Spanish Programs for Mature Students – Habla Ya 50+ Club

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"Spanish Programs for Mature Students – Habla Ya 50+ Club".

Search our blog about all things Panama! From must dos, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, in our blog you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 15 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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Spanish Programs for Mature Students – Habla Ya 50+ Club

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Frequently we're contacted by mature students who are interested in learning Spanish in Panama. Unfortunately, one of their main concerns is their age. Many fear that they will stand out and be the only 50+ students at our schools. We understand why they worry. After all, who wants to sit among a bunch of loud teens in the same classroom? I'm 35, and the thought scares me already.

At #hablaya, make friendship and memories that transcend borders #travel #visitpanama #panama #bocasdeltoro #caribbean

A photo posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools (@hablaya) on

Moreover, humans are creatures of habit, and sometimes the older we get, the less we are willing to get out of our comfort zone and try something new. It can be intimidating to travel to a foreign country and learn a new skill, especially when many out there will tell you that the language learning ship has already sailed for you.

Habla Ya Spanish students exploring Panama City's Casco Viejo.

But I’d like to reassure these future students, and tell you:

  1. It’s never too late to learn a language. It may be true that our brains assimilate new information at a slower pace after a certain age, but it's completely false to assume that it's too late to learn. In fact, studies show that learning a new language improves your brain health. Your brain is like a muscle, and it’s never too late to give it some exercise.
  2. We don’t place children with adults, or teenagers with mature students. We always try to match age groups in the classroom, in addition to placing students according to their Spanish level. If you prefer to be on your own with your teacher, that's also possible with A One-on-One Course. That way you don’t have to worry about study pace, and can move as slow or as fast as you wish to.
  3. Several of our host families in Boquete, Panama City or Bocas del Toro are single (never married, divorced or widowers), or retired couples who prefer to host mature students. It's a common misconception to believe that a host family in Latin America necessarily has a bunch of toddlers running around.
  4. You are by far not the oldest student we’ve had. In fact, the oldest student I’ve had the privilege to welcome during my time at Habla Ya was an 84 year old gentleman from the United States, who came all by himself and stayed for 3 months with a host family in Boquete. I don't remember his name unfortunately (because I'm terrible with names, talking about brains!), but I do remember that his Spanish improved immensely and that he was having a wonderful time in Panama.

So you see? You're not too old to learn Spanish or to come to Habla Ya, and you should not let your fear of taking up a new challenge get in the way of your dreams!

Now, what can you expect about your classmates' ages? The age of our students does vary a bit according to the seasons and our locations.

For example, we have more university students and young professionals from Europe and the US/Canada (ages 18 to 28) during the summer months (June, July and August), as they are taking advantage of their summer break to visit Panama. The same is true for high school students (13 - 18) at the Boquete Campus. Teenagers go to Boquete generally, because it's a chilled and mellow town, perfectly safe for a teen traveling alone.

Mature students visit us year round, as many of them are retired or take a break from work in order to travel. Our 50+ students really like Habla Ya Boquete thanks to its fresh mountain climate, but not exclusively. We regularly have middle aged students at our Bocas del Toro and Panama City Campuses as well.

We promise not to have too much fun until you get here... Come learn Spanish with us and live the #hablaya immersion experience!

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, February 17, 2016

At Habla Ya you'll meet students of all different ages with one goal in common: improving their Spanish!

Many young professionals and expats in the 30-45 age range tend to study in Panama City because they've relocated there and are working, or are on a business trip in the city.

Bocas del Toro generally attracts a younger crowd (20 to 30), because the destination has an active nightlife and more of a party-town reputation. That doesn’t mean however that you cannot spend a quiet but active Spanish learning vacation with your family in Bocas. After all, nobody forces you to go to the night clubs.

Nobody forces you to go to the nightclub... but you can join them if you want to! Group of Habla Ya Spanish students.

A few months ago I had the privilege to meet Gail, who joined us in Boquete for 3 weeks last summer. As a 56 year old high school Spanish teacher traveling alone from the United States, she inspired me to write this blog post and share it with future students who are in the same situation as her: her kids are now adults, she has lots of time to travel, and the goal of perfecting her Spanish skills by doing a Total Spanish Immersion Program in Panama.

Gail's a Spanish teacher from the USA, and here she's with her 2 Spanish teachers in Boquete: Yubal and Leidys
Gail's a Spanish teacher from the USA, and here she's with her 2 Spanish teachers in Boquete: Yubal and Leidys.

1. Gail, what has inspired you to travel to Panama to improve your Spanish?

I looked into several programs in Latin America before selecting Panama; I was looking for a school that would meet my needs (advanced Spanish) but also for a school/service opportunities for a future trip for my high school students. HablaYa had just the right combination. The DELE certification from the Cervantes Institute was a guarantee of competence.

2. What was your biggest challenge or fear while preparing for your trip?

I've traveled to Mexico and Central America several times, so I had an idea of what I was in for. Panama was actually an easier country to travel in than some others. I definitely used HablaYa folks as a resource; they were always very helpful in answering my questions about logistics, activities, and everything else! (¡muchas gracias a todo el equipo!)

3. What was your impression of Panama, Boquete and Habla Ya once you arrived?

The school is very professional, and is very up to date with its approach to instruction, i.e. the emphasis on communication, especially spoken communication. The teachers are all excellent; intelligent, enthusiastic, well aware of their students' needs, and very professional.

Boquete is a lovely town in a beautiful setting; there is an easily accessible part of Boquete that tourists/expats enjoy; staying with a host family opens the window to the daily life of its citizens, and then there is the indigenous population, which is present but is in many ways a separate world.

Panama is a stunningly beautiful country, with a diverse and interesting population; with a certain degree of influence on the part of the US (the currency, to start with, and the history of the canal), but with a people who are proudly independent.

4. Would you recommend Habla Ya to other 50+ and senior students?

Totally. It helps to have a "youthful spirit" and to be flexible enough to enjoy staying with a host family (be ready for cold showers!) I found it a really easy program to attend and had a great experience!

5. Anything else you would like to add?

If you don't stay with a host family, you will miss out on that window into the world of Boquete's people, and will find yourself mostly in the world of tourists/students at HablaYa - so if you like people, consider the host family option. HablaYa is a well-run school that attends to its students' needs in a very professional way.

Now, hopefully Gail has inspired you to come study with us regardless of your age. Gail thanks for sharing your experience, and we hope to see you back soon!

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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