It’s all about throwing yourself in at the deep end.

When Casa Xalteva was set up over 20 years ago, the Founding Directors, Ken Carpenter and Gregory Calvert, came up with something which, at the time, was really quite revolutionary.

Upon seeing the great difficulties faced by young people in this part of the world, they wanted to do something to make a difference. But, instead of following the traditional model and setting up a charity, they set up a business. They established a language school to provide Spanish immersion classes for students from all over the world to (hopefully) generate sufficient income to provide a functioning and successful program for vulnerable youth. Today this model of social entrepreneurship is increasingly common but back in 1995 it might just have been the first social business to exist in Granada.

In 2016 Casa Xalteva remains a successful and sustainable social business. We currently provide support for 27 children between 6 y 19 years of age. Our students receive scholarships for primary – university education, two meals a day, homework support, English classes, recreational activities, vocational training and support in their personal growth and social development. In short, Caxa Xalteva provides happy, healthy and loving environment where children and teens can reach for their full potential. This is all made possible by running an ever-busier Spanish immersion school. Recently we were awarded a Trip Advisor 2015 Certificate of Excellence, resulting in a growing number of inquires to our program.

For our Spanish immersion students Casa Xalteva offers twenty hours of tuition per week in small group or private classes – four hours per day for five days. Our students come from around the world and all walks of life. They include backpackers, retirees, those studying Spanish to support their careers, estudiantes; really anyone who wants to learn Spanish for any reason. In addition to classes most students opt to stay with one of our homestay families where they can learn about life in Nicaragua and further practice their Spanish skills.

But recently we have observed that, despite our success with incoming visitors to Nicaragua, there is one very significant community, right here on our doorstep in Granada, where we have not quite engaged with yet. And that is our very own expat community. The main reason to explain this might be to do with our class schedule. Classes are four hours a day, and this can be a challenge to fit into a busy schedule. We do, in fact, have many expats who ask about taking one or two classes here and there (perhaps one hour on a Monday, two on a Wednesday and so on). However, the reason we don’t recommend or offer this type of approach is that students typically do not see they type of improvement they want or need in their Spanish. The organization of our four-hour classes produces real leaps in a student’s ability to understand and communicate, especially if supported by extra practice outside of class.

Recently an anonymous expat arrived at our doors and signed up for a week of immersion classes. Although he had been in Granada for four years he had hardly learnt any Spanish. Seeing the significant advancement in his linguistic capacity after the first week he immediately decided to go for a second week. We hope that pattern continues.

Do you regret that your Spanish language skills prevent you from communicating with local Nicaraguans as much as you would like? Would you like to be able to engage more fully in the local culture? If so we at Casa Xalteva encourage you to throw yourself into the deep end. Join us and take an immersion course in Spanish. Consider staying with a local family too. Our classes are more than just sitting down at a desk to learn. Our teachers will make sure your learning environment is very interactive and they will use dynamic exercises to help you put your new language skills into practice.

So if you are there with that nagging thought in the back of your mind, that you really wish you had learnt just a little more Spanish, than come join us for a week of immersion classes. You might even find yourself staying longer.

We would love to have the expat community as part of our wonderful Casa Xalteva family. If you would be interested in more information, please email us at info@casaxalteva.org, and mention this article.