Spanish Language Classes
Brush up on your high-school Spanish or sign up for extended lessons as part of a long-term stay with a language class in Panama. Spanish Panama (tel. 213-3121), in Panama City, is Canadian directed with certified bilingual professors and offers a range of private and group classes, as well as month-long programs. Spanish Panama can set up homestays with local families as well. Classes begin at $260 per week. Spanish Abroad, Inc. (tel. 888/722-7623) and EPA! (tel. 391-4044), both in Panama City, offer a range of classes and month-long programs, some of which include homestays. Spanish-by-the-Sea (tel. 757-9518) has inexpensive group classes in Bocas del Toro that run from $150 to $300 per week (20 hr.); private customized courses are also available. Spanish-by-the-Sea can also pair classes with open-water dive certification.
Volunteer travel has become increasingly popular among those who want to venture beyond the standard group-tour experience to learn languages, inter- act with locals, and make a positive difference while on vacation. Volunteer travel usually doesn’t require special skills—just a willingness to work hard— and programs vary in length from days to weeks. Committing a day or two of volunteer work while you’re on vacation is another popular option: On Bocas del Toro, for example, the Red Frog Beach Resort and the Red Frog Foundation offer a number of short-term volunteer programs you can join during your vacation, including food distribution, sea turtle conservation, or beach cleanup.
Before you commit to a volunteer program, it’s important to make sure any money you’re giving is truly going back to the local community. International Volunteer Programs Association (IVPA) has a helpful list of IVPA-accredited programs and member organizations, as well as questions to ask to determine the intentions and the nature of a volunteer program.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.