Instituto Cultural Oaxaca
Instituto Cultural Oaxaca
3.5
About
The Instituto Cultural Oaxaca is a Spanish Language School in Oaxaca, Mexico. Since 1984, ICO has provided Spanish Immersion programs, cultural workshops, tours and Intercambios.
Duration: More than 3 hours
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Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.

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3.5
3.5 of 5 bubbles23 reviews
Excellent
11
Very good
3
Average
3
Poor
0
Terrible
6

Pajaritoviejero
21 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2015 • Friends
I studied here as an intermediate student for 4 weeks. The teachers are excellent, although the curriculum is somewhat disorganized in the books they made for the school. The class size ranges from 2 to 6 students. My begginer friends were frustrated at times, having many levels of students lumped together in the begginer groups. The school has free wifi and a peaceful campus. They have fun excursions each week. I have studied at 2 other emmersion schools in mx and I found this one to be the most campus like. A plus is the younger crowd. The director/owner, lucero, is cold, focused on making political connections only with specific students and teachers sent by universities. She maintains a stern rule over staff and made one cry while I was there. The leadership is lacking a warmness. The staff is less attentative and caring to individuals than ive seen other places. They seem more focused on the money at times. That said, what made it pleasant for me was the cultural classes-the cooking teacher was awesome-, the excursions, and a couple staff going the extra mile.
Written October 30, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Lifesdepth
Toronto, Canada382 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2016 • Solo
I took my classes from December 14 to 31st (back in 2015)! Wow!! Time flies! So far, I only have another school to compare to from Ibiza, Spain.
Oaxaca itself is a fantastic place as most locals do not speak English and it's small enough to get around and I felt very safe walking alone the streets at any time.
As for the school. I really liked the grounds and the building. The teachers and stuff were OK. The stuff was very busy and I there was not enough interest to do excursions so we had to look into stuff ourselves. The teachers were very nice! Many as I took Intensive Spanish, Cooking classes and Salsa classes and Intercambio.

It's so nice to be able to have classes outside or inside in December! There were couples. Families with kids and teenagers from different parts of the world (like: Japan, Korea, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, most from USA and me (only one from Canada).

The cooking classes that I was against turned out most fun and I would take them again. Except I would wish the teachers would force (the Germans) to speak only Spanish as they were non stop speaking in the language that I did not enjoy hearing while trying to learn Spanish. We played games while waiting at times as the oaxacanean cosine is time consuming but enjoyable to eat and share.

Since there were couple days of holidays and school was closed, I lost money and paid for extra private classes.

December is a very good time to go if you wish to be part of strong traditions and part of dancing on the streets (Guadeloupe).

New Year = I found it very low key. The tradition is to be home with family. The main square has tons of people but with little kids and gets dirty and I did not enjoy it alone since I went too late after our "family dinner" at midnight and my friends already left.

I am so glad I chose a homestay with Maria and Antonio. An older couple that did not speak English and had a beautiful house with a garden and a rooftop few blocks away from school. Spotless, with a maid! No pets. I had a big room and my own bathroom as there were no other students. I never felt alone! Maria and I went out, shopping, eating, and I was a part of her family over the holidays traditions. When all her kids came home with their kids (from USA and other parts of Mexico), I had to change my ticket and spend holidays with them. Afterwards, I took an overnight bus to a beach in Santa Marta Huatulco. Spent a day and a night there and came back. Also, I booked excursions with Spanish groups. So, I met many visitors from other parts of Mexico who came here for holidays or visiting families. Highly recommend Monte Alban, San Lorenzo Albarradas, San Pablo de Mitla, Arbol del Tule, Teotitlan del Valle, Hierve el Agua & Mezcal.

I did a lot of shopping!!!
If I was not a person who must go to different places,
I would go back there for sure!
And who knows, I may return.
Written October 11, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

nicholasslo
San Francisco, CA69 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2016 • Couples
I want to begin by saying how almost everyone I have met in Oaxaca is amazing helpful and kind. I wanted to learn Spanish and this was a professional place to do it. The grounds are beautiful and our teacher Mary was great. What left a bad taste in my mouth was we left our bag in a taxi with the small packet of photocopied papers they call a textbook (it is informative but not a book). I had read that the manager was mostly concerned with the money in other reviews. When we told an employee about our loss she apologized but was told by the manager owner that we would have to pay $15 US dollars for each replacement. Although that is not much. For some photocopies stapled together you could get done at kinkos in the us for a dollar or in Mexico cheaper it seemed excessive/slightly exploitative. I thought it was a real nickel and dime experience and did not feel it was fair or right. It really left a bad feeling with me and my spouse. It is for this reason I believe that you need to be careful because if you don't have a good experience or have greater problems than ours management would not be helpful. Buyer be cautious.
Written April 29, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jessica M
1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022 • Friends
I am at the ICO with my university for a study abroad experience. Definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. All of the staff at the school are very kind and helpful. My Spanish has improved more in four months than it has in the 7 years I’ve taken high school and college Spanish prior. If you come you’ll definitely want to be here for Día de los Muertos. Such an amazing experience.
Written November 8, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Yvonne F
Tel Aviv, Israel58 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2016 • Solo
I signed up to the institute prior to my arrival to Mexico, explaining which level I was.
After having taken the exam upon arrival I was assured that they had classes for my level of Spanish.
I was placed in a class well below my level. The next day I started private lessons with a teacher who had never taught spanish as a second language. The third day I had yet another teacher who was excellent but only to find out that on the fourth day he could no longer teach me. So, I started with a third teacher which was fine.
After two lessons, the director of the institute told me that I can no longer have lessons in the institute because the now appointed teacher is going to teach a class.

I had already rented a room in a hotel for a month, and the institute promised upon arrival that they had courses for my level. The private lessons were $19 an hour.

After inquiring in other schools in Oaxaca I found excellent teachers at a fraction of the cost where I didn't have to pay a registration fee of $55.

So, my recommendation is to avoid the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca and shop around for other schools.
Good Luck.
Written February 23, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

selena142017
Hawaii1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2017 • Solo
As mentioned in some of the other reviews, Lucero, the director, is horrible. It's obvious that the only thing she cares about is making money. She does not care if you're having any problems at the school and she treats her staff poorly.
The teachers at the ICO were good. They have no control of how many students, or who, are in their classes.
I'm glad I only paid for 2 weeks out of my 6 week stay in Oaxaca. I found a private Spanish teacher and finished my 4 weeks with her.
There are many other Spanish schools in Oaxaca.
Written March 16, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Aleksandra57
Toronto, Canada52 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2018 • Solo
I would never go again to this School or recommend it to anyone after my experience here. I was referred to a higher level class after my exam and in that class the teacher would leave us conversing between ourselves in Spanish without much interest in correcting us. So, I was basically left talking in Spanish with an American guy for three hours, without any teacher intervention.

The next day at my request I was placed at a lower level class, but it all depends on how many students there are in your class if you will learn something here or not. And if you change your mind about taking the second week, there is NO REFUND. Buyer beware! The most rude Director of a school I have ever experienced.

Save your money and give it to any other excellent school or tutor in Oaxaca, of which there are many.
Written March 25, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

jm2818
Oaxaca, Mexico1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2016 • Solo
If I could give this place zero stars I would. Do not wast your money here. The owner and director, Lucero Topote, is the worst person I have ever encountered. She knows no customer service and does not care about the quality of the classes provided, if students are learning or the quality of the teachers. The classes are WAY over priced. There is no receptiveness or understanding when concerns are expressed by the paying customer. There inso structure to the course and they do not care if they are providing what they advertise on their website. Which they absolutely are not. Even thought they are adamant to adhere to their no refund policy.

There is clearly no caliber when selecting teachers they hire despite advertising otherwise on their website. I was not the only student who had trouble, when others expressed concerns, condescending responses were received.

Do not be fooled by the pretty campus, yes its nice, but the treatment and behavior is not worth is. When asking for a refund, because yes it was that bad, Lucero told me she had to speak to the "owner" which in fact is herself.

Seriously save yourself from this horrible place.
Written March 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

LKM_81
Long Beach, California, United States6 contributions
3.0 of 5 bubbles
Apr 2018 • Solo
I came to Oaxaca for 2 weeks to study here. The campus is beautiful and Lucero was sweet to me during my orientation. She took time to show me places I was interested in on a map and made sure I knew how to get there. My instructor Miguel was also great. I was in a class with 2 other women. The classes are HARD so be prepared. One of the other students was a lawyer and I am a former college professor and we both struggled. Study a lot.
My complaints are 1. The location is on an extremely busy intersection that had protests or parades often. Even without that, there are almost constant horn and megaphones with ads coming from the street. Some days it was almost impossible to concentrate. There are big windows that cool down the rooms that are parallel to the street, closing them helps, but on warm days it gets to hot. I eventually asked if our class could move to a quieter room. They did move us and the new room wasn't as noisy. It's unfortunate that the school is on that intersection.
2. The registration fee you pay online DOES not go toward your tuition which was sketchy as it is not specified on the website. You pay the tuition in full on the first day or during orientation.
3. I signed up for a tour. An employee at the school took my money and said to be there by 9:45am, no other instruction. Turned out I needed extra cash for 2 tariffs (entry fee's) and lunch. It would have been helpful to know how much extra I needed in advance. My other complaint with the school in regard to the tour is that they didn't mention that we get dropped off at the Zocolo, not back at the school, which meant 30 min walk back to my hotel. We also arrived back at 8:15pm but were told we would be back at 7pm. All this should have been mentioned when the school took my money. The tour itself is through an outside company, not sure the name, and it was lovely.
The city of Oaxaca, the people and the food are INCREDIBLE. If you come, research other schools or a private tutor (same price). They will teach you spanish while visiting local spots to sit and learn outdoors or at cafes. I wish I would have gone that route.

One last note- there are mosquitos everywhere at the school so if you're prone to bites, get repellent at a pharmacy. Being swarmed by them prior to getting repellent, while the horns/parades/protests were blaring and trying to focus on Spanish verb conjugations was pretty rough.
Written May 7, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Jesse M
California1 contribution
1.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2016 • Solo
I went to Oaxaca earlier this year and chose to study at ICO.
All of the teachers are great and the school grounds are beautiful, but the director of the school, Lucero, is not nice at all, in fact she's very, very rude.

I saw how she treated her staff and it left a very bitter taste in my mouth. I will not be going back to study Spanish there.
Written October 31, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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