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After having established Spanish schools in Boquete and Bocas del Toro, Habla Ya has opened their first school in Panama City! They invited me out to be one of the first students to take classes at their new school and below is my journey (and struggle) with an intense five day course of Spanish classes.

Why you need to learn Spanish in Panama

I’ve read a few articles around that say “Everyone speaks English in Panama” (I even accidentally say it sometimes) and this is not true. What is true is that there is a large expat population that speaks English and lots of Panamanians that have attended bilingual schools that are fluent in English, and these will most likely be the two groups of people that you become friends with first. However, this only represents a small percentage of the overall population and most of the everyday people you will encounter in Panama just know a few words in English.

[adrotate banner=”18″] Not knowing Spanish means you will basically loose a vital part of your independence, having to rely on others to communicate for you, survive on Google translate, and use lots of hand gestures. This is ok at first but I know from new friends that have moved here or people that have visited Panama, it can be frustrating.

You will eventually get tired of not knowing what food you are ordering, handing a taxi driver directions in Spanish that you had to have a friend write for you, and answering “S­í” to anything people ask you.

So take some Spanish classes, get over the “helpless hump”, and Panama becomes a way more enjoyable place to be! There’s nothing like being able to tell off a taxi driver in perfect Spanish that you will not be paying the inflated “gringo price” he is quoting because you know this is a $2 route.

Also, Panama City is an awesome place to vacation in so you could make your trip a “mini study abroad” for a few weeks to take Spanish lessons while getting to know the city. You could also divide up your time between Panama City, Boquete, and Bocas del Toro while doing a week of Spanish classes at the Habla Ya locations in each spot.

Taking classes at Habla Ya

Habla Ya is located in a brand new, modern building called Le Blue in El Carmen behind Exedra Books. It’s in a very easy to get to location just minutes walking from the Via Argentina metro stop.

The facilities are are top notch with lots of classrooms, a study area, and nice cold air conditioning (it gets really hot in Panama City), which makes it a comfortable place to learn Spanish. Classes are held Monday through Friday but they are open seven days a week so you can stop by anytime to ask about classes or have a quiet place to study.

My Goal At Habla Ya: Get Good at Spanish Past Tense

I’m pretty decent at speaking Spanish, especially after finally taking classes again last year but there are a few things that I know I still struggle with like speaking in past tense and my gringo accent, so these were at the top of my list to improve upon.

I took an initial placement test on the school’s website before I began classes and then on my first day I met my teacher Ezequiel and he interviewed me to further assess what level I was at. He could also tell that speaking in past tense was my biggest struggle so we decided to spend the entire week just focussing on that.

My Spanish teacher Ezequiel and I

On my first day we went over the conjugations again (which I have been over a million times before and still couldn’t remember) and did a few games and exercises to get me warmed up. Speaking in past tense one of the most difficult concepts for new Spanish speakers to get down because there are several new conjugations to memorize and certain instances of when you use each form.

Why does this have to be so hard!
Why does this have to be so hard!

Towards the end of my third day of class, Ezequiel could sense I was getting frustrated with the game we were playing. It involved landing on a picture and then describing or making up a story in the past. In English or Spanish I lack the imagination to come up with a detailed story on the spot so my responses were too slow and simple. It just wasn’t working for my learning style.

What I like about Ezequiel is that he could tell this wasn’t working and came to class the next day with new material. He brought a few fill the in blank stories where I needed to insert the correct past tense word, which may be boring to some people, but it’s what fit my learning style better and I feel like we accomplished much more by the end of the day.

I’ve literally been needing a week straight just going over Spanish past tense and I finally feel like I have a good grasp of it. I couldn’t be happier with my short week at the new Habla Ya location and I recommend taking classes there if you are an expat in Panama needing to improve your Spanish or just passing through. The facilities and quality of the classes are excellent!


Sign Up!

Habla Ya offers several different types of Spanish courses designed to meet your needs and level of Spanish:

Classes start at $8.75 / hour and as an added bonus Habla Ya is offering PTY Life readers a free 20 minute demo class before committing! Also, this upcoming March they will launching a special where PTY residents can get 2 x 1 classes so keep a lookout on their Facebook Page for when that will begin.

Head over to THIS LINK to begin your registration for Spanish classes at Habla Ya!

Also at Habla Ya…

  • Daily Activities: Yoga classes, Panamanian dinner parties, movie nights in Spanish, night outs to local restaurants, salsa lessons, conversational sessions, weekend partying, and more!
  • Tours from Panama City: They can arrange tours to San Blas, visit the Embera Tribes, visit the Canal, zip lining, and more!
  • Volunteer: Practice your Spanish while making a difference to the local people in Panama.
  • Accommodation: Habla Ya can arrange a place to stay with easy access to the school. Choose from a family home stay, budget hostel, midrange hotel or bed & breakfast, apartments, vacation rentals, luxury resorts or upscale boutique hotels.

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Habla Ya is located on Calle Otilia A. de Tejeira in El Carmen, the street behind Exedra Books on the first floor of a new building called Le Blue. They can be contacted by phone at 507 394 8326 or email at

For the latest updates on Habla Ya, visit their website and be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This is a sponsored post promoting Habla Ya and I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own and I will never publish anything that I wouldn’t go to myself. For information on promoting your business through PTY Life visit THIS LINK

Experience Panama


I'm Joey, a guy from Louisville, Kentucky that packed up and studied abroad in Panamá at the age of 20 and haven't moved back since. What started as a semester trip to Panamá has turned into 10+ years of living in Latin America and becoming a full-time travel blogger. I now rotate between living in Panama City, Bogotá, and Lima. Follow me on Instagram @joeybonura for more updates on my life abroad!

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