It depends on you! Everyone learns language at their own pace, though the more classes you take and the more time you practice speaking in and out of class the quicker you’ll learn. Our courses are designed to get you speaking Spanish from day 1 though most students choose to sign up for at least 2 to 3 weeks of our Small Group Intensive Course.
Our courses are divided into 9 sub-levels, Beginner 1, 2, 3, Intermediate 1, 2, 3, and Advanced 1, 2, 3. On average it takes students 3 weeks (60 hours of group class or 45 hours of private class) to advance from one sub-level to another. Though some students advance much faster and others take a bit longer. Like anything, the more dedication and work you put in the quicker you’ll see results.
Each week your teacher along with our Academic Director will assess your progress to ensure you are in the right group according to your level. Students who start at the same level of Spanish might end up in different groups the next week as one progresses faster than the other. We have the smallest class sizes in Panama so there will never be more than 3 other students in your group.
You will likely be able to have basic conversations, order food and a restaurant, talk about your work and family and give or get directions after just a week or two though to move from a Intermediate to Advanced level, where you’ll be constructing more advanced sentences and working with past and future tenses can take a bit longer. No matter what your current level you’ll notice a difference in your Spanish after just a week of group classes or equivalent hours in private lessons and even more so for 2 and 3+ weeks of classes.
These aren’t the Spanish classes you remember from high school. We use a fully immersive, “gamified” approach to learning Spanish in Casco Viejo.
What does that mean? You’re in a learning environment that’s active, fun, cultural, and social. We don’t bore you to death with obscure vocabulary you’ll never use. We incorporate games, walking tours, adventures, and conversations with classmates and locals into your experience.
That might mean a trip to “souvenir alley” to haggle with vendors and shop for trinkets, a bike ride on Panama’s ocean strip, or a Dominos game where you finally nail those conjugations…and have fun while doing it.
It depends on your goals and flexibility of schedule.
Most students prefer group classes as they’re more casual, social, and (dare we say?) a bit more fun. They also tend to be less intense, as the attention isn’t only on you the whole duration of class. Even those more on the quiet side tend to find group classes less intense than private.
It’s also encouraging being around other students who are learning at the same pace. We make sure your in a group with other students at your same level. You’re less likely to get frustrated when you don’t understand something if the rest don’t quite get it, either. We find frustration quickly turns to laughter in group settings!
On the other hand, you may prefer private lessons if you’re on a fixed schedule, need to advance quickly, or have specific areas you wish to address (for example, “I want to give a presentation in Spanish,” or “I have a special event to attend.”) You’ll have more flexibility when scheduling private lessons, which may be necessary if you’re working or have other time constraints.
All students take a placement exam upon signing up for classes. This exam helps us place you in the right group or with the private instructor.
After the first class, we’ll talk to you about your experience, ask you to fill out a quick feedback form, and talk to your instructor about your demonstrated level of experience. If you or your instructor feel you’re in the wrong level, we’ll know from the first day and can switch you into the right class.
While most our teachers do speak English, we adhere to a Spanish-only rule in class as to fully immerse you in the language and help you pick up an “ear” for Spanish. Students often tell us they gain as much from the Spanish-language instructions or chit-chat as they do from the actual lessons. Though it can more difficult at first, we find you learn faster and better when the teachers only speak to you in Spanish.
If you’re really stuck on something, our instructors may explain in English, but overall you’ll be hearing, speaking, and eventually thinking in full Spanish!
Absolutely! Many of our students are only here for a week, or even an afternoon. You’d be amazed at how much you can learn in that timespan. Just a week’s worth of group classes or a few days of private lessons is enough to get a sturdy foundation or build on what you already have.
If you’re like most travelers, you’ll find traveling without the ability to communicate is way more stressful than traveling on a tight schedule or budget.
You never know who you’ll meet in our group classes. Fresh college grads boosting their resumes. Travelers backpacking through Latin America. Expats living in Panama. Parents and teens having a unique summer break. Retired couples exploring abroad. Such diversity is what keeps our classes so interesting. Conversations are never stale amongst people with so many backgrounds, interests, and vocations!
While we can’t say who will be in your class, we can say this: You’ll never have more than 3 other students in a class, as we want to make sure everyone gets the attention they need. Plus, everyone in your class will be roughly the same level as you, which we determine at the start with our free placement test.
Plenty! Since we’re located in Casco Viejo, students are in the heart of Panama’s #2 tourist destination (after the Panama Canal) and some of the city’s best sight-seeing, museums, coffee shops, nightlife, cultural, and dining experiences.
In addition to the many things to do in Casco Viejo, Casco Antiguo Spanish School offers free weekly activities for our students and anyone who wants to drop in. Between our sunset bike rides, local brewery tours, salsa dancing lessons, volleyball, and dinner & movie night, our weekly activities provide the perfect opportunity for experiencing Panama culture and meeting some great people along the way.
In the mornings or afternoons students often hop of the Central America’s only Metro or take the new Metro Buses to explore and visit our list of 7 must see attractions in Panama City. Other students take advantage of Casco Viejo’s cafes and restaurants to get some work done or practice their Spanish. Students learning Spanish for a couple weeks or longer often choose to volunteer at one of the local non-profit organizations or after school programs located nearby.
See the full list of our weekly activities.
When you look at a photo of Panama City, the first thing you’ll notice is a massive skyline– as impressive as Miami or any other cosmopolitan city. It may look good on a postcard, but it’s not exactly pleasant to be in. It’s loud, messy, and chaotic– with constant traffic and construction. A good place to live and do business, it’s far from pedestrian- or tourist-friendly.
Casco Viejo, while technically part of Panama City, feels like a different universe. In this charming colonial neighborhood, people walk around just for the sake of walking around. Most of Panama City’s best sightseeing, accommodations, restaurants, and nightlife are in Casco Viejo, and, more recently, a series of funky independent shops.
It’s the second biggest attraction in Panama (after the canal) for a reason, and it doesn’t take long to figure that reason out.
Absolutely, and we’re glad you asked. Panama is still somewhat of a “word-of-mouth” society, with many of the best deals and knowledge not immediately apparent online. Whether you’re here for a quick visit or need more of a home-away-from-home, we’re happy to tap into our network of friends and neighbors to help find what you need.
For short-term stays, Casco Viejo hosts some of the best hotels and hostels in Panama City. Browse through our list Casco Viejo hotels & hostels for an idea of whats available and respective prices.
For longer-term stays, such as over 2 weeks, you may want to rent apartment-style accommodations that offer a kitchen and more living space. It’s also possible to work out special deals with neighborhood hotels & hostels for longer-term stays. If you plan on staying in Casco Viejo a few weeks, talk to us and we can help you find a suitable place at the best possible price.
An Uber or Official Airport Taxi will cost around $30-35 from Tocumen International Airport (PTY) to anywhere in Panama City. You can also email Casco Antiguo Spanish School with you flight details to arrange for a private driver to pick you up at the airport and take you right to your hotel or homestay for a flat fee of $40.
However, if you’d like to save a little money there are two other options:
No hay problema. Many of our students stay in hotels, or with friends or family outside of Casco Viejo in the “new” Panama City. Hotels here are generally cheaper than those in Casco Viejo, though typically, hostel prices are about the same.
If you stay outside Casco Viejo, it’s only a 5-10 minute, $3-4 taxi ride to Casco Antiguo Spanish School from many parts of Panama City. If you have a smartphone we recommend using the app Uber, which costs about the same as a taxi. You can also take the Metro Bus for 25 cents (Panama Viejo route) to the Mercado de Mariscos and walk 15 minutes to Casco Antiguo Spanish School. For 35 cents you can also take advantage of Panama’s brand new Metro, which takes you to the 5 de Mayo stop, a 15-20 minute walk to the school.
The good news is Casco Viejo is the neighborhood for sight-seeing, nightlife, and dining– so once class lets out, you’ll be exactly where you want to be.
The Panama Canal is only a 10-15 minute drive from Casco Antiguo Spanish School. We highly recommend you take a few hours to visit the Miraflores Visitor Center to see one of the 7 Wonders of the World for yourself. If you sign up for Private lessons you can even visit it with your Spanish teacher! Here are a few ways you can get there:
- Pineapple shuttle offers tours that provide roundtrip transportation from Casco Vijejo directly to the Miraflores Visitor Center. The tour will also show you the second set of locks at Pedro Miguel as well as a glimpse of the Canal Expasion from the Centenial Bridge. We highly recommend this tour and at only $9 it’s a no brainer.
- Depending on traffic and surge pricing it should cost about $6 each way from Casco Viejo to the Miraflores Visitor Center. A taxi will cost about $10 each way.
- Public Transportation: Metro from 5 de Mayo ($.35) and a MetroBus ($.25) from Albrook Bus Terminal to the Miraflores Visitor Center. This is the cheapest way to get there and back but plan on taking at least an hour each way due to the connections with the bus.
Yup, the more the merrier! We offer free weekly activities for our students and their friends or family. You and your guest can practice your Spanish while enjoying our range of activities, from sunset bike rides and local brewery tours to salsa dancing lessons, volleyball, and dinner & movie night.
Casco Viejo recently got an El Rey supermarket, which you can find across from the American Trade Hotel– on Central Avenue, between 10th and 11th. It’s a small, boutique version of the El Rey chain, great for picking up a few items or buying speciality treats. It’s a very convenient, modern, and pleasurable shopping experience, though we do like to warn our students that food items are a bit more expensive here.
There is also a larger supermarket called Machetazo located within walking distance of Casco Viejo, near Plaza Santa Ana. Less expensive than El Rey, it’s also a more authentic shopping experience as its located in pre-renovated corner of Casco Viejo. The area is safe, but be prepared for an aesthetic change.
From American Trade Hotel on Avenida Central, walk towards Northeast (away from “new” Casco Viejo) for about 7 minutes. You can also ask a local to point you towards Plaza Santa Ana or Machetazo.
Finally, the various chinos, or mini-supermarkets, in Casco Viejo that carry basic food items like rice, beans, packaged and canned food, and some local produce. These local shops are great if you need to pick up a few things and are also open late.
The temperature in Panama City is hot all year round (an average of 29 degrees Celsius or 84 degrees Fahrenheit) and due to it’s location close to the Equator be careful to wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Even on a cloudy day it’s possible to get sunburned.
Though Panama has two seasons, The Rainy Season and Dry Season, the sun usually shines every day regardless of the time of year. During the rainy season (May to December) it is generally sunny and hot, with at most an hour or two of heavy rain in the afternoons. During the Dry season (January to April) there is very little rain and usually clear skies with more wind.
Naturally, the contents of your backpack or suitcase will depend largely on your time in Panama and what you plan on doing here. Still, we recommend bringing the following items no matter what your plans.
- Bathing suit
- Any necessary medicine (especially prescriptions)
- Light / comfortable clothing
- Rain Jacket or Umbrella
- One nice outfit (people can dress pretty fancy especially at night – bars, restaurants, clubs)
- A notebook and pen or pencil (for class!)
- A Camera (Casco Viejo is particularly photogenic)
The official currency in Panama is the US dollar, though it is also called the Balboa. Don’t be confused this is actually the US Dollar, with the exception of coins Pamana doesn’t have it’s own money.
Most nicer restaurants and stores, as well as Casco Antiguo Spanish School, accept major credit cards (Visa / MasterCard) though smaller mom and pop restaurants, and convenience stores (called “chinos”) only accept cash.
Tip: We recommend you don’t carry bills greater than $20 as most stores will not accept $50 or $100 bills without asking for ID and calling their manager over to have you fill out a special form. Fancier restaurants and hotels will accept them but you might find them harder to use around town for smaller purchases.
Useful Spanish Terms for Money in Panama
Un palo = 1 dollar (a buck)
“Un martinelli” = 1 dollar coin
“Un peso” = 50 cent coin
Una cuara = 25 cent coin
Un dime = 10 cent coin
Un real = 5 cent coin