What Future (and Current) Expats Need to Know About Mexicans

Hola Amigos !
Four years ago Warren Hardy created this video to describe his views of the Mexican people after living in Mexico for over 20 years. The information is very helpful for anyone who is planning to travel or live in Mexico.

Why Learning Spanish is Like a Game

by David Brown, guest blogger, Spanish student

"Life is like a game of chess. Every move you make affects the rest"

That is a part of a poem that I wrote when I was fifteen, and have never forgotten it. When it comes to learning Spanish, it can be a like a game, and every move you make or step you take in the process, can help with the entire learning experience. (Yes, I'm a boomer and have oldies lyrics that come into my memory :)

Many people enjoy games of all kinds, and with the huge popularity of games and apps such as Words with Friends and others that we can play on our phones and devices, it's no surprise that games can also be an important part of the learning experience.

In the Level 1 and Level 2  Power Verbs Spanish class at the Warren Hardy Spanish School, we play games during the class. There are a number of three minute exercises where one person says something in Spanish or English and their study partner responds, then switches to repeat the exercise. These "language games" have been designed to make learning Spanish fun. Also the online learning program, WebTutor, includes all of the same content as the class, with games included that allow switching back and forth between English and Spanish.

However, the two - three hours of homework assigned for each three hours of class may not seem to be fun, as there is no study partner or teacher to keep you smiling. Yet the night when I was sitting at a table on the roof of a house in Los Frailes, with a panoramic view and distant thunderstorms approaching, I realized that doing Spanish homework can also be like a game.

When I thought of Spanish homework as a game, and started "playing" with the words and sentences, it was more of a change in my state of mind than any particular change in doing the exercises. Yet this was a shift in my feeling of "ugh homework" to "let's make this fun". When I checked my work with the answers, it wasn't as if I "won some and lost some" and lost the game if I got less than 46 out of 52, or whatever the numbers were.

In this game of Spanish study, you win when you are learning.

Then the distant thunderstorm was much closer. Rain started to come and I needed to stop playing this learning-Spanish-game. There was only one thing to do at that time.

I was all in.



My Big Fat Adventure - A Caregiving Story

Manon - a student at Warren Hardy Spanish School 
Caregiving can be very demanding and stressful for family members, especially with challenging conditions such as Alzeimer's. The cost of a full time facility can be extremely high. In the San Francisco Bay Area it is about $10,000 a month.

One of our students offered her story about her caregiving experience in Mexico as a possible solution for others in similar circumstances.


"About 7 years ago, my husband & I realized that “something” was starting to misfire in his brain.

Within the next 3 years it became very clear that he had dementia; couldn’t remember simple things, suddenly couldn’t cook anymore, couldn’t retain anything he read & was confused off and on throughout the day.  He soon lost his drivers license.  He was very angry and I was devastated.  I had to do everything.

His diagnosis was moderate - severe dementia secondary to probable Alzheimers.
Fast forward to three years later & he needed almost full-time care.  I retired from the SFVA Medical Center and became his caregiver. I looked at Facilities where we lived and quickly realized that $10,000 plus per month was not affordable for us.

Through a friend, I was introduced to Jim, who had recently placed his 94 year old mother in a long term care facility in San Miguel de Allende and so my journey began.

I arrived for my 1st visit in October 2017 with a good friend and visited 4 facilities.  Casa Cieneguita, Cielito Lindo in Los Labradores, Alma Care Facility and Casa de Reposo Santa Sofia. I chose Casa de Reposo for many reasons and he and I with another good friend in tow arrived back in San Miguel on April 30, 2018.

He had a successful evaluation appointment that morning @ 9am and he was admitted to the

facility later that morning.

And thus My Big Fat Adventure began.  I’ve been here happily for 3 months and visit him everyday.  He likes his room, his bed, loves the food and his doctor.  He’s getting really caring, loving care and seems quite content.

I plan to travel back and forth to the states for now but eventually will buy a home."
Manon M. 

Tres Amigas - Three Women Share Their Mexico Stories


Tres Amigas - Gail, Susie, and Laurie

"Owning our stories is standing in our truth. It’s transformative in our personal and professional lives AND it’s also critical in our community lives." Brene Brown

We all have our stories, and when we make big decisions in our life such as visiting or living in Mexico it can be transformative and a part of our journey. These three women share a part of their story, and their experience in Mexico in July 2018. They are learning Spanish with 27 other students in the same Level 1 Power Verbs class at the Warren Hardy Spanish School community in San Miguel de Allende. 


Susie J. 
"I decided to sell my home in Kansas City in January. My house sold within 8 hours and left me in the position of deciding where I wanted to be rather quickly.  I found myself free to go anywhere as it was the 1st time since my early 20s that I was free from all responsibilities to work for others. I have always loved to travel and had lived abroad in my early twenties so I decided I would travel for a year and see where my heart ends up. 

I began in Peru 2 months ago and have chosen San Miguel de Allende as my 2nd destination specifically because of the Warren Hardy Spanish school. I was introduced to Warren and Tulli at the Int'l Living Conference in Atlanta in April this year where I took their 6 hour Spanish course.

I felt like I learned so much and felt empowered to travel solo in Spanish speaking countries for the next 6 to 8 months. I am super excited to be here and very excited about the classes as they are interesting and fun. 

Gail H.
Next?  I am considering Columbia or Uruguay. I will also be visiting Costa Rica and Spain for sure. In my quest to find my next home, I am living in the moment and enjoying this beautiful planet we call home. May all of our lives be filled with joy and laughter and fun! ­čśÄ" - Susie J.
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"San Miguel beckoned me from afar!  I was contemplating where to live while my house in San Francisco was being readied for sale. Short-term rentals in the Bay Area were expensive and besides, I wanted a change.  A memory from the 1970’s, when a friend and I had visited SMA for a few days, flashed into my head. I thought of the beauty, the weather and the flowers everywhere. 

A friend told me about VRBO, I contacted them on line and rented 2 different charming places in Allende and one in Independencia over a three month period to experience different areas of the city. 

One of the greatest assets of this town is the warmth and generosity of the people. Once on my way back to Allende from Centro, I got totally lost.  I appealed to a young Mexican woman on the street and she didn’t hesitate to help. She led me through difficult terrain over rocky, hilly slopes a long way to the highway where I could catch a taxi. I feel indebted to her and all the other Mexicans who have been so generous with their time and energy.
After that I was hooked. I am now in the process of buying a condo in La Lejona and am loving running around town looking for furniture and art, and of course, taking Spanish classes." - Gail H.
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Laurie M. 
"I first came to San Miguel de Allende long ago and always promised myself that I would return. Little did I know that 35 years would go by before that would happen! My family is now grown and I am free to think of myself and what I need... Adventure was the answer. I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve found that having a focus of interest makes everything deeper, richer and more enjoyable. 

Being in my late 60s, I wanted to exercise my brain by studying Spanish without experiencing the pain of language learning that I had when I was younger in school. I researched all of the available SMA schools and knew that I had found the answer with Warren Hardy! Classes and homework progress intuitively and naturally and, best of all, painlessly! The locals are helpful with my practice and I am thrilled with my progress!

I plan to continue coming down here every 6 months to continue my classes, practice my fluency, eat amazing food and visit new friends!
What great fun!!!" - Laurie M. 

Beginnings - How the Warren Hardy Spanish School Started

Warren and Tuli Hardy - 1990 - San Miguel de Allende
In September of 1990 Warren and Tuli Hardy were honeymooning in Puerto Vallarta when they went to an art opening at Galeria Uno.  They met Dan Reuffert.  In a copacetic conversation Dan suggested they visit San Miguel de Allende.  How far down the coast is that? They asked.  No, its inland about eight hours.  Not interested, they said.  You will be pleasantly surprised he insisted.

A few days later Warren and Tuli were driving their conversion van to San Miguel de Allende. 

Arrived at the Mirador late at night and slept.   Daybreak.  Looked down on the little town.  Excited to see it, they drove to the Jardin where they parked in front of the Parroquia.  As the city came alive with street sweepers, street dogs and vendors they watched the sun color the Parroquia with beautiful shades of pink.  

Jon Schooler, a local artist sat down next to them and asked what they were doing there.

 They said that Dan Reuffert sent them.  Jon asked what "they did" and Warren said he was a Spanish teacher.  Jon and his mom Sidell wanted to learn Spanish so they set up a Spanish class for three o'clock at Sidell's galeria.  Warren showed up and taught and everyone was pleased.
That night over dinner Warren and Tuli decided to try their luck in San Miguel.  The next day they rented an apartment in Villas Marta and moved in.  Warren started private lessons and Tuli started selling her homemade pastries (Tuli's Dulces)  in the local restaurants.  That same year, 1990,  the Warren Hardy School was founded in San Miguel de Allende. Twenty eight years and sixteen thousand students later the rest is history.

A Defining Moment - First Day of Spanish Class



San Miguel de Allende - Home of the Warren Hardy Spanish School

About Warren Hardy Spanish School Founded in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in 1990, the school has become an institution in a city where Spanish instruction is an industry. The educational objective is to develop student’s skills to the conversational level so that they can progress to the fluid and fluent levels by practicing Spanish with native Spanish speakers.

Two students share their experience of the first day of class and the "Cortesia", or social protocol, taught at the beginning of the class and with a free online video on YouTube. 


July 2 2018 


from David Brown, new student, Level 1 Spanish

"When I did a firewalk with Tony Robbins about ten years ago, I walked across hot coals for ten feet without getting my feet burned. It was one of those defining moments that I will never forget. 


Experiencing the first Level 1 Spanish class at the Warren Hardy School for the first time was also a defining moment in my new expat life here in Mexico. And after three hours my feet are doing just fine, as well as my mind and heart. 

Today, after completing the class, if I could choose certain keywords to describe the experience they would be fun, wow, engaging, and surprise.

The teaching method allows for humor being used by the teachers, including some of Warren Hardy's memory shortcuts for learning certain Spanish verbs.  When you are paired with another student, the exercises become fun, as mistakes are allowed, and smiles happen.

The teachers and two assistants kept the class engaged every minute. If we weren't listening to the teachers' pronunciation and instruction, we were engaged with our student partner in doing the listening and speaking exercises using flash cards.

This brings in the "wow factor", which includes the element of surprise. Most if not all of the students in the class are over the age of 55, and may not be used to being in a class, especially to learn a foreign language. Many, including myself, may have had the feeling that this will be a grueling and challenging class, and that three hours may seem like an eternity as we are bombarded with new words, verbs, and ways of pronunciation. The wow factor for me and the surprise was how the teachers made the process of learning very easy, and how we were speaking some basic Spanish sentences right away in three minute exercises.

When the class was over, I was also surprised that the time went by so fast, ninety minutes after the break.
David Brown
Confessions of a New Student 

I have to confess that I might have had an edge before this class even started. I obtained the workbook and the online study course and was studying the material for the past two weeks.  Since I knew this class would be intensive with three hours three times a week including homework, I wanted to get a head start.  I also have studied Spanish in past years, so that has helped. One of the most fascinating aspects at the beginning of the Level 1  workbook and course are the social protocols including greetings, and how the culture here in Mexico has a built-in expectation of courtesy in communications, even with strangers. In all the past years that I had traveled in Mexico I never knew about the social protocols, and did not use them. Within the past month before class started I have been practicing some of these already and it is one of the most rewarding experiences of being here in Mexico. This has also been a defining moment for me, as not only was I practicing my Spanish before class even started, I was "living the language" by using certain greetings in Spanish with local Mexicans here in San Miguel de Allende. The way that most responded with a return greeting showed me that they may have appreciated how I showed my respect for their culture by using these social protocols. They may have even been surprised themselves as they may not have been used to being greeted by foreigners.

The Warren Hardy teaching method emphasizes the social protocols (Cortesia) right at the beginning of the class, and in the workbook and online course, inviting students to start using these forms of greeting right away whether they are visiting or living in Mexico."

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Todd
Discovered on YouTube - The Online Learning Free Lesson About Cortesia (Respect)
Todd, also a new student in the Level 1 Class today, shared about how he discovered the free Warren Hardy video on Cortesia, and as a result decided to take the class.

"My wife is from Guanajuato as so is my mother-in-law. We live today in Vancouver but have purchased a home here in San Miguel and expect to be living here in one year. So as we traveled here every month to check on the progress of our house, I began watching videos on San Miguel de Allende on YouTube and came across the Warren Hardy free videos.

One video that really stood out for me was the one on the Cortesia, and I watched it over and over until I felt good about speaking 
the phrases. So I started greeting people and the response that I get truly breaks open the warmth that the people have here. I think they are looking at me thinking 'this guy is cool', and he is one of us, rather than 'here comes one of the gringos, stumbling around like a bull in a china shop'. And so I practice it over and over and use it every chance I get. If I walk into a restaurant and see a group of people eating I'll say "buen provecho", and the reactions that you get are always wonderful. So I have found that learning the cortesia and practicing it have been very very valuable."


Local Spanish Language Classes Starting in San Miguel de Allende

La Parroquia de San Miguel Arc├íngel - San Miguel de Allende 

¡Bienvenidos! Welcome !

Spring vacation is over and local Spanish classes are starting July 2nd in San Miguel de Allende at the Warren Hardy Spanish School. Classes offer a full range of both language and cultural studies, and are most appealing to retirees, "curious expats", and visitors.

Why "Buenos Dias" Means More
Than "Good morning"

At the very beginning of the Level 1 course, titled "Power Verbs", students learn some of the most important Spanish words and phrases that are used in the social protocol of the Hispanic culture. Greetings, farewells, requesting space or attention, and giving a blessing on a meal are the four areas of social protocol that will allow students to connect with locals, overcome fears of using Spanish.  These protocols are the basic dance of the Hispanic culture  and everyone uses them since it is the mothers responsibility to teach them.

The most important way to begin communicating is to use a formal greeting. This is when you share a moment with someone who will return the greeting with a smile.   The formal greeting is more than just a greeting.   The purpose of the greeting is to acknowledge someone when they enter your space.  That is why you should always say the greeting as you enter the market, a store, a restaurant, a taco stand or even an elevator (Yes, people actually do greet everyone as they get on an elevator.)  As you enter the space, just say to everyone  Buenos dias. Everyone will turn and acknowledge your presence with a Buenos dias.

The way do this properly in a more personal way is when you are face to face with someone; in the bank, pharmacy, restaurant, bar, or any store. For example, let's say you are in the market purchasing your vegetables.  Once you have made your selections, patiently wait your turn.  You approach the lady. You make eye contact, smile and use the greeting with a title of respect.  Buenos dias Se├▒ora.  The lady will smile and greet you back. At that point, it does not make any difference how lousy your Spanish might be.  The person in front of you will do everything they can to serve you because you have connected at the heart and shown proper respect.

Imagine an American or Canadian or anyone from a foreign country walking down a street in San Miguel de Allende. There is a local Mexican walking towards them at a distance. At some point eyes may briefly meet, and the foreigner says Buenos Dias with a smile. They may receive a reply with a smile and Hola, Buenos Dias. A powerful moment is shared, however briefly. The local Mexican man or woman feels that the foreigner has shown respect for their cultural protocol and language. Perhaps they may have had a different experience as many foreigners may be seen as cold or even rude since they may not greet each other in the same way in their culture.

It might be important to note here that sometimes in passing people will just say >Adios.  This is considered a high greeting and literally means "to god".

When you experience this type of exchange it can be very rewarding and empowering. You have barely started to study the language yet you are already communicating with Mexican locals and showing respect for the culture. You are not just studying Spanish, you are living it, and seeing how it works with the basic social protocols. This can be very inspiring and motivating to learn more to be able to communicate more.

Why the Online Learning Option is a Good Idea - Learning Spanish is a life long process.

You will not learn it all in just one class.  Most students study before class, during class and then continue to study after class.  Learning another language is a complicated skill. You need to learn the words and then practice putting them together. The online course will give you the content and practice you need so you can feel comfortable in front of native speakers.   We have found that the most successful students use our online course before and after the classroom experience. The online course has exactly the same content as the classroom course with Warren teaching directly into the camera. More online course details > 

Again, we have found that students who study online before the class have a much better success rate. You own the online course forever and can continue to study it during and after the class for the rest of your life. How cool is that ?  Check out this sample video so your can see exactly how this course works.