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Frequently Asked Questions

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LODGING

We are a full-service learning facility and as such are able to offer a wide range of lodging choices. You can find details on all the various options on our website under the Lodging Section.

The La Unión guesthouse and apartments are all located beside the school, a short 5-minute walk from the central park. All Antigua-based homestays are located within a few blocks of the school, while homestay options in surrounding towns are located approximately 10-20 minutes away from Antigua by bus.

Yes, for a better immersion in the Guatemalan culture we have chosen families who live in Ciudad Vieja, San Miguel Escobar, San Antonio Aguas Calientes, and Alotenango. Please see details about this on our website under the Lodging link.

All of our host families are carefully selected, as we are very particular with whom we work and place our students. These families are selected based upon compatibility with the host student(s) and their home's comfort, security, cleanliness, and location. The families must be able to provide basic necessities such as furnished private rooms, hot showers, and clean drinking water. Many of our host families have been working with us now for many years and have close relationships with La Unión staff and students.

The number of students in each house varies from family to family. Some homestays are only able to house 2 students, while others 3-6 students at a time. Students can request to be placed with a family who is not catering to any other students who speak the same language, or request to be the only student in the house. Whether these options are possible for the student will be subject to availability.

Some do, some do not. With special request, we can arrange lodging with or without children.

The homes are all chosen carefully for cleanliness, comfort, compatibility, and security. All families are kind, maintain their homes in good order, and are respectful of student space and property. While students should always take basic precautions with valuables and hours they stay out, our homestays are located in towns and areas of Antigua that are considered safe.

Most homestays have shared bathrooms, although it is possible to get a private bathroom upon request, for an extra cost and based on availability.

Meals are safe to eat and are well prepared, including peeled fruit; purified water is also used.

The way it works with home stays or the student guesthouse that offer meal plans is that it is an all or nothing proposition. You can arrange to receive meals or not each week. Quite frequently students miss a meal or even a whole day of meals due to travel for the weekend. Most students choose to take the meal plan.

Unfortunately, there are no discounts for shared rooms. The cost is the same, whether the two people have two rooms or just one. The only exception to this is if a parent shares a room with his or her child who is under five years of age. In such a case, the price would be half for the child.

We also have babysitting services available (for a fee) while you have Spanish classes. Please contact us for more information.

In some circumstances this is possible, however it is highly discouraged out of respect for the families since phones here are generally all personal cell phones rather than landlines. Calls may be received at the school during open hours, and calls may be made from any of the numerous pay phones or Internet cafés. A popular option among students is to purchase a cell phone for themselves for approximately $25. Otherwise, You can give your family/friends the office phone number (+502) 7832-7337. Make sure they call you on Guatemalan time!

Sometimes this is possible, but normally students use the school address and phone until their arrival. If you have any doubts, please contact the school.

While gifts are not necessary, something small and indicative of your hometown or home country would be appreciated. Some students bring a few small, inexpensive toys. If the family with whom they are staying does not have children, then they can just donate the toys to a local orphanage. Thanks for being considerate!

SPANISH SCHOOL

Yes, at La Union Spanish School we provide a certificate which details the number of weeks and hours studied as well as the level obtained during the Spanish course (the certificate can be used to apply for employment in your country or in Latin America, or it may serve as a tax write-off in your country). The certificate can be in Spanish or English. We also offer a diploma for your participation in the Spanish course. (For university credits look at the Other Services section.)

We are currently receiving students from MANY universities worldwide. You can let us know which university you are attending, so we can tell you if we are aaffiliated with it.

We are a full-service learning center, with excellent customer service, and we have the most program and lodging options of all the schools in Antigua. Our prices are extremely reasonable, and are on the lower end of the spectrum for the reputable schools in Guatemala. Despite our modest prices, we pay our carefully selected teachers about 20% more than the industry average, ensuring academic quality and teacher motivation. What our students also get is personalized attention from start to finish. From quick replies to inquiries, assistance throughout the adjustment process, to the departure, we are there for our students. In addition, we have helped our students find further accommodation (after their studies were completed), plan biking expeditions, establish bank accounts, and assist with travel arrangements, all at no extra charge. Students are well cared for from before their arrival until the completion of their stay with us. In addition, you may look at the different guide books for information about language schools, and what sets us apart from our competitors.

Some students choose to study in the morning, others in the afternoon. Because we have many walk-ins, the exact number of students fluctuates day to day. Those who study with us stay for different periods of time (one week or more).

From all over the world! :)..., we have had students from the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Poland, Czech Republic, Holland, Ireland, Israel, Finland, Korea, China, Japan, etc.

We do not have a set course description besides that listed on our web page for several reasons, mainly because we have students at all different levels, who come for varying amounts of time, and who wish to study Spanish for all sorts of reasons. After a placement exam and needs analysis, we create a study program based on the student's unique, personal needs.

Most Spanish teachers in Antigua do not speak English, but we have some who speak English, French, or German. Generally only Spanish is spoken during the lessons in order to speed up the student's learning process. If you are interested in other subjects and need translations and/or specific vocabulary, we can assign a teacher who speaks your native language.

Yes. Generally classes are held for couples or groups of two or more. If students attend private lessons, and then want to form a class together, we allow this and give a discount off the price as well. Beginners classes start on Monday of each week, demand permitting. Our specialty, however, is the One Teacher One Student system which allows you to learn the language more effectively.

If you would care to make a reservation, go to our "Reservation form" under the link Reservation on the main page Spanish School on the main page or our website and fill in the required information. If you have problems with this, let us know and we can e-mail you a form.

We prefer an advanced reservation, as we take care to match our teachers and students well. All of our teachers are highly trained and professional individuals, and although they work for us full-time, if we do not have work for them they try to find a temporary placement elsewhere. While we keep some teachers on standby for last minute arrivals, and have always been able to accept latecomers, we do recommend making a reservation. Once you are relatively sure that you would like to attend lessons, it is best to make a reservation and then change the arrival date or cancel later if needed.

Our students vary between young and middle aged, with a few in their 50′s and 60′s. They come from all walks of life: flight attendants, pilots, lawyers, students, etc. It is quite easy to meet new friends.

The school is recognized and accredited by the Ministry of Education, the National Guatemalan Tourist Institution (INGUAT), and affiliated with La Universidad Rural de Guatemala to give university credits.

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PAYMENTS

You may cancel your reservation before scheduled arrival without penalty, with the exception of any possible bank transfer fees. Deposits cannot be refunded if a refund is requested less than two weeks before arrival.

Generally we do not offer refunds after a bill has been paid. In most cases payments may be applied towards future study, within one year of the original reservation. Please see our General Terms and Conditions for more information.

For deposits, we accept credit cards and bank transfers; we can receive personal checks with the condition that if these are rejected due to lack of funds a fee of $50.00 will be charged to your bill. If the check is not filled out to the precise specifications of the bank, there is also a $20 rejection fee charged by the bank for each check.

No, there is never a registration fee. For beginners' group lessons and group semester programs, a small deposit is required as these programs depend on a certain number of attendees.

Yes. In Guatemala, credit card transactions incur an extra fee, sometimes as much as 12% and large payments sometimes run into difficulties. The fees for bank transfers depend on the individual banks used by the students. Our students may safely make a payment with their credit card at our school. Once a reservation is received requesting a credit card or bank transfer payment, we calculate the total and send an invoice.

No, you do not. Please note, however, that credit card payments and wire (bank) transfers MUST be made one week prior to the start of lessons or lodging due to processing times and possible e-mail delays. See our General Terms and Conditions for further information regarding payment.

Yes, we do accept credit cards at the school with a 12 % surcharge for tax reasons.

We suggest that students bring bank cards (whether personal or credit that have a 4 digit pin) and withdraw money from local ATMs, or bring traveler's checks in US dollar denominations. These are the safest ways, and although you should bring some cash with you, please avoid traveling with an excessive amount.

CLASSES AND CREDITS

It is up to each university to decide whether to accept the credit issued by Universidad Rural. However, La Unión is currently beginning to offer university credits through Spring Arbor University in the USA. These credits are for Spanish course levels SPA101, 102, 201, and 321, and would be transferable to other universities as if the classes were taken in a US college classroom.

Upon initiating classes, students are provided with a book written by the school director, Juan Carlos Martínez, for grammar, vocabulary, lecture, exercises and especially for homework, Español en Latinoamerica (Spanish in Latin America). His other book, What's Up Dude? / ¿Qué Onda Vos?, is also available for purchase in the school front office.

Yes, we have teachers that are specialized in teaching children as well as special material, and the prices are the same as for adults. For more information, please check out the section Special Service for Kids under Other Services, or contact us or visit us for more information.

The school is generally closed only on Christmas Day, New Years Day, and Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). These days can be made up on another day (such as Saturday), and no extra fee is involved.

Of the four main language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), we focus on speaking and listening the most, but the others are covered. We place an emphasis on speaking because many students need this the most, plus reading and writing can usually be practiced at home and corrected later with the instructor. This maximizes your lesson time with the teacher.

For pronunciation correction, repetition can work to a limited extent. Our teachers are experts at correcting a student’s errors to improve pronunciation. This is done in part by pointing out the differences between sounds; giving examples; explaining the position of the tongue, lips; listening to music in Spanish; as well as some audio and video exercises, etc.

There is no assigned homework as the lessons each day are sufficient, so in the evening hours we give the students a chance to rest and absorb what they have learned for that day. Exercises and practice are provided during the lessons as well. For really motivated students, we can put together challenging work for them to take home. So do not worry about this; nothing is forced! But if you love "tarea" (homework), then it will be a pleasure to give you some on a daily basis.

Our students enjoy a study plan designed around their schedule and structured according to their specific learning needs. We also offer specialized programs for those in the medical and legal professions. Typically, our students study 4 to 6 hours per day, from Monday to Friday, for 1 to 4 months. The number of lessons and length of study program, however, is entirely up to each individual student.

It is not easy to achieve this, but there are techniques that we employ to assist our students. For example, lessons are conducted entirely in the Spanish language in order to avoid the confusion that occurs when two languages are used at the same time. Conversation is highlighted in the lessons, and association is applied to assist in the learning process. We also use music in Spanish to improve comprehension and pronunciation skills (we use Maná, Shakira, Carlos Santana, Gloria Estefan, Juanes, Ricardo Arjona, and many more, you will love this activity).

Lessons can begin on any day of the week including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (except as previously mentioned). Although most students prefer to arrive on Friday or Saturday, and begin lessons on Monday, midweek arrivals are not a problem. Time of study is generally sometime between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon, and 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.

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MISCELLANEOUS

There are many volunteer opportunities in Antigua, especially in the medical field or working with children. The academic director (Juan Carlos) helps you to find a position on your first day at school. Arrangements are usually set up through the school in order to give the future volunteer a clear view of all possible volunteer options. On your first day at school, we can take you to see the various locations. There is a hospital in town where you can work with children who are physically ill, or with those with mental health problems. The choice is entirely yours. There is also an orphanage nearby that has a school as well, so working there is another possibility. Other volunteer opportunities include building houses, working on environmental projects, and teaching. For long-term projects, we can help you to find the right volunteer option for you somewhere in Guatemala after the completion of your studies.

Antigua is a wonderful place to get away, as it is a beautiful colonial town with a rich culture and a wonderful historical past. The weather is always temperate to warm (Guatemala is known as the "Land of Eternal Spring"). Students come year-round because of the climate and the opportunities for adventure both locally and around Central America. Every day there are different activities. In addition, there are many places to explore around town, from markets to museums and ancient ruins. Students also meet at cafés, and sometimes go to watch either foreign films or films about Guatemalan culture. Many restaurants and pubs have theme days, where there are various sorts of parties. We have many tourists of different age groups, and the nightlife, although a little less lively than in other major cities, is still vibrant with many restaurants, pubs, and cafés. Most cater to the international community, so there is no problem meeting new friends. Antigua is also a popular location during the many holidays that Guatemala has. Within Antigua there are many sites to see: ruins, churches, Mayan vendors, etc. There is no shortage of fun.

Family members may accompany students on activities at no extra charge.

We have our own Internet café! If you study a minimum of 20 hours a week (morning or afternoon), we provide 2 hour of free Internet service per week.

As far as avoiding tourists, they are pretty much everywhere now. There may be more in Antigua at certain times, but it is really a matter of discipline. Antigua is the preferred choice for many because it offers the chance to only speak Spanish, yet for those moments when one misses the conveniences oof other areas of the world, there are many restaurants, cafés, and bars that have English-speaking staff will cater to one's wishes. To avoid speaking English, simply avoid these places. If you are not the type of person who adheres to a program without help, then there are certain things that you can do such as stay with a family with no other English speakers (we can arrange this), do not go to the places where foreigners frequently go, etc.

Yes. Our services are available to anyone, but our students receive first priority and frequently enjoy extra rate reductions.

We have had many female students between the ages of 18 and 60, and no one has reported any problems. Generally, the key is common sense: try to travel with someone, stay alert, do not travel to remote places at night, and do not wear expensive jewelry, or act rudely or with arrogance.

Certain parts of Guatemala have seen some problems, but mainly in certain areas in Guatemala City. Most problems involving tourists are due to lack of caution on their part, or traveling alone to remote areas. The common sense rule applies. Antigua is a large tourist destination, and few people experience any problems. The city has a separate police force for tourists, which is highly respected. They can even accompany tourists to remote areas upon request.

Yes. We are happy to provide references and e-mail addresses of former students, often from your own country, if desired.

Yes! All weekday activities, except such things as museum entrance fees, are included in the cost. Weekend excursions are arranged upon student requests for a nominal fee. Please see Activities.

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