Booking a Spanish course in Spain

Are you considering a trip to Spain to learn Spanish? If so, you have two main ways of booking a Spanish language course in Spain:

  • By booking directly with a language school
  • By booking through a study-abroad agency

Today we’ll look at the second option, agencies. Study-abroad agencies, like we at UniSpain, are attractive to language students looking to travel abroad. Agencies can make bookings easy. You can compare various courses and destinations online, book accommodation as part of the package and some agencies also offer discounts. Specialist study-abroad agencies also usually have lots of experience with booking language courses, so they can easily and quickly answer any questions that you might otherwise spend weeks researching.

But how do you know which language course agency best suits your needs?


We’ve done the hard work for you!

In today’s blog article we are going to compare six agencies that offer Spanish language courses in Spain:

  1. Unispain (Yep, that’s us!)
  2. ESL
  3. Cactus
  4. Quality Courses
  5. ISA
  6. Spanish Abroad


What are the main considerations when choosing a Spanish language course agency?

When booking a Spanish language course in Spain through an agency, there are three main questions you need to ask yourself, to decide which agency works best for you:


1. Does the agency work online or onsite? How will this affect the price?

Some companies, like UniSpain, Spanish Abroad or Quality Courses, function completely online. Although they usually have one physical head office, like UniSpain’s office in Malaga, the students always book the courses online, with added telephone, email, chat or Skype support. Other companies, like ESL, have offices in different countries where you can visit to book the course in person (like a travel agency), or like ISA, who have offices and staff placed at the actual study locations.

The benefit of using an agency that has an onsite office is that they can offer face-to-face customer service to students. The disadvantage is that brick-and-mortar offices or onsite staff means the company’s running costs are bigger and therefore the agency’s prices are more expensive.


2. Does the agency tell you the name of the language school before you book the course?

Some agents, like ISA, Cactus or Spanish Abroad, prefer to sell language courses without showing the name of the school, until the client has paid. The reason for this, is to prevent students booking courses directly with language schools. These agencies normally charge a commission on top of the school’s fees, making the overall school price more expensive.

On the other hand, some agencies like UniSpain or Quality Courses, will reveal the language schools name on their websites. This is normally because they have negotiated discounts with the schools and are passing these discounts to the students. This is simply the agencies’ way of incentivising the students to go and book to through them, rather than directly with the school.

ESL is an agency that reveals the schools names too, although they do not offer discounts. They do, however, offer the added bonus of having onsite presence at the study locations, thus offering face-to-face customer attention. This adds value to their service, as explained in the section above.


3.  Do the agencies offer courses in public universities in Spain?

Few agencies offer courses both in public Spanish universities and in private schools, like UniSpain does. This may be mainly because the agency commissions paid by private schools are much higher (up to 100%) that those offered by public universities.

Currently we at UniSpain know that the American agency ISA offers courses in Spanish Universities, but only as part of a full package that includes flights and accommodation.

To the best of our knowledge, UniSpain are currently the only agency to offer discounted courses in Spanish public universities (as well as a large selection of discounted private language schools in Spain).


4. Does the agency specialize in Spanish Language?

Many agencies offer study abroad programs in several countries and in several languages. Some agencies like ISA also offer different types of courses, apart from languages.

Out of the six agencies compared today, UniSpain and Spanish Abroad are solely dedicated to Spanish language. UniSpain deals exclusively with Spanish language schools in Spain and Spanish Abroad offers courses in Spain and in South America. ESL, Cactus and Quality Courses offer other languages in different countries around the world.


5. How many Spanish language schools in Spain does the agency allow you to choose from?

Most agencies offer in the region of about 20+ Spanish language schools in Spain. The agencies that represent the most schools are ESL who offer 31 study institutions and UniSpain who work with 43 Spanish language schools, including the main Spanish public universities, all over Spain.


6. Where are the agency’s head offices based?

This may or may not be important for you. Some people prefer to deal with an agency that is based in their home country and some like the agency to be based in Spain itself.

  • UniSpain’s and Quality Courses’ head offices are based in Spain, (Malaga and Barcelona respectively), but for both, all course booking and customer service are handled online with web-based and/or telephone support.
  • ISA and Spanish Abroad are American companies; they both offer a mainly online booking service, but ISA additionally has support staff at study destinations.
  • ESL has 39 offices worldwide where bookings and customer queries can be made; three of these are located in Spain, in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia.
  • Cactus is based in the UK. Their head office in Brighton and their subsidiary in New York allow visits by appointment, but their bookings are principally intended to be made online.


7.  How flexible are the bookings in terms of accommodation or flights?

Most agencies allow you to book just a course without accommodation. These include all of the agencies on our list, plus ourselves at UniSpain, except ISA who only sell complete packages including accommodation and flights. Cactus additionally offers ATOL-bonded flights, but only to UK customers (this means that if the airline goes bust, the passenger won’t get stranded abroad).


8. Does the agency offer a discount?

As explained in Paragraph 3 above, some agencies like UniSpain and Quality Courses offer a discount on the courses. This is because the agencies have negotiated discounts with the language schools and are then passing the discounts onto the students. This benefits the agency because the students book the course through the agency and not directly with the school.


So, which Spanish language course agency is the best then?

As we said in the beginning, you may choose a study abroad agency based on what is most important to you. To help you view all the above information more easily, see the below table, which summarises all of the information.

Good luck! For more questions about UniSpain’s Spanish language courses in Spain, try our online Course Finder or contact us by email, Skype or telephone. We’re always happy to answer all your queries.


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