Universidad EAFIT in Medellín is a private university that offers a popular Spanish language program for foreigners. And reportedly EAFITs popular Spanish program is considered to be the largest Spanish language program at a university for foreigners in Colombia.
I took Spanish classes at Universidad EAFIT for well over a year and I recommend the program. In addition, I was able to receive two Colombia student visas while I was enrolled in classes that permitted me to be in Colombia full-time. So, I was no longer limited to being in Colombia only six months during the year as a tourist.
Also, EAFIT’s Spanish program was even the first Spanish as a Foreign Language Program in Colombia to be certified by the Spanish Instituto Cervantes.
The above photo is a language class at the university and the photo is courtesy of Universidad EAFIT.
The Spanish classes at EAFIT used to be offered in two buildings on EAFIT’s main campus in El Poblado. But in August 2016, the language school moved into a brand new building located near the main campus.
In addition, this new building conveniently has a small food court with a few small restaurants and many tables set up.
The Spanish Program at Universidad EAFIT
EAFIT’s Spanish classes are designed to follow the Cervantes Institute Common European Framework for learning Spanish, which defines levels of competence in the Spanish language.
EAFIT’s Spanish program currently has 15 different classes, which map to the Cervantes levels as seen in the following table:
Each of the Spanish classes at EAFIT are for a total of 38 hours. And the university offers two options for classes, either a semi-intensive two-hour per day format or an intensive four-hour per day format.
Semi-intensive Spanish Classes
- Monday to Friday: from 9 am to 11 am or from 2 pm to 4 pm
- Four weeks: two hours per day, for a total of 38 hours
Intensive Spanish Classes
- Monday to Friday: from 9 am to 1 pm or from 2 pm to 6 pm
- Two weeks: four hours per day, for a total of 38 hours
The number of participants per Spanish class typically ranges from three to eight students. And the university reserves the right to not offer a class when it doesn’t have the minimum number of students required.
For example, when I was taking Spanish classes there, when I wanted to take level 7, it wasn’t available. So, I skipped that level and took level 8, which was challenging. But I still went back and took level 7.
The number of students in the Spanish program changes from month to month. Typically, there is somewhere between 80 and over 100 students in the Spanish program at any given time. In 2017, the Spanish program at EAFIT had a total of 1,333 students enrolled at some point during the year.
Since EAFIT is offering 15 different Spanish classes in both intensive and semi-intensive formats, not every class is necessarily available each month.
Students come to EAFIT from all over the world to study Spanish. Students from over 35 different countries have studied in EAFIT’s Spanish program.
My Experience Learning Spanish at EAFIT
I took Spanish classes at EAFIT for well over a year starting in August 2013. Due to work travel commitments, I couldn’t take classes every month. So, sometimes I took a class one month and skipped the next month.
The Spanish classes I took typically had two to six students in each class. Most notably, this small class size enables more individual attention from the teachers. And in my experience, all of my Spanish teachers in the program were good.
Also, while in the program I had the opportunity to meet students studying Spanish from over 15 different countries.
When I was taking Spanish classes, I needed to spend about one hour outside of class doing homework and studying for each hour spent in class.
In my experience, the combination of taking Spanish classes at EAFIT, immersion by living full-time in Medellín, having a Colombian girlfriend who is now my wife and using Spanish every day helped accelerate my learning Spanish.
The Spanish program at the university also has some organized activities for students. And when you are enrolled in the Spanish program at EAFIT, you get access to the EAFIT campus, which has a swimming pool, food court and a large library. In addition, you can attend other classes at the university without credit.
When I started in the Spanish program at EAFIT I already knew some Spanish. And I took a placement test that placed me in the level 3 class to start. I took a sufficient number of classes so that I now speak Spanish at the intermediate level, which is enough to be pretty self-sufficient when living in Medellín.
I also found the Spanish language office at EAFIT to be very helpful and responsive in scheduling classes and providing paperwork needed for a student visa. And the language office in the new language building is located on the ground floor.
Calendar of 2019 EAFIT Spanish Classes
EAFIT offers Spanish classes throughout the year. The university does not hold classes during the holidays in Colombia. And the Spanish program shuts down from early December to mid-January.
The following is EAFIT’s schedule of Spanish classes for 2019:
Costs for Spanish Classes at EAFIT
In 2019, each Spanish class at EAFIT costs 1,390,000 pesos for a 38-hour class if there are 3 to 8 students in a class. The price for a class was 1,282,000 pesos in 2018. So, the price for Spanish classes at EAFIT have increased 8.4 percent in 2019.
The openings of the classes are subject to a minimum of three students per class. But if there are only two students, a class costs 2,310,000 for a 38-hour class (up from 1,926,000 pesos in 2018).
And they offer the possibility for a 1-on-1 class with only one student in which case a class costs 4,200,000 pesos for a 38-hour class.
If you pay in advance for more than six classes you will receive a 7 percent discount. And if you pay in advance for more than two classes you will receive a 3 percent discount.
You can pay for classes at EAFIT in cash at the Bancolombia, Itaú, Banco de Occidente and Davivienda banks. And you can pay for classes online with credit or debit cards. Also, you can pay with an international wire transfer.
Note: class materials are not included in the class cost. The Spanish program uses the Maravillas del Español series of books, which was developed at EAFIT.
The Maravillas del Español book series consists of four volumes. Each volume contains a textbook, an activity book for self-study and a CD with audio files for developing listening skills. In addition, there is an associated website for grammar practice.
The Maravillas del Español books are sold in the bookstore on EAFIT’s campus and are also available on Amazon.
More About Universidad EAFIT
Universidad EAFIT is private university based in El Poblado in Medellín. It is considered to be the most prestigious private university in the city of Medellín.
The university was founded in 1960 by a group of entrepreneurs and business leaders in Medellín. The school was originally focused on management and finance but has expanded its offerings greatly over the past 57 years.
The university offers degrees in several areas through its six schools of Engineering, Finance and Economics, Humanities, Law, Management and Science. EAFIT currently offers 21 undergraduate programs, 34 master’s degree programs and six doctoral programs.
EAFIT’s main campus is located in El Poblado in Medellín. In addition, it has satellite campuses located in Bogotá, Pereira and Llanogrande. The university has a total of about 12,000 students.
The EAFIT language school offers classes in eight different languages. It offers Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish languages classes.
In addition, it offers language classes in the Medellín area in Belén, Laureles, Llanogrande and Sabaneta (at the Mayorca mall in the new phase). However, Spanish classes are only offered by EAFIT in El Poblado and in Pereria.
Universidad EAFIT is ranked #71 in a list of the best universities in Latin America according to the 2018 QS Latin America University Rankings. And EAFIT was ranked #89 in 2013. So, it has moved up in the best university rankings.
Getting a Colombian Student Visa
One benefit of taking Spanish classes at EAFIT is that you are eligible for a Colombia student visa. I received two student visas while I was taking Spanish classes, which permitted me to be in Colombia full time. Each of my two student visas were good for one year.
In December 2017 , Colombia changed its visa regulations and the student visa is now known as a Migrant (M) category 9 visa (M-9 visa) or a Visitor (V) visa.
When you enroll in the Spanish program at the university, they will provide you with paperwork you can use to get a student visa. We looked at student visas in a separate article on this website.
To qualify for a student visa in Colombia you need to be enrolled in a in a qualified educational institution in Colombia and be taking at least 10 hours of classes per week. So, EAFIT’s intensive and semi-intensive Spanish options both qualify.
Typically, only universities are considered qualified educational institutions for the purposes of a student visa in Colombia.
There are three universities currently offering Spanish language programs in Medellín: EAFIT located in El Poblado, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) located in Laureles and Universidad de Medellín in Belén.
But UPB’s and Universidad de Medellín’s Spanish programs are much smaller with fewer students. So, they aren’t able to offer as many levels of Spanish classes concurrently as EAFIT.
If you take Spanish classes at some schools in Medellín you won’t be eligible for a student visa. We provide details on obtaining a Colombia student visa here. Also, we have looked at the Toucan Spanish program, which is popular but doesn’t enable you to get a student visa.
How to Get to the EAFIT Languages Building
Universidad EAFIT’s main campus in Medellín is located in the Aguacatala barrio of El Poblado, near the Aguacatala metro station on Line A of the Medellín metro system.
However, the Languages Building is located on the other side of campus off of Las Vegas and is not on the main campus.
From the Aguacatala metro station, you could walk to the west entrance to the campus and walk across campus. You would exit the east side of the campus and walk north on Las Vegas and you’ll see the Languages Building on the right. The walk from the metro station would take about 10 minutes.
In addition, most taxi and Uber drivers in Medellín will know where Universidad EAFIT is located. Also, there are some bus routes that run by the university.
EAFIT’s Spanish Language Program Website: http://www.eafit.edu.co/spanishprogram
Telephone: (57) (4) 261 9399
The Bottom Line: Taking Spanish Classes at Universidad EAFIT
One of the downsides of living in Medellín or Colombia is that few Colombians speak English. So, if you don’t learn some Spanish, you will need to be dependent on someone.
I have met some foreigners that have been living in Medellín for several years that don’t speak much Spanish. But most Colombians in Medellín (and the rest of the country) generally don’t speak much English. So, to be independent you will need to speak some Spanish.
It is difficult to get by in Medellín without speaking some Spanish. Only a few of the locals speak English. Most of the people that you will interact with on a typical day, such as store clerks, taxi drivers and waiters will speak little to no English.
In addition, Education First ranks the English proficiency in Colombia as very low at 46.54 on a 100-point scale.
I had a good experience taking Spanish classes at EAFIT and I now speak Spanish at the intermediate level. So, I recommend the program.
In addition, by taking Spanish classes at a university like EAFIT you can get a student visa that enables you to be in Colombia for longer than the 6-month tourist visa limit.
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Editors note: updated on February 19, 2018 with up-to-date Spanish class costs at EAFIT.
Editors note: completely updated on December 25, 2018 this article originally published in November 2017 with the 2019 schedule of Spanish classes at EAFIT and the 2019 costs for Spanish classes at EAFIT.
Editors note: updated on February 4, 2019 to add Universidad de Medellín as another university offering Spanish classes in Medellín.