from 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m., and the costs are the same as for the semi-intensive courses.
- DELE Preparation Classes. If you’re working to pass the DELE (the official diploma of Spanish proficiency), EAFIT also offers preparatory classes upon request. The prices for these classes are the same as for above, though the schedule is more limited. You can also take the DELE exam at EAFIT. More information on test dates is available here (the page is in Spanish, but presumably that’s not a problem if you’re taking the DELE).
For more info on studying Spanish at EAFIT, visit their website.
Thanks for reading our guide to studying Spanish in Medellin. We hope that you’ve found a school that fits your needs, and we invite you to share your favorite Medellin Spanish schools in the comments.
¡Buena suerte en tus estudios!
Ransom Patterson is a freelance writer and content marketer from Nashville, TN. When he’s not writing or studying Spanish, you’ll find him hanging out in cafes or taking walks around the city. You can learn more about his work on his website.