We at Spark Spanish are delighted to announce that our sister company, El Centro Ingles, has been voted the best    private school in all of Andalucia! What an achievement. El Centro Ingles, which was founded by Linda Randell in 1969, received this honour in the 2nd of March 2011, when Spanish newspaper “El Mundo” voted them the best in Andalucia. The English centre is a bilingual private day school of primary, secondary and ‘bachillerato’ education in El Puerto de Santa Maria. If was founded over 40 years ago and has been providing excellence in English language school. El Centro is also currently ranked 41st best school in the country of Spain! Congratulations El Centro Ingles, you really deserved this!

The Spark Building has officially been born. For the first time since the renovations began, the Spark Building has finally got a name publically displayed above its door. This white banner is for our English Academy, which will be starting in October 2011. Our Sparkville building will be ready in May 2011,with courses begining in July 2011 also.With a large white “lona” (canvas banner) now gracing the front wall of the Sparkville Residence, I think it is fair to say (and to see) that the Spark Structure is well and truly on its way to success!

Hello there!

It is now my third week here in El Puerto and I have to say that time is flying by! So this weekend was a pretty hectic one… With a game of pub golf, a joint birthday and some serious shopping, how could it not be?!

On Friday night, Fiona (another Irish girl) and I decided to brave the nightlife of El Puerto on our own. Prior to this we had always gone with a group of people, so going it alone was an exciting, yet daunting prospect!

We started off with a few drinks in “Bar Granada” or as the regulars call it, “Bar G”. In this cosy pub, run by Micki, a Chilean man who is known to befriend newcomers to El Puerto, we managed to make friends with some local Portuenses. After one or two “chipitos” (shots) we moved on to “El Niño”, an active pub/club that played English pop music all night long – much to our delight! Here, we partied to the early hours and added some more friends to our group, with a variety of nationalities including; Dutch, German, Lithuanian, Spanish and British.

On Saturday morning, we took a well deserved rest before hitting “El Paseo” for some bargain hunting. Shops like Zara, Bershka, Pull and Bear, Massimo Dutti and Oshyo forced us to return home with our wallets considerably lighter!

On Saturday night, we attended a joint birthday party for 2 of our workmates. We decided to play pub golf, a traditionally British drinking game. The game involved visiting 9 different pubs, in 9 different locations, and drinking the specified alcoholic beverage within a certain amount of gulps. If you succeeded with one gulp to spare, your par then became -1 and +1 if you didn´t finish your drink within the set amount of gulps. With a drink in 9 bars, this game was a really great way to see the different types of night life El Puerto has on offer. For example, O´Donoghues offers charm and cosiness, while Bar Jamon had amazing tapas, Bar Granada gives low price drinks and a friendly service, as La Vue offers great music and room to dance while Bar Magdalena was a little off the beaten track but a great find nonetheless! My personal favourite was “El Reconquista” a bar with a Moroccan theme to it – they have great cocktails!We finally ended the game in “Loca”, where Fiona was crowned the winner. I must admit I was quite proud to come in second place!

On Sunday, we relaxed in the sun to prepare ourselves for the working week ahead. All in all, it was a great weekend, with the El Puerto nightlife offering a lot more than I had bargained for!

Until next time,


Vote for the prize you would like to win and find out more about how to win the prize of your choice in the competition details of Sparking the world!

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El Puerto is truly a wonderful place and there is no better way to realise that than through video, so in this blog post we attach you links to two videos on El Puerto that we liked.  The first shows you images of the the whole city as well as some images of the 15km apx of coastline El Puerto has.  The second is a bird’s eye view of our wonderful beaches, less professional than the first but in my mind a joy to watch.  I hope you enjoy them and if you wish to see some more El Puerto videos, please don’t hesitate to leave us a comment or suggest a video to upload.  La vida bella existe en El Puerto.



Hi, everyone!

Well, let’s start with an introduction, my name is Audrey and I work as the Spark Administration Responsible. I am originally from Ireland, but I´m currently living and working in El Puerto de Santa Maria. I plan to keep our Spark followers updated about everything and anything, both Spark and El Puerto de Santa Maria related, over the next couple of months. Here goes…

Beach Day

Today, the 9th of February, is my eight day as Spark secretary. I am slowly adjusting to my Spark responsibilities and the Spanish way of life in El Puerto. So far it has been an intense but very enjoyable time.  The first few days of my arrival here in El Puerto were hectic, to say the least. I really believe that getting lost three times in one hour on the way to a Mexican restaurant is a new record. I don´t know what we would have done had we not randomly met Inge on our third attempt at locating “Zapata” restaurant.

During my first week of work, I got to do many interesting things, including, a visit to the Sparkville Academy/Residence. As I had been told the Sparkville building was currently undergoing renovations, I have to admit I was expecting a very basic building with a few shovels and maybe some cement mix. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I saw. Firstly, the building, which used to be an old hostel, is in a prime location, with lots of shops, cafes and bars nearby. The interior of the building is very spacious and parts of the beautiful architectural structures, from the hostel remain intact. These include some authentic stonework archways and walls. Even though the building is still quite far from completion, the core framework and interior design is very evident.

I also really liked one of the exterior “chill out” zones, a massive roof with a nice view of the town. We visited the spark building on the 2nd of February, and even then, the sun was beaming down on us as we explored the roof. I can just imagine how lovely it would be on nice hot day for a bbq, a chat with some friends or even just to have a few drinks and cool down.
All in all, my first experience was really interesting and I´m looking forward to seeing the progress at the Sparkville residence next time!

Until the next blog!

We have several discounts for people who have been recommended by past Spark students and Spark or TECS employees! We also have interesting discounts for returning students.

Find out more on our special discounts page or return to our offers.

We don’t believe in hidden costs, which is why our registration fee covers everything it should. This means that we provide you with all the books that you need during your stay with us, regardless of how many levels you complete.  It also means that you won’t be charged at a later stage for materials or anything else. And it means that you will ge many extra’s and little details when you’re with us. Find out more about what this includes on our ‘extras’ page.

Restaurant Aponiente, in El Puerto de Santa Maria, appears on the list published by the New York Times with 10 restaurants around the world worth a visit! Other restaurants on the list include restaurants in London, New York and Singapore amongst others. The mentioning on the list is a second big success for Resaurant Aponiente that was also awarded a Michelin star at the end of 2010. For the full list and a description of the restaurants by the New York Times, click here.

Like many other European countries, Spain now also has its own version of the anti smoking law, which is generally said to be one of the strictest ones in Europe. With the new law, smoking is not only prohibited in public places such as bars, restaurants, hospitals and schools, but also in children’s play parks and other public areas in open air.

Spain and the cigarette
Spain has, even more so than other countries, a somewhat amibiguous relationship with the cigarette. Its culture is generally very much based around food and a lot of a Spaniard’s social life takes place in bars and restaurants where most Spanish people tend to socialize with a cigarette or two. On the other hand, Spain is also an extremely child friendly country where you will never see a sign on a restaurant’s door saying that children are not welcome. Spanish families tend to take their children with them everywhere, including to a family dinner in a restaurant that doesn’t finish till 1.00 o’clock in the morning. (It takes a long time getting used to the sight of 6 year olds running around the restaurants’ gardens till well past bedtime…). This naturally means that children were, until  recently with the new law, still very much exposed to polluted air in bars and restaurants.

2006 law
Spain has always been a country with one of the highest relative number of smokers, especially amongst women and the cigarette plays an essential role in a Spaniard’s social life. A law introduced in 2006 gave bars and restaurants the option to decide for themselves whether they wanted to be a smoking or non-smoking establishment. Several bars declared themselves to be non-smoking, but quickly changed back to allowing smoking again after they noticed their numbers had gone down.

succes or failure?
It is to be seen how much bars in Spain will be affected by the new law and how much of the resistance felt by some bar owners will result in public demonstrations and other manifestations such as ignoring the law and allowing people to smoke again. Whereas in most countries the change-over from smoking to non-smoking bars has been relatively smoothly, Spain might see a bumpier change-over since the cigarette is so much part of people’s private and social life. It might even end up getting out of hand like it has in the Netherlands, where in as many as 51% of the bars and discos, people have started to smoke again. The question is whether or not Spain will finally accept that their cigarette friendly culture doesn’t go well with their family orientated and child friendly culture.