Taking a Spanish Course at the National Autonomous University of Mexico
This is both a walkthrough of the process and a review
I recently took an online Spanish Course at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México ( UNAM) in Mexico City. I chose to take the course online over zoom because I didn’t want to wake up and travel through Mexico City morning traffic.
My second language is German, I learned both formally in High School, University, studying abroad and also living in Germany for multiple years. I started taking spanish lessons through a private teacher for about year before testing into Spanish 3 / B2 here in Mexico.
I’m going to do a quick review of UNAM’s language school. Why? Because You don’t have to be in Mexico to take this course. Because they offer online courses, anyone can enroll in the course.
Step 1. Go to the website and figure out what course is best for you. There are 2 ways you can do this. You can look at their webpage face value or you can register an account and it will show the more detailed list.
* The only good way to communicate with the school is by Whatsapp. They have a link to open up a conversation with them. For whatever reason, Mexicans hate email and you will get a reply faster through Whatsapp.
** The website does have an option at the top right to switch to you prefered language so you don’t have to navigate solely in Spanish.
Step 2. Pay and Take the test.
Each course has a different schedule and price. Some courses are evening and some are morning. Different course lengths have different prices.
I took a 75-hour course that was 9-11 AM 5 days a week and it cost $400* around the time of purchase.
Before you start the course, they will email you a link or instructions to take a placement exam.
Step 3: Joining the course.
This is where the review starts. Originally, I was placed in a Spanish 2 course. On the first day, it became obvious to both the teacher and me that I needed to be moved up a course. I requested it, and she agreed, and by the end of the week, I was placed in the next level up. Each course also provides a PDF copy of the book they teach from, along with all the audio recordings. Everything is easy to find through the website dashboard. Zero issues figuring any of this out. The course also includes homework. You don't simply listen to a lesson. Every week, there was a small project that took at least 2 hours to complete, and throughout the week, each person presents their mini-project.
*The teacher for Spanish 2 was absolutely horrible. Yes, she has 30 years of experience, but the course was over Zoom, and this teacher had no idea how to work a computer. By day 2, I had already sent an email to the school saying that I wanted a new teacher. This is where language schools can be hit or miss. Whether you have zero Spanish skills or you are experienced, you know that the teacher can make all the difference. I'm sure the Spanish 2 teacher was competent, but being able to teach online is a whole different ball game. Fortunately, I was moved to Spanish 3 anyway.
The Spanish 3 teacher was amazing – a late 20s woman with about 7 years of experience. She used all of Zoom's interactive features to type live on the screen, send us videos and audio through the chat, and incorporate exercises and games into the course. I also have a copy of the teacher's Google Drive folder with all her lessons and exercises.
Will you actually learn anything? Yes. If you took a lower-level class, you are learning very quickly through immersion. Unlike some reviews I have read and people I've talked to, the UNAM school, while still aiming to make money, didn't appear to be dragging the course in order to get you to continue paying. The course was a great standalone course. In my case, Spanish 3 implies that you have a basic fluency in the language, and your focus is more on grammar. I'm happy taking the course and didn't feel like I was pushed to take the next one after I finished.
Step 4: Take the course exam.
Unlike many private teachers who don't have structured exams, UNAM had an end-of-course exam. I believe it was 2 hours long, which I finished in a little over an hour. The exam was definitely difficult, but the previous 5 weeks of lessons were good preparation for it. Considering each course teacher is different, you aren't being taught the exam. You're being taught Spanish, and that Spanish will help you pass the exam.
Would I recommend taking a UNAM course?
Yes, if you have the money. You can definitely find a 1:1 Spanish teacher in your target country who will teach for the same price as the UNAM group course. However, you'll typically have less structure, and your teacher will usually have a life outside of their Spanish course, so you have to factor in timing. The UNAM course also offers a dozen time slots for your course. You could take a shorter course that meets 2 or 3 times a week, or you can take a course that's every day at 7 PM. It doesn't matter. At the end of the day, I'm not here to pitch a course. There is no referral link here. I'm just giving you a brief walkthrough.
Feel free to leave comments below.
** If you are looking for a private tutor, I can also introduce you to a couple that I know.
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