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After taking Spanish classes at Habla Ya in Panama City I asked my friends there for advice on some effective ways to practice Spanish once classes are over. Based on their recommendations and a few of my own additions I’ve come up with a creative list on how you can use Panama City as your real life classroom.

You may sound like a baby caveman with hand signals when you speak (me gusta gatto ?), but the point is to get yourself out there and more comfortable with speaking Spanish. So are you ready to venture out into the real world and practice what you’ve learned in Spanish classes? Here are 10 fun ways you can practice Spanish in Panama City…

Take Salsa Lessons


To truly understand the Latin culture you have to experience the rhythm and music. Taking salsa lessons is a must plus it’s a fun way to practice Spanish. It may take a while before your awkward gringo movements become more natural and fluid but you’ll be thankful the next time you’re at a nightclub and a salsa or merengue song comes on. Paradise Banquet Hall on Via España has classes every Thursday at 6:30pm for just $5 and all levels are welcome.


Volunteering is an awesome way to practice Spanish and positively impact the local community during your stay in Panama City. If you’re taking Spanish courses at Habla Ya they can even assist you with getting set up at a program.

Tinder Dates

The infamous Tinder application may be the next language of love because it can actually be a great way to converse with native Spanish speakers in Panama. In your profile add that you are learning Spanish and would love to have someone to practice with. Then get a few matches, meet for coffee or dinner and boom – you just had a fun (or really awkward) conversational Spanish lesson. And who knows! Maybe your Tinder date could be your next Panamanian novia or novio.

Go To The Movies

Most films shown at the movie theaters in Panama are in English with Spanish subtitles and these are the ones you should avoid if you want to actually practice Spanish. Animated movies are best to start with and be sure to see one that is “doblada” (dubbed in Spanish) so that your ear can get used to the audio. Going to the movies is a great affordable activity in Panama and costs just $5.50 on normal days and $2.75 on half price Wednesday at Cinepolis.

Buy Seafood At The Mercado de Mariscos

Head over to the famous Mercado de Mariscos (fish market) for lunch and pick out your own fish to be cooked. Be sure to go to the actual market inside and not the outdoor seating to do this. Buy either a fillet or entire fish ($2.50-$3.50/pound) depending on what you like and then go to the restaurant upstairs and they’ll cook it for you ($6.50/pound of fish and includes a side). They either prepare it apanado (fried and my favorite) or a la plancha (grilled). Be sure to ask for some of their delicious salsa de ajillo (garlic sauce) on the side!

See A Local Play

Do something a bit more cultural by seeing a live performance at one of the theatres in Panama City. You can visit Teatro de Panama for updates on upcoming performances.

Free Fitness Classes

Take a trip to Parque Omar which is Panama City’s version of Central Park. Everyday of the week you can take free fitness classes in the mornings and evenings that range from Yoga to Zoomba so you’ll be learning the latest Spanish fitness lingo in no time.

Uber Drivers

Uber is one of the best ways to get around Panama City and also is a great outlet to practice Spanish by simply striking up a conversation with your next Uber driver. These guys are always super friendly and enjoy it when their customers actually talk to them. And if you haven’t used Uber before, your first ride is on me. Download the app and enter the promo code UBERPTYLIFE for $10 off your first ride.

Experience The Nightlife


Visit one of the bars or nightclubs in Casco Viejo, stay until it closes, go eat at Nikos Cafe with random people and watch the sunrise at 6am. As long as you order some cervezas and talk to a few people that counts as Spanish practice, right?

Eat Out


Eating out is an awesome excuse to practice Spanish. Choose a new restaurant you haven’t been to by using Degusta and spend an evening trying to order food, drinks, and pay your bill in Spanish. If they give you an English version of the menu be sure to say “Quisiera un menu en Español, por favor” so that you can learn how to read a menu in Spanish.

What are some of your favorite ways to practice Spanish? Leave a comment below…

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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