Choosing the Right Spanish Language Course for You

Choosing a Spanish language course in Spain is not always easy. Types of lessons and schools, prices, destinations, teaching methods… It can all get overwhelming!

All Spanish schools will of course ensure you that they are the best at teaching Spanish. So how can you really know which one to choose? How do you pick the right Spanish language course for you?

Based on Unispain’s experience working with over 40 Spanish language schools in Spain, here are some top tips to help you along.


1. What can you afford?

The quality of a course is important. But if you cannot afford a certain school, then this immediately eliminates the choice for you. So we recommend that you start by setting an overall budget for your learning trip.

Try Unispain’s Price Calculator to work out your overall costs including the course itself, plus accommodation and food. There’s also the fun Pocket Money Calculator to sum up what you might need for shopping, entertainment, eating out, trips or other fun, free-time pursuits during your language trip.

Why is one Spanish school cheaper than another? Quality and price often do have a correlation when it comes to language courses. However, a low or a high cost does not necessarily make a course “good” or “bad”, but can simply refer to student numbers in a class, equipment or location.

For instance, a low-cost course may simply have more students per classroom or maybe the school is located in a cheaper region of Spain. Equally a more expensive school may have higher costs because they are located in the centre of a big city or because they offer technology like multimedia learning.

Don’t forget to consider whether the course includes textbooks or has an additional registration fee.

Try the Unispain Course Finder to choose from over 40 Spanish language schools in Spain and read about their courses, prices and main points of interest.


2. Which destination?

Which city do you want to study Spanish in? This is a very personal and important choice. Some people love major cities like Madrid or Barcelona, others prefer the sun on Spain’s southern coast or islands, and many students want to absorb history in places like Salamanca or Granada.

You might also be influenced by where in a city the school is. Do you prefer to be right in the center of town? Where is the accommodation? Do you mind taking a bus or would you prefer a short walk from your residence to the school?

If you’re still not quite sure which city suits you the best, Unispain has an excellent quiz tool on their website that can help you work out which destination is the closest match to what you’re looking for: Help Choosing City Tool.


3. Types of schools

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices by price and destination, finding a school will become much easier! Try the Unispain School Comparison tool to compare as many schools side by side as you want – prices, size, levels, number of students, ratings and so on.

You should focus your attention on:

  • The type of school. Your choice will normally be between a university and private school. If you are studying with work prospects in mind, a university will always look better on a CV. Additionally, you’ll normally get to enjoy university facilities. The downside is that universities will often have more students per class and this may slow your learning down.
  • A smaller school may not always have the prestige of a university, but they can offer smaller classes. Also, many private schools have national accreditations. This is, for instance, the case with all the schools Unispain works with – they are all accredited by the Spanish government. Some schools will also have international certifications or run courses that are recognised in other countries.
  • Also pay attention to the qualifications and competence of the teaching staff. A centre has to have experienced Spanish teachers with appropriate degrees and/or teaching qualifications. If they have participated in continual professional training programs, this is even better.
  • Check out if the school’s teaching materials are free or if you need to pay extra for them. What are the textbooks or other materials like? What’s included in them?
  • Are the equipment and premises to your liking? Is onsite WiFi connection or a library important to you? What about social areas like common rooms, cafeterias or sun terraces?
  • Some schools also offer extra facilities like a gym, but if you are staying long term, these can also be obtained relatively cheaply in the city, independently of the language school. Of course it all depends on your requirements, but generally speaking it’s best to focus your choices on the factors that directly relate to your Spanish language learning.
  • How many Spanish language levels does the school offer? If there aren’t sufficient language levels to choose from, you could be placed on a course that is either too high or too low for your standard. Also check whether it’s possible to change from one course to another if you find the level of the training is not right for your needs.
  • What size groups does the school teach? Small groups under 15 people are often favourable for participation, but you won’t find these at many universities where classes or lectures are big. Private schools tend to offer smaller groups. Always check the maximum numbers of students per class, if this is an important factor for you. Bear in mind that for some people group size may be a more important consideration later on in their language learning, when they are ready to ask more questions.


4. Choosing a course

About 90% of Unispain’s students choose a non-specialist Spanish course, but there are alternatives: DELE preparation courses, business Spanish, Spanish for specific age groups like teenagers or mature students, and Spanish language with a particular angle, like art or dance.

You’ll also need to decide on the number of hours you want to study per week. The choices normally range from 15 to 30 lessons. The longer your course is, the less important it is to choose a very intensive schedule, because you will learn Spanish just by being in Spain.


Other things you could look out for are:

  • The duration of the lessons. A standard lesson usually ranges between 45 and 60 minutes. Say a school offers 45-minute lessons, for example. This means that a course containing 20 lessons per week is equal to 15 hours per week.
  • Find out whether the school runs the classes in the morning and the afternoon or alternating between the two. This is not important for some people, but for others it may create an issue with their free time program.
  • Don’t forget there will be homework! It can take several hours to do it after classes.


6. Extra activities

These are an important part of your stay in Spain. They are the extension of your training in Spanish as a foreign language, because you’ll get to practice your skills!

  • Some schools offer varied activities, from sports or cooking, to salsa dancing, whilst others offer more traditional ones like sightseeing and cultural classes.
  • The aim is to have fun! It’s easier to absorb a language in a context that interests you. If you prefer nightlife to museums, then make your choice based on that.
  • Some people are very outgoing and prefer to explore on their own. If this is you, then you might not feel the need to have many social events to choose from. Others may be shyer or simply prefer to take part in organised group activities. In this case it’s a good idea to find a school that offers a wide variety of fun stuff to do, or even better, has accommodation onsite to create a campus atmosphere where it’s easy to get to know other students.


So… are you ready?

Studying abroad in Spain at any level is one of the most worthwhile things you will ever do. Ask anyone who’s done it. People with a study-abroad experience will remember it for years to come. No matter how long they stayed in Spain, the language and the cultural influence will be with them for the rest of their lives.

We at UniSpain are here to help you find the right course. Unispain can offer you personalised advice to ensure that you choose the right course and accommodation to match both your academic and personal requirements.

We wish you the best of luck and hope that this article has helped you along the way to picking the course for you!

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