¿Hablas español? Si? Well, that would make you one of the 420 million people in the world who speak Spanish - the third most spoken language in the world, next to Mandarin and Hindi. Spanish (or Castilian, to be specific) is Spain’s ‘only’ official language. Recent statistics shows that around 98.8% of the population speaks the language; so, where else would it be best to study Spanish? Spain, of course!
Finding a Spanish Language School in Spain would be like looking for a bucket of water in Lake Sanabria. Choosing the right one, however, would be an entirely different matter. Learning the language should not be limited only to speaking it. In order to really learn Spanish, a learning program should encompass other aspects, like food, music, its customs, and a glimpse into the Spanish culture. Students should not only learn Spanish but experience it. Several factors, therefore, should be considered when choosing the right school that would provide a holistic approach to its potential students. These are: (1) the school’s locale, (2) accommodation and price, (3) course design or program of the study, and (4) last but not the least, the school’s track record and reputation.
The school needs to be known for its craft – teaching the Spanish language. It should have the necessary accreditations. Its faculty members should be known in the Spanish Language Teaching industry or have the degrees that would qualify them in this line of academe. The school should also be able to facilitate the teaching in small class size – which makes way for closer and more focused attention of teacher to her students.
Many schools in Spain offer home-stay with a host family as a part of their accommodations program. Here, a student lives with a real family in Spain and gets to experience first-hand a little of the Spanish life. Some schools have their own residence areas available for students. These are usually dormitory types with facilities, like libraries, audio-visual rooms, swimming pools, and other amenities to guarantee a comfortable stay for the students. Other choices could be hotels and apartments within the vicinity of the school. A student should choose the accommodation arrangements that he or she would be most comfortable with since this would be a home away from home for the duration of the course. To avoid unnecessary stress, the residence should be as close to the campus as possible to avoid the hassle of long travel before going to class. The place should likewise be safe and accessible to important establishments, like hospital, market, shopping malls, pharmacy, gym, etc.
Equally important would be the course offering and teaching methodologies of the school. Most schools use interactive approach to learning the language. Spanish is learned through constant interaction and practice. Students are grouped depending on their proficiency of the language, and instruction is done per level. That is, beginner, intermediate, or advanced. A student’s level of proficiency is determined by the school; and from there, courses that a student should take are prescribed. One class session usually takes an hour or so depending on the level or course. Learning should never be boring! It is the school’s responsibility to make it as exciting and enjoyable as playing. This is why you need to make sure the school you choose offers fun-and-education balance by engaging its students in fun-learning activities, like singing contest (song in Spanish language), Spanish dance contests, role playing in Spanish, and tour in museums and Spain’s rich cultural heritage.
The school should have the state-of-art facility – internet access, comprehensive libraries and online databases of resource materials, round-the-clock open hotline for emergency concerns and student’s inquiries, and multimedia classrooms. Speaking of multimedia and interactive learning, what about a weekly movie treat in the video room (wide screen) of the school, where you’ll see the best of Spanish movies? Sounds like a great way of learning Spanish, doesn’t it? On top of the language, learning how to cook Spanish cuisine is totally a great value-add a school can offer its students.
Studying is undeniably an investment – time, effort, and money. Make sure the school you choose is worth all these investments! ¡Buena suerte!
How to Choose a Spanish Language School in Spain