Where to Find Spanish Classes in Medellin [2017 Update]

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UPB
UPB

Editor’s note: This post was updated on November 29, 2017. 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!

Colombia Immersion

Colombia Immersion’s Laureles location
Colombia Immersion’s Laureles location

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.

A typical Colombia Immersion class
A typical Colombia Immersion 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.

Learning to make empanadas at a Colombia Immersion event
Learning to make empanadas at a Colombia Immersion event

Here’s a breakdown of the details:

Location: Envigado and Laureles

Courses Offered:

  • 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.
  • Coaching
    • 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)

The exterior of OLSA. Note the attached Mexican restaurant.
The exterior of OLSA. Note the attached Mexican restaurant.

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.

A typical Spanish class at OLSA
A typical Spanish class at OLSA

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.

One of OLSA’s weekly language exchanges, which are open to students and non-students alike.
One of OLSA’s weekly language exchanges, which are open to students and non-students alike.

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:

Location: Estadio

Courses Offered:

    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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

The outside of Toucan’s school in Poblado
The outside of Toucan’s school in Poblado

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.

A typical class at Toucan
A typical class at Toucan

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.

One of Toucan’s classrooms
One of Toucan’s classrooms

Here are the details:

Location: El Poblado

Classes Offered:

    • 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.
  • 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.

UPB – Centro de Lenguas

Students attending UPB
Students attending UPB

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.

A Spanish class at UPB
A Spanish class at UPB

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:

Location: Laureles

Classes Offered:

  • 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.

Universidad EAFIT – Centro de Idiomas

EAFIT University entrance
EAFIT University entrance

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.

A classroom at EAFIT
A classroom at EAFIT

Here are the key details on EAFIT:

Location: El Poblado

Courses Offered:

  • 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.

Conclusion

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!

About Ransom

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.

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LEAVE A REPLY

25 COMMENTS

  1. Why don’t you get Eafit or UPB to sponsor this blog? They definitely have the cash to do so and it would reach a broad audience of foreigners looking for a place to take Spanish classes. Think about it.

  2. Good info in this article… One extra note: the buildings are called “bloques”… So when you go to UPB, for example, look for a map of the campus or ask someone where “Bloque Seis” (Building 6) is. And the language center is on the first floor.

  3. Hey Jessica, any chance you could shoot me an email? I am thinking about moving to Medellin in a few months and you touch on some things I’ve been thinking about… I just wondered if I could bug you and ask you a couple questions. Thanks! Jennie

  4. Does anyone have an English speaking contact for EAFIT? I sent them an email about using VA benefits for the Spanish course a few weeks ago but haven’t received a response, thanks.

    • They are slow to respond, but the contact on their website for the spanish program is an english speaker. Try emailing her again. Classes are starting every two weeks so she’s constantly busy.

  5. Hey, I see some pricing on your post

    “They have 14 levels of Spanish classes and offer group classes at 17,000 COP ($9), semi-private 26,000 COP ($14) and private lessons 44,000 COP ($24).”

    Are those hourly rates or per day, per class?, how does the pricing work?

  6. Hola foreign amigos in columbia 🙂
    Touncan spanish school in Medellin is 2nd best rated in columbia and i want to enroll fir 2 weeks starting next week (14th Septiembre). They have a great 50% off deal if you enroll with 2 persons (friend).
    Anyone in?
    Cheers
    Katha from Germany

    • Hi Katharina, I guess you have left now, but I would be interested in the private spanish courses if you come back later. Or if anybody else is interested in this 50% off deal if two people enroll simultanously.

  7. Hey! I went to the Colombia Immersion and really enjoyed it! Never been to a school like this before, where they really focus on practicing. They also have home-stay, language exchanges, volunteering in a restaurant and a lot of locals hanging around all the time, because it is not located in the touristic parts of Medellin. I can highly recommend it!! 🙂

  8. Learning Spanish in two months ?

    I am writing this to give back a bit of what my Spanish teacher gave me. I just feel grateful I have met Enrique and I wanted to talk about him. He moved 2 months ago to Medellin and start from scratch here. I thought I could gave him a hand and I am sure it could be beneficial to others. That’s why I am happy to write this small ad for him.

    Learning spanish was my biggest goal here in Colombia and he commits himself that he could teach spanish or german in two months to anybody. I though…”let’s try”…and now I believe it is possible. He has a specific methodology focused on very practical things, lot of dialogues and real life teaching. He is very good at teaching grammar, tenses or vocabulary when needed. He has a lot of experience teaching at universities and many different people, from different cultures, is super enthusiastic and friendly. It is obvious he likes what he is doing, and it is the best way to make a student feel the same way with the process of learning. Enough talk. Here is its contact details. Better contact him directly and judge by yourself 😉

    Address where he has a small office but I think he is also willing to move if necessary : Laureles (Carrera 71 with calle 41)
    Name and phone : Jorge Enrique Perez – 300 488 96 95. 
    E-mail: profesorjorgeperez@outlook.com
    Prices for two months (which I think are very good and competitive, especially if you look at the efficiency of each hour !) : $1’200.000 col. -40 hours=$500 US-dollars.

    • SPANISH Classes in Medellin I agree with Simon and I want to add my 2 cents worth!

      I am a 49 year old guy with 2 years of high school Spanish. i kind of like the Spanish vibe here in Colombia so I decided to visit. Now I want to stay.

      I watched the Youtube video “Spanish in 30 Days” and decided that was for me. So I needed a lot of .help! I found Jorge online (he teaches German and Spanish) and arranged private lessons. He is economical and located in a super-safe area of Laureles, just a short walk from the Metro. I paid 70 thousand pesos ($23) for a 2 hour private lesson every other day. Well worth it.

      Besides being a nice guy, Jorge has an advantage over other teachers that most foreigners don’t realize they need. His English is limited. That means, an hour lesson with Jorge is an hour of Spanish time. No safety net! You have no choice but to try to speak Spanish and understand.. Bring your celphone with google translate and go for it. Jorge speaks slowly and clearly so you will pick it up. And faster than you think. Trust me.

      I have seen Spanish lessons here and online where the teacher is speaking English 90% of the time or more! The student is getting 10 minutes or less of Spanish in an hour lesson – that is NOT what you want. If your teacher is fluent in English, it is too easy to fall back to English. And you don’t want to spend all your lesson guarding against that. It is just too much work.

      So if you really want to learn Spanish, Jorge is the guy. He always corrects me gently and one mistake at a time. Youtube videos and online courses are great for basic vocab and tenses but you will need face-to-face time where you have to form a sentence and try to understand a response. Colombians are a very courteous people and will not correct your mistakes. A teacher like Jorge will – he has taught Spanish to Germans for 9 years. He had me write a dozen sentences as homework each time. It only took a few minutes to do. Then we would review each lesson and find my basic errors. I needed that..

      Immediately, jorge got on me to speak simply, clearly, and 1 idea per sentence. Beginners need to start with simple sentences so they can be understood. Then he corrected and worked with me on my common errors, like Por versus para, estar versus ser, conjugation errors, etc. Each lesson further motivated me to review online and do sample questions until I felt comfortable.
      If you have any questions, contact me.

      Jorge’s has a small office in Laureles (he also goes to Poblado at times) :
      Laureles (Carrera 71 with calle 41)
      Name and phone : Jorge Enrique Perez – 300 488 96 95.
      E-mail: profesorjorgeperez@outlook.com

      • I agree with both Simon and James and I am glad they wrote their reviews, thanks guys, I really appreciate that.

        I decided to contact Enrique based on their reviews and as of tomorrow I will have had 30 hours of one-on-one instruction with him. For the past three weeks he’s been coming over to my apartment in Laureles every weekday for a two hour class.

        I’ve been learning Spanish on my own for ~3 years and by the time of my arrival in Medellin I could speak in simple sentences. I felt like I had an OK grip on grammar, I could write an email, but while speaking I was frequently misusing por/para, subjunctive etc. I was confident at getting the ball over the net, but I was not a confident speaker.

        I have improved greatly, I now take my time, make small talk, I ask people to explain things to me and even though, I still struggle sometimes, most locals understand me fairly easily.

        Enrique recently created a spanish.stackexchange.com profile with his information
        http://spanish.stackexchange.com/users/14331/enrique-perez

        I recommend contacting him through WhatsApp at this number +57 300 488 96 95

        And as far as his pricing: a 20hr package is currently $700 000 COP ($225 USD given the current exchange rate) and if you buy less than 20 hrs worth of classes, it’s $40 000 COP per hour

  9. Hey!
    There is a new Spanish School in Laureles, called Elefun. Well rated with a different immersive approach to learn Spanish.
    Take a look!
    A good change to get out of El Poblado, Laureles has becomed a better place to interact with locals and have a great cultural experience 🙂

  10. ¨Toucan is the largest Spanish school in Medellin¨ – sorry but EAFIT has a much larger Spanish language program. Haven´t you seen their huge new languages building and due to their size they can now offer both intensive and semi-intensive Spanish classes in the mornings and afternoons in multiple levels. And why did you list EAFIT last? Their program is much larger than UPB and the other small language schools. Perhaps the small schools paid to be listed first? Also you linked to a student visa post on this site that is completely out of date that even talks about DAS who is long gone.

    • The claim of being the largest Spanish school in Medellin is made by Toucan, not by the author of the article. That’s made clear.

      The schools aren’t listed in any particular order. None of the schools paid to be included in the article, nor did they pay to be listed first. In the case of sponsored listings, that information is divulged with a notification in the article.

      That post on student visas is the most recent one we have on that specific visa type. We have since published other articles that discuss various types of Colombian visas. The author also included links to student visa information available on the UPB and EAFIT sites.

      • ¨The claim of being the largest Spanish school in Medellin is made by Toucan, not by the author of the article. That’s made clear.¨

        It is not clear – read the post, it says ¨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.¨ You didn´t say Toucan claimed to be the largest.

        • My bad. I thought you were referring to the quote in which Toucan described themselves as the “original Spanish language school in Medellin.”

          In any case, Toucan is a Spanish school, whereas EAFIT is a university which has a Spanish program. I don’t see any point in splitting hairs over this. EAFIT was also included in the article. Readers can check into both programs and decide which one best suits their needs.

  11. Those are old photos of EAFIT when they held classes on campus. Since late 2016 they have held classes in their new very large language building off campus. Also EAFIT told me they have a bigger Spanish language program than any other school with over 90 students enrolled at the time I went early this year.

  12. “Spanish Lessons for Foreigners in Medellín”
    I just found this:
    Thinking about the need for foreign workers or volunteers, who come to the country to develop any activity in which they need to communicate in our language, LCN LANGUAGES developed a program of teaching “Spanish classes for foreigners in Medellín” for those who wish to study this language in Colombia.
    This program respects the norms of the Common European Framework and is recognized by the Medellín Department of Education, which allows us to deliver official certifications to our students, as well as offering personalized preparation for the presentation of the International Tests of Instituto Cervantes, DELE .”
    https://www.lcnidiomas.edu.co/clases-espanol-para-extranjeros-en-medellin-particular/
    Any advice?