For my last and final week studying Spanish in Panama with Habla Ya, I returned to my point of arrival in Panama City. Much different than the beachside vacation hot spot of Bocas del Toro or the mountainous forested retreat of Boquete, my quest to study Spanish in Panama City was a true urban adventure.
For my accommodation in Panama City, I stayed with a host family in a condo in the “El Cangrejo” neighborhood. My host family consisted of a mom and dad, their two sweet elementary-age daughters, and their friendly family pup! Like in Boquete, I had my own bedroom and bathroom, and really fast wifi internet. Unlike in Boquete, there was no vegetarian food mixup, and I enjoyed delicious veggie breakfasts and dinners every day (bonus: my host dad was a professional chef so I ate better than I ever could have imagined!)
My homestay family even invited me out to the park one weekend, including to see a musical performance
On top of all the perks of my homestay, it was also situated a perfect 15 minute walk away from Habla Ya’s Panama City language school. If I hadn’t been staying so close, the Fernández de Córdoba Metro Station was a five minute walk from the school, and I could have taken that instead.
In addition to being near my homestay, the school is centrally and conveniently located in general as well. It is less than twenty minutes from most attractions including malls, the fun neighborhood of Casco Viejo, and even the Canal – making before and after class activities a cinch to reach.
After two weeks of studying with Habla Ya in their other locations, I’d come to expect friendly and fun teachers and staff, and Habla Ya Panama City was definitely no exception! Everyone I met was super helpful, from giving me tips on which mall I should visit to how much a fair taxi should cost.
the inside of Habla Ya – tours to get involved with, and free water all day every day!
The one difference of Habla Ya Panama City to the other locations I studied at: I was no longer in group classes, but I’d still be studying for 4 hours a day.
While the idea of private classes was scary to me at first, the concept of FOUR HOURS of study at a time seemed downright terrifying! Back in Brazil, I could barely stand even an hour of private Portuguese classes (it was like pulling teeth), how could I survive FOUR?
While I was quite nervous before my first day of four-hour classes, I quickly learned I didn’t need to be. My professor, Bellalina, planned lessons around my interests and natural conversations. She also planned a short break in the middle of the class, so that I could go to the bathroom, have a snack, and rest my brain for a bit. With her expert teaching skills and strategies, the time literally flew by.
my awesome professor and I
One of my favorite lesson topics even centered around my upcoming wedding! Bellalina and I discussed wedding ideas and planning – and I actually accomplished a lot more in Spanish than I had been doing in English when it comes to planning! She came up with a whole list of questions to ask me, which I then considered and answered (everything from what food we’d serve, to the kinds of flowers, to wedding dress styles, and so much more). I even took notes – in Spanish, of course – to refer back later to all the work we’d done and decisions I’d made.
While I was pretty nervous about the idea of spending 4 hours of one-on-one Spanish learning, I have to admit that it did wonders for my skills. I actually think I learned more in one week of private instruction with Habla Ya, than in the two weeks prior of group classes combined (which is saying a LOT, considering those two weeks of group classes were more valuable than years of university and high school study).
In private lessons, there’s no place to hide. You can’t let other students answer for you, and your mind doesn’t get the opportunity to wander. Based on my experience, I’d recommend private classes to ANYONE short on time, and high on motivation. Yes, they are more difficult and less social than group classes, but well worth the effort and money based on the language skill gains you’ll see.
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Necessary Details: Study Spanish in Panama City
Habla Ya is located conveniently in El Carmen, a short walk from Fernández de Córdoba Metro Station.
Group classes are offered (check here for the latest updates) for four hours every weekday. If you’re on a time crunch or want to superpower your Spanish studying, you can also opt for private lessons, like Idid.
The time and duration of private classes can be set to fit your schedule. Even if you’re only staying for a couple days, you can either start your Spanish journey or brush up on existing skills.
You don’t need to bring anything aside from a willingness to learn and a pen or pencil, as an awesome workbook is provided for you. If I could do it again, though, I would bring a Spanish-English dictionary with me.
As a student of Habla Ya, you’ll receive discounted tours and even free organized activities. Excursions and activities are organized every day of the week – sometimes with two offered in one day. It’s a great way to meet new friends as a solo traveler or if you’re moving to the city!
Habla Ya can also organize homestays, an awesome option for quickly improving your language skills, learning more about the local culture, and a very affordable alternative to sometimes pricey hotels or uncomfortable hostels.
While I received free language lessons at Habla Ya Bocas del Toro, I was not paid nor obligated to write this post. I loved my experience so much that I plan to go back in the future for further study, and my opinions and recommendations remain my own and unbiased.