With a total population of 3.5 million and a surface of only 75,515 km2, Panama is a relatively small Central American country, so choosing where to study Spanish in Panama shouldn't really be a difficult task... so let's get to it!
Panama has Spanish schools in Panama City, Boquete, Bocas del Toro and Pedasí, so when deciding where to go there are mainly two factors that you should take into account:
- the environment that will surround you during your Spanish learning program
- the quality of the Spanish school
Spanish in Bocas del Toro is for those who dream about warm and turquoise Caribbean waters, white sand beaches, abundant wildlife (dolphins, turtles, toucans, monkeys, coral, tropical fish, and more), a funky island nightlife and water sports such as surfing, scuba diving, sea kayaking, snorkeling, or just taking in the sun with a cold beer or chilling out by the sea.
Spanish in Boquete is for those who love the mountains, being outdoors, fresh air (not hot as in the low lands) and all the adventures that come from being in a cloud forest such as hiking (lots of it!), rafting, kayaking, coffe tours, horseback riding, hot springs, ziplining, mountain biking, etc.
If you're a city person and don't mind the traffic, then Spanish in Panama City is definitively your choice. The bustling capital offers you the Panama Canal, the historical Casco Viejo (the Old City's Quarters), some of Latin America's best shopping malls with the top brands from all over the world, and an amazing nightlife scene. Weekend excursions to the jungle and the beach are a must!
Spanish in Pedasi is a window to Panama's past. Rural Pedasi is a quaint and sleepy fishing village which makes the perfect base to explore the Azuero Peninsula, its traditions, culture and coasts.
In simplistic terms, the environment that you're looking for can be summarized as follows:
- Spanish in Bocas del Toro if you're looking to learn Spanish by the beach with a Caribbean island vibe
- Spanish in Boquete if you're looking to learn Spanish in the mountains with plenty of eco-adventures
- Spanish in Panama City City if you're looking for a vibrant city life, both during the day and night
- Spanish in Pedasi if you're looking for a peaceful destination, off the beaten path, with plenty of culture and traditions, and easy access to the coast
Now, the quality of each Spanish school can be determined by:
- its certifications
- and the reviews it's received from former students
In the case of Habla Ya Spanish Schools in Bocas del Toro and Boquete, both are Official DELE Examination Centers (the most prestigious certification you can obtain to demonstrate your command of the Spanish language) and Habla Ya Spanish school in Boquete is accredited by the Instituto Cervantes, the worldwide authority when it comes to Spanish learning. You can find more about Habla Ya's accreditations by clicking here...
In regards a Spanish school's ratings, there are a series of sites that collect and publish students' reviews such as:
- MyLanguageTravel.com: language school reviews by the students, for the students
- GoAbroad.com: the resource for meaningful travel!
- 123TeachMe: Spanish Language Schools Directory
- Trip Advisor: reviews and advice on hotels, resorts, flights, vacation rentals, travel packages, and lots more!
- Lonely Planet: all you've got to do is decide to go and the hardest part is over. So go!
You should also ask about the school's Spanish teachers:
- if they have university degrees related to languages
- what type of training they receive
- how many years of experience do they have teaching Spanish as a foreign language and for how long have they been working at the same school
- if they are hired full time as opposed to "on demand"
Many Spanish schools in Central America pay their employees by the hour or hire more teachers during high season. This can lead to students being forced into groups of a different level than their own (as under this scheme it's more profitable to have less teachers) and teachers being laid off during low season and thus working without proper training and inspiration.
Full time employed Spanish teachers with proper training and good salaries = happy teachers... and happy teachers = happy students who learn Spanish fast!
So basically that is our advice: think about the type of location you'd like to experience during your Spanish learning program, and then choose a quality Spanish school. Panama has it all and if you want to learn Spanish in Central America it's always possible to combine several Spanish learning destinations to make up the perfect Spanish learning vacation!
And to make your research about where to learn Spanish in Panama even easier, as follows is a list of Spanish schools in Panama that are currently in operation (those who have a website but are effectively closed, aren't listed here):
- Spanish Schools in Panama City: ILERI, Spanish Panama, EPA and Casco Antiguo Spanish School
- Spanish Schools in Bocas del Toro: Habla Ya Bocas del Toro Spanish School and Spanish by the Sea
- Spanish Schools in Boquete: Habla Ya Boquete Spanish School and Spanish by the River
- Spanish School in Pedasi: Buena Vida Language School
And of course we truly believe that Boquete and Bocas del Toro are the best places to learn Spanish in Panama... otherwise we wouldn't call these places our home! At the end of the day it's always possible to spend some time in Panama City at the beginning or at the end of your trip: 2 or 3 days should be enough to visit Casco Viejo, the Panama Canal, Panama La Vieja and do some shopping!
Yes, we are biased: we love the beach and we love the mountains and find them to be more appropriate environments to study Spanish in Panama! Having said that, Habla Ya Spanish Schools do have the most prestigious certifications (which are internationally recognized and can give your CV a boost) amongst Panama's Spanish schools, and consistently have more and better reviews than any other Spanish school in Panama.