I have just come back from 3 months of learning Spanish in Cuba and thought that I would share a couple of experiences that I had taking classes, lessons and courses in Havana Cuba
The first this to say is that Cuba is an easy, cheap and exciting place to learn Spanish. The teachers are some of the most educated in the world – (many with masters degrees in linguistics) and at the same time the backdrop of Havana is something that it is hard to believe is real until you actually see it! There are essentially 5 key options for learning Spanish in Havana
University of Havana. www.uh.cu
A beautiful though decaying campus which summarises all the contradictions that are Cuba. If you are planning to spend a year learning Spanish and want a diploma at the end of it then this is the place for you. They will help you with your long stay visa and you can mix in courses from other schools. It is also worth saying that the large majority of the teachers are very good (as you would expect). The key negative is the administration which is anything but client friendly, if you are here for any less than 2 -3 months it is really not worth the effort. Particularly frustrating is that you need to wait until the next intake starts (up to 4 weeks) before you can start classes which means that you lose precious learning time. The other minor negative are the facilities, broken toilets and no water, are tolerable for a period of time but after a while it become annoying given the high cost of lessons.
Barclay Languages www.barclaylanguages.com
This is a new private language centre in central havana. When I say new, I mean it is a refurbished house from the 1800’s that now is full of modern classrooms and facilities. The teachers (like in most of the schools) are excellent, massively overqualified to be giving me Spanish lessons given most of them were previously university lecturers. But on the other hand they were super fun and excited to be teaching me the language that is their passion. Administration here is super easy, start classes whenever you want, for as long as you want. The classes also seem to be a bit more innovative (more focus on communication, speaking, role play)
Located a little bit out of the action in the suburban suburb of Miramar, this is a joint venture business between Cuba and a German travel agency. The facilities are good, a nice big house located in a nice leafy suburb. The teachers are also nice, however they seemed a bit older (55+) and a bit more tired than some of the other schools. I want to guess that this is because of their salary structure in that school. The only negative I would say about this school that about 95% of the students at this school are German, which is fine, but break time can be a little lonely if you don’t speak German.
I don’t have much to say about this school. I tried to learn there but they only sell fully inclusive holidays (accommodation, weekend excursion, transfers) which start on particular dates. So they wouldn’t let me buy just the Spanish classes portion. I have heard that the students stay in bunk beds in dormitories – so if this is your thing you should check it out.
Private teachers I took classes from a couple of different private teachers. Some are very good, other are very ordinary. You can save a couple of dollars trying to find a good private teacher on the street, but you also often waste a lot of time finding a good teacher to start with. Then there is the issue of location, sure you can learn in a bar or café or casa particular; but if you are serious about learning you really need good learning tools like a white board, television, air conditioning and workbook which the private teachers can never provide.
Anyway I hope that helps – feel free to message me if I can help.