Frequently Asked Questions

How about safety in Oaxaca? Is it a safe place to stay in?

Oaxaca can be considered as one of the safest cities in México. Unlike the northern part of the country, there is no drug related violence and the city is perfectly safe for both adults and children. Obviously, as in all other cities in the world, there are occasional cases of petty crime, such as pick pocketing or assaults. But with a bit of common sense and observing a few safety rules, it is very unlikely that anything like that happens to you.

First of all, it is advisable to watch over your belongings carefully at all times, especially in crowded places, such as markets and bus stations. We recommend not wearing expensive jewellery and watches since this way you can draw an unwanted attention to you. Do not take all your bank cards and cash with you at once, take only the amount you need and leave the rest safely at the homestay or the apartment. We also advise you to make a photocopy of your passport and tourist card or visa and carry it with you instead of the original. Do not walk alone late at night, take a taxi instead or at least walk in pairs or groups. When going out to clubs and bars, drink moderately because the drunken tourists are the most vulnerable to possible attacks.

How do I get to the school?

The Instituto is located in a tranquil part of Oaxaca, 5 minutes walk from Santo Domingo Church and 10 minutes walk from Zócalo. You will find it on Escaleras del Fortín, the stairs leading to the famous Auditorio Guelagetza on the hill Cerro del Fortín. The stairs are also perfect for a nice walk or a bit of jogging in the morning.
For detailed map of Oaxaca, please click here.

What day of the week I should arrive in Oaxaca?

It is best if you can arrive on Saturday or Sunday so you can settle in before starting the classes on Monday. Eventually, as an exception, we are able to accommodate a mid-week arrival as well.

How many students are in class?

We usually have very small groups of two to five students. We prefer not to have more than five students, unless it is a group that wishes to study together. You will be in the group only with students of the same language level and approximately the same age category, e.g. we will not put teenagers and seniors to study together.

What type of students comes to the ICC?

We receive all kinds of students, from young children to seniors. It also depends on the season; for example, during summer or spring break there are more children and teenagers than during other times in the year. We receive individuals, families, couples and groups from anywhere in the world, even thought the majority of students come from the U.S., Canada and European countries.

What are the techniques for TSSL?

The Institute was the first in Oaxaca to use the modern and highly effective communicative approach. This approach, unlike the traditional methods used by other schools, focuses more on using the practical language in real life situations. Instead of drilling the grammar, the students are encouraged to speak and use a variety of tenses and vocabulary since the first day. Based on the personal interests of each student, the teacher helps them to broaden their vocabulary and discuss a variety of topics relevant for them.

Can I receive a college credit for my course at the ICC?

Our classes have been accepted for college credit by various universities in the U.S. and Europe. However, we recommend you to double check with your university and verify the exact requirements prior coming to Oaxaca.

What should I bring to my homestay?

The host family will provide you with towels, sheets and blankets. You only need to bring your personal toiletries and any personal items that you might need. If you are not using American style electrical sockets in your country, it is recommendable to purchase an adaptor and bring it with you. If you wish to show the family your gratitude, you can bring a small present, especially for the children, or a small souvenir from your country.

Will I be able to eat vegetarian food?

Yes, of course! The families are able to prepare your vegetarian food. There are also many restaurants in Oaxaca that offer vegetarian food. Also in case you have any food allergies, please do let us know in advance so we can advise the host family about your diet.

What kind of apartment can I find in Oaxaca?

Oaxaca offers many apartments which are usually furnished and consist of a kitchen, bathroom and one or more bedrooms. For the latest offer we suggest you have a look at:

During the high season (Semana Santa, July-August, Day of Dead and Christmas period) we recommend to start looking for your apartment well in advance to make sure that you will be able to find an apartment that suits your needs. During the low season it should be fairly easy to find an apartment for almost any budget.

Can I bring my partner with me to Oaxaca?

Sure, you can. If you wish we will arrange your homestay with a host family where both of you can be accommodated. If you prefer independent accommodation, there are plenty of apartments, posadas, hotels and hostels in Oaxaca and there is enough choice for virtually any taste and budget.

What is the best way of handling money in Oaxaca?

We recommend bringing some cash with you in combination with your bank card. You can find ATMs almost everywhere in Oaxaca so it is very easy to withdraw money from them. Please check with your bank the international usage fees and be sure to inform your bank that you are travelling. You can also exchange US dollars or Euros easily at many banks and exchange bureaus – “casas de cambio”. Traveller’s cheques are not recommended since it is difficult to exchange them and the rates are usually not favourable.

“Probably my favourite time at the ICC was the excursions. Yolanda (the director) took us personally on tours of the surrounding pueblitas, showing us the specific hand crafts that each town specialized in, often including a demonstration of the traditional methods the still use.”

- Tim Wang,
United States

"The spanish classes at the ICC were great. They were the perfect balance of educational, informative and fun. The teaching was very professional and personal and the atmosphere was just right. We highly recommend the ICC to anyone who wants to learn Spanish!"

- Jonathan Thaw (April 2012)

"The teaching staff at ICC is fantastic.  The classes were organized to facilitate real life conversations, which was exactly the practice I needed. The school is also located in a great part of the city, close to the heart of centro historico.  I plan to return."

-Marla Renn

Vancouver, Canada

“The ICC's classes focus on practical Spanish. It helped me better understand what people say and what they mean... and in turn helped me to become more fluent, not just linguistically, but culturally.”

- Marie O'Brien,
United States

“I was pleased with the flexibility of the school to meet my needs – they designed an advanced class appropriate for my language level, met me at the airport despite flight complications, and organized excursions based on the sights I wanted to see in Oaxaca Valley.”

- Sarah Roggero,
United States

“As an advanced student of Spanish, I have to look carefully for language schools that can help me, so I was delighted to find that the instruction in ICC was so in-depth. Because of the school’s association with the Oaxaca Times, the staff are a well-informed resource for what goes on in this beautiful city.”

- Jim Innocent

United States

“Their approach of practicing speaking Spanish all the time while using correct grammar worked so much better for me than my first school's approach of many hours of learning grammar and then speaking for only part of class.”

- Tim Wang,
United States