For those of you looking to backpack through Central and South America you're going to be needing to brush up on the Spanish skills you may or may not have. Guatemala is known for having the cheapest Spanish language schools with two main hubs, Xela (short for Quetzaltenango) and Antigua. Xela is the more authentic, much less touristy city between the two. Prices for Xela will range from 150-300 and typically include accommodation at a homestay, 2-3 meals a day, and 4-5 hours of one-to-one Spanish lessons with a trained local.
Given its highland location it's the chilliest city in Guatemala. During our stay night time lows were around 2 °C while noontime highs would hit around 25-28 °C. So if you we're planning on only seeing the humid tropical Central America shown in most brochures you might want to rethink your packing.
There are an abundance of volunteer opportunities, dance classes, and hikes around the area. Chicken buses (or tour van shuttles) can take you into Antigua or Lake Atitlan for a weekend visit.