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Frequently Asked Questions

 
+ How are you different than other language schools?
First, Habla places creativity at the heart of learning. Although we will teach explicit grammatical concepts, we then provide space and time for students to master the structures by using them in creative ways. Teachers at Habla aren’t looking for the “right answer” and they don’t teach in a way that is repetitive. In Habla’s classrooms you will use the language to tell stories and talk about topics that are important to you.

Secondly, Habla values the profession of teaching and the unique skills and talents of teachers. Many schools feel that if you speak a language you can teach a language. Their prices are low, and they offer many hours of language learning, often because they hire inexperienced teachers and pay them very little. Much of the time this results in hours a week of tiresome and boring classes. At Habla we are always building a community of teachers and providing them with professional development. We also meet often as a teacher community to exchange creative ideas we’re developing for our classrooms. Our teachers participate in a range of professional development programs at Habla including the Teacher Institute.

Habla is much more than a school. Habla works in partnership with the ArtsLiteracy Project in the Education Department at Brown University, with the Cultural Agents Initiative at Harvard University, Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education, and Smart Schools to develop new pedagogies and build an international cadre of boundary crossing educators. This means all of our teachers and students benefit from an exchange of ideas from the field of education.
+ What is your building like? Where are you located?
Visit a photo gallery of our classroom spaces, gardens, galleries, and community gathering spaces here. We are located in one of the nicest sections of Merida (the Northeast part of the city) in a spacious building surrounded by beautiful gardens. Most people will tell you that the best restaurants in Merida are actually within walking distance of Halba and not in the Centro. All of our classrooms have large windows and look out to Habla’s gardens.
We are easily accessible by means of the city’s major bus lines that stop directly in front of our school.
+ Do you have Spanish for kids? What are the age requirements to study at Habla?
Every summer throughout the month of July we offer a Bilingual Summer Arts Course for students aged 7-12 years of age. If you are visiting us for any of our summer programs, your children can take courses with local and international students in our summer course. Contact us for pricing and for more information.

During the year, we do have a wonderful classroom for kids filled with children’s literature, areas to create art, and to participate in kinesthetic activities. We also have a teaching staff fluent in Spanish and English that work with kids on an ongoing basis. Your kids can study Spanish in their own space while you are studying in the adult classrooms.
+ What are your homes like for homestays?
Our families for homestays are handpicked and we integrate the homestay experience and our Spanish programs by involving families in programs at Habla as well as meeting with them throughout the year. All our families are welcoming, their homes are clean, and they are accustomed to international visitors. You will have a private room, and air conditioning is optional depending on your needs (highly recommended if you visit during the spring and summer). Your family will provide you with 3 meals a day. If you'd like other services like laundry we can often arrange that with the family as well. We work with a network of doctors and specialists who can also help you with medical needs if necessary during your stay here.
+ Can I receive college credit?
We do not offer university level credit. In some cases universities will award credit for study abroad programs. This needs to be arranged between you and a university before you arrive. We will be happy to provide curricular documentation and descriptions of our programs to help facilitate the process with your university.
+ Is Merida safe?
With all the often negative news in the media people often ask us how safe it is in Merida. Merida is a very safe city where it feels comfortable to walk on the streets any day or night. We are far from the drug violence in other parts of Mexico. This article in CNN points out that Merida is safer than Wichita, Kansas in the United States. If you have any hesitation regarding safety in Mexico, please write us at contact@habla.org and we will put you directly in touch with people who have visited Habla recently and can tell you about their experience.
+ Should I bring my laptop? Do you have wireless Internet at Habla?
+ How far is your school from the beach?
Habla is about 20 minutes from Progreso, a small town located on the beach with a beautiful Malecon (ocean walkway) and many restaurants serving fresh shrimp, octopus, and fish from the ocean. The ocean water is warm year-round and perfect for swimming.
+ How far are you from Mayan sites?
+ Do I need a passport or visa?
If you are visiting from the United States you are now required to have a passport to enter Mexico if travelling by air. No visa is needed if you are from the United States. If you are visiting us from Brazil you do need a visa and please arrange for it significantly ahead of time. For other countries please check with the Mexican embassy in your home country. When you show your passport at the airport be sure to save the entry form they hand back to you—you will need it when you leave.
+ What do I need to bring?
The sun is very strong here so we suggest you pack sunscreens, sunglasses, and hats (sunscreen is expensive here, so we recommend you buy and bring it from the country you are visiting from). You should also pack insect repellent for mosquitoes. The “family” versions of repellents work fine; no need for “Deep Woods” or other strong repellents.
+ Do I need to bring adaptors for my electrical equipment?
Our outlets and voltage levels are the same as in the United States.
+ How can I get around Merida? Is there public transportation? Are there cabs?
Walking is perfectly safe in Merida and many of the participants walk from their homestays or hotels depending on how far away they are. It’s a bit too far to walk from the Centro (downtown) so most people take a bus or a cab if they are staying in hotels in that area. A cab ride from the Centro is about $30-$40 pesos and cabs are available directly outside of Habla and everywhere in the Centro. We will always call a cab for you if you are at Habla.

Buses are 6 pesos (about 50 cents) per ride. Have your change ready (no big bills). The bus stop to the Centro is just outside of Habla, one block away.
+ How much do I tip?
We generally don’t tip cab drivers here in Mexico unless they go out of their way to help (multiple stops or helping with luggage etc.) Then you might tip about 10%.

The typical amount to tip at restaurants is 15%. You would only tip 20% in situations where the wait staff was extraordinary.

If you are renting a car and park in a free lot there will often be someone who watches your car or helps you pull in or out of a space. It is customary to give them a tip of tip of about 2-3 pesos (20 cents).

If you have someone help you with your bags at the airport tip about $50 pesos.
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