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“Clearly a very well run program”

Habla Ya Spanish Courses & Ecotourism
Certificate of Excellence
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Owner description: Why just learn Spanish? Live your Spanish learning experience! Learn Spanish in Boquete, a charming town and a dream setting place full of friendly faces and exciting adventures. Have the time of your life and live the most amazing Spanish learning experience! Habla Ya Panama Spanish School, Panama's premier Spanish school, is one of the top specialist Spanish training institutions in Central America and one of the leading providers of Spanish courses in Latin America.
Panama City, Panama
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Clearly a very well run program”
Reviewed 22 March 2012

The teachers are so fun to get to know and excellent at their work. The customer service is excellent. This was the highlight of my trip to Panama.

Visited March 2012
Helpful?
Thank KindSojourner
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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362 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Exeter, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Organised, professional, practical anad fun.”
Reviewed 20 March 2012

I spent 10 wonderful weeks at Habla Ya and would highly recommend it to anyone who seriously wants to improve their grasp on the Spanish language. At least when you enrol in group lessons(1-6 people) you will change teachers every few weeks to keep things fresh and experience conversing with different people. All the teachers I had - Malkidia, Mitzila, Leidys and Araliz were excellent and I owe them my improved ability to speak listen and write Spanish.

Classes are conducted soleltin Spanish which for me, already knowing the basics, was perfect. I also liked the variety in lessons with some grammar, some conversations and some games to keep the mind fresh. In our conversations we covered everything from niceities to full-blown controversial issues and now I can throw my opinions about in a different language. Brilliant!

Visited September 2011
Helpful?
2 Thank ANDREW H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Davis, California
Level Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Inconsistent, not great for advanced Spanish speakers”
Reviewed 17 March 2012

I have studied in 10 different schools in different Spanish speaking countries. This one for me was rated about at the bottom. I had no challenges and many "busy work" worksheets. The school does a good job of catering to the younger students. In Boquete, however, a lot of retirees like ourselves come to study and we felt the school was aimed at an under 35 crowd. The teachers teach 8 hours a day, are quite young for the most part, and commute long distances. They have no time and evidently are not encouraged to innovate. All the classes use the same worksheets and stories, despite the interests of the students. I was disappointed. However, my husband had better teachers and was placed at an appropriate level. We were there for 2 weeks.

Visited February 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank Linlin_11
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
panamajoules, Owner at Habla Ya Spanish Courses & Ecotourism, responded to this review, 22 March 2012
Hola,

Thank you very much for your feedback and we're sorry to hear that neither of the teachers you had satisfied your needs. After your first week of lessons, we changed your teacher and at the end of your 4 week course the rest of your 3 classmates did rate their course as excellent.

All of the feedback that you provided during your course was always taken into account.

In regards to our teachers having no time, and commuting long distances, about 90% live in David, 38 kms away from Boquete where our school is (the rest live here in Boquete). They don't have to employ public transportation to get to the school as we provide a private bus for all of them. So instead of having to commute for 1.5 or 2 hours to get to their jobs and back, they do so in 45 minutes, allowing them to sleep more and spend more time with their families. And when the road works finish next year, the journey will probably only take 30 minutes.

About not encouraging them to innovate, all of our teachers are hired full time and aren't always busy teaching. We rotate them so that they can also keep learning by themselves and 2 Saturdays a month they come to the school during the morning for teacher training. Next month our Academic Director is being sent to Colombia for a workshop with 15 other Spanish schools from all over Latin America who are accredited by the Instituto Cervantes and in a couple of months representatives from the Instituto Cervantes will be giving training to our teachers as well here in our country.

Innovation, listening to our students, and being effective teachers are things that we do work very hard to encourage. Our teachers are passionate about what they do and we're very sorry that your specific teacher did not reach your standards. We're happy to hear that your husband was indeed satisfied with his course and we will work even harder to make sure all of our teachers exceed their students' expectations.

Thanks for your feedback and buena suerte with continuing your Spanish studies all over Latin America.

Julio Santamaria
Co-Founder
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
10 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 13 helpful votes
“Habla Ya.....”
Reviewed 15 March 2012

We did a 3 week 4+1 with a homestay. I would say the school is kind of professional although lacking communucation. We signed up for 4 hours group classes and 1 hour private and also signed up for volunteer work, both were arranged with excellent emails .... however a week before starting ( Baring in mind I booked 8 months before) they changed the schedule of ou classes and forgot our volunteer work.... I choose the school because of the work/study combo.... So our schedule meant we had private lessons in the morning at 10 am & 11am (my husband and myself at seperate times... we tried to change this) then group lessons at 1.15 each day we were trapped all day at the school.... couldn't do any morning trips or the volunteer work..... this got very tedious and wasteful after a while......

Also was not completely happy with the style of teaching, I know that immersion teaching was the technque reccommended years ago... however if the teachers don't know any english the first week is very wasteful on time as the students try and figure out whats going on with no spanish language skills..... the one day we had a replacement teacher who spoke fluent english our class learnt more in that one day then the whole prior week.... I would not use this type of language learning again.

The school is very professional and organised and creates an excellent environment for classes and communial areas. The town is pretty, but if I were to choose again I would go to classes that are taught with a more communication based course as opposed to structured grammer based courses. Also a side note.... Guatemalan and Nicaragauan spanish is much easier to understand then Panamian

Visited January 2012
Helpful?
4 Thank vickieandrichie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
panamajoules, Owner at Habla Ya Spanish Courses & Ecotourism, responded to this review, 22 March 2012
Dear Students,

Thank you for considering us a professional and organized school. We do work very hard to create the best learning environment within each class and also outside of the classroom.

We also appreciate your feedback and will work harder to ensure that we are effectively able to communicate with all of our students.

Both in our website and in our first email correspondence in which we discuss with potential students about their class schedule it is mentioned that group lessons can take place either in the mornings or in the afternoons during high season. It is also mentioned that the extra hour (or hours) of private lessons will be scheduled during the other half of the day either from 10:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. or from 1:15 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. The week prior to each students arrival we also confirm their class schedule and we never received any comment from you until you arrived. We really tried to put that extra hour for you and your husband at the exact same time but unfortunately 10:15 a.m. and 11:15 was the closest available. During high season, we have very little room to change schedules (which is why upfront we state things as they are/could be) and as we were within what we had promised from the beginning it wasn't fair to disrupt other students' schedules who didn't have any issue with theirs.

Students who sign up for this intensive program should be aware that they will be spending a lot of time at the school (in your case 1 or 2 hours in the morning, closer to lunch, and then 4 hours in the afternoon). Those who sign up for this intensive program and also want to volunteer are able to do so from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. (or even in the evening we have volunteering options). This is super, super intense and we offer it because this is what some students are looking for, so volunteering was totally possible for you.

When you arrived to our school the first time our Volunteer Director was not present, but once you started your classes she looked for you and asked you if you would like to discuss your volunteer program and you told her you would pass by the reception area. She allowed a couple of days to pass and as you didn't pay her a visit, she looked for you again and you said that you thought volunteering would be too much for you and your husband.

In regards to our immersion teaching methodology, it is stated throughout our website that it is the teaching methodology that we use as we believe it is the most effective way to learn. We are totally aware that students will have to work harder (and it can be frustrating, specially at the beginning), but the rewards at the end of the day will be totally worth it. We are also aware that this methodology is not for everyone, and this is why in private lessons we can adapt to each students' learning needs and use other methodologies. If anyone believes total immersion is not for them, they should go for private lessons (as explained in our website and initial email correspondence).

In an effort to make sure that everyone gets the most out of their Spanish Program we will put more emphasis in these points both on our website and in our email correspondence with potential students.

On the other hand, yes Panamanian Spanish is more difficult to understand because we speak faster. If you think about it, this works in your advantage because if you can understand Spanish spoken rapidly, you can understand Spanish spoken slowly. We have written about this in our blog and anyone who asks about this particular topic is referred to that post.

Thanks for choosing us, for your feedback and we're very sorry for not being able to meet all of your expectations.

Buena suerte con tu español,

Julio Santamaría
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Houston, Texas
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Habla Ya in Boquete is fabulous”
Reviewed 8 March 2012

If you are interested in a great place to visit and learn something while there, I recommend Boquete in Chiriqui province, Panama. Tucked in a very pretty valley this gem of Central America is perfect. Everything is walking distance and cab rides to nearby communities are cheap, frequent and easy. Local supermarkets have everything you need and most things you want. There is little to no crime to speak of in the area. I was there to focus on learning Spanish at a Habla Ya immersion program. I lived with a local family, and became part of the family, over the month I was there. Habla Ya was exceptional. Well organized and prepared. Classes started on time and the teachers were prepared for every class. I found it to be a wonderful experience. I will return soon. Special thanks to Profesora Rod Araliz for making me feel like a good student and for not letting own she spoke perfect English!

Visited January 2012
Helpful?
2 Thank Jerry L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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