You decided to learn Spanish at a language school in Spain. Good choice! ¡Muy bien! It might sound strange, but this could turn out to be quite an important life decision. Speaking Spanish is going to make your travels to a lot of (Spanish speaking) countries much more fun, much easier, and much more intense (in a good way). Besides this, speaking and understanding Spanish will open a lot of doors to different kinds of jobs for you and looks good and professional on your CV.
So with the decision to just go for it, the first step is made. Now up to the second. How to find the best Spanish school? What aspects and qualities are important to look at when comparing different Spanish language schools? How do you know a school ‘suits’ you? What schools are handling efficient learning methods? What ensures you a school has the best teachers and teaching materials? What atmosphere do the different kinds of schools have and what are their locations? And what pitfalls do you look out for?
1. A quality check: does the Spanish school have an accreditation certificate?
When comparing different Spanish language schools you might find some schools that have a red Instituto Cervantes logo on their website, while others don’t. Cervantes is an Institute Accreditation System for Institutions Teaching Spanish (SACIC). Their logo is an important thing to check because it ensures the quality of a school. What does the Instituto Cervantes logo stand for?
Cervantes is in charge of the DELE exam
Only schools that have specific qualities (academic teachers, approved teaching materials, etc.) are given a certificate by the Cervantes Institute. To test this Instituto Cervantes created an assessment for the Spanish language schools, including a set of qualities to which the language schools must provide proof of compliance. Cervantes is also the institution that is in charge of the official DELE Spanish diplomas on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training and organize the exams.
2. The fun check: how’s the school’s activities program
Besides the regular classroom lessons, some language schools have a daily or weekly activity program. Think of cooking classes, dinner parties, city walks, or visiting festivals. These activities are nice ways to get to know your classmates, meet new meet people and enjoy the city. But besides that, they are also super good for practising your Spanish in real-life situations. Therefore we would always recommend checking the activity programs when looking for the best Spanish language schools.
3. The first location check: vivid city or peaceful town?
You can find Spanish language schools in many different locations. In big cities, small towns or even some in the countryside. Choose what kind of experience you would like to have and think of what kind of location will suit your wishes. A Spanish language school in a big city will have many opportunities with things to do after school (from parties to museum visits and restaurant experiences) and therefore many chances to practice your Spanish in real-life situations. But if you’re more into resting, relaxing, and spending time by yourself a language school in a smaller town could be more for you.
4. The second location check: what neighbourhood is the school in?
If you’re choosing a language school in a big city, such as Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia make sure you also check the location of the school in the city. Some schools are located in not-so-nice neighbourhoods far from the city centre with almost no shops, bakeries and cafés in the neighbourhood and this might influence your travel experience.
5. The atmosphere check: what classmates to expect?
Depending on age, hobbies and Spanish learning goals every person has different pictures in the mind of what the perfect Spanish language school looks like. Therefore it’s good to know that most of the language schools in Spain have data about the average age and origin of their students. Some schools will have this information on their websites, but with others schools, you have to ask about this information yourself. This might be a handy thing to check if you want to be sure you will be in class with people of your age.
In general schools with a busy activities program are the schools where, outside the classes, the students and teachers are quite close to each other and where the outside class experience is found at least as important as the Spanish classes. Whilst at schools without an activity program (or a restrained one) the focus is more on solo learning the language and less on the cultural immersion.
Taronja Spanish school is known for having one of the best weekly activity programmes, for example. Our intention is that every activity we propose is a success and that everyone comes, to create the atmosphere that we like the most.
The type of activities also says a lot about the atmosphere in the school. Some schools offer language courses + activities. Like Spanish with Surf, Spanish with Tennis, or Spanish with horse riding. Choosing one of these specific courses ensures, that you will get in class with people with a shared interest.
Good to know: some language schools will have an average age of young people, but offer 50+ courses, especially for senior students!
Are you the type that wants to immerse yourself in the Spanish Language and Valencian, Mediterranean life? Then book your Spanish course at Taronja, located in the beautiful city centre of Valencia.