How to choose the perfect Spanish language school for you!

Being a student who studies Spanish, I thought long and hard about selecting the best possible Spanish language school for me. Whilst staying in Spain for 4 months, I wanted to be able to speak at least some basic Spanish. So I began researching online. There were so many schools to choose from, which at first, was slightly overwhelming. Below, I have noted down what factors to consider when choosing your school and then explained how Inhispania ended up being my school of choice.

1.     What do you look for in a school?

Before you start looking for a school, you have to know exactly what you are looking for. There is more to learning a language than simply Spanish lessons, it is also an experience. Make a list and write down what you think is important for a school to have.

For example:

– Are the teachers native speakers?

– Are there extra activities available?

– Are classes available for a variety of levels?

– Are class hours flexible?

– What kind of materials are used in classes?

These may look like very small matters, but could actually be a big help once you start looking. In the end, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. At Inhispania, Spanish is taught by Spaniards, and there are classes for all levels. The classes on offer can fit with any work/study schedule and activities are offered every week from Tuesday to Friday. On some Saturdays there are also trips to nearby cities such as Segovia and Toledo.

2.     Location

Location is hugely important; if you are looking outside of the center then easily accessible public transport is essential. For me, somewhere in the heart of Madrid was vital. When you can be a part of the city life and can enjoy its liveliness, the experience you have is all the more immersive and authentic. Whether that means enjoying the “Menu del día” after classes in a local restaurant, grabbing a coffee between lessons or even walking to Sol for some shopping after classes. Inhispania couldn’t be located in a better part of the city.

3.     Reviews

Nowadays, online reviews are a fantastic source of information about places, restaurants, activities and yes, that’s right – Spanish language schools! By reading reviews, you have access to honest opinions written by students (just like you and I).

4.     The student-teacher relationship is KEY!

Learning a language can be frustrating and takes a lot of patience. A teacher who can support students, correct mistakes, answer questions and offer encouragement makes the learning process a lot easier. For me it is very important to establish a good connection with a teacher. Asking questions seems less daunting and making mistakes isn’t as much of an issue. A classroom in which the students and the teacher are enjoying themselves and have a good relationship is a much more effective environment to learn in!

After going on the internet and looking up reviews about Inhispania (as previously suggested), a recurring comment was that the teachers at the school were really friendly and outgoing. After attending classes, I found out for myself that this was indeed true. The teachers were always so helpful and always tried to make you feel at ease. I felt confident and comfortable talking in classes and I was not worried about asking questions if I didn´t understand something nor embarrassed about making mistakes.

5.     Support offered

Does the school cater to your needs? Perhaps this is your first time away from home studying in another country without friends or family; will you get support? Does the school offer accommodation with other students?

Or maybe you are a mature student seeking a totally different cultural experience, what can the school offer you?

Inhispania, for me, lived up to all of my hopes and expectations. I received great exposure to Spanish culture through attending the activities, my confidence in speaking improved thanks to the hard work and dedication of my teacher and the wonderful classroom and learning environment. It was an experience that will stay with me whilst I continue on my journey learning Spanish. I can say with confidence that I will eagerly return to the school in the future!

Feria del Libro, Madrid (Book Fair)

Want to learn a language quickly? Get reading! Take advantage of Madrid´s 78th Feria del Libro (Book Fair) in El Retiro. With over 300 book stalls around the city, the guest country this year is the Dominican Republic, with the event´s slogan ´´A story at every step´´ (Una historia a cado paso). From the 31st May- 16th June, wander around the city´s many stalls and immerse yourself in the literary culture.

Here´s a summary of our top 4 best hidden gems around the city for literature and free activities:

  • La Casquería Antigua

Love a good bargain? Here, you pay for the weight of your books, meaning that a whole kilo only comes to only 10 euros. (Nearest metro stop: Embajadores, 41)

2) Tuuulibreria

The only place where you can actually choose the price of your book. The idea is that everyone has access to literature. The company also sends books to developing countries. (Covarrubias 38, Bilbao)

  • La Casa Encendida or Casa del Libro

More well-known than the two previous places, you can take part in book signings, readings, and free exhibitions.

  • Ever heard of a Poetry Slam?

Try something a bit different and join this Facebook group´s poetry/ rap-style competition to challenge your poetry skills on the spot.

Keep a look out for: The lady with the typewriter outside Opera. Give her a subject and she can type up a poem for you on the spot!

Finally, don’t forget that Inhispania runs a book exchange on the second floor with plenty of novels, tourist magazines and autobiographies!

Fiestas de San Isidro

Key places: Plaza Mayor, Las Vistillas and Pradera de San Isidro

Dates: 10th – 15th May 2019

This week, Madrileños celebrate their patron saint, San Isidro Labrador, so it will be a week filled with concerts, shows and other cultural activities. With locals dressed in ´chulapos´, dancing ´el Chotis´. 

Here are our top three things to take part in during the Day of San Isidro Labrador:

Pasacalles de Gigantes y Cabezudos

Labelled the quirkiest and ´most instagrammable´ event of this week, this parade consists of locals sporting giant heads characterizing the four ruling couples of Asia, Africa, Europe and America.

The parade takes place along:
Plaza de Santo Domingo, Plaza de Callao, Calle Preciados, Puerta del Sol, Calle Mayor and Plaza de la Villa on Sunday 12th (18:00pm) and Monday 13th (12:00pm)

Fireworks and Music

Parque de Retiro is the go-to place for sunbathing and offers beautiful views all year round, but on the 14th and 15th, the gardens will host a spectacular fireworks show (22:00pm) with music events from around 20:30.

Top Tip! Try out the many variations of rosquillas; tiny sugared doughnuts found in stalls down every street.

Click here to download the 2019 programme.

Top 5 in Madrid: Jeanne

Hello everyone, my name is Jeanne and here you have my Top 5 places in Madrid.

1. Calle Velarde, Malasaña.

If you are seeking for inspiration in order to renew your wardrobe or just inspiration in itself, go to this street. It is filled with Vintage and second hand shops. Each time you step outside one, you face the entrance of another. Not only are the playlists of the shops great (ranging from coldwave, shoegaze, rap, rock, folk…) but they all add up to the general atmosphere of the shop/street. Goes without saying, you will meet a good quantity of clothes there, but most importantly, you will meet the diversity, a huge range of different styles of vintage clothes. It is for this diversity that I find this place so inspiring. The styles vary from the most minimalistic to the most extravagant item of clothes. Whether you are looking for the usual denim jacket, a pair of dungarees, a silk shirt, a leather skirt or for a full red velvet dress, this street will meet your desires.

Si vous cherchez de l´inspiration pour renouveler votre garde-robe ou simplement de l’inspiration, jetez un coup d´œil à cette rue remplie de friperies. Chaque fois que vous sortirez d´une, vous vous trouvez en face de l´entrée d´une autre. La musique qui défile est aussi variée que les styles vestimentaires : coldwave, shoegaze, rap, folk, rock… C’est la signature de l´atmosphère de cette rue. La variété de styles que vous y trouverez est ce que je trouve très inspirant. Du plus minimaliste au plus extravagant, il y aura chaussure à votre pied ! Que vous cherchiez la veste en jeans de tout le monde, une paire de salopettes, des chemises en soie ou la full robe rouge en velours, cet endroit aura ce que vous voulez et de quoi vous surprendre.

¿Estás buscando inspiración para renovar tu guardarropa? Deberías ir a esta calle que está llena de tiendas de segundo mano. Cada vez que sales de una tienda, estas en frente de otra. La música que ponen es tan diversa como sus estilos de ropa: coldwave, shoegaze, rap, folk, rock…Es la firma es la diversidad, lo cual me parece muy inspirador. De lo más minimalista a lo más extravagante, puedes encontrar lo que quieras.  ¿Estás buscando chaquetas  de mezclilla, monos, camisas de seda o el completo vestido rojo de terciopelo? Ya sabes dónde ir.

2. Museo Reina Sofía

The go-to museum for contemporary art lovers.  The museum used to be a hospital, but underwent a renovation in the 1980s to become the art museum it is today.  Now it hosts some of the greatest modern and contemporary pieces of arts. For a Spanish artistic experience this is one of the best: you will be able to see the famous Guernica, along with other works of Picasso, Dalí or Miró. The museum has a small garden also in the court yard which gives you some fresh air while being at the heart of the city. I like to go there to refresh myself and experience some novelty. The exhibitions regularly change and offer you new ways of approaching the world and art. It is a paradise for abstract art in general.  As much as it is a rich place it is also a refreshing place to go. The venue has a coffee shop too and a book shop, it is a friendly place for art in general. Their big spaces make the experience even more enjoyable and wider.

C´est l´endroit où aller pour les amoureux d´arts contemporains. Le musée pourrait être considéré comme l´équivalent espagnol  du centre Pompidou. Autrefois hôpital,  le musée a été rénové dans les années 1980 pour devenir ce qu´il est aujourd´hui. Il accueille aujourd´hui  les plus grandes œuvres d´art moderne et contemporain. Pour une réelle expérience artistique espagnole c´est un endroit idéal : vous pourrez admirer le célèbre Guernica, ainsi que d´autres tableaux de Picasso, Dali ou encore Miró. Le musée dispose d´un jardin dans la cour antérieure vous donnant un souffle d´air frais au beau milieu de la ville également. J´aime m´y rendre pour son aspect rafraichissant et pour la nouveauté qu´il apporte. Les expositions changent régulièrement et vous offrent de nouvelles manières d´entrevoir le monde et l´art. C´est, pour tout dire, selon moi, le paradis de l´art abstrait ici à Madrid. L´endroit est aussi riche que revitalisant. L´établissement dispose même d´un café et d´une librairie. C´est un endroit accueillant pour les artistes, les amateurs d´art et l´art plus généralement.  Ses grands espaces rendent également l´expérience agréable et ample.

El lugar perfecto para los enamorados del arte contemporáneo. El museo podría ser considerado como equivalente al centro francés Pompidou en París. Antes era un hospital, el sitio fue renovado en los años 1980 para convertirse en el museo que es hoy. Acoge algunas de las obras de arte más importantes del arte moderno y contemporáneo. Es un lugar ideal para una experiencia artística española verdadera: puedes admirar el famoso Guernica, y otras obras de Picasso, pero también de Dalí o de Miró. El museo tiene un jardín en su patio, que le da un poquito de aire fresco en el corazón de Madrid.  Las exposiciones cambian con regularidad y te ofrecen nuevas maneras de percibir el mundo y el arte. Para mi es el paraíso del arte abstracto en Madrid. El sitio es tanto rico como refrescante. Dispone de una cafetería y de una biblioteca. Es un lugar acogedor para los artistas y los aficionados de arte.

3. Mistura

This place offers homemade and ecofriendly ice creams and sorbets. You get to choose the topping you want and they directly mix it for you with the ice cream in front of your eyes. All the ingredients come from local production.  What I appreciate from this place is the transparency of the natural products used and the ability to choose the toppings which come within the ice cream itself.  It is a little treasure for ice cream lovers that you can find nearby the school in the calle Augusto Figueroa. They also have other spots in Madrid, one in Goya and one between Opera and Tirso de Molina. They open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays as well which is always nice if you are looking for a place to have dessert! They also provide breakfast in the same spirit as their ice cream serving: all natural and customized by the customer.  And finally, they have vegan options!

Cet endroit vous propose des glaces et sorbets artisanales et respectueux de la nature. Vous pouvez choisir le topping que vous souhaitez, ils le mélangeront pour vous directement sous vos yeux avec la glace. Tous les ingrédients viennent de productions locales. Ce que j´apprécie de cet endroit c´est sa transparence sur ses produits naturels et la possibilité de choisir ce qui viendra dans la crème glacée elle-même. C´est un véritable trésor pour les amoureux de glace que vous pourrez trouver près de l´école, dans la rue Augusto Figueroa. Ils ont aussi deux autres magasins : l´un dans le quartier de Goya et l´autre entre Tirso de Molina et Opera. Ils sont ouverts les vendredis et samedis jusqu´à minuit, c´est donc l´endroit idéal si vous cherchez un endroit pour le dessert ! Ils proposent également des petits déjeuners dans le même état d´esprit que leurs services de glaces : tout est d´origine naturel et personnalisé par le client. Et pour terminer : ils proposent des options véganes !

Este sitio ofrece helados y sorbetes artesanales caseros.  Puedes elegir el topping que quieres y los vendedores te los mezclan con el helado que quieras delante de tus ojos. Todos los ingredientes son de producción local. Lo que me encanta de este sitio es la transparencia de los productos naturales y la posibilidad de elegir tus toppings que vienen dentro del helado mismo. Es un tesoro  para los amantes de helado y puedes encontrarlo cerca de la escuela Inhispania en la calle Augusto Figueroa. La marca tiene dos otras tiendas en Goya y cerca de Tirso de Molina y Opera que están abiertas hasta medianoche los viernes y sábado. ¡También tienen opciones veganas!

4. Cine Renoir y día del espectador

Are you a supporter of alternative and independent cinema? Renoir will offer a unique experience. It’s the perfect place if you are looking for quality films and/or films in original version. It is not very usual in the area to find movies with subtitles because the Spanish audience tends to prefer doubled movies.  The venue offers a large range of films, and this is not often the case for independent cinemas. You can see the latest Sundance and Cannes selections there, along with the European Cinema Night.  On a side note, each Wednesday in Spain it is the día del espectador. That means you get your place for half price, so go for it!

Adepte du cinéma alternatif et indépendant ? Le Renoir vous offre une expérience unique.  C´est l´endroit idéal si vous cherchez des films de qualité et/ou en version originale. C´est plutôt rare dans la région de trouver des films avec sous-titres car le public espagnol a tendance à préférer les films doublés.  L´endroit propose une large sélection de films, ce qui n´est pas toujours fréquent pour les cinémas indépendants. On peut y voir les sélections de Sundance et de Cannes, l´endroit accueille aussi la European Cinema Night. Chaque mercredi en Espagne c´est le día del espectador, ce qui veut dire que vous bénéficiez d´une séance à moitié prix, profitez-en !

¿Amante del cinema alternativo e independiente? El Renoir te ofrece una experiencia única. Es el mejor lugar si estás buscando películas de cualidad y/o en versión original con subtitulos. Es un poco raro encontrar películas en versión original con subtitulados porque el público español suele preferir películas dobladas. El lugar ofrece una selección bastante larga  de películas lo que no es muy regular para un cine independiente. Puedes encontrar películas seleccionadas para Sundance o Cannes y el lugar también acoje the European Cinema Night. El día del espectador, los miércoles, tiene las películas a mitad de precio, ¡No te lo pierdas!

 5. Sala Equis

I will finish by the number 1 recommendation in Madrid. This cine-bar used to project X movies as the name hints at, but has been renovated into cinema venue. It is now an alternative cinema with a bar downstairs. Upstairs, you have the projection room where you can take your drinks with you for the screening. The rooms have little tables and red velvet sofas to put you in the mood. What I like very much about this place is the atmosphere, because the people who work there or who simply go there love cinema. So you´ll have your chances of having a good chat about cinema with the people there! The venue also hosts cinema events like shortcut cine festival or Japanese film festivals. Check their webpage and their calendar, there will be something for you each day!

Je termine par le numéro 1 de mes recommandations à Madrid. Ce bar- cinéma était autrefois une salle de ciné X, comme son nom l´indique. En revanche il a été rénové pour être l’endroit qu´il est aujourd´hui, composé d´une salle de projection à l´étage et d´un bar en bas. A l´étage, tu peux prendre avec toi  un verre pour ta séance de ciné. La salle a de petites tables et des sofas de velours rouge histoire de te mettre dans l´ambiance. Ce qui me plait le plus de cet endroit, c´est son atmosphère, les gens qui y travaillent ou qui vont dans cet endroit tout simplement adorent le cinéma. Donc tu as des chances de rencontrer des gens posés avec qui discuter de cinéma. Tout ça dans une ambiance détendue.  La salle organise aussi et accueille des festivals de courts métrages ou sur des thèmes géographiques ou culturels.  Jette un coup d´œil au site et à leur programme, il y aura toujours un truc pour toi !

Terminando por el número 1 de mis recomendaciones en Madrid. Este cine-bar proyectaba antes películas X, como su nombre le recuerda, pero está ahora renovado y ha cambiado en un cine arriba y un bar en la planta baja. Arriba, puedes tomar tu bebida contigo para la sesión de cine. La sala tiene mesas pequeñas y sofás de terciopelo rojo para ponerte en el humor para una buena sesión. Lo que más me gusta de este sitio es su atmosfera, ya que se puede sentir que tanto a la gente que trabaja aquí como a los que simplemente ven las películas, les gusta el cine. También organiza acontecimientos como Shortcut cine festival of festival de películas japonesas. Tienes que mirar la página web y el calendario, ¡Hay una cosa para ti cada día!

Semana Santa in Madrid

If you are in Madrid for Semana Santa, you could not be visiting at a better time. Semana Santa is a week that attracts people from all over the world to take part in the Easter celebrations. Whether you are religious or not, this is a spectacular week. Try going to one of the concerts held in churches around the city or simply join the crowds to watch the processions go by. The week is sure to be great fun with an amazing atmosphere. Don´t forget that seeing the processions is just as important as trying some of the local delicacies that are traditionally eaten at this time of year!

Processions

The week leading up to Easter (from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday) is full of street processions and sacred music in Madrid. Religious icons are taken from different churches and paraded around the city. Those who bear the heavy weight of the statues on their shoulders take enormous pride in doing so – it is a great honour to be a part of the processions. The most famous procession is the Christ of Medina  (Cristo de Medinaceli) on Good Friday (19th April) that starts at Jesús de Medinaceli Church and passes through the main streets of Madrid.

Other famous processions throughout the week include the Yeomen of the Guard (Alabarderos), the procession of silence and Jesus of Nazaret (Jesús Nazareno ´el pobre´).  Be sure to look up which processions you would like to see throughout the week so that you don´t miss any.

There will also be concerts playing sacred music, held in churches like Basilica of Nuestra Señora de Atocha, the Pontifical Basilica of San Miguel and the Parish Church of Santa Cruz.

On Easter Sunday (Domingo de Resurrección, 21th April), you can go to Plaza Mayor and see the famous Tamborrada – a show with hundreds of tambourines and drums. Well worth going to see!

You´ll also be pleased to know that on Easter Sunday in Spain too, chocolate eggs (huevos de chocolate) are commonly given to friends and family as a way of wishing them a happy Easter!

Gastronomy

One of the best ways to really embrace a new culture is to try the traditional food. What better way to learn more about the culture of Madrid than to try the local delicacies that are eaten at Easter.  Some of the most famous and delicious foods include:

  • Torrija (bread soaked in milk with cinnamon which is fried and sprinkled with sugar – very similar to ´French Toast´. It can even be soaked in wine!)

  • Soldaditos de Pavía – crispy fried cod
  • Flores de Semana Santa – sweet treat fried in the shape of a flower
  • Potaje de garbanzos a la madrileña – chickpea stew with potatoes, cod, spinach and hard-boiled eggs

The time and effort that that is put into the religious celebrations throughout this special week is astonishing – there really is an incredible display of colour, food, decorations, lights, costumes and religious icons. Semana Santa in Madrid is a must! You will not be disappointed.