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November 2009 issue

Contents
News
Agency News
Agency Survey
Feedback
Market Report
Direction 1
Direction 2
Direction 3
Special Report
Course Guide 1
Course Guide 2
Spotlight
Destination
Regional Focus
Status

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Mexico’s magic

The sheer richness of scenery and culture, coupled with a welcoming population eager to make visitors feel like one of the family, combine to make Mexico a top language travel destination, as Gillian Evans reports.

Mexico has everything to make students content: rich culture, great weather, affordable living, mountains, beaches, deserts, and just about everything in between,” asserts Marta Conesa at International House (IH) Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen.

Made up of a diverse range of native American cultures and Spanish traditions, Mexico’s culture is rich and varied, and still very evident today, says Paulina Hawkins at Academia Hispano Americana in San Miguel de Allende. “[Mexico] is a country full of colour both visually and culturally as the mixture of the native and Spanish cultures is very much felt in everyday life,” she relates.

Festivals, music and handicrafts all celebrate Mexico’s colourful history, while a legacy of pre-Colombian archeological sites and fine examples of colonial architecture can be found throughout the country. Chloe Pacheco at Centro de Idiomas del Sureste in Mérida says that because of this, “Mexico offers a treasure trove of amazing experiences – archeological sites, contact with fascinating authentic indigenous groups, [as well as] tropical and subtropical environments with a vast biodiversity.” All this, sums up Christopher Thebing at Academia Columbus in Playa del Carmen, combines to make Mexico “a magical place” to visit.

Perched on the eastern edge of the Yucatán Peninsula, looking out over the Caribbean Sea, Playa del Carmen is, according to Thebing, “the door to the Mayan Riviera”. The area is also endowed with natural attractions such as the second largest coral reef in the world, the turtle nesting locations of Akumal and Xcacel, and the breathtaking beaches of the Mexican Caribbean. “It makes a trip to the Riviera an exotic, incredible adventure,” he asserts. “Playa del Carmen is a marvellous place,” agrees Conesa. “It has all the advantages of a Mexican Caribbean resort – dazzling, white-sandy beaches, turquoise sea, a huge range of bars, restaurants and places to stay – and yet it has managed to retain a relaxed, low-rise village atmosphere which has nothing in common with the large-scale tourist resorts elsewhere on the coast.” IH Riviera Maya is just a five-minute walk from the beach and humming birds are frequent visitors to the exotic flora and fauna in the school’s garden. “Unless you’ve experienced it for yourself,” says Conesa, “it’s difficult to appreciate just how special this corner of the world is.”

On the other side of the Yucatán Peninsula, looking out across the Gulf of Mexico, is Mérida, a city that retains its small-town feel in spite of a growing population of one million. “Mérida is a very well preserved yet modern city [with great] cultural wealth, safe streets, nearby beaches and a broad range of educational opportunities,” says Pachero. The school works hard to ensure students are treated to an authentic slice of Mexican life through its range of excursions, which includes a trip to a working henequen (hacienda).

Volunteer work is another popular way of getting to know the country, and many schools help students find volunteer placements, and some even include these in their courses. Cemanahuac Educational Community in Cuernavaca offers classes that provide “in-depth exposure to contemporary Mexican politics, economics, culture, and environmental concerns”, reports Harriet Goff Guerrero at the school, and as part of the course, participants spend 10 hours per week with poor and indigenous young people in Cuernavaca.

Cuernavaca itself is, says Carel Rogel at CLS in Cuernavaca, “truly in the heart of Mexico”. He continues, “In and around the city there are many interesting sites that let the students enjoy the pre-Hispanic, colonial and modern Mexico.” Another draw of Cuernavaca is its comfortable year-round climate. “Cuernavaca is at 5,000 feet above sea level and enjoys a spring-like climate all year round with an average temperature of 70 degrees fahrenheit,” says Goff Guerrero.

According to Rogel, the locals “love to have foreign students in the city”, and those who live with host families are treated to a real Mexican experience of family life. “The meals prepared at the house of local host families have a rich variety of flavours,” relates Rogel. “Even if they are not served sophisticated dishes as in the restaurants, they are really delicious!”

While a wide range of tasty food can be found throughout Mexico, the city of Oaxaca, which is situated to the east of Mexico City, is world-famous for its cuisine. Some of the best-known dishes include Mole – a sauce made with an exotic concoction of ingredients including chocolate and chilli – and toasted Chapulines (grasshoppers). “It is said that if you try the chapulines, you will definitely visit Oaxaca again,” says Elizabeth Petter, Campus Director of Solexico Oaxaca.

With an average of 345 days of sunshine each year, this city of 600,000 people has a very relaxed pace of life, and is a great place to experience some of the region’s traditional festivals such as Semana Santa at Easter, the Guelaguetza festival held in the last two weeks of July and the Day of the Dead festivities in late October and early November. 

To the west of Mexico City is Guadalajara, which Wouter Stut from the Guadalajara Language Center dubs “the most Mexican of Mexico’s cities”. Mexico’s second largest city, Guadalajara, is home to a large student population, making it a lively place in which to learn Spanish. Guadalajara Language Center is situated in Tlaquepaque, which is 20 minutes from the centre of Guadalajara and is famous for its traditional crafts, stone and metal ware and galleries. But Stut says that to get to know the real Mexico, one really has to experience some of the population’s best-loved pastimes. “Some of the attractions that are typically Mexican and/or from around here are Lucha Libre (wrestling) at Arena Coloseo; watching a soccer game at Jalisco Stadium; eating Torta Ahogada (type of sandwich drenched in chilli sauce) in Las Famousas or eating tacos on the street at 4 o’clock in the morning in Calle 16 de Septiembre; drinking a beer in one of the oldest cantinas in Guadalajara, La Fuente; or just be invited to somebody’s birthday or a get-together with Mexican friends at their house. These are experiences that you will not forget and a way to see the real Mexican life as it is lived by many families.”

Sandwiched in a tight ravine northwest of Guadalajara is Guanajuato, which according to Kana Mino at the Universidad de Guanajuato, “is known as one of the most beautiful cities in Mexico”. Declared a Unesco World Heritage Zone in 1988, Guanajuato is full of colonial architecture, and has plenty of bars, restaurants and plazas from which to watch the world go by. According to Mino, it is also an ideal place for international students. “Guanajuato is a quiet college town where foreigners are always welcomed and easily make friends,” says Mino.

It is also easy to get to know people in the coastal resort town of Puerto Vallarta. “Local people are nice, kind and always helpful with tourists,” asserts Kennia Burgueno at Solexico Puerto Vallarta. “The way of life is very easy going. Locals like to party a lot and [love to] chill with tourists in bars, clubs and restaurants.” Because of Puerto Vallarta’s ideal location, between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains, you can swim with dolphins, relax on the beach or hike in the mountains.

Once you have experienced Mexico, it leaves you feeling that like you are one of the family. “When I came here I thought it would be a temporary thing,” recounts Conesa at IH. “Well, it’s been more than five years and I am still here. I love the sun, the white sandy beaches, the smell of the sea, the turquoise colours and all the flavours of the fresh fruits you can find here as well as the rest of the food.” Contesa also mentions the warmth of Mexicans: “You always feel how kind people are and how welcome you are. Once you have been here, it’s very easy to feel as if you are [one of the locals],” she enthuses.

Agent viewpoint

 “Students who choose to go [to Playa del Carmen] like the combination of the Caribbean Sea and Spanish language programme. Especially in the cold winter months in Germany, they love to stay in a hot and relaxing Caribbean region. Moreover there are good flight connections with charter airlines from Germany to Cancun. On the other hand, Oaxaca is a more typical “Mexican style” [location], and not as touristy as Playa del Carmen. Students who choose this place love to stay in smaller cities and get in contact with locals.”
Nina Schulz, Studiosus Reisen, Germany

 “I think students like Mexico because they can combine a language course with a holiday and go travelling afterwards. Most of them are interested in Mexican culture. We only offer Playa del Carmen in our programme and although this city is pretty touristy, people like it. Students like the beach, going snorkelling and enjoying the nice weather. They go on excursions to Cozumel (Jeep Tour), Tulúm, Cobá, Uxmal, Mérida or on a catamaran tour to Isla Mujeres.”
Antje Linnemann, Travelplus Group, Germany

 “Students often pick Mexico for the diverse culture and landscape. Students can visit beautiful Caribbean waters, Mayan ruins, major cities and quaint colonial mountain towns. The weather varies from temperate to tropical, snow-capped volcanoes to jungle-clad beaches. You can choose to visit an upscale resort town or really get a great Spanish immersion in a small village. Often, students experience both in the same trip!”
Alexa Boyce, Amerispan, USA

Contact any advertiser in this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.

Name

Company
Country

Telephone

Email


ACCOMMODATION
Global Immersions
      Inc  
NYC Language
      Vacations 

AGENTS/CONSULTANTS
Boa Lingua  
Students
      International

ASSOCIATIONS/GROUPS
British Council  
English Australia  
Feltom Malta  
International House
      World Organisation  
Languages Canada /
      Langues Canada  
MEI Ireland  
Perth Education City
Quality English  

EVENTS
Feltom Malta  
IALC International  
IEFT- International
      Education Fairs of
      Turkey  
International House
      World Organisation  

EXAM BOARDS
Pearson Education  

INSURANCE
Student Guard
      Insurance  

SERVICES
InTouch  
StudentMarketing  

TOURIST BOARDS
Malta Tourism
      Authority  
Perth Education City

WORK EXPERIENCE
Twin Group
      (Ireland, England,
      USA)
Training Partnership
      Ltd. (The)  
English Bay College
Australian Internships
Professionals UK  
PractiGo GmbH  
GEM Placements  

ARGENTINA
Ecela - Latin
      Immersion 
      (Argentina, Chile,
      Peru) 

AUSTRALIA
Ability Education
Australian Internships
Language Studies
      International  
Pacific Gateway
      International College
Perth Education
      City  
Shafston
      International
      College University
University of
      Tasmania  
University of
      Western Sydney
      College  

BELGIUM
CERAN Lingua
      International 
      (Belgium, England,
      France) 

BRAZIL
Bics
      (Business & Intl
      Communication
      School)
Bridge Linguatec  
      (Argentina, Brazil)
Fast Forward  
      (Brazil, Portugal)
The Language Club
      (TLC)  

CANADA
Access International
      English Language
      Centre  
Berlitz Canada  
Camosun College  
College Platon  
East Coast School
      of Languages
      (ECSL)  
ELS Language
      Centres  
English Bay College
English Language
      Training College
      ELTC
English School of
      Canada  
Eurocentres,
       Vancouver  
Geos Language
      Academy  
Global Village  
      (Australia, Canada,
      USA)
Public Schools of
       the Canadian
      Rockies
Hansa Language
      Centre of Toronto  
Herzing College  
ILAC - International
      Language Academy
      of Canada  
ILSC - International
      Language Schools
       of Canada  
ITTTI Vancouver  
Languages Canada /
      Langues Canada  
Language Studies
      Canada  
National School of
       Languages  
Ottawa International
      Student Programmes
       (OISP)  
Public Schools of
       the Canadian
      Rockies  
Richmond School
      District #38  
Rocky Mountain
      School District  
Saint Mary's
      University  
Southeast Kootenay
      School District No. 5  
Stewart College
      of Languages  
Student Guard
      Insurance  
University of Toronto
University of Victoria
VanWest College  

CHINA
Mandarin House  

EGYPT
IH Cairo  

ENGLAND
Anglophiles
      Academic 
      (England, Ireland,
      USA, Cyprus,
      Canada)  
Ardmore Language
      Schools  
Bell International  
      (Malta, UK)
British Council  
Bury Language
      School  
Camp Beaumont  
English Language
      Centre Brighton &
      Hove  
English Studio  
GEM Placements  
Harrow House
      International
      College  
IALC International  
International House
      World Organisation  
Isis Group/
      StudyCentres  
Kaplan Aspect  
      (Australia, Canada,
      Ireland,Malta, New
      Zealand, South
      Africa, UK, USA)
LAL Language and
      Leisure  
      (Canada, Cyprus,
      Ireland, England,
      South Africa, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA)
LITE - London
      Institute Of
      Technology And
      English  
Malvern House
      College London  
Plus 
      (Canada, Ireland,
      Italy, Malta, UK,
      USA)
Professionals UK
Quality English
Queen Ethelburga's
      College  
Spinnaker College
St Giles Colleges 
      (Canada, UK, USA) 
Study Group 
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Ireland,
      Italy, New Zealand,
      South Africa, Spain,
      USA)
Training Partnership
      Ltd. (The)  
Twin Group 
      (Ireland, England,
      USA) 
University of Essex -
      International
      Academy  

GERMANY
BWS Germanlingua 
Carl Duisberg
      Medien GmbH  
      (England, Germany)
inlingua Berlin  
International House
      Berlin - Prolog  

IRELAND
Atlantic Language
      Galway  
Galway Cultural
      Institute  
MEI Ireland  

ITALY
DILIT -
      International House  

JAPAN
Kai Japanese
      Language School  
Tamagawa
      International
      Language School  

MALTA
Clubclass
      Residential
      Language School  
Easy School of
      Languages  
EC English
      Language Centre 
       (England, Malta,
      South Africa, USA)
Feltom Malta  
Linguatime  
Malta Tourism
      Authority  
NSTS  

PORTUGAL
CIAL - Centro de
      Linguas  

SCOTLAND
EAC Language
      Centres and Activity  
      Camps.  
      (England, Ireland,
      Scotland, Wales)

SOUTH AFRICA
Language Teaching
      Centre  

SPAIN
Pamplona Learning
      Spanish Institute  
Malaga Si  
International House -
      Riviera Maya
      (Spain, Mexico)  

SWITZERLAND
Boa Lingua  
EF Language
      Colleges Ltd  
      (Australia, Canada,
      China, Costa Rica,
      Ecuador, England,
      France, Germany,
      Italy, Malta, New
      Zealand, Singapore,
      South Africa, Spain,
      USA)
Eurocentres
      International 
      (Australia, Canada,
      England, France,
      Germany, Italy,
      Japan, New Zealand,
      Russia, Spain,
      Switzerland, USA) 

USA
Access to
      Language Studies  
California State
      University San
      Marcos  
Geos North America
Global Immersions
      Inc
IH New York  
Inlingua Language
      Centers  
NYC Language
      Vacations  
University of
      California Riverside
University of
      California San Diego
Zoni Language
      Centers  



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