Escuela Amistad

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Language Learning Through Friendship

Our unique method of language learning is based on the simple idea of getting to know people across cultural and language barriers.  We have ten week experiences with live virtual visits to communities, small businesses, artists, activists, and other interesting people in Tijuana coupled with conversation classes and one on one “Charlamigo” sessions where you can converse with native speakers in Tijuana (like a virtual pen pal).  Intermediate/advanced students can sign up for Charlamigo sessions individually or anyone with some level of Spanish can sign up for a ten week course which includes a free level evaluation, the virtual site visits, charlamigo sessions, and more!  Questions?  Email us at


Next 10 week Experience starts Jan 24th!

Professors Rebeca Padilla and Dan Watman bring decades of professional language teaching experience and intimate personal knowledge of communities at the border.

In this course you will:

  • Make friends across borders!
  • Go on virtual site visits to communities in Tijuana!
  • Learn useful phrases for getting to know people across cultural barriers!
  • Get what you want out of learning and have fun!
  • Free eval and preview of course!

Some basic knowledge of Spanish required

Typical Program

Week 1-2

  • Tues/Wed/Thurs 12-1p
  • Free evaluation
  • Explanation of Course
  • Basic and advanced conversation practice

Week 3 – 10

  • Tuesday 12-1 virtual site visit for high beginner/intermediate level
  • Wednesday 12-1p class review/fun and practice of phrases on Zoom – Divided groups by level
  • Thurs 12-1p virtual site visit for Intermediate/advanced level
  • Bonus offerings starting week 3
    • 8 30 min one on one “Charlamigo” sessions – converse with a native Spanish speaker in Tijuana.  Like a virtual penpal.  Acommodated to your schedule
    • 1 language exchange with English language class in Tijuana – time/date TBD

“CHARLAMIGOS” – Language Partners 

“Charlamigos” are one-on-one language learning partners based in Tijuana, Mexico.  In Spanish, “charlar” means “to chat” and “amigos” means friends so a “Charlamigo” is like a “penpal” except you actually get to chat and become friends! As you and your new Spanish-speaking friend become “charlamigos,” you get to practice your Spanish through informal conversation and you both get to learn a new perspective on life by making friends with someone from a different culture. Your subscription to the Charlamigo service helps support working people in Tijuana. Choose someone from our roster of “Charlamigos” and our Coordinators will introduce you to them so you can arrange an initial, 30-minute conversation one-on-one. You can then sign up for more 30-minute sessions, or ask to be introduced to another “Charlamigo.”


(click on names for more info)


Daniel Watman

Dan Watman has worked as a Spanish instructor for over 20 years. A longtime resident of Tijuana, Mexico, Dan sees the purpose of language instruction as helping students establish meaningful friendships with native speakers.

Robert Vivar

Robert Vivar was deported to Mexico in 2013 after living in the USA since the age of six. Since his deportation he has dedicated his life to helping others in need, such as deported U.S. military veterans, deported mothers of U.S. citizen children, and separated families.



  • "This class is very relevant to life on the border. You'll learn a lot about what's happening in Tijuana, and an improvement in Spanish is guaranteed. The opportunity for new friendships across the border is also very present. A deeper understanding of the border and an improvement in Spanish go hand in hand in this class!"
  • "The instructor is a master teacher of Spanish, es verdad . Their skill at sensing out the learning needs and energy of individuals as well as the entire class was exceptional. His timing about correction and suggestion was terrific. The size of the class (about ten) gave everyone good opportunity to practice. The Zoom class enabled us to get to know people from all over the country as well as Mexico. The Zoom format was never a barrier to learning, but made it possible to be in the class without travel time. Working people were able to join at the end of their work day. The intermediate class is an excellent one for people who have some Spanish or want to upgrade their skills. For people who are not living in the San Diego area, the class gains an energy and immediacy from being taught by someone who lives on the border/la frontera."
  • “Centering on the common language used when we meet Mexican people at the border was especially meaningful to me. The repetitive nature of common phrases and encouragement of the teacher, all in Spanish, is the most effective way I've seen to improve on Spanish speaking.”
  • “This is an excellent course for someone who has some background in Spanish who wants to now put the language to use! The approach is immersive and the emphasis is on the spoken language. The class is engaging and interactive. I highly recommend it.”
  • “Great facilitator, evidence-based approach to learning the language in a contextualized way. The most relevant course I've found.”

Via Global Education creates opportunities to learn from local leaders and engage directly in the work of sustainable community development.  The intentional formation of community leaders — among both visiting and hosting communities —  is the focus of every trip we lead.

Program Development

Via’s unique expertise combined with collaborative input from your leaders and participants will produce a refined itinerary. We enjoy unique access to local partners and can create and coordinate all activities for in-person trips and virtual visits.

Transformational Learning

Via creates dynamic cultural exchange through presentations by local experts and partner organizations. A Via Guide will accompany your group through its entire experience to maximize the relational learning of participants.

Sustainable Development Support

Your support not only underwrites your (virtual) site visits, but also affords stipends to local community leaders; supports grassroots organizations working for social justice and sustainable community development; and helps to sustain Via International’s ongoing work with Communities, Programs, and Partners.

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