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Hola, today I will tell you a few reasons why staying with a Spanish Host family is a good decision!

First of all, during your time in Spain, you’re a part of this family so you will definitely notice the different way of living and get to know the culture in a much more personal way!

“What are the benefits of living with a Host family?”

  1. You’re never alone! You always have somebody around you and maybe you get a Host sister or Host brother at your age who would love to do something with you!
  2. Your Host family will show you many places in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz or Sevilla just as mine did – and it was wonderful!
  3. You always have the opportunity of practising your spanish skills – and not only that – you will learn words and phrases which are only known in Spain
  4. Just as I said you will get to know the Spanish way of living for example eating habits! Spanish people eat a little bit late but the Spanish cuisine will make you always Hungry – Tapas, Paella.. ¿Tienes hambre?


….Last but not least..

5. You will have a really close relationship with your host family that will  hopefully            stay for years – and let’s be honest – it’s really nice to know someone or a family                  from an other Country!

I hope you have enjoyed reading my Blog entry and hopefully you will love your host family just as I do!

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Hello everybody!

During my three-week work and study Spanish experience in Spain, I didn’t just want to get some work experience but also wanted to combine that with getting to know the Spanish culture. Therefore, I decided to stay with a host family, which turned out to be a wonderful decision!

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Living with a Spanish family has lots of advantages, for example always having  someone around you, who you could spend time with. When I arrived, I didn’t know anybody, so I was really glad to have such a nice host family and especially, having a host sister, who is my age. So instead of sitting  at home all day on my first day, we went to the beach and by doing that, I also got familiar with El Puerto de Santa María.

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Another great thing is experiencing real “Spanish” life for the three weeks I’m here. The food, the routines and the complete lifestyle are totally different to what I was used to, back home. Personally, I don’t think there’s a better way of experiencing and getting to know a foreign culture. Also, due to my host family being locals, they show me around and I get to see lots of places without being worried                                                                                          about getting lost or missing out some nice                                                                                      places!

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The probably best thing about living with a Spanish family is that it’s an easy way of improving your Spanish, because you are speaking and hearing it basically all the time, you are with them! Besides that, you’re also picking up phrases without really learning the vocabulary, like you would in school.

These points are basically the first that came to my mind, when thinking about the great advantages you have, whilst staying with a spanish family!

Hope this post inspired you to think about going abroad!

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Hola, me llamo Loreena Rech, tengo 17 años y soy de Alemania.Participé en el work and Study programme aquí en Spark, estudiando el español y haciendo vídeos para apoyar Spark. Ahora quiero mostrar que hacía en detalle durante mis prácticas.

De las 10 hasta las 2 de la mañana tenía clases de español con mi profesora fantástica, Gema. Con mis compañeros de clase mejoraba mi español enormemente y tenía mucha alegría.

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Después de un recreo de aproximadamente una hora comenzaba con mi trabajo. Mi primera tarea fue un vídeo blog cada día. Contaba mis experiencias y mostraba todo que aprendí. Mis vivencias eran variadas y siempre divertidas.

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además hice un vídeo del edificio de Spark. es como un paseo por las diferentes partes de SparkSpanish. Así estudiantes futuros pueden ver lo que ofrece el establecimiento Spark.

Al fin de mis tres semanas aquí hice un vídeo con todas mis experiencias y vivencias en Spark. Espero que mis vídeos ayuden a Spark a encontrar nuevos estudiantes que disfruten su tiempo aquí como yo.

Mi primer día en Spark tuvimos las bebidas de bienvenida que estaban muy buenas. Un jueves participé en una clase de flamenco que fue también parte del programa cultural de Spark. A mí me gustaba mucho.

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He aprendido muchísimo durante mis tres semanas en Spark. No solo he mejorado mi español sino también he aprendido a entenderme yo misma mejor. Puedo decir que he conseguido mi objetivo y que estoy orgullosa de mi trabajo y mi desarrollo.

Quiero agradecer a mi profesora, mi jefe y mis compañeros de clase por el tiempo fantástico aquí y nunca voy a olvidar esta experiencia.

Loreena Rech

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Hola, me llamo Antonia Termath y llegé a España para aprender español y para trabajar un work an study programme. Estuve tres semanas aquí estudiando mucho español y muchas otras cosas. Tenía todos los días 4 horas curso de español con mi profesora amable Elena.

Aquí son las cosas que yo hice en este tiempo:

• mi primera tarea fui pintar las habitaciones de los otros estudiantes que viven aquí en la escuela. Fue muy fácil para mi porque en mi escuela en Alemania pinto también.

• mi segunda tarea fui pintar una “Skyline” en la terraza de la escuela.image1.JPG wird angezeigt.

• después traje placas con nombres en las puertas de los estudiantes para hacer estos un poco más personal y agradable.

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• luego tuve una tarea más creativa: pinté un globo con huellas de las manos. Este fue una experiencia muy interesante para mi, porque podía ser muy creativa.

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En general en estos tres semanas yo conocí muchos aspectos nuevos de la lengua española y de trabajar como empleada . Aprendí mejor como hacer un miembro de un team. Mi español también se mejoré mucho!

Gracias por todo!

 

Many of our students choose to stay with a host family because, what better way to fully immerse in the Spanish culture rather than living with real locals! Whilst it could be exciting and helpful in terms of improving your language, there are many things to look out for. Here we have 4 biggest tips from our students for what to do and not do in a Spanish host family.

 

  1. Be respectful

Whilst Spanish families are open (that’s why they chose to host students), be mindful that they also have their space and that it is their house you are staying at. Especially if you come from a different continent like Asia or America, you should pay even more attention as Spaniards might have a very different culture, hence might do things very differently! Respect their culture and routines as much as you would like them to respect you.

 

  1. Be open-minded

Be adaptable as not everything will be done in the way that you want. New food, new language, new routines – don’t be like a typical person from where you come from, but try to be a Spanish or wherever from where you are staying! You will learn how one problem could be solved in different ways – which might prove useful to you in the future!

 

  1. Communicate

Host families want to connect with students from different cultures, therefore, they will welcome it when you speak to them! It could be anything – your day, your school, your experience, where have you travelled, etc. Spaniards are all about making relationships, and what you can do is show that you are interested in getting to know them too!

 

“In my first day, I couldn’t speak a Spanish word to my host family. Yesterday evening, I spent 20 minutes talking to my host mother entirely in Spanish. She has helped me so much in improving my Spanish – so don’t be shy and just speak loads!” – Antonia

 

  1. Don’t be shy to say something was wrong

In stead of trying to solve it yourself, speak up and ask for help when you feel you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. A host family is not only just a place to sleep and eat your three meals a day, but it could well be your second home if you make it be. Be honest if you don’t like the food, for example. Your host family definitely wants to make your experience the best it could be, therefore if anything happens to you, they will want to help. Your host family is there for you and you should make the most out of it!

 

When you study a Spanish course with Spark, you have an opportunity to stay with a host family. Make the most out of it by communicating, getting to know your host, be polite and overall enjoy your time living like a Spaniard. I am sure you will miss it when you come home after the summer!

Studying in a foreign country can be both exciting and scary at the same time, can’t it? You must have hundreds of questions in your mind as you prepare for your Spanish course in Spain, whether a short 1-month one or a whole year! Whilst you will explore the place and other customs as you go, we have 4 tips for making the most of your time here (my personal learnings).

 

  1. Spaniards eat late!

This is one of the most surprising things to me when I stayed here! People often don’t eat lunch until 2 PM and dinner is usually at 9 or 10 PM – which seems so laid back! However, recently I found out the real reason why Spaniards eat late was that historically, Spain was in the same time zone as London and Greenwich (GMT) but a Spanish King had changed the time zone to CET to align with Germany and Europe (who would ever know right?). Still, in the summer, sunsets don’t usually happen until 9 in the evening, which makes sense for dinner time then, because you wouldn’t feel ready for dinner when it’s still bright outside! Therefore, don’t go to dinner at 6 or 7 PM as you might be told that the kitchen is not yet open!

 

2. Don’t let fear stopping you from speaking in Spanish

As language learners, we all understand why people are so afraid to speak in another language if they are still learning. However, take advantage of the fact that you are surrounding yourself with so many native speakers! If you say something wrong, the worst thing that could happen is that you both will have a good laugh and then you will move on. Therefore, don’t ever let the fear of saying something stupid get in the way of your learning adventures. I must have made so many silly mistakes expressing myself but I was always corrected (by my teacher at Spark or by the locals). Remember: Practice makes perfect. Speak, speak, repeat!

 

3. Shops do not open between 2 – 4 PM

Traditionally, Spaniards have something called ‘siesta‘ where all shops would be closed for a lunch (or beach break) from 2 PM until 4 PM (sometimes 6 PM). However, big supermarkets such as SuperSol or Aldi are still open during this time and on the weekends also. (The supermarket near Spark open from 9 AM until 10 PM every day). Remember the opening hours then if you want to get something from the shop! This way you could avoid walking in the sun for the hottest hours of the day and wait until it gets a bit cooler!

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(Closed for the afternoons)

 

4. Prepare some simple questions in Spanish

Very few people spoke English here in El Puerto de Santa María (I have met only one person who does – he was a young bartender in a local club in the city centre). Therefore, you should prepare with you some simple questions, such as: How to get to the nearest bus station? How to get to XYZ street? How much is it? (In restaurants and supermarkets), Can you speak more slowly/ loudly?, etc… or simply ‘Yo no hablo Español muy bien’ (I don’t speak Spanish very well) if you are starting out as a complete beginner!

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5. Write blogs in Spanish

Don’t be afraid to write about your daily routines in Spanish or about what you have experienced! This is a great way to practise and learn new words as well as Spanish structures. You will be happy and surprised what you achieved at the end of the course when you look back at your first blogs! Write about your experience in English as well is also a great way to help other students as they prepare for their study abroad experience.

 

My Spanish has improved tremendously only after 2 weeks at Spark, to a great extent due to the many opportunities I was given to speak Spanish both in and out of the classroom. If you want to leave a course being more confident as a Spanish speaker, come to Spark. Check out our Spanish course page for the plenty of courses we offer!

 

 

Ever wonder what is like studying at a Spanish language school? Today, let’s meet Antonia “Toni”! She is a German girl who is now with us at Spark on a 3-week work and study programme. Let’s follow her to find out what she is usually up to in a normal day!

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9 AM: Wake up and eat breakfast

9:45 AM: Walk from her host family to Spark (7-minute walk)

10 AM: Spanish lessons begin! She is currently in Elena’s beginner’s class with 5 other students. Classes usually run for 4 hours, which in the first 2 hours we often talk to each other (in Spanish) about what we did yesterday and our plans for tomorrow and/or the weekend. It’s usually really fun as we share stories with each other. So much Spanish is spoken as we start off the class in a great atmosphere!

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12 – 12:15 PM: Short break. Toni usually chills with her classmates or runs to the shop quickly (only half a minute walk away from Spark) to get a snack.

12:15 PM: Spanish classes resume. In the second half, we usually study a new grammatical structure and different Spanish expressions. ¡Qué guay! (How cool!)

2 PM: Classes finish

2 – 3:30 PM: Lunch time! There is a kitchen in Spark where all students can cook their own meals. Toni usually has lasagna or a sandwich with chorizo (Spanish sausage) and jamón (ham). Today, we had a cooking class and we made revuelto with eggs, green beans and ham with tomato and cheese salad!

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3:30 – 6 PM: Currently taking part in the Work and Study experience programme, Toni is helping out with painting the bedroom walls and on the terrace.

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6 – 9 PM: At the beach or in the city centre having an ice cream and a drink. Yesterday we went to Playa de la Puntilla and stay until 9:30 PM to watch the sunset – it was so beautiful!

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9 PM: Cook dinner at Spark or go out for some tapas in the city centre. Quick tip: we got a free shot each the other day for dinner as we ordered various tapas!

9 – 11 PM: Free time. Toni usually talks to her friends and family back in Germany and does her Spanish homework for tomorrow before going to sleep.

 

That wraps up a day in the life of a Spanish summer school student. If you would like to have an experience like Toni, head to our Spanish Course page to find out what you can do at Spark! We are looking forward to having you here!

¡Hola! Soy Nicole Sherstyuk y llegé de Alemania a Spark pera hacer un work and study programme en Spark trabajando y estudiando español. Yo pasé tres semanas en la escuela estudiando español hasta el mediodía y haciendo tareas después. Los proyectos yo realicé me ayudaban a entender como organizar mi día y hacerse cargo de responsabilidades.

Aquí son las cosas que yo hice en este tiempo:

  • Mi primera tarea fue montar algunos sillas. Se usan estas sillas en la oficina y recepción. Me alegra mucho ver, que gente usa las cada día.WhatsApp Image 2017-06-28 at 14.05.25 (1)
  • Mi secunda tarea fue pintando la clase “Great Britain”. Antes de llegar a Spark nunca he pintado una habitación. Este fue una experiencia muy interesante para mi. Ahora sé como hacer todo correctamente y estoy preparada a pintar cosas en el futuro!
  • Al lado de pintar una clase completa yo también pinté algunas pequeñas partes en la escuela, para mantener un aspecto muy ordenado. Estos partes fueron por ejemplo: las clases, los corredores y también la residencia de los grupos escolares. Estuve muy sorprendida que una cosa pequeña como así puede transformar una habitación completamente.IMG_8802
  • Al lado de pintar yo también ayudé Iris con ordenar la residencia y prepararla por una nuevo grupo de alumnos.
  • Yo también podría continua haciendo la tarea de Sophia. Continué haciendo pantallas con fotos de grupos escolares que ya llegaron a Spark. Con este tarea conocí las diferentes tipos de alumnos que pasan su tiempo en Spark y también los eventos que la gente en Spark ofrece.

También yo podría hacer algunos proyectos creativos en este tres semanas. Estos tuvieron:

  • En un correo en a escuela pende una marca que esta usada por fotos divertidos. Mi tarea fue pintar alunas personas en la marca. Con este tarea yo tenía muchísimo libertad con el diseño. Me encanta que dejé algo creativo en la escuela. Espero que vosotros gusta mi idea! IMG_8798
  • Otra tarea creativa fue que yo pinta las nombres de las clases con su correspondiente bandera encima de las puertas. Este tarea fue por un lado creativa pero por otro lado también muy útil. Durante las tres semanas este tipo de quehaceres me gustara mejor.

En general en estos tres semanas yo conocí muchos aspectos nuevos del empleo. Aprendí mejor como comportarme y hacerme cargo de cosas. Mi español también se mejoré mucho!

Gracias por todo!

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Hi Im Sophia Kastner from Germany and I’m doing a work and study programme in Spain where I learn Spanish in the morning and do some tasks in the afternoon aimed to help me learn about taking responsibility and completely projects. So far I have done quite a few things, including: Read More

POPPY MILLAR: MISSION STATEMENT

I am a firm believer that I will achieve every personal and professional goal set by the Spark team and myself. Despite committing to a placement in order to improve my language skills, I also value the position I have been given. I will fulfil the objectives and visions of the company whilst supporting the team with anything, and everything, required. This is my first proper job role within an office-based environment and I will learn as much as I will perform, exemplifying the skills learnt and utilise them in all working scenarios. I should be good at my role but in actual fact, I will be great at my role, always producing results no matter how menial the objectives may seem, because Inge obviously saw potential in me and I will prove this to her by the end of my placement.

Six months is plenty of time to grow within a workplace, and I will slowly, yet efficiently, present this after I have adjusted to the hardworking and active atmosphere of Spark. Working in a lively office, full of dedicated people, will make me value all the work that others do, and this will reflect through my own work ethic and progress. I will develop and finesse my capability to work effectively and efficiently, whilst taking in everything Spark has to offer me. Moreover I will become a professional and driven individual as a result of taking the Spark values on board and transforming my own work to be the best it can be, if not more.

During my period at Spark, I will be relied upon as an important team member, available to help or advise, if possible, and always seek to put my best foot forwards. My colleagues will recognize me as bright and enthusiastic within the office, keen to learn more. The native Spanish speakers will see key language progression, in terms of confidence and fluency, adding to the support I will give them over the course of my placement. Not only will I put in the effort to speak Spanish but also be recognized by my colleagues as a valuable team member shown through my dedication and quick learning at Spark. From the perspective of my managers, I will be someone who is considered more than just a temporary placement member. In actual fact, my managers will be impressed with the work I do, and recognize the initiative taken in all objectives that are set.

In terms of teaching English, I will strive to produce fun and informative classes so when I leave in December, the new teacher will have a competent and fast-learning class. I will leave an impression on my students as a caring and reliable teacher, always prepared and never letting them down whilst also acting silly. I will always ask for help when needed but also act upon my initiative to come up with new ideas to produce a positive and effective classroom setting.

To achieve everything, I will dedicate my time productively within a schedule that creates results, not stress. I will take on board everything I am taught by my managers, colleagues and students in all aspects of the job- be it a specific task, change of attitude or challenge that I am faced with, and produce quality work. In the beginning I will be prepared to meet failure, however by the end I will overcome it.

FINAL THOUGHTS..

I am in my final month of my placement here at Spark and reading back on my mission statement, I can see that I have achieved what I originally promised myself I would achieve whilst at Spark. It has been an interesting six months but I have learnt so much about how a small business operates and now understand the true value of being accountable for your work and the work of others. To always strive to do your best, knowing that there will be bad days but continue to grow and improve. I would recommend this position to anyone who is looking to develop within the workplace because you receive the same amount of support and professional development as you give with your hard work, time and dedication to Spark. It isn’t an easy job and be prepared for unforeseen challenges but take them in your stride and you will look back at your time here with fondness and a new set of transferable skills.

What’s more is that my Spanish languages skills have improved massively. This is down to making the effort to speak Spanish whenever possible and also engaging with the Spanish side of Spark. I did two week’s worth of lessons, courtesy of Spark and also find myself speaking and writing Spanish a lot daily. Looking back on my first couple of weeks, I was so nervous answering the phone, worried that I wouldn’t be able to understand or articulate myself both grammatically nor professionally. Whereas now, I have no problem and there are days when I still don’t know what is being said but I feel confident to handle those situations. I definitely feel living in Andalusia is the best way to learn Spanish because once you understand Andaluz, Spanish is a breeze (sort of).

There are five things that I will take away from my Sparky experience:

1) Short term goals lead to long term success. Being organised now ultimately makes the difference to the end result.

2) Never see anything as a task, always an objective. This positive way of thinking really helps when you feel you aren’t achieving as much as you should be.

3) Never see anything as unimportant. This links to no.2 in the sense that you may not think an ‘objective’ is important in the moment but the overall outcome is affected by your attitude and motivation.

4) Take iniative. From Day 1, I was told to resolve issues myself. Yes, everyone is allowed to ask for help but only ask once you have exhausted all other forms of tackling the situation. There is no such word as can´t in the business world.

5) Don’t be someone that has to rely on others to get the job done. Be reliable and support your team by completing your daily/weekly/monthly goals. This is the key to operating a successful small business.

Poppy Millar

Poppy Millar is a languages undergraduate from the University of Bath and did our Spark Secretary Internship. Spark offers many types of work experience, check out our different work and study programmes here!

Spark´s location in El Puerto de Santa Maria in the Province Cadiz is great during the summer for going to the beach and doing watersports like windsurfing and kiting when the days are hot and long. But what to do when the days “get colder” during fall and the nights are not made for long party nights at the beach anymore? For one who loves being on the road like me there is only answer: Travelling! And who is not curious to see the beautiful and with history stuffed cities and little towns of Andalucía?

In my 8 weeks with Spark I study Spanish every day during the week and work during the afternoons for my Work-Experience-Programme but my free weekends I love to use for getting to know new places and the Andalusian history and using my new learned Spanish in real life.

The towns in the Province of Cádiz are all easily reached and seen during a day trip and especially the cities Jerez de la Frontera and Cádiz are in a 20-min reach of El Puerto de Santa Maria and a must-to-see for everyone studying Spanish here, no matter the length of the stay. Most of the other towns of the province we visited during the cultural events like San Fernando, Sanlúcar and Vejer de la Frontera and were organized by Spark.

But of course, Andalucía has even more to offer than the beautiful region around El Puerto and so my first weekend trip took me to Córdoba in the north of Andalucía, the second most important city. With its small alleys and yards, white painted houses and lovely little patios has the old town a lot to offer. The most famous monument is the Mezquita once built as the main mosque of the Islam and today used as a cathedral it´s the most important foundation of Moorish-religious building in Spain.

My second destination was Seville, the capital of Andalucía, where I went with a group of Au-Pair girls also studying at Spark to a night experiencing not only monuments but also real Spanish night life. Seville is only an 1h 20 train ride from El Puerto de Santa Maria away and therefore a relaxed weekend destination when going with a group. We visited the Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, the third biggest church in the world and the Real Alcázar, a king´s palace with beautiful yards, halls and Arabic gardens where (eyes open, all GoT-Fans!) in the moment the new season of Game of Thrones is filmed. On our way to a touristic Flamenco show at night we met a group of Spanish teenagers who were on their way to a Flamenco show themselves. Luckily we chose to accompany them because what we got to see then, in the streets of Seville, was them dancing and singing Flamenco themselves. This continued in one of the local bars and gave us definitely the “real” Flamenco experience.

Together with two friends our next trip was to Granada a week ago. Granada is located at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada and famous for the Alhambra, the most visited monument in Spain. It´s definitely recommended to buy tickets for a visit in advance but since our trip was rather spontaneous and we didn`t want to miss out a visit we got into the line at the entrance at 6:30 in the morning and waited for two hours to get in. Our will and patience was honored because the palace of the Nasrid’s was simply breathtaking and the view across the city and the Sierra Nevada in the rising sun matchless. Also the Generalife, the fascinating park of the kings of Granada next to the Alhambra invites to go for a relaxed walk after the visit. The Muslim quarter  of the city, Albaicín offers a great view on the Alhambra and has a magic flair itself with small alleys and Arabic stores and restaurants.

Andalucía has a lot more to offer, but this should give you a little view on how great El Puerto is not only to study Spanish but also as a basis for travelling here. So why don´t join Spark and experience it yourself?!

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Anna

How to get a good grade in Spanish A-level 

An A-level in Spanish is tremendously useful. It proves that you have a good level in Spanish and can open up a lot of doors for you in terms of university degrees, work experience and employment. Here are some tips on how to get a good grade. Read More