A while ago Jared published Speaking Latino’s most controversial post ever –Should You Learn Spanish in Puerto Rico?– where he questions if Puerto Rico is a good destination to learn Spanish. Obviously that is his opinion and I (and many others readers) don’t agree with it. So, now is my time to share my point of view.
In our recent trip to Puerto Rico, Jared and I visited Institute for Spanish Language Acquisition (I.S.L.A.) in San Juan to interview the owner Sacha Delgado about their immersion program and witness that you can and you should learn Spanish in Puerto Rico.
Sacha explains that many people don’t consider Puerto Rico a destination to learn Spanish because they think that here everybody speaks English. “That is not 100% true because there are some areas in Puerto Rico where English is more spoken than others,” she said. In fact, the census indicates that 95.2% speak Spanish and 85.3% admits that they “speak English less than ‘very well’.” In other words, only 14.7% of the people believe they speak English very well or better.
To avoid those pockets where students may find locals and tourists that speak English, Sacha strategically located her school out of those areas. “We are outside the tourist area. We are not in Condado or in Old San Juan on purpose, to improve the immersion experience,” she adds. Part of that immersion experience includes:
• Living with a host family that is committed to speak in Spanish to the students.
• The use of public transportation such as the buses (AMA) or the train (Tren Urbano).
• Classes only in Spanish (with the exception of the first orientation that is in English).
• A 100% Spanish excursion such as a walking tour of Old San Juan, El Yunque rainforest, Piñones, Bacardi-Isla de Cabra, a farmer’s market or an art museum.
What to expect from I.S.L.A. Spanish immersion program
I.S.L.A. have been in operation since January 2010 and has a dozen teachers that offer six levels of Spanish. The classes are from 9am to 12pm with a maximum of seven students per class, but the average is three. According to their website, the institute use “the Communicative Approach to Spanish language learning. The focus of this approach is to learn to speak Spanish in meaningful contexts that you may encounter in real-life situations.” The courses run from Monday thru Friday covering one chapter that includes common vocabulary for the topics. No Spanish text book is required, they will provide you the materials needed depending on the level you are in.
Finally, Sacha answers the question “How long will it take me to learn Spanish?”. Their average student spends three weeks in their program. If a person does not know any Spanish it can take an average of 12 weeks to reach an advanced level, depending on the person. The advanced levels cover idiomatic expressions, slang and local slang, the tone, etc. “It is more individualized with smaller groups because of each person’s particular needs,” she concludes.
As you can see, to learn Spanish in Puerto Rico is a good option with structured programs such as those offered by I.S.L.A. If you want more information about how to learn Spanish in Puerto Rico read the Top 9 Reasons Why People Learn Spanish in San Juan, Puerto Rico and 3 Tips to Maximize Your Spanish Lessons in Puerto Rico or in Any Other Country.
Check out these other articles to help you Learn Spanish.