Home to more than seventy language schools, Quito is the most popular place in South America to learn Spanish, partly because rates are so cheap – $4–10 per hour for one-to-one classes – and partly because Spanish is spoken much more clearly here than in many other countries, or even in Guayaquil and the coast. Ecuadorian serranos (highlanders) tend to speak slowly and pronounce all the letters in each word (elsewhere, consonants are frequently dropped), making them easy to understand.
Nearly all schools offer one-to-one lessons or classes in small groups, but not all use books or visual aids. It’s a good idea to ask if you can rotate your teachers, as this keeps the lessons fresher and allows you to compare techniques and decide what suits you best. Visiting a school and enquiring about facilities or methods, or perhaps even asking to sit in on a lesson, will give you the best idea if it’s right for you before enrolling.
Some schools will encourage you to sign up for seven hours a day, but most students find that exhausting – four hours a day is a better bet, whether studying for just a few days or several weeks. The majority of schools offer the option of staying with a family (usually $10–15 per day, with meals included), while others now offer daily classes as part of full tours to the jungle or coast. Many schools also offer activities such as cookery classes, dancing lessons or day and weekend trips – all good ways to meet other students.