MaximoNivel > Spanish Immersion > What to Expect
What to Expect
What is Spanish Immersion?
A Spanish immersion program immerses you in the Spanish language. This makes learning faster and it consistently places you in real-life situations—you live in your target language.
Your Spanish classes are conducted solely in Spanish. You live with a host family, sharing their home, eating meals together, and conversing with them in Spanish. You also practice your Spanish language skills in the community, in the supermarket, at restaurants and bars, and chatting with local friends you make at the Maximo institute.
In addition to making local friends with your host family and in the community, you also make friends with your fellow Spanish learners. You make the most of your time on the weekends exploring the city, taking excursions and exploring local sites such as volcano treks, archeological ruins, and more. Throughout all of it, you are immersed in the Spanish language and local culture 24/7.
A Spanish immersion program is the adventure of a lifetime! And it’s the best way to learn a language.
Be fluent in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru!
In Your Spanish Classes
In class, you speak Spanish—you will speak a lot! This is the most important aspect of learning a language. Learners work individually, in pairs, and in small groups. Communication is always done in Spanish. Maximo Nivel uses the Direct and Communicative methodologies—this means, Spanish is used to teach Spanish (“direct”) and you are pushed to speak and converse (“communicative”). Initially, this may feel a little overwhelming, but after just a couple of days, you see the longer-term benefits.
The Communicative Approach to language learning views interaction in the target language as both the MEANS and the END GOAL of studying another language.
Learning another language ultimately requires development of Integrated Skills—Speaking, Writing, Listening, and Reading. There are also language systems such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation that must be developed. The active use of the language—especially speaking and listening—is the best way to build your understanding and fluency. Teachers move from the instruction phase to activation quickly so you don’t get bogged down by too many “rules.” Spanish is activated through conversation, debate, oral presentations, and written assignments. You will learn Spanish by using it in practical situations that facilitate your ability to think in Spanish.
Remember, as a language learner, keep your sense of humor and be ready to laugh at yourself. Get comfortable with the idea that you won’t comprehend every word your teacher says; instead you should try to use what you do understand, including non-verbal cues, contextual information, and cognates to get to the main meaning. At Maximo Nivel, the Spanish teacher’s job is to get you speaking as much as possible!
All Spanish course materials, textbooks, and handouts are included in the program fee. Maximo Nivel has developed our own in-house textbooks which are provided when you arrive. Your teacher also uses outside materials to supplement your learning and to help highlight certain themes. You’re encouraged to bring a laptop, notebook, and Spanish dictionary with you.
Maximo Nivel uses 10 levels to classify Spanish learners. Our system is matched to both the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Spanish levels at Maximo Nivel include:
2. High Basic
3. Pre-Intermediate I
4. Pre-Intermediate II
5. Intermediate I
6. Intermediate II
7. Advanced I
8. Advanced II
9. Fluent I
10. Fluent II
Spanish Levels: Maximo Nivel | CEFR | ACTFL
Class Description: Basic classes are for learners with no previous experience in Spanish. Learners will be taught basic grammatical structures, vocabulary, and will immediately begin speaking in Spanish, thereby gaining a concrete foundation in the language.
For learners with an elementary knowledge of the Spanish language, these classes focus on reinforcing grammar, teaching new vocabulary, and increasing speaking capacity, enabling you to express yourself clearly in daily situations.
Class Description: These classes build on learners’ previous experience with Spanish, reinforcing all areas of the language, with an increasing importance placed on speaking, reading, and vocabulary.
||Intermediate – High
Class Description: At this point, learners likely speak Spanish, but are still struggling with the more difficult grammar points. These classes focus primarily on conversation, reading, and vocabulary; as well as on increasing your grammatical accuracy by reinforcing areas such as the use of the ‘subjunctive’ and ‘indefinite past’. Focus is on the ability to express yourself spontaneously and to interact across a variety of social situations with increasing accuracy.
Class Description: These classes build on learners’ conversational base in Spanish, and begin to more finely tune communicative competence by building vocabulary and introducing students to idioms, slang, and points of ‘common usage’ in Spanish. Advanced classes also include emphasis on written expression.
Class Description: Fluency classes at the first and second level continue to fine tune learners’ Spanish skills. Emphasis is placed on advanced communicative competence – the ability to communicate completely in the Spanish language, across all kinds of situations. Classes emphasize oral skills, sophisticated vocabulary, and increasing learners’ understanding and ability to use idiomatic Spanish.
Spanish Placement Exam
At Maximo Nivel, everyone takes a Spanish placement exam except for absolute beginners. The Placement exam ensures you are placed at the appropriate level, which is especially important for small group classes. For those taking private Spanish, this is the best way to gauge your strengths and weaknesses so your classes can be customized to your needs and goals.
Spanish program participants take the placement exam during orientation, which happens either on the day you arrive in-country or in the morning before your first day of classes. Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Placement Exam is always free and takes approximately 30 – 45 minutes. The test evaluates your Spanish language skills in five (5) areas: Reading, Writing, Grammar, Listening, and Speaking. The Listening, Grammar, and Reading sections are scored on a 0 – 100% scale, while Writing and Speaking are graded on a 0 – 4 scale using half-points (0 is Beginner and 4 is Native Speaker).
At the end of your Spanish program, it’s always recommended to take the test again to see for yourself how much you’ve improved!
Spanish Program Itinerary
Airport pick-up is included in all of our programs. Maximo Nivel’s professional drivers will meet you outside of baggage claim as you exit the airport—just look for the yellow smiley face flag. You will receive a Welcome Folder detailing your accommodations, orientation time, and our Emergency contact numbers. Depending on your time of arrival, you come to the Maximo institute or go directly to your accommodations.
On your first full day, your host family shows you the best way to get to/from your family-stay and the Maximo Nivel institute. Your orientation includes specific details about your program, a health and safety review, and a short walking tour to be sure you’re familiar with the area around the Maximo institute. During your orientation, you also take the Spanish placement exam.
Your Spanish classes will either be scheduled during the morning session (9:00AM – 1:00PM) or during the afternoon session (2:00PM – 6:00PM). Which session you study in depends on the number of students enrolled and the Academic Director’s weekly plan.
During the week, you start the day with breakfast at your host family, generally around 7:00AM to 8:00AM. If you have class in the morning, you head to the Maximo institute either by bus, taxi, or on foot. If your classes aren’t until the afternoon, your mornings are free for a number of different activities. You can spend some time with your host family, explore the city, take excursions or hang out at the Maximo institutes, use the facilities and take part in cultural activities.
There are plenty of great restaurant options around Maximo Nivel. Be sure to get out and try some of the local dishes and do some looking around.
In the evening, you have dinner with your host family. After dinner is when families like to sit and talk about their day and hear about yours—remember, this is important conversation practice and helps you become more involved in the daily routine of your host family. After dinner, you’re free to check out the town and meet up with friends. You have your own key to the family-stay house and you’re free to come and go as you please. However, we ask you respect the routine and house rules of the family you’re staying with.
Weekends are free and are the perfect time to get out and see some of the great destinations and things to do in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Go whitewater rafting, climb a volcano, hike through the mountains, or hang out and get some hammock time.
If you’re looking for a great highlights tour, check out our Mini Adventures. These 1-week add-on programs combine travel and accommodations that bring you to the “must-see” places in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.
Departure day is always bitter sweet—we’re always sad to say goodbye; and our program participants are always mixed between looking forward to going home and telling friends and family about their great adventure and realizing they’re going to miss their new home in Latin America! Remember, you’re always welcome to extend your stay with us.
You need to make sure you check-out, collect your Maximo Nivel t-shirt, and leave us your feedback card. Please be sure to say goodbye!
We’re always happy to help organize a lift back to the airport. Please note that airport drop-off is not included in the program fee.
Accommodation options include shared or private rooms with host families, private apartments, hostels, and hotels. Read more about accommodations.
The Maximo Nivel institutes make a great home base in Latin America.