Knowing the language of a country is in direct correlation with comprehending the culture.
Although language is one form of communication a traveler can utilize, it is still one of the most important factors while traveling. I’ve noticed many travelers interested in language courses in the Caribbean. Specific interests are learning French and/or Creole in Haiti, and learning Spanish in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, or Cuba.
Here is my list of schools and private tutoring in Haiti, and Spanish immersion programs in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba:
Plaza Mayor in Trinidad
Havana, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba
SpanishStudyHolidays.com: With schools in three of the best locations in Cuba – Havana, Trinidad, and Santiago de Cuba – you can immerse yourself in intensive Spanish courses of all levels from the very beginner to the advanced from 20 to 30 lessons a week.
You have the opportunity to stay with a host family to get a more local and immediate experience. All host families are located in the Vedado area of La Habana.
The Monument of the Heroes of the Restoration in Santiago
American Language Partnership International: Founded by a group of veteran university ESL professors from the United States, ALPI is located in the heart of downtown Santiago. Their Spanish Language Immersion Program not only teaches students the language but immerses them into the culture by organizing guided tours, and cultural activities. There is group instruction of no more than six students and one-on-one tutoring.
Centro Cultural Dominico Americano: Established in 1962, led by a Board of Directors, the cultural center offers Spanish classes to Adults of 22 years and onwards. There aren’t prices or many descriptions on the website, may have to contact the school. Located on Ave Sadhalá Estrella, 101, La Esmeralda. Contact at 809-582-6627 or email@example.com
Famous coffee shop, La Cafetera Colonial in Santo Domingo
Domínico Americano Language School: Founded in 1947 by a group of Dominicans and United States citizens to strengthen the bonds of friendship and culture between Americans and Dominicans. Their Spanish for Foreigners program offers five levels, each with a duration of three months. Note: The website doesn’t have prices, may have to contact us directly. Located on Ave Abraham Lincoln, 21. Contact them at 809-535-0665
Progressive English Services:
University APEC: Created in 1964 to boost higher education in the Dominican Republic, APEC offers Spanish for Foreigners. Classes are from Monday to Friday at various times. RD $4,200. Note: The university also offers French courses! Located on Ave Maximo Gomez, 72. Call at 809-686-0021
Sosua/Cabarete and Santo Domingo
Instituto Intercultural del Caribe: this Dominican-German language and culture institute founded in 1994 offers fun and combined courses in Sosua, Cabarete, and Santo Domingo. You can choose to take Spanish classes in the relaxing small beach town of Sosua, water sport-centric Cabarete or the urban capital of Santo Domingo.
The institute also offers combined programs such as Spanish and Surfing in Cabarete, Spanish and Diving in Sosua, and Spanish and Dancing in Santo Domingo.
*One of the best features is the possibility of dividing your time between all three locations!
One of Haiti’s biggest parks, Champs de Mar Park in Port-au-Prince
Institut Francais Haiti: Located in Port-au-Prince, the institute offers French language courses throughout the year. The information on the website is outdated, therefore it would be better to contact them directly for pricing and scheduling. Located on 99, Rue Lamartiniere, Bois Verna, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Contact at +509 31 61 4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org
As per couchsurfing.org, many have recommended Reginald Aris: a private tutor from Port-au-Prince who is said to charge $ 200 USD for 10 classes. Many non-profit organizations hire him to teach volunteers French and Creole. He can be contacted through Facebook.
The slums located outside the city walls of Old San Juan, La Perla
Institute for Second Language Acquisition: Opened in 2010, the school offers a true full-on immersion experience, offering Spanish classes, lodging, meals, excursions, and cultural activities. There are classroom, private or a combination packages. Contact at 787-771-8888 or email@example.com
Spanish Por Favor: Founded in 2004, the Spanish division of Think Abroad, initiated to promote the Spanish language, has both standard and intensive courses offering instruction in three levels, given in San Juan and their other location in Bayamón.
Note: This dedicated institution also has other amazing Spanish immersion programs around Latin America. Contact at 800-699-9685
TWO WAYS TO LEARN ANY LANGUAGE ON YOUR OWN
1. Read Fluent in 3 Months: The author, Benny Lewis, knows 11 languages! He is not gifted at learning languages but learned techniques from other people while traveling. I have a Spaniard friend I met in Italy who read this book, applied the methods, and managed to learn Italian close to fluently in two months. Highly recommended. Check it out here.
2. Download Duolingo: This FREE app makes learning language fun! It tests you through mini-lessons of reading, listening, and speaking and grades you instantly. It motivates you to keep on track of how many days in a row you spend learning a language. And implements small game-like features so it keeps you interested but also seriously addicted. 20 languages from Spanish to Welsh are available. Learn more here.