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Spanish Language and Culture

Learning Spanish

The Washington, DC area has numerous resources for learning to speak Spanish (and to learn about Hispanic/Latino culture). Many local schools, both independent and public, have foreign language curriculums. Several local public school districts offer partial Spanish Immersion programs in the schools and many offer after-school Spanish enrichment.  Check with your local school district for more information.

Several private schools offer intensive language programs, including the Rock Creek International School and The Washington International School . They also offer summer camps which are often open to students from other schools. The Escuela Bolivia has a Saturday Spanish language-learning school for preschool through 12th grade.

Other private schools may also offer Spanish language instruction in the summer. Check directly with them for more information. Several of the local public school districts offer language instruction through Adult Education programs (which may or may not be appropriate for non-adults). This includes the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudon County, and Montgomery County schools. Contact them directly for information.

For college-level instruction, many local community colleges and the continuing education programs of many colleges offer beginning and intermediate Spanish classes. Contact your local campus for more information.

If you want to supplement your Spanish (for adults or children) there are a number of language schools and courses. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Berlitz's well-known language instruction courses are offered for children and teenagers in addition to adults (for personal and business needs). Locally, Berlitz offices are in Washington, DC; Rockville, MD; and Tysons Corner, VA.
  • International Language Institute has Spanish language programs in Arlington, VA.
  • USDA Graduate School in Washington, DC has a long list of evening and weekend Spanish courses of varying levels targeted to adult learners.
  • Diplomatic Language Services school in Arlington VA teaches Spanish in small classes several times a week.
  • International Center for Language Studies in Washington, DC has private group and individual classes.
  • Go Spanish Now holds Spanish language classes for children and adults throughout the Washington, DC metro area.
  • Spanish Black Belt organizes private and group lessons and tutoring area-wide. They also support www.spanishdc.org which is a free source for online Spanish conversation.
  • Study Spanish is an excellent resource for learning Spanish including rules, examples, and practice worksheets. The basic information is free; additional information requires a subscription.

Dancing to a Salsa Beat

Cali, Colombia is the salsa capital of the world. However, you don’t have to travel to Cali to learn how to dance salsa. There are several restaurants/bars and dance halls that offer salsa dance lessons in the Washington D.C. metro area. In addition to your local dance studio, here are just a few of the local hot spots to learn this Latin dance. Please call before you go as times and dates often change.

  • Lucky Bar (1221 Connecticut Ave. NW; Washington, DC (202) 331-3733) -- After Monday Happy Hour ends, this Dupont Circle Bar offers free salsa and merengue lessons with Ricardo Loaiza (Colombian) and Elba Garcia. Loaiza DJs after the classes.
  • Habana Village (1834 Colombia Road NW; Washington, DC (202) 462-6310) -- Located in the heart of Adams Morgan, this dance club and bar offers salsa dance lessons Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 7:30pm-9:30pm.
  • Clarendon Grill (1191 N. Highlands Street; Arlington, VA (703) 524-7455) --This restaurant and baroffers salsa dance classes on Mondays. Beginner classes run from 7pm-8pm and intermediate classes run from 8pm-9pm. $5 at the door. Must be 21 years old after 9pm.
  • Cafe Salsa (808 King St.; Alexandria, VA (703) 684-4100) -- Tuesdays are salsa nights at this Nuevo Latino Cuisine restaurant. Taught by SalsaMagic, classes cost $20 per couple or $15 per single with instruction from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm. You can also practice what you’ve learned on Fridays and Saturdays after 10:00 pm.
  • Hollywood Ballroom (2126 Industrial Parkway, Silver Spring, MD (301)622-5494) -- One free beginner salsa class a month. Steve Ferrara teaches a three-week long, intermediate/advanced salsa class on Tuesdays. Call for more information.

Language and Culture Camps

Locally, several camps foster interest in Latin American cultures and in learning Spanish. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Mis Amigos Culture Camp is sponsored by the Latin American Parents Association (LAPA) of the National Capital Region. Designed for children from kindergarten through 8th grade, the camp takes place in Silver Spring, MD for one week each summer and highlights art, dance, music, and Latin culture.
  • Rock Creek International School and Washington International School offer Spanish language summer camps for school-age children. See their respective websites for current information. Other private schools in the Washington DC area offer summer language programs and travel opportunities that are open to the public. Contact schools directly for more information.
  • La Semana is a week-long day camp in MN. While not local, it is a highly recommended culture camp. Each year it focuses on the culture of a different Latin American country. The camp is for grades 1-7, with teens and adults providing volunteer support.
  • Concordia Spanish Language Villages, also in MN, were developed by Concordia College. The well-regarded Summer Youth Program, El Lago del Bosque, offers residential language and culture camp for ages 7-18. One-week, two-week, and four-week sessions are available at three locations in MN as well as in Savannah, GA. The four week program offers high school language credit. A college-level program is also available.

If you know of additional camps which offer Spanish language or cultural instruction, please send a note to info@friendsoffana.org.