Studying Spanish in Xela
Ulew Tinimit was founded in 1992 with the vision of contributing to the development of our country through our own efforts and in collaboration with the participants in our programs.
All of our teachers have a professional background and are university-educated with a wide range of specialties, such as education, economics, social work and politics. The teaching is personalized: for each student one teacher – which allows the pace and the material studied to be tailored to the needs of each student. Read more about our intensive Spanish Programs.
Ulew Tinimit Spanish School is located just blocks away from Xela’s Central Park and within feet of nearby restaurants, cafes and gyms/dance studios. The school itself is a large colonial building with a large patio instead of traditional classrooms. There’s a skylight covering the patio, protecting students from the elements while providing a nice, sunny space to learn Spanish. We have free WiFi access and a kitchen that’s available for use.
Don’t worry! Our staff has years of experience working with all levels of Spanish. Additionally, our bilingual student coordinator, Mike, is here to help you with anything you might need to settle in.
Xela is a perfect place to immerse yourself in the Spanish language. Xela is off the typical tourist path and as a result, you won’t be surrounded with English speakers like in other areas. At the same time, however, Xela’s location and size make it a convenient location to see other parts of Guatemala including Santa Maria Volcano, Lago Atitlan and Antigua. Not to mention Xela’s beautiful scenery – Why not study in a rooftop cafe overlooking the city and surrounding mountains?
Yes, we offer both study abroad options and school credit at the university and high school levels. We recommend contacting your school administrator or counselor first to ensure that you receive the proper documentation before coming to Ulew Tinimit.
Our study abroad program spans the course of a standard semester. The first three months are dedicated toward the principles and structure of the language. In addition, students participate in a broad range of social activities focused on Guatemalan life and culture, past and present. The following three months students work on application of the language as well as social involvement. Students carry out a community investigation on a topic of their choice and present an essay to the school on their discoveries and conclusions. Many students have earned university credit for this individualized program.
Absolutely. Please feel free to contact any of our past students on our Testimonials page.
We are open year round except on official Guatemalan holidays, including New Years Day (January 1st), Good Friday (varies), Guatemalan Independence Day (September 15th), All Saints Day (November 1st) and Christmas Day (December 25th). If the Monday of your first week is a holiday, your classes will start on Tuesday instead. Your homestay still begins on Sunday and the tuition is still the same (you will makeup the lost Monday class on a later date).
As Xela is high in the mountains, the weather can vary. Daytime highs are usually around 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit during most of the year with lows reaching 45-65 degrees Fahrenheit. The rainy season lasts from May to September which typically means light to moderate showers in the afternoons. So please bring clothes for both warm and cool weather!
Homestay with Guatemalan Family
Most students choose to live with a Guatemalan family during their studies. Our families are hospitable and out-going and dedicated to making your stay truly memorable. By staying with a host family, you’ll have the opportunity to continue practicing your Spanish at home (families do not speak English) and will be able to join family activities like birthday celebrations, graduations, market trips and so forth.
Your host family will provide you with a private room that includes a bed, desk and chair and bathroom with hot water. They will also provide you with purified water and will make sure you have clean linens and towels. We ask you questions about your preferences when you register to make sure you get placed with the best family for you.
View homestay photos.
Your family will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. The food will generally be typical Guatemalan food though other cuisines (pizza, pasta, fried chicken) are often mixed in as well.
If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, no problem! We ask you to let us know of your dietary restrictions when you register though you can let us or your host family know at any point and we’ll make sure to accommodate them.
Absolutely. Let us know in the comments section when you register and we’ll place you together in the same family.
Though we think the homestay is a great way to further your Spanish proficiency, you can also choose to arrange your own lodging. Your tuition will be $135/week, $30 less, and we can help you find hostels, hotels or apartments (un-affiliated with the school) if you’d like.
We support a handful of projects in Xela and the surrounding communities. Volunteer opportunities include Organic Agriculture, Organic Agroindustry, Artisans Support, Rural Education, Medicine, and Alternative Centers of Justice.
Part of your tuition goes to help support these projects and once you arrive, we’re happy to take you to the different projects and get you involved. Since language competency is key to successful participation in these projects, we require that students wishing to participate as volunteers first spend at least one week in our language immersion program.
If you prefer to work in a different field or a different organization, we can point you in the right direction. Xela is home to numerous NGOs and social ventures working in tons of different areas. Entremundos, a local intermediary that connects local organizations with volunteers, has a large database of available volunteer positions in Xela:
Find Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteer schedules depend on the position and type of project. For example, many medical students or others volunteering in local hospitals or clinics volunteer in the mornings and then take classes in the afternoons. For many other marketing or business-oriented positions, the work is done in the afternoons.
Traveling to Xela and throughout Guatemala
If you’re arriving by plane, the closest airport will be Guatemala City (GUA). Most students arrive on a Saturday or Sunday though we can accommodate other days as well. We recommend you arrive by 2PM local time to ensure that you’re able to catch a bus from Guatemala City to Xela. The last bus leaves Guatemala City for Xela at 5:30pm so if you arrive after then, you’ll have to spend the night in Guatemala City. Bus tickets are around $8-$11 depending on the bus company (your arrival time will dictate which bus company you can take)
If requested, Ulew Tinimit will send a representative to pick you up at the airport and bring you to the hotel or the bus station. Simply send us a note on our Contact Us page or specify that you would like an airport pickup when you make your reservation. To be picked up at the airport and then transferred directly to the bus terminal for the trip to Xela, you will be charged $30 (including bus ticket). And we’ll take care of the bus schedules, making sure you catch the earliest bus possible.
For overnight stays, we can either recommend trusted hotels or provide you with an overnight homestay (airport pickup and bus terminal drop-off included) for $40 (including bus ticket).
If you’re already traveling in the region, getting to Xela by bus will be the easiest option for you. From the eastern part of Guatemala (Tikal, Livingston, Semuc Champey) there are plenty of buses that will first take you to Guatemala City and from there you can catch a bus directly to Xela.
From Antigua, you can choose to take a private shuttle (around $25-$30 per person) or take a “chicken bus” for about $0.75 to Chimaltenango where you’ll be dropped off right on the junction for Xela. From Chimaltenango or “Chimal” you can either catch another chicken bus or a Pullman style bus to Xela where you’ll pay about $4-$5. The trip from Chimal to Xela takes about 3 hours.
From Mexico, you can either take buses from Tapachula or San Cristobal. There are also private shuttles available from these cities directly to Xela.
From other parts of Central America, trusted bus companies like Tica Bus will generally take you to Guatemala City where you can transfer to a direct bus to Xela.
Absolutely! Many students choose to take weekend trips to nearby sites and cities like Tikal, Semuc Champey, Lago Atitlan and Antigua. We’e happy to help you plan a trip or evaluate your travel options during your time here. Additionally, some longer term students decide to take a break in their studies to travel for longer periods of time. This is not a problem at all as long as you inform us at least 1 week in advance.
Registration and Payment
To register for classes please fill out the form on our Reservations page. Filling out the registration form will give you a tentative reservation. Please include as much information as you’d like to help us create the perfect experience for you. Your tentative reservation will remain tentative until you submit your USD $40 non-refundable registration fee via our Payment page. We use PayPal’s secure payment system for all of our transactions.
Yes, we recommend that you preregister to guarantee a spot in the school. In addition to guaranteeing a spot, we’ll help you start planning volunteer opportunities, school credit, etc. once you register.
Before your arrival we only request that you pay your USD $40.00 NON-refundable registration fee. Once you begin classes tuition is due every Monday. You can pay by USD or Quetzales. If you wish to pay by credit card you may do so through our Payment page. We use PayPal’s secure payment system for all of our transactions.
We understand that your plans may change so we remain flexible! Please let us know up to 48 hours in advance of your start date if you’d like to revise your arrival and there will be no penalty. Additionally, you can change your end date at any time.
If, unfortunately, you have to cancel your studies with us, you may do so up to 1 week in advance without penalty though your $50 registration fee is non-refundable. If you cancel after that time we will charge your credit card for the first week’s of tuition only because your teacher and family will be anticipating your arrival.