A beautiful colonial city, which is also the capital of the state of the same name, Guanajuato is one of the preferred Mexican spots to get down and dirty with Spanish. Not only are there a wealth of Spanish-language schools in the heart of the capital, Guanajuato itself is also overwhelmingly pretty, with a close-knit community that remains welcoming to outsiders, and is very well connected to other nearby commercial hubs and quaint villages.
Situated on the Jalisco coast, Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most popular vacation destinations, not least thanks to practically year-round good weather, a laidback atmosphere and cheap flights in and out. However, consider staying for longer than a holiday, and taking advantage of the several Spanish-language schools. You might find putting your skills into practise difficult, as many in the area speak good English, but the location more than makes up for that.
Of course, no guide to learning Spanish in Mexico would be complete without the obligatory mention of the capital, Mexico City. As the premier transport hub of the country, and home to some of Mexico’s best universities, the Ciudad de Mexico is unsurprisingly awash with language schools and private teachers ready to give Spanish classes. The fact that Mexico City has recently come into fashion as a tourist destination for all ages is only an added bonus.
If the capital seems like it might be too overwhelming, then move a touch south into the state of Puebla and the city of the same name. Puebla, a once valuable colonial city is now a colourful, affordable destination for many travellers and language learners, with plenty of language learning options to choose from and some world-class cuisine to boot. Plus, the accent is similar but more neutral to that of the capital, which some beginners might appreciate.
Oaxaca is a classic stop on the Mexico backpacking circuit, and is a state known for gorgeous, laidback beaches in the south, mountains in the centre and a capital city that’s walkable, affordable and pretty. As with Puebla, the wealth of delicious and typical Mexican food on offer, as well as the abundance of language schools, all adds to the appeal.
For a long time Cuernavaca was one of Mexico’s top spots for those who wanted to head south and learn Spanish and while the star has faded in recent years, there are still plenty of language school options for learners wanting to go somewhere a little quieter to practise wrapping their tongue around those rolled ‘r’s. And, there are plenty of natural attractions nearby if you want to escape the city on a weekend.
Guadalajara is Mexico’s second city and, as such, offers that big city lifestyle but with a slightly more small-town feel. As with the rest of the entries, there are also plenty of language schools to choose from and many nearby attractions that make basing yourself in the capital of Jalisco state a great idea. Plus, Jalisco is home to many of the most Mexican traditions, including mariachi, tequila and the hangover-curing torta ahogada, so you’ll also get a true insight into the culture.
Finally, while many argue that learning Spanish in San Miguel de Allende is a waste of time thanks to the high volumes of English-speaking expats that call this idyllic town home, the options are endless when it comes to choosing a language school and the quality of teaching is excellent. As with Vallarta then, if you choose San Miguel to learn Spanish, just make sure to steer clear of all the north of the border snowbirds.