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Study Spanish on Spain’s Costa Del Sol

Escuela de Idiomas Nerja Offers Top-Notch Teachers and Environment

I have studied Spanish in Guadalajara, Russian in St. Petersburg and Irkutsk, and Mandarin in Taipei. That does not include courses in night school (Japanese and Hebrew), college (Russian and Hebrew) or high school (Spanish and Latin). After more than a decade of studying foreign languages without respite, I hope my recommendation will be taken with some weight when I say that La Escuela de Idiomas Nerja, in Nerja, Spain, provides the best language courses I have encountered anywhere for any language.

Nerja, located an hour from Malaga on the well-named Costa del Sol (“Sun Coast”), is a square mile at best, but the narrow, cobbled streets wind such an intricate maze that one can become lost in them for hours. In the height of summer, it is swollen with tourists; it entertains more visitors each year than it claims in permanent residents. In the fall, winter, and spring, however, it is a quiet, sleepy fishing village.

Nerja sports several large beaches, as well as a series of tiny coves, completely surrounded by high, rocky cliffs and boulders. The countryside is excellent for hiking, biking, and expeditions to the mountainside villages or the stunning Cuevas (Caves) de Nerja.

Thus, even if the Escuela were mediocre, students would flock; as it happens, though, the school is simply fantastic. Their worst teacher—and I have now had classes with all their regular faculty— would be stars in most language schools or departments. Their best are engaging, entertaining, and very good at what they do. They are young and charismatic and exactly the sort of people you would want as your Spanish friends.

The Escuela has teamed up with the publishing company Difusion, which produces some of the best language textbooks available in any language. The books don’t just supply vocabulary and grammar rules, they teach the student to speak the language as it is spoken by Spaniards from the very first day. The exercises are insightful, and one is remiss any time the teacher skips an activity.

The full course at the Escuela, broken down into manageable 2-week sections (though you can start and stop pretty much any time) takes about six months from “¡Hola!” to fluency, depending on whether you repeat any of the 2-week blocks, as many students do. A superintensive course runs six hours a day and presumably leads to fluency more quickly, but the “normal” course load of four hours a day is more than sufficient. Perhaps there are other Spanish schools in better locations, but it is hard to imagine. The Escuela de Idiomas Nerja is reason enough to learn Spanish.

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