Looking to study Spanish in South America or even in your home town? Do you know what to look for in Spanish language schools that will help you choose the right program for you? Here are some ideas of features that may or may not be important to you.
Some of your decision making depends on how much of the language you already know. If you are starting from the very beginning, then following these suggestions will be important. In your case, these should not be taken as suggestions, but rigid rules that should be obeyed. You have to be the one who makes the final choice, but listening to the recommendations of others who have gone through a language program before you will be very beneficial.
If you already have a good grasp of Spanish and are simply trying to hone your skills, you may find some of these suggestions are more flexible. You might even study Spanish online with the help of native language speakers. Depending on your personality, this may be the best way for you to advance in your Spanish language journey.
Almost all Spanish language schools advertise what their maximum class size is. If a school does not prominently advertise this element of their program, then you need to check and make sure they have a firm policy on how many students are allowed per class and teacher. This may be the single most important consideration when looking at Spanish language schools.
What is an appropriate number of students per class? That can depend on the teacher and the student, but it is certainly no more than 8 students per class. Many schools limit the number of students in the 4 to 6 students per class range. Be very insistent that a school tell you exactly what their limit is. Just because they say “small class sizes” does not mean that they will limit the number of students if a large group decides to join your school at the last minute.
Sometimes language schools will allow more students for certain class types. The school may break down their program into grammar and conversation classes. The grammar classes are the ones that are more important to limit to a small number. Conversation classes might actually be more enjoyable with class sizes up to 10 or 12 students. This allows more random vocabulary to come up in conversation. You may find your classmates coming up with words that you did not remember learning.
Along the lines of small class sizes, you may find that private instruction works well for you. This is not true with every student. Private instruction usually costs considerably more since a teacher can only work with one student at a time. If private instruction is important to you, find out from the language school what the difference in price is.
There are a couple different types of course lengths in Spanish language schools. Some schools have a year-long program that is based on school semesters or trimesters. Other schools are based on week to week programs.
For a school that has a year-long program you will need to plan to complete the program in the order the classes are offered. These are usually schools that are geared towards people moving to a new country to live and work such as missionaries, long-term business managers and interpreters. These students are expected to spend at least a year in a program that will thoroughly equip them for living and working in the new country.
Other Spanish language schools offer classes that are much shorter in duration—usually weekly or monthly classes. The obvious appeal to classes based on a week’s worth of study is that you can choose a program that will allow you to enter at the beginning of any week to start your study. You are not limited to certain times of the year or month before you can begin.
A language program that is built around weekly schedules gives you some extra flexibility. When you need to take a break from the intense 4 to 6 hours a day of study, you can take a week off and enjoy a vacation from the classroom. Because you are living and studying in a Spanish speaking country you will still be studying Spanish every time you walk out the door of your house. Your instruction will be from what you learn in daily life while taking a break from the classroom. When you return to school you will be eager to get the answers to all the questions that came up during your week away.
Another advantage of finding a school that allows you to study on a week-to-week basis is that you can leave at any time. While you hope you make the best choice from the beginning, it is possible that a particular program is not working with your personal needs. Week-long courses allow you the flexibility of finding another school if necessary.
Every program, school and country will have their own cost for instruction. It is hard to give a general guideline as to what a good price for a language school is. Looking at different Spanish language schools in a particular country will help you know what a fair price should be. You will have to make your own decision as to whether trying to find the cheapest school in an area is a wise choice.
Total immersion Spanish language schools will help you find housing in the local area if you need it. These home-stay programs allow you to live in the home of a local family who will provide one to three meals a day along with all the conversation practice you can possibly enjoy.
Home-stay opportunities are highly recommended since it requires that you interact with the people around you in your new language. Going to a foreign country to learn Spanish and then staying in a hotel where everyone speaks English defeats the purpose of a total immersion program.
Which Country Should You Choose?
There are Spanish language schools in South America, Europe, North America and just about every place in between. Did you know there is even a Spanish speaking country in Africa? Choosing which country to study Spanish in can be difficult.
It may seem the obvious choice is to attend language school in the country in which you will work. That can be a good choice at times since you will also learn the culture and specific language idiosyncrasies of the country. However, you should avoid trying to do language school and work at the same time. If you are serious about studying Spanish, then it should be your only focus during your language training time.
There is a world of country choices awaiting you. Choose from which country best fits your needs. If you are needing someone to give a recommendation, then the country that is most popular for Spanish language study is Costa Rica. It is a peaceful country that welcomes foreigners. The Spanish spoken there is considered “generic.” With a good general language base you are able to adapt your Spanish skills to other countries and accents when needed.
Choosing from the many good Spanish language schools should be much easier armed with this information. Take your time and study the information you can find on the web about the school you are interested in attending. Read testimonials about the school and write the school with as many questions as you may have before committing to their program. You can usually get a feel for how well you will like a Spanish language school and their staff based on the way they answer your inquiries.
There are plenty of language schools to choose from. You are sure to find one that will meet your needs and train you to the level of Spanish you desire as long as you have enough time and are willing to put in the effort.