I studied at Viva Spanish School for 4 weeks in Jan-Feb 2011. For the first 2 weeks, my partner and I studied under the couple rate ($210/wk) and I studied for the last 2 weeks by myself ($175/wk). You are guaranteed to have one-on-one teaching, and their teaching method is far more superior to any other school I researched or heard about by word of mouth. They teach Spanish as a language, i.e they don't just tell you generic tourist phrases/words you might need in Latin America. Their primary clientele are NGOs working in Managua but I would highly recommend it for backpackers as well, because they teach you enough in units 1 and 2 to be able to sustain a decent conversation with locals. If you just want to learn how to order cervejas in a bar, just stick to google! If you actually want to learn about the countries you visit and the locals that you meet, study at Viva Spanish School.
I had some great teachers (Miguel, Xavier, Eva and Eliel) who were very patient with me and always knew the answers to my questions. Each day there was 2 hours of grammar (always with the same teacher throughout your stay) and 2 hours of conversation practice. The best thing is that many of the teachers know little or no English, so you really are forced to use whatever Spanish you have learnt. Of course, there are a couple of English-speaking teachers (Miguel was basically fluent in English) who you will probably get if you are a complete beginner like we were, to make things easier at the start.
The school secretary Reyna is very lovely and she organises all the school excursions and cooks lunch if you want to eat with the school. The activities will take you to places like markets in Masaya, churches in Granada, the sights in downtown Managua and a walk through the El Chocoyero Reserve. The school makes no profit from organising these excursions so they are very affordable, and even if you aren't that interested in the activity, it's great to go on if you want to get to know some of the other students.
The owner Lyndon was extremely friendly and welcoming to us, and we also stayed at his guesthouse (students can stay there for a very reasonable price). There was a kitchen at his guesthouse for our use, a swimming pool (which we really miss!!) and the housekeeper Gloria and caretakers Manuel and Miguel were also very friendly and hardworking. Gloria helped me to perfect my Gallo Pinto and does a great job making sure everything is clean. There is a small Pali supermarket down the road, and a larger one with more foreign produce at La Colonia a little further. If you'd prefer to do a homestay, the school can organise that as well, and they also have zero profit margin on this.
Another big tick in my book is that Lyndon pays the staff very fairly, and they are treated very well (drinks and lunch are provided by the school). Lyndon was a really nice man to get to know, and he took us out to see the Managua nightlife and we got to know Subway pretty well because of his sub addiction!!
I really miss Viva Spanish School and all its staff, and hope to one day continue my Spanish lessons there! If you are even considering another school in Managua, DON'T!! Because I guarantee that you will not regret studying at Viva Spanish School!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC