Colombia Immersion is an unconventional Spanish language school in Medellin run by a team of passionate, language lovers from all over the world that live by the school’s methodology of Learn, Practice, Apply. They believe that learning a language is like learning how to dance. You can study it in a classroom and read all the books you want, but until you go out in the real world and practice, make mistakes, and use your skills, you’ll never really learn or reach your full potential. This school is closing the gap between learning in a classroom and applying that knowledge in real life and the results are astounding. Their interactive curriculum is designed to help you understand and use grammar quickly so you can start speaking immediately.
I spent three weeks attending Colombia Immersion and can say with confidence that this language program is absolutely incredible. It’s not only the fact that I arrived knowing 4 words of Spanish to leaving three weeks later being able to form sentences and have a very basic conversation, but it’s also the sense of community that they create. This is much more than a language school; Colombia Immersion is a Spanish language and Colombian cultural experience. They are a new kind of Spanish school bringing you an alternative approach to language learning that offers much more than traditional classes. Let me break it down for you and give you my full review on Colombia Immersion Spanish School below.
What is the learning environment like?
Unlike traditional teaching methods which are teacher-centric and often involve the use of lectures, memorizing lists, and assessments, the teachers at Colombia Immersion put the learning in your hands. They teach you the concepts and then students are encouraged to practice speaking immediately following the lesson. The majority of the class is spent speaking with your peers, with the occasional challenge to go outside and practice with locals. For me, it was really scary to be pushed out of my comfort zone like that, but that is what this program is all about; getting you out of your comfort zone and applying what you learn in the classroom in real life. The thing about this program is that your success depends on how much time and effort you are willing to put in. The teachers (who are all native Spanish speakers, most of which are actually from Medellin) give homework every night which often requires speaking with locals, and the school offers so many opportunities to immerse yourself and practice in the local community. The Colombia Immersion community is welcoming, incredibly friendly, and wants to see you succeed. They encourage a “solo Espanol” policy, which creates further opportunities to practice outside of class.
What makes them different than other language schools?
To me, the main difference between Colombia Immersion and other language schools is that the learning doesn’t stop when class is finished. They have created a community that facilitates relationships between locals and students that you simply can’t find elsewhere. They offer Friday night language exchanges at the Envigado campus where locals come to practice English and Colombia Immersion students have the opportunity to practice what they learned in class that week. I was so impressed with the turnout to these events, with more than 50 locals and students interacting, playing language games and enjoying a few beers together. However, the Friday night language exchanges are just one of many activities the school offers. They have a whole activities committee that organize daily field trips that also facilitate relationships between locals and students. I attended many, but my favorites were a trip out to Comuna 13 and a Coffee & Culture trip, both of which I learned more about Colombian culture and had the opportunity to interact with locals. Through both the field trips and the language exchanges, I made friends with a few locals and we even met up outside of the school a handful of times to either grab food or play Tejo!
What classes do they offer and can I afford it?
Colombia Immersion offers so many options to fit any budget and any language level. You can be immersed as little or as much as you want, with options available for absolute beginners (like me) to the most advanced. They are super flexible and really want you to have the best experience possible and get the most out of your learning. They also have really small class sizes (6 or less) which creates a more intimate and comfortable learning environment.
Intensive Classes: COP 550.000 (per week)
20 hours a week of group classes
Monday to Friday
9am-1pm or 2pm-6pm
***This is what I did***
Afternoon Classes: COP 300.000 (per week)
10 hours a week of group classes
Monday to Friday
2pm-4pm or 4pm-6pm
Coaching 1-on-1: COP 35.00 (per hour)
Monday to Friday
8am-6pm flexible hours
(This options allows you to review material you learned in class 1-on-1 in a relaxed environment of your choosing like at the park, at the market or wherever.)
***I didn’t take advantage of this option but really wished I had! It’s a really incredible opportunity at such an affordable price.***
Full Immersion: COP 2.700.000 (per 4 weeks)
20 hours a week of group classes
Educational field trips weekly
5 hours language coaching per week
Lunch Monday – Friday
Where are they located?
Colombia Immersion has two campuses in Medellin. The original campus is in Envigado, which is about 1 hour via public transportation or 30 min cab from the central part of Medellin city, or their new campus in Laureles which is located in the heart of Medellin.
How do I choose which campus to study at?
I had the opportunity to experience both campuses, and although I loved them equally, they offer very different experiences.
The Envigado campus is located in a more local community and by that I mean, because it’s a bit outside of the city you’re basically not going to cross a foreigner unless they go to Colombia Immersion with you. You won’t even be tempted to speak English because almost no one outside of school will be speaking English. Keep in mind that because it’s located 10kms outside of the city center, it’s more difficult to access the city. It’s a 30 min walk to the nearest metro stop (or you can take a local bus) and then a 30 min metro ride (depending on where you’re going) into the city. I’d suggest this campus if your sole focus is to immerse yourself and live an authentic Paisa life during your time in Medellin.
The Laureles campus is also in a local neighborhood, but you’re in the heart of the city so you’re more likely to find other foreigners/English speakers. You have immediate access to all that Medellin has to offer, like the Botanical Gardens, the cable cars, famous salsa clubs, and other popular neighborhoods like El Poblado, just to name a few. I’d recommend this campus if you’re looking for a balance between learning and experiencing local culture as well as seeing the many things that city has to offer.
How can I prep for my experience with Colombia Immersion?
My advice to beginners is to learn some basic vocabulary before you arrive for this program. I arrived with little to no basic Spanish knowledge and I definitely was at a disadvantage. I got tangled up in not knowing a lot of vocabulary, and I think I would have progressed faster if I had studied some on my own before arriving. This program doesn’t waste time focusing on vocabulary (which is something that can easily be learned outside of class) – it’s about getting you to understand the structure of the language so you can get talking in a shorter amount of time.
So, what’s the bottom line?
This program takes learning beyond the classroom and pushes you outside of your comfort zone to get you speaking Spanish fast. With a main focus on immersing you into the local culture and getting you involved in the community, this is less of a language school to me and more of a language experience. You will without a doubt be speaking faster than you expect (I still can’t believe that after three weeks I was starting conversation – although basic – with my cab drivers and having a semi clue as to what was going on), and you will be so proud of how far you’ve come. Bottom line: this school was created for students that are serious about not only learning Spanish but learning about and getting involved in the local, Paisa culture. I probably couldn’t recommend it any higher!
For more information about Colombia Immersion, you can visit their website, or feel free to ask me anything in the comments below! If you decide that Colombia Immersion is the right Spanish language program for you (I couldn’t possibly see how it wouldn’t be…) make sure to let them know that Wanderluluu sent you 😉
Disclaimer: I received discounted Spanish classes in exchange for my opinions, but all opinions are my own. I only recommend programs that I love!