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“Special Cultural Experience”

Na'atik Language and Culture Institute
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: Na’atik is a non-profit language school located in the Zona Maya. We teach high-quality immersion classes in English, Spanish and Maya. We offer immersive Spanish or Maya classes, homestay accommodation, and an opportunity to experience a new culture off the beaten path. Since we are near the tourist circuit, but not on it, you will quite literally be living the language in our lovely town, having ample opportunity to practice your Spanish or Maya with friendly, encouraging locals. We welcome students from all walks of life: families, students, professionals.
Reviewed 2 August 2017

I am a fairly fluent Spanish speaker who went to Na'atik to enhance my Spanish. I only spent a few days there, but the experience was very enriching. I found the staff to be friendly and helpful, my teacher to be clear and perceptive to my individual needs, and the environment to be relaxing. I would say that it is extremely hot if you decide to go during the month of July, so I would caution against it unless you like extremely hot and humid days. I would recommend staying with a host family if you feel your Spanish level enables you to speak with and understand native Spanish speakers as this experience was very special for me and I feel I made some close friends with the family in the process. I would also say time your visit with other students who are arriving around the same time because then you can travel around together and visit a lot of the sites. I came in the middle of a class and so was on my own a lot of the time. It was fine and safe but just would have been more fun with traveling companions. I would also recommend at least two weeks there so you can see many sites such as cenotes, Tulum, and Chichen Itza. I would also recommend taking private classes if your Spanish is advanced enough - that way, you can get more specific feedback and the class can be tailored to your specific needs.

Date of experience: July 2017
Thank Christine T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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8 - 12 of 14 reviews

Reviewed 26 June 2017

My 3 y.o. is in a dual-language program and I want to support his language learning, so I attended Na"atik in June of 2017 to learn Spanish. I also brought my son. They got us a home stay with Dianella and Miguel and it was phenominal! We had our own room and bathroom in a separate building away from the main house. Dianella is a professional chef, so breakfast, lunch and dinner were amazing! My son was being a typical three year old and wouldn't sit down for dinner when we arrived. DIanella and Miguel put on their grand parent hat (they already have grand kids) and entertained my son while insisting that I sit and eat peacefully. Dianella watched my son while I went to school. This was the first time he was ever left with a stranger and he only cried one time! (and briefly.) Their yard was the PERFECT place for a little boy to explore: lizards, coconuts, frogs, dogs, etc. By the end of each day, he had a little pile of leaves stacked up by our "hotel room" as he called it. I felt perfectly comfortable leaving him there.

Na"tik was wonderful with him as well. Layla charmed him the first night and he loved saying hello to her. Na'atik also scheduled a play date with another little boy who is learning English at the school. On our last day there, I decided to go to the Central Park. Tons of sweet 14 and 15 year olds came up to speak with us. They were fascinated by where we were from and wanted to take a picture with him. He promptly hit them with his popcorn bag and chased them all around the park with them yelling and screaming. It was great fun and Carrillo is the place to bring kids! We felt so safe! We'll definately go back next year!

Date of experience: June 2017
1  Thank MEDenver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 June 2017

The experience exceeded our expectations in every way. The cultural and language immersion is perfect - far enough from the tourist crowds that you feel like you really get a good idea about life in a Mexican town. Yes, it is hot in June and there are mosquitos but nothing you wouldn't expect that time of year. The town felt incredibly safe to me - my son left his backpack in a store there before realizing about 10 minutes later and the nice shopkeeper had kept an eye on it so it was completely undisturbed when we returned to collect it. Yes there are other english speakers at the school but if you make an effort to hang out with your family and go into town often to interact with the people in town (very few of whom speak English), you will get tons of experience speaking spanish. The teachers at the school were very good at adjusting the level of the class for the particular needs of the students. We had rented a car which was useful for taking side trips (we went to Muyil one day and spent a couple of days in Tulum before arriving at the school) but once we were at the homestay, we parked the car and rode the bikes everywhere - biking was very convenient.

Date of experience: June 2017
Thank Linda T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 June 2017 via mobile

My husband and I wanted our 11 year old to leave the U.S. and experience a bit of our southern neighbor's culture and to advance his Spanish skills. He took 1:1 classes for three hours a day with a great instructor and we spent evenings talking and hanging out with our host family. The school was incredibly responsive helping us plan logistics, accommodated a few special requests, and placed us with a family who had similar age kids to our son.

We slept in hammocks, took cold showers, navigated the town on bikes, enjoyed daily stops at a local aqua fresca (fresh juice) store, and enjoyed kayaking in a local lagoon. The locals are friendly, charged us the same amount as they would charge each other, and the town felt very safe.

I would highly recommend it to others, and look forward to returning!

Date of experience: June 2017
Thank Rebecca F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 19 June 2017

This is a school for local children to learn English. Luckily for the kids, more thought and effort goes into this program than into the program to teach Spanish to English speakers (which partially funds the program for the local kids).

The program is not really a total immersion program as the people in the school (including fellow students) usually use English with each other. However, if you make an effort you can minimize your exposure to English; and if you're lucky enough to get a family which includes you in meals and speaks with you: if this doesn't happen then complain so that your family is changed.

The local diet is very meat-centric. If you'd like some vegetables in your diet then you should either pay a bit extra for the vegetarian diet (which means the family will be making you special meals) or try to convince the family to eat more vegetables. But the food is tasty and some of the local restaurants are definitely worth trying (although not the one close to the school which is usually used for welcome dinners). You should also participate in the optional local cooking class for a dinner as it's fun and the food is good.

The Spanish classes are usually 4 hours during the mornings on weekdays. The teachers are good and the small class size is conducive to more personal attention and speaking in Spanish - however the curriculum is not designed to teach you the practicalities of living in a community of Spanish-speakers: only about 10% of the lessons are geared towards this, the rest are standard grammar and vocabulary. If you're good at language this won't be a huge problem, but if you aren't this will probably frustrate you.

In June we had some times of 100 degrees with 100% humidity. There can also be a fair number of biting insects.

You should sign up for a bicycle. The town isn't large but it's bigger than you'd want to walk across, especially in the heat. There can be a bit of traffic on the main roads and cars tend to take right-of-way from pedestrians and bikes. But it doesn't feel unsafe if you're careful.

The local people are very friendly and there will be many opportunities to practice your Spanish.

Date of experience: June 2017
Thank johnhO4876YE
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Management response:Responded 21 June 2017

Thanks for writing us a review! We are currently building a second-floor extension (which will be finished in two weeks), this will provide more space and resources to our Spanish and Maya students. We hope this will strike a better balance between our different programs. All of the staff involved in the SAY Program can speak Spanish, but we conduct our initial orientation and the welcome dinner in English as we want to make sure people understand everything, especially when they first arrive. We are going to make sure that this is clearer on our website. Thank you for visiting us and taking the time to write us a review.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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