05 Jul

Playing Fair While Learning Spanish

fairplay-logo It’s easy to find a Spanish school in Cusco, they are a dime a dozen. It’s more difficult to find one that offers a great program, is flexible, and gives back to the community. We found that, and more, at FairPlay.

Run by John, a Dutch fellow, and his Peruvian wife, FairPlay is a not-for-profit organization that offers single Peruvian mothers a chance to learn how to teach their language to others while they gain the self confidence they need to gain control over their own lives.

Talking to John about how the program is set up, how they choose the women and how they support them during the process, we knew that this was the school for us.

We set ourselves up with a four day, four hour per day, program. Two hours of grammatical teaching (one on one, each with our own instructor) and two hours of practical teaching out in the community (again, one on one).

The payment plan was also appealing. We paid an administration fee to FairPlay and also paid them 25% of the per hour teaching fee. The other 75% of the teaching fee we paid directly to the teachers – there is no wondering where the money is going…it passed directly from my hand to the hand of the teacher.

I met Eliana on the first morning for our practical lesson. I was nervous as I wasn’t sure how much I remembered and John had explained to me that, although the instructors speak English, they are not permitted to – they must speak to me in Spanish only.

Fair Play Spanish School, CuscoI needn’t have worried. Eliana was kind and gentle and spoke to me slowly, in simple Spanish. Along with hand gestures we were able to understand each other. She took me to the San Pedro market and we wandered for two hours learning the names of all the different products while we also learned about each other.

Next came the grammar lesson with Josee. I was still a little nervous but the practice with Eliana had helped. Josee gave me my grammar exercise book and we started learning all about the building blocks of Spanish. She, too, would only speak in Spanish but she was excellent at finding ways of explaining concepts and words to me – I was thoroughly impressed.

Fair Play Spanish School, Cusco, PeruJason and I were able to spend the next three practical lessons together doing things that we would never had been able to alone as his instructor, Carmen, and Eliana took us further afield to explore Cusco.

The first day together we hopped on a local ‘combi’ bus to climb the hill to Cristo Blanco. The next day we headed further out to Tipon where they took us to a local Cuyeria to try the local specialty…guinea pig.  The last day we visited a local market on the edge of town and then slowly walked our way back. It was amazing to be able to visit local places and realize that I did it all in Spanish.

Cuy in Tipon, Peru

Santo Blanco, CuscoThe grammar lessons also continued and Josee managed to get me through the two basic levels of Spanish structure. She was so kind and generous –  patiently explaining things over and over again and helping me to slowly, slowly, slowly get my thoughts across in Spanish.


FairPlay offers a great program that, not only teaches Spanish in an interesting, fun and effective way, but also helps those in the community. These women obviously enjoy what they do – they are great teachers and great mothers who now have the self confidence to stand on their own and an opportunity to show their children how it’s done.

9 thoughts on “Playing Fair While Learning Spanish

  1. That is a lovely way to learn another language. If highschool French class held any similarities maybe I would remember some of it. It’s great you found something that feels like it helps the community too.

  2. Sounds like your doing great with learning the language. Hope you can still talk Proper English like what I do when we see you again. Luv Ya.

  3. Ok – first and foremost, enquiring minds want to know if you actually enjoyed the local delicacy.
    I also think that your language school sounds fabulous. My Italian scuola also did not allow English to be spoken to us, but we did not go out around the town which I feel would have been extremely useful.
    I have since found a horde of old Disney comics in Italian, like Scrooge McDuck etc and I have been trying to read them. (Still on first one!)

  4. Sounds like you guys really found a good language school. I regret not having enough time in SA and doing a language school as my books and mp3’s have gotten me further but not even close to speaking proper spanish. Good tips for my next trip, finding a language school that supports the community is something any traveller can do.

  5. Hey guys nice to see and read about your departure and early travels. I am settling in Bulgaria, if you find yourselves in the area, shot me a line, I have lots of contacts for a free stay.

  6. Hey Gillian and Jason,

    Thanx for the wonderful review. Happy that you enjoyed everything that much and that you have a dear memory of Cusco.

    hug, Jiohn

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