Are you a complete beginner in Spanish? Or you already know a bit of Spanish but want to really advance your speaking skills? There is no better way to learn Spanish than by immersing yourselves in the Spanish culture.
Whether you are a first timer in a language school abroad or a returner looking for something different, here are the top 6 things to consider when choosing a school in Spain to study Spanish.
Where is the school located?
Big and small cities alike, there is no bigger hassle than having to take three trains and a half hour walk to find your school. This is why we think Spark Spanish is brilliant, as it is located in El Puerto de Santa Maria, a beautiful coastal city in southern Spain that is only 10 minutes away by train from Jerez airport, where there is an international airport with frequent flights to and from other cities in Europe on a daily basis.
Train from Jerez airports are frequent daily and from the train station of El Puerto de Santa Maria, it is only a short taxi trip to Spark and there will always be taxis waiting outside the station, so you can’t really get lost getting here!
See How to get from Jerez to El Puerto by the main means of transport!
2. How big is the class size?
Never had the chance to speak in your previous Spanish classrooms? Other students were more superior making you nervous in communicating in Spanish? Your teacher spoke too fast? We know the feeling.
When it comes to the most effective way to learn, nothing beats a small classroom with fewer students. You will have more chance to practice your speaking and your teacher can pay much more attention to your development. At Spark, all Spanish classes usually only have 4-6 students (maximum 9), which means everyone here gets personalised attention from the teacher and plenty of time to digest new materials. And everyone is of the same level, which surely helps too.
I have spoken more Spanish in the past week at Spark than I have in my entire 3 years of studying so far and I love it. Check out more details on what a typical day looks like on our website here and another blog here (coming soon).
In one of our classes with Gema (a Spanish teacher)
Can you practice Spanish outside of the classroom?
There is no point learning Spanish then going away from the class speaking your native language again, even though we understand you probably just need a break from those intense hours of thinking in Spanish.
If you want to immerse fully in the Spanish culture where you can practice what you learn in the classroom, pick a small town where nearly everyone only speaks Spanish. In El Puerto de Santa Maria, you will find yourselves many opportunities to sharp up your skills by ordering food, asking for directions or recommendations in Spanish, because guess what, not a lot of people speak English here.
I had ordered my meals at a tapas restaurant and had a casual conversation with un camarero (a bartender) completely in Spanish only in my first week of being here, and it was such a great feeling!
Are there many options for accommodation?
Everyone has different preferences when it comes to where to stay, therefore the best school will offer a variety of options for accommodation. At Spark, we understand individual privacy and/or your wanting to immerse in the Spanish culture.
That is why there are a number of options in terms of accommodation for you to choose from, ranging from single and double rooms in Sparkville, the school residence, where many of other students also stay; homestay with Spanish families, renting your own apartment or even campsite on the beach!
Does the school offer cultural activities?
Not many people choose a language school not wanting to learn more about the culture, specifically speaking the traditional food, historical sites or getting to know what life is like for a Spaniard.
If you are looking for a school that offers rich extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom, Spark is totally where you should consider. After standard lesson hours of 10AM – 2PM, almost every afternoon there are some cultural activities, ranging from cooking classes of traditional Spanish food, day trips to the beach or other nearby cities (Cádiz, Seville, Jerez, Gibraltar), Flamenco shows, or simply get-to-know drinks and going out for tapas with all the students! You won’t have to worry about what to do after classes!
Our student in clase de conina (cooking class) with our teacher/ instructor Elena!
For first timers of a language school abroad, the first impression counts. For returner, you want to be at a better place than where you have been. However, a goal for all learners is to leave your school in the summer feeling much more confident about your skills and that you have lived life like a Spaniard. Compare different school, ask questions, see if they fulfil your most important requirements and remember to also have fun in the process!