Frequently Asked Questions
How are you different than other language schools?
First Habla places creativity at the heart of learning. Although we will teach explicit grammatical concepts, we then provide space and time for students to master the structures by using them in creative ways. Teachers at Habla aren’t looking for the “right answer” and they don’t teach in a way that is repetitive. In Habla classrooms you will use the language to tell stories and talk about topics that are important to you.
Secondly Habla values the profession of teaching and the unique skills and talents of teachers. Many schools feel that if you speak a language you can teach a language. Their prices are low, and they offer many hours of language learning, because they hire inexperienced teachers and pay them very little. This often results in hours a week of tiresome and boring classes. At Habla we are always building a community of teachers and providing them with professional development. We also meet often as a teacher community to exchange creative ideas we’re developing for our classrooms. Our teachers participate in a range of professional development programs at Habla including the Teacher Institute and the Habla Forum.
Habla is much more than a school. Habla works in partnership with the ArtsLiteracy Project in the Education Department at Brown University, with the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, and Smart Schools to develop new pedagogies and build an international cadre of boundary crossing educators. This means all of our teachers and students benefit from an exchange of ideas from the field of education.
What is your building like? Where are you located?Visit a photo gallery of our classroom spaces, gardens, galleries, and community gathering spaces here. We are located in one of the nicest sections of Merida (the Northeast part of the city) in a spacious building surrounded by beautiful gardens. All of our classrooms have large windows and look out to Habla’s gardens. We are located within a short walking distance to cafes, restaurants, and bars.
We are easily accessible by means of the city’s major bus lines that stop directly in front of our school.
Do you have Spanish for kids? What are the age requirements to study at Habla?Every summer throughout the month of July we offer a Bilingual Summer Arts Course for students aged 7-12 years of age. If you are visiting us for any of our summer programs your children can take courses with local and international students in our summer course. Contact us for pricing and for more information.
We do have a wonderful classroom for kids filled with children’s literature, areas to create art, and participate in kinesthetic activities. We also have a teaching staff fluent in Spanish and English that work with kids on an on-going basis. Your kids can study Spanish in their own space while you are studying in the adult classrooms. We do need a group of five kids to create a kids class at different times than the summer program. Contact us for more information.
What are your homes like for homestays?Our families for homestays are handpicked and we integrate the homestay experience and our Spanish programs by involving families in programs at Habla as well as meeting with them throughout the year. All of our families are welcoming, their homes are clean, and they are accustomed to international visitors. You will have a private room and air conditioning is optional depending on your needs (highly recommended if you visit during the spring and summer). Your family will provide you with 3 meals a day. If you'd like other services like laundry we can often arrange that with the family as well. We work with a network of doctors and specialists who can also help you with medical needs if necessary during your stay here.
Can I receive college credit?We do not offer university level credit. In some cases universities will award credit for study abroad programs. This needs to be arranged between you and a university before you arrive. We will be happy to provide curricular documentation and descriptions of our programs to help facilitate the process with your university.
Is Merida safe?Merida, and Yucatan state, is statistically one of the safest regions to visit in Mexico. Our streets are very safe and calm and it’s not a problem at all to walk around the city. Visitors to Merida feel it is one of the most tranquil cities they have visited.
Should I bring my laptop? Do you have wireless Internet at Habla?We have free wireless available at our school you are welcome to use while studying here. Like any place, it is important to keep an eye on your computer, but it is fine to bring your computer here and use it on a daily basis.
How far is your school from the beach?Habla is about 20 minutes from Progreso, a small town located on the beach with a beautiful Malecon (ocean walkway) and many restaurants serving fresh shrimp, octopus, and fish from the ocean. The ocean water is always warm year-round and perfect for swimming.
How far are you from Mayan sites?Merida is located near the most extraordinary sites in the Mayan world. We are about an hour drive to Uxmal and an hour and a half from Chichen Itza. There are also a host of sites located just outside the city. We can help you arrange a tour to sites or let you know how to take public transportation.
Do I need a passport or visa?If you are visiting from the United States you are now required to have a passport to enter Mexico if travelling by air. No visa is needed if you are from the United States. If you are visiting us from Brazil you do need a visa and please arrange for it significantly ahead of time. For other countries please check with the Mexican embassy in your home country. When you show your passport at the airport be sure to save the entry form they hand back to you—you will need it when you leave.
What do I need to bring?The sun is very strong here so we suggest you pack sunscreens, sunglasses, and hats (sunscreens are expensive here, so we recommend you buy them in the country you are visiting from). You should also pack insect repellent for mosquitoes. The “family” versions of repellents work fine; no need for deep woods or other strong repellents. We also suggest you bring a digital camera along with your downloading cord. We often use photography as part of our classroom work so bringing your own cord will ensure you can download it to the computer.
Do I need to bring adaptors for my electrical equipment?Our outlets and voltage levels are the same as the United States.
How can I get around Merida? Is there public transportation? Are there cabs?Walking is perfectly safe in Merida and many of the participants walk from their homestays or hotels depending on how far away they are. It’s a bit too far to walk from the Centro (downtown) so most people take a bus or a cab if they are staying in hotels in that area. A cab ride from the Centro is about $30-$40 pesos and cabs are available directly outside of Habla and everywhere in the Centro. We will always call a cab for you if you are at Habla.
Buses are 6 pesos (about 50 cents) per ride. Have your change ready (no big bills). The bus stop to the Centro is directly outside of Habla (you can actually pick up the bus standing in our parking lot.)
How much do I tip?We generally don’t tip cab drivers here in Mexico unless they go out of their way to help (multiple stops or helping with luggage etc.) Then you might tip about 10%.
The typical amount to tip at restaurants is 10%. You might tip 15% at a restaurant with exceptional service and one that is used to international guests.
If you are renting a car and park in a free lot there will often be someone who watches your car or helps you pull in or out of a space. It is customary to give them a tip of tip of about 2 pesos (20 cents).
If you have someone help you with your bags at the airport tip about $30-$50 pesos depending on the number of suitcases.