Language Study in Madrid, Spain
How to Find the Best School for You
When I decided to study in Spain I knew it was in Europe and the capital was Madrid. Fortunately, my reason for wanting to go was more solid than my knowledge of the country; it would be embarrassing to graduate with a degree in Spanish and not be able to speak it.
If you decide to learn Spanish, Spain is a logical choice. Once you have decided to study, you’ll need to find the best place for you. This can be a daunting task. In Madrid alone there are dozens of schools that cater to the needs of the foreign language student. (Note: If you are a college student, check first with your school to see if they have a formal program with a school in Spain.)
Before looking at the available schools, try to estimate how long you should study in Spain. Make a list of what you want to get out of the experience: an extraordinary vacation, a cultural experience, or a conversational level of the language?
- I recommend that you go straight into one of the weeks-long programs to get a grasp on the essentials of the language; then go see the country.
- If you want a cultural experience, stay for at least four months with a family. This gives you a chance to share the everyday life of Spaniards while augmenting the number of hours a day that you are practicing the language.
- To really learn the language, plan to stay about a year.
Next, ask yourself if you have any special expectations from a school--such as organized cultural activities or special courses. All the schools have web sites, and each school has an outstanding feature:
Sampere-Madrid in Madrid separates students into seven different levels of study and offers courses in literature, the movie industry, and business.
The “cultural” programs that most schools offer often sound like tourist itineraries, not extensions of the classroom. Tandem’s cultural offerings include classes on famous painters in the Prado museum. Tandem also can provide childcare .
Eureka’s program in Madrid includes both breakfast and lunch served in establishments near the school.
Most schools only accept adults but Oise Madrid and Enforex Madrid have a packages for children. OISE has classes for students as young a 7 and Enforex offers summer camps for learners as young as 5.
Enforex Madrid 's web page contains an online photo tour of their installations and lets you register online. An exciting option is the possibility of switching to one of their schools in Almuñecar, Barcelona, Granada, Marbella, Salamanca and Valencia after you have started your classes in Madrid.
Acento Español, located next to La Puerta del Sol in the heart of Madrid, uploads references from their former students onto their web site and lists them by country of origin. This lets you see what people from your own cultural background thought of the experience.
Todo España helps you get to know a different Spain by organizing weekends in the countryside, which include opportunities to go horseback riding, canoeing, or hiking.
When I asked the schools how they helped their students adjust to and understand their adopted surroundings, Carpe Diem responded, “Explaining how Spanish habits and customs are not always the same as the customs in their country.” And this, perhaps, will be your greatest challenge .
Recommended reading for anyone still wondering if it is worth the investment: The Benefits of Study Abroad.