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 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.

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 new Language School building at Universidad EAFIT

The new Language School building at 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 has a small food court with a few small restaurants and many tables set up.

The food court food options in the EAFIT language school building

The food court food options in the EAFIT language school building

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:

Mapping EAFIT's Spanish program to the Common European Framework

Mapping EAFIT’s Spanish program to the Common European Framework

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: 9 am to 11 am or 2 pm to 4 pm
  • Four weeks: two hours per day, for a total of 38 hours

Intensive Spanish Classes

  • Monday to Friday: 9 am to 1 pm or 2pm 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. 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 90 students in the Spanish program. Since EAFIT is offering 15 different Spanish classes in both intensive and semi-intensive formats, not every class is necessarily available each month.

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. All of my Spanish teachers in the program were good. And while in the program I had the opportunity to meet students studying Spanish from over 15 different countries.

While 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 that is now my wife and using Spanish every day helped accelerate my learning Spanish.

The Luis Echavarría Villegas Library at EAFIT

The Luis Echavarría Villegas Library at EAFIT

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.

The language school office on the ground floor

The language school office on the ground floor

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. The language office in the new language building  is located on the ground floor.

Calendar of 2018 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 2018.

EAFIT's 2018 Spanish course schedule

EAFIT’s 2018 Spanish course schedule

Costs for Spanish Classes at EAFIT

Each Spanish class at EAFIT currently costs 1,282,000 pesos for a 38-hour class if there are 3 to 8 students in a class. 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 1,926,000 pesos for a 38-hour class. And they offer the possibility for a 1-on-1 class with only one student in which case a class costs 2,595,000 pesos for a 38-hour class.

If you pay in advance for more than six classes you can receive a 7 percent discount. And if you pay in advance for more than two classes you can receive a 3 percent discount.

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.

This 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. And 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.

The current student visa in Colombia is known as a TP-3 visa.  In December 2017 , Colombia changed its visa regulations and the student visa is 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 only two universities offering Spanish language programs in Medellín: EAFIT located in El Poblado and Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana (UPB) located in Laureles.  But UPB’s Spanish program is much smaller. So, they aren’t able to offer as many levels of Spanish classes concurrently as EAFIT.

If you take Spanish classes at another school in Medellín you won’t be eligible for a student visa. We provide details on obtaining a Colombia student visa here.

Location of the EAFIT Languages Building

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 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 include the university.

EAFIT’s Spanish Language Program Website: http://www.eafit.edu.co/spanishprogram

Email: spanish@eafit.edu.co

Telephone: (57) (4) 261 9399

EAFIT's Language Building at night, photo courtesy of Universidad EAFIT

EAFIT’s Language Building at night, photo courtesy of Universidad EAFIT

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.