How to find the best Spanish language schools in Spain

How to find the best language shool in Spain - Picture by slowdownfast.comCurrently there are hundreds of Spanish language schools in Spain. All of them aim to teach Spanish to foreigners, and many have well presented websites and marketing materials that seem very convincing. But do they all have a good standard?

Language schools as businesses

Many language school owners or managers in Spain are very passionate about what they do. This is reflected in their teaching staff’s competence and enthusiasm, their premises and their school’s overall organisation. Many people who own language schools in Spain know that the way to build a successful business is to build a good reputation.

At the same time, language schools are businesses and they need to make a profit. Unfortunately, while profit making is an expected result from a well-run business, you don’t want to fall into the trap of choosing a school that looks great online, but when you arrive in Spain, is a disappointment. Every industry has its “cowboys” and it would be awful to invest time and money on a school that fails to keep its promises.

But how do you really know what kind of school you are booking? Well, here is a list of useful signs you should look out for.

1. Make sure the school is officially registered

A good starting point is to make sure the Spanish language school you are considering is an officially registered business in Spain. In other words, the company should be legally recognised by the Spanish government, and fulfil all the necessary legal, architectural and health and safety requirements to operate as a business. A language school, like any other business, must have an opening license, pay taxes, have basic insurance and its premises should be adapted according to local and European legal standards.

You can be assured that most language schools in Spain will satisfy these legal requirements, but nevertheless, if you feel the information supplied by a school sounds too good to be true, or doesn’t quite convince you – or you just feel something is amiss – it may be worth making independent inquiries before you invest your money.

2. Check with language school agencies

Compare languages Spanish Schools in Spain - Image By Wikimedia commonsChecking with language school agencies is a good way to verify a school’s standards. Language school agencies usually work with various schools, and have taken care to pick the ones that are of a solid standard and popular with students.

For example, you can find over 40 Spanish language schools across Spain on the UniSpain site, and UniSpain has verified each one as being officially registered; plus you’ll be able to compare many different schools’ features easily and directly in one place. Agencies like UniSpain round up a lot of important detail like accreditations and student reviews (more about these below), as well as prices, which makes decision making easier.

3. Read student reviews

One way to find out what a school is like is to read reviews by its former students. A word of warning: whilst you can read reviews on the schools’ websites, not many schools will publish negative comments. So again, it is best to search for independent information, like online forums, or education rating websites like EducationStars. You can also find student reviews of independent schools on the websites of language school agencies like UniSpain.

4. Official accreditations

Another good way to check on a school’s standard is to see whether an external, independent education organisation or a quality board accredits them. There are many different accrediting organisations, some bigger, some smaller. Schools will usually display the accreditation logos on their websites or mention the quality approval in their marketing information.

Here is a list of some of the well-known accreditation bodies, although the list is by no means exhaustive:

  • How to find the best Spanish languange school in Spain - Image by enclavedeciudadanasporgetxo.blogspot.comFEDELE, Spanish Federation of Associations of Schools of Spanish as a Foreign Language
  • NAFSA, Association of International Educators
  • AATSP, American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese
  • ALTO, Association of Language Travel Associations, international
  • Instituto Cervantes, Spanish non-profit organisation that promotes Spanish language and culture globally and accredits Spanish language schools
  • ELITE, British Council accreditation agency
  • Ideal Quality Certificate, Ideal Education Group, international quality organisation that guarantees education service standards

Whilst accreditations are a good sign, just because a school does not have accreditation by a big quality assessment organisation or association, does not mean that it is a bad school; you can find some great schools that are perhaps small or new, or are accredited by national universities or smaller foreign organisations, but still offer a great standard of Spanish tuition.

Finally, some schools are accredited by several big quality organisations and although this certainly guarantees good standards, it doesn’t necessarily make a school right for you.

5. Be clear on your personal preferences

After you have checked that a Spanish language school is a formally registered business, has good reviews and perhaps some kind of official accreditation, you also need to consider your own preferences. In the end, whether a school is “good” or “bad” can be a very subjective decision.

How to find the best Spanish School in Spain - Image by business2community.comThe kinds of things you should consider when choosing the right school for you are:

  • What is the destination like? How expensive is the destination you want to study in?
  • Does the school’s course price fit your budget?
  • What style of teaching or learning methods does the school offer?
  • How big is the school? How many students are in a classroom group?
  • How long are the lessons?
  • What age are the other students in the class?

Think carefully about these and any other factors that are important for you, and then do your research. If in doubt, consult other people who have been there before you.

In conclusion

As you can see, there are several different factors that influence Spanish language school standards and its important to do your homework to make sure your investment is sound.

Still, researching schools might drive you crazy and you might get stuck, not being able to decide between schools that seemingly offer the same kinds of services.

UniSpain offers a great School Comparison Tool, which allows you to check over 40 different officially registered Spanish schools’ accreditations, prices, student ratings, classroom size, facilities and many other features in one easy glance. Good luck with finding your ideal course!

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