La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua


 La Mariposa Spanish School in Nicaragua

La Mariposa Escuela de Espanol has been open for eight years - over this period we have established a stable group of well trained, experienced and professional teachers who all live in the local community of San Juan de la Concepción. Our teachers, all trained by us, combine their unique blend of language teaching skills, enthusiasm, and humor which has helped many a student through the intricacies of the imperfect subjunctive! Richard, Moises and Chester speak English which helps enormously if you are a complete beginner. The conversation teachers, including Joanna, Kinema, and Elizabeth, are happy to respond to particular interests of individual students - from exploring Nicaraguan recipe books to visiting the local health clinic and schools - all as part of your conversation class. Whether you want to discuss serious politics and the day´s news (we provide national newspapers) or stroll around La Mariposa´s beautiful grounds learning about medicinal plants - the choice is yours and we have a teacher who will share your interest.

The teaching method that we have developed combines the highest level of professional excellence with the openness, humor and friendliness typical of Nicaraguan people. The vast majority of Mariposa students leave the school not only much more fluent in Spanish but also having made good friends with their teachers here. Classes are usually one on one (maximum three students) and the element of relationship building is a crucial part of our work and an excellent basis for learning.

We also use this approach to good effect in Spanish teaching with children and young people. We know that for some, serious grammar study is what is required but for others a mixture of some conversational teaching with a range of activities works much more successfully! Particularly with the very young (we have worked successfully with 2 year olds) it is more along the lines of high quality child care in a wonderful stimulating environment. The range of activities on offer varies from feeding bananas to the monkeys to taking a walk into the local village and playing football with the neighboring kids. Always practicing a few words and phrases! We sort out the balance of activities/serious study through talking to both kids and parents.

La Mariposa is much more than a Spanish school - we are also a non-profit eco-hotel and we use our income to support a number of projects within the community. This benefits the school as we have built up very close links with the community and our students are welcome to get involved at whatever level - from spending an afternoon visiting the Santiago reading project and learning how it works to getting your hands dirty and working alongside Noel on the organic garden. Every activity or outing provides yet another opportunity to practice that Spanish - whether reading "Donde Esta Spot" with a group of wide-eyed children or discussing the effect the heavy rains have had on the local rice crop!

Hannah working on a garden project
Hannah working on a garden project

Subjunctive Class
Subjunctive Class







Our 6 Level Curriculum in Spanish   (pdf format)



Just a sample of recent reviews on www.tripadvisor.com
  • We had no idea what an extraordinary experience it would be. We had four hours of Spanish each morning with excellent teachers. One on one instruction took each of us from whatever level we came with and brought us to a higher level. We actually had many teachers because everyone--guys who worked there, cooks, drivers, gardener--they all talked to us . . . as best we could. These were people we wanted to be able to talk with. Hugely motivating.    click to read more from this posting on TripAdvisior

  • Our family of five was just looking for a place to stay for a few days, but wow did we stumble onto to something wonderful at the Mariposa Language School and Eco-Hotel. In less than a day, we were sitting in on excellent Spanish lessons, riding horses to the rim of the Masaya volcano, visiting a national park, reading about Latin American history in the library, enjoying the monkeys and parrots in the aviaries, and riding along with the staff to buy food at the market…..   click to read more from this posting on TripAdvisior

  • I am one of those people who insists on returning someday! That's saying a lot, as I've traveled pretty widely and rarely feel such a strong emotional pull to return to a place. If for nothing else, I must see my awesome and dear teachers again,…

    Instruction is fantastic. How fantastic? I didn't speak any Spanish going in, and I started the subjunctive tense -- the holy grail of grammar -- on my last day of class, after just 5 weeks! I had a total of 3 different grammar teachers and 8 conversation teachers, all 1:1. Heard rave reviews from fellow students about the grammar teachers I didn't study with. Although there will always be some who haven't quite found their footing as teachers, overall the team at La Mariposa is absolutely excellent. They're also great about correcting you when you misspeak, even when you're just chatting during breaks or in the hallway, if you're into that sort of reinforcement.

    Talk to everyone who works in the kitchen, the garden, etc. Everyone's very friendly, and you'll learn a lot. Ask your conversation teachers if they wouldn't mind taking you on a walk of the town (San Juan) or even hop on a public microbus to other nearby places (e.g. Jinotepe) during your 2 hours of class. Great way to explore local spots. Wish I had done it more than once or twice with my teachers.   click to read more from this posting on TripAdvisior

An outdoor classroom at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
A conversation class at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua
An indoor classroom at La Mariposa Spanish School & Eco-Hotel in Nicaragua

Some practical information:
  • You can do 4 hours of classes per day (20 per week) - 2 hours of grammar and 2 hours of conversation. Please note that teachers (as well as students!) need a break so the actual classtime is 1 hour 50 minutes. You can also opt to take classes for 6 hours per day or the really intensive course of 8 hours per day (see Prices page).

  • In general classes are from 8.00am to 12.00pm, with a 20 minute break for freshly-made juice/coffee. Students who are also doing voluntary work have their classes scheduled either in the morning or in the afternoon, depending on the hours of their voluntary work.

  • Grammar classes are structured around six levels, from complete beginner to advanced. The content covered at each level is attached. On arrival, we ask you to complete a translation test to help us determine your level.

  • The Mariposa has a comfortable and well equipped library. The Spanish resources section contains several dictionaries, useful grammar books such as 501 Verbs and a number of books with practice exercises (verbs, prepositions etc). Students are very welcome to bring their own or borrow from the library. We also have a good collection of other books in Spanish - from books on medicinal plants to poetry by Ruben Dario. Our wide range of children´s books are extremely helpful not just for the kids, but for beginners to read! There are also lots of books in English (as well as a few in Swedish and German), including a section on the history of Nicaragua. We also buy two national newspapers.

  • Specially designed and written Mariposa grammar books cover the six levels of grammar, with clearly laid out grammar rules, exercises and vocabulary including words and phrases which are uniquely Nicaraguan! These are for sale at $10 each.

  • The conversation class covers general topics to ensure sound vocabulary acquisition and grammar practice. We can also focus on any subject area of particular interest to the student. When appropriate the teacher will also cover relevant vocabulary for the afternoon activity.

  • We are very flexible and you only need to tell us if, for example, you do not wish to cover the rules of grammar in a formal way but would rather spend your time learning sufficient Spanish to cope with travelling around Nicaragua.

  • We also have a great deal of experience with helping professional people, such as nurses, doctors, teachers, lawyers, NGO workers and volunteers, who increasingly need fluency in Spanish to work effectively in their jobs. Other students have a particular interest in Nicaraguan culture and literature. Again, just tell us which area you would like to emphasize.

  • We are the only Spanish school in Nicaragua to have purpose-built class rooms. Grammar classes usually take place in one of the formal spaces - an inside classroom or in the library. All of our classrooms have large windows overlooking the lovely gardens and are lit by natural light. Watching a butterfly for a moment or two can be a helpful way to reflect on that tricky "por" or "para" problem!

  • The conversation classes could take place sitting out on one of the lovely terraces in the Mariposa, walking around the gardens or even visiting your teacher´s house and meeting her family. Depends on what you would like to do!

  • Courses run for 52 weeks per year - though we do charge a little more for classes on Xmas day and Good Friday for example! We can organize Saturday and Sunday classes - see prices page for cost.

  • All of our teachers live in the local community - in keeping with the Mariposa policy of offering as much sustainable local employment as possible - they are trained teachers and/or have many years of experience teaching Spanish. Several speak English, helpful for beginners. We use the immersion system of teaching which we would recommend for anyone who is beyond the absolute beginner stage.

  • Formal classes are no more than three students per class, usually one on one.

  • The afternoon/weekend activities offer plenty of opportunity to practice Spanish and pick up extra vocabulary. The discussion groups which take place within the Mariposa cover topics such as the history of Nicaragua. These are delivered in Spanish but with translation into English.

  • As many of the reviews of La Mariposa comment, all of the people who work here, whether on the farm, in the kitchen, taking care of the animals…. are happy to spend time talking to you and helping you practice. Even if you do not want to do voluntary work on an organized basis you are always welcome to spend an hour or so helping out the gardener and learning the names of trees and flowers, for example. This is also an excellent way to get used to listening to different accents!

  • You can join the programme whenever you like and stay as long as you like. Joining mid-week is fine though students generally find it helpful to arrive at the weekend and have time to settle in. You are very welcome to book classes for as little as a week, but please note that learning Spanish is a complicated process and we cannot guarantee that you will learn much beyond the very basics in a short amount of time.

    Kids playing at La Mariposa
    Kids eating lunch at La Mariposa

  • We offer specially designed courses for children, using a mixture of activities and interactive teaching methods. Some children want serious Spanish classes, others prefer more games and activities. We work the balance out in consultation with the children and parents. Our teachers are given specific training in working with children. Some of them speak English, some have worked in public schools with young children and they all have considerable experience with children and young people. With younger children the abundance of animals (dogs, parrots, monkeys…) living at the Mariposa helps enormously to keep them entertained and learn new vocabulary.

Kids on horseback at La Mariposa


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