La Vida Dulce (working in Mexico really is the sweet life). Make no mistake: Mexico may share a border with the United States but the lifestyle in this Latin American country is completely unique. Though Mexico is our neighbor, in many ways it seems a world away. Its affordability and proximity to home make working abroad in Mexico an ideal choice for many Americans. As the ancient home of the Mayans, with one of the most prosperous economies in Latin America today, Mexico is home to endless learning possibilities for international workers outside of any specific profession.
There are numerous ways to work abroad in Mexico, and with each one, many avenues for learning Spanish. Whether formally or naturally, learning Spanish while working abroad in Mexico is not just a possibility, it should be a priority! Here are a few ways you can optimize your language learning while working abroad in Mexico:
Get a Teaching Job
Teachers can learn just as much as their students, so teaching English in Mexico will provide you with an excellent opportunity for language exchange. Earn a Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) or Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate. Courses commonly run for four to eight weeks, but vary greatly. You can learn entirely online or take classes that include real teaching experiences. The cost of certification and quality of job available after training will reflect the hours of work that is required.
Become a Student
Work and education don't have to be separate. It is possible to take classes while you are working in Mexico. Contrary to popular belief, it isn't always necessary to be an enrolled college student to "study abroad". It is also possible to directly enroll in local universities or participate in short term study abroad programs that are open to people of all ages. Just be sure you choose a study abroad program in Mexico that caters to your level of Spanish.
Mexico's major cities offer an abundance of Spanish language courses for individuals of all abilities, which can suit every time frame, objective, and budget, from short-term intensive classes to one-on-one instruction to a full-semester of Spanish courses.
Spanish language courses are commonly offered through language schools for four to five days a week in the morning or afternoon, so students have plenty of free time for traveling, exploring, or working a full time job.
For those with a high level of Spanish language skills, many Mexican universities offer college courses to foreigners. This opens doors to all kinds of classes outside of Spanish too. If there is already a strong base in the language take your skills to the next level with a art or history course. Meet locals, experience new teaching techniques, and practice Spanish while learning more about the culture.
If you are really lucky, your language school, study abroad program, or university may even offer excursions in conjunction with Spanish language courses. Language learning in Mexico doesn't only mean simply sitting in a classroom each day listening to lectures and reading books. Learning Spanish in Mexico can include hands-on fieldwork or visits to famous sites around Mexico.
Choose Your Accommodation Wisely
Remember that accommodations can add to or distract your from your Spanish fluency goals. But the good news is, there are a wide variety of accommodation options for international workers in Mexico, from homestays to dorm style living to private apartments. In a homestay environment you will be compelled to speak Spanish at home, so you'll likely end up learning the language much faster than in an environment where Spanish is only spoken part time. Homestays are always the cheaper option for housing, and meals are usually included, so you can't go wrong there!
Take Your Learning into the Real World
Learning Spanish in Mexico doesn't necessarily demand an academic institution. Mexico has unlimited opportunities for language learning in daily life as an expat. Whether buying food at a stand on the side of the street, navigating local transportation, talking with co-workers, or paying your rent, daily life will be filled with chances for you to practice your Spanish skills. So, don't cop out and revert to English because it is easier on your brain!
Consider The Lay of the Land
The nation's capital, Mexico City, is the second largest city in the world and is world-renowned for its art, economy, and tourism. Museums and ancient architecture abound, but modern-day development is also obvious in the city's many high-rises and international businesses. Traveling further east and south into the country, international workers can tour and easily visit the ancient ruins of the Mayan civilization, in states like Campeche, Quintana Roo, the Yucatan, and Chiapas. In fact, much of Mexico is home to ruins of many ancient civilizations.
The entire country is made up of a wide range of landscapes, which means traveling will never become boring. Deserts, mountains, jungles, and beaches provide the perfect backdrop for ecotourism, which has become very popular in Mexico. Preserved, historical cities also tell the story of the nation's past and how it is so intertwined with the culture today. Learning outside of your workplace, and a classroom for that matter, will only help you develop a more well-rounded perspective of the country and Spanish language.