KATAHARINE (4 WEEKS)
During the month of August, 2003, I decided to take a three-week vacation and use it to study Spanish. Since I take my four-year-old daughter with me when traveling, I wanted to study someplace fun and interesting for her as well. I had heard good things about Cartagena, Colombia and I found the Nueva Lengua program on the web. I was extremely pleased with the entire experience and I would recommend it to everyone
I found the teachers pleasant, professional and willing to make changes based on our feedback. There were only three people in my program at the time - something I considered a great plus. Huge programs generally mean less one-on-one time with teachers. The classes were usually done by mid-day which meant that we had the afternoon to enjoy one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. For my work, I travel extensively in Africa, the Caribbean and I often pass by Europe. I must say that Cartagena was one of the most beautiful and fun places I have ever been. One nice aspect of the city is that even though it is very safe, there didn't seem to be as many tourists as I had imagined. They do have many tourists from South America but most of them are speaking Spanish so you rarely hear English in the streets and far fewer people approach you and speak English than you might encournter in other cities in Latin America. This meant that I was forced to use my Spanish nearly all of the time. I have a doctorate in Education and I can be quite picky when it comes to the quality of instruction. Their ability to adapt to their students was probably the most important quality of the teaching staff. Among them were college professors and teachers from language schools. Nueva Lengua located a beautiful little hotel that was perfect for myself and my daughter. The price was extremely reasonable and, again, I was required to communicate in Spanish. Nueva Lengua also located a day care center for my daughter to attend while I took class. It was beautiful (and included a room they could look into full of tropical birds), set right across the street from the beach, and well-run. We also took advantage of many activities in the area. The city is full of interesting history that my daughter and I just loved...stories of pirates invading the huge fort, etc. We went snorkeling with great company called Cultura del Mar located right in the old city that works with one of the tour groups leaving from the wharf. I was amazed that they were able to take my four-year-old snorkeling and not let her be at all afraid. She kept saying that she was looking for Nemo. It was an amazing experience to see the reefs near the Islas del Rosario. Again, I wasn't sure before leaving whether or not to trust a language school I had found on-line with providing quality instruction and with helping to make the kinds of arrangements I listed above. This was one case where I am glad I did.