Instituto Cervantes

Spanish in Madrid

Who studies Spanish?

Who is the typical Spanish student? Anyone! It’s easy for anyone to gain an interest in learning the Spanish language. At AIL Madrid we have students of all nationalities, ages and backgrounds. Keep reading to hear the stories of some of our past students.

Frederick. 18, Canada

When I finished school I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. My parents wanted to me to go to university but I didn’t feel ready. We agreed that taking some time travelling would be a good idea. My brother had been to Europe and had a great time so I decided on Spain as I studied a little bit of Spanish at school. From there, Madrid seemed like the obvious choice as it’s the capital, and the coolest city in Spain—I’d heard about the huge variety of bars and all night partying from my brother who hadn’t want to leave.

Me and my Mom spent a lot of time going through the various schools on the internet. After 3 long phone calls with AIL and about 30 emails, all my Mom's concerns had been answered and we both felt sure that AIL was the right school for me. I chose a six month intensive course and AIL helped me secure my visa. We opted for a host family - more my Mom's chose as she wanted to make sure I had clean undies every day, so vetoed the shared flat option!!!  My host family parents were Carmen and Alejandro. They (and their dog Nena) gave me a warm welcome from day 1 making a perfect base camp home from home.

The time in class flew by as I spent most of my time laughing with the other students and teachers. I was learning but it did not feel like school. Bonus :) The cultural activities were always fun, especially the Noche de Copas with Clement!!  The teacher was really cool and made sure that we learnt loads of useful stuff. I went out with my classmates most weekends and we went on loads of trips together.

I got a job being a waiter in a local restaurant that had lots of tourists and got to practice my Spanish every day and help the staff with their English. The extra money meant that I got to travel even more and I was able to go to Prague, Ireland, Portugal and see a lot of Spain. I am now back in Toronto and started University in September and I am studying International Business and Spanish. It was a great year and one I will never forget!

Jing. 24, China

After finishing my degree in Architecture I spent 6 months working in Shanghai but it wasn’t really a job I wanted. I decided that a work placement program abroad would give me more experience and hopefully help me getter a better job on my return. Companies in China like to see language and international experiences abroad on your CV.

I came across AIL Madrid whilst looking on the Instituto Cervantes website, and they immediately responded to my email and started giving practical advice useful for planning my arrival. I chose the Spanish language course with a work placement. The course was fantastic and I felt really good about my Spanish after the 3 months of classes but was nervous about the work placement. I was working in a small Surveyors office with 12 people and there were 2 Spanish work experience students as well. Being a small company, I got to see lots of the projects and regularly went out on site visits.

It was really hard work and it really put my Spanish to the test but I loved every second of it! It was a fantastic experience; I greatly improved my Spanish; I learned a lot about myself; and I had a lot fun! I made lots of friends just like me in my classes, and we all helped each other out. This type of experience really teaches you to adapt to a new place on your own, and fortunately, I could count on the support of AIL Madrid.

Going home was hard but I am now doing well in my career and attend regular intercambio nights to keep up my Spanish.

Fabio. 35, Italy

I have a degree in journalism and languages are a big interest of mine. I have always liked the Spanish language and I studied it for a few years. I have just recently decided to become a Spanish teacher, but I need a qualification before I can start teaching.

Therefore, I had a look for some good Spanish language academies and AIL Madrid seemed the best for me. They have a huge variety of courses and I was able to choose one that suited my needs.

In addition, they even helped me with finding accommodation, since I was only in Madrid for one month and it’s very hard to find somewhere to live for such a short time. I shared a flat with some other people who were also studying Spanish, there was a really nice atmosphere whilst it was still easy to get on with work in my room. Without a doubt it was a key part of my preparation for becoming a Spanish teacher!

Natalie. 40, England

I met my Spanish boyfriend Iñaki at university in Bath. After uni we both found work in London, Inaki in sales and me in finance. After three years, Iñaki realised that the career progression opportunities for him were limited so he returned to Spain. I did not want to let the relationship go so we carried on seeing each other at weekends. I started evening Spanish classes in London. We finally made the decision for me to move out to Madrid in 2011. It was a scary decision to leave my friends and family but I had spent a lot of time in Madrid and I loved it, especially the endless blue skies. My first month was great and then reality started to hit home and I found my lack of Spanish became a real barrier to meeting new people, talking with Iñaki’s family and of course getting work in my field.

I visited AIL Madrid in person  and spoke to Maya and Lara who listened to all my doubts! We decided that I needed to give my Spanish a big push so enroled on an intensive Spanish course for 6 weeks and then evaluate where I was after that. My Spanish classes in London had been taught by someone who spoke English but at AIL they use complete immersion where the teacher only spoke Spanish. It was a bit of a shock for the first 3 days until I realized I was actually understanding the teacher and made more progress in a week than I had made in 6 months in my Spanish classes in London. My teacher was fantastic and very animated and used humour a lot which was important given that I was on an intensive course. Every day after the class I would go home to and practice with boyfriend’s Mum. She thought it was hysterical and having someone to practice with was really good. She always cooked me a huge lunch and cakes so my Spanish expanded along with my waistline.

I eventually did 8 weeks of the Intensive Spanish course and then took a TEFL course to become an English teacher where I get to use my previous business experience which I really enjoy. I now do the evening Spanish course for 3 hours at AIL and me and my group go out most weeks for a drink afterwards and it has been nice to get my own friends here who are in similar positions.

My advice to anyone thinking of doing this, is go for it! Madrid is fab city. Put your embarrassment away, the Spanish love to help you out and if you keep trying your Spanish will improve really quickly. And by the way, things are going strong with Iñaki :)

Sheryl. 46, Ireland

My company was opening a new office in Madrid and I was offered a six month secondment  to be part of the initial setup team. I jumped at the opportunity!  I didn’t take any Spanish classes as I could manage the basics. Besides I was very busy with work and meeting new people so I did not find the time. At the end of the 6 months, the new office was going well, we had won new clients and I was offered a job to stay permanently which I took. As I was staying in Madrid, I decided that now was the time to start really focusing on my Spanish. Whilst I was working in an international company where everyone spoke English, I still needed to improve my Spanish for business and pleasure. Stephan, a work colleague from Dusseldorf was very happy with his evening Spanish course at AIL Madrid so I decided to give them a try. I signed up for a 2 week super intensive Spanish course which was just that! It was hard work and each day I left with my brain destroyed but it was veryrewarding and helped with my day to day life, being able to talk to my landlord, meeting Spanish people in the local bar etc.

Three months later, I had a two day business trip scheduled to Seville and I knew all the meetings were going to be in Spanish. I knew my abilities to communicate efficiently in Spanish in business situations were still not the best so the prospect of this was very intimidating. I spoke to my company who agreed to allow me to do a two week intensive business Spanish course. This was just what I needed and gave me the formality and vocabulary I needed for the trip. More than that, it really helped to improve my confidence and assertiveness which were definitely major factors.

Two months ago I did a presentation in Spanish to 40 potential clients. The week before the presentation I signed up the 5 individual Spanish courses with an AIL Madrid Spanish teacher who specializes in business Spanish. The individual classes gave me the opportunity to work just on my pronunciation and to practice the presentation.

AIL Madrid have been very professional and helped me to integrate into my new life in Madrid both at personal and business levels. Colleagues and friends have had similar positive experiences. My next objective is the DELE and I will be choosing AIL Madrid for a preparation course.

Mark. 65, USA

Since retiring 4 years ago, I have travelled extensively around the world and have spent a lot of time in South America. I decided to come to Madrid for two weeks to study Spanish and to see a little of Europe. I had never been to Madrid before and was as vibrant and exciting as I had been told about.

Whilst I wanted to learn Spanish, I didn’t need it so wanted a course that I would enjoy and would give me the opportunity to learn more about the culture. I decided on a semi intensive course which included the cultural Spanish program. I studied some mornings and some afternoons and went on nearly all of the cultural activities. The visit to the Prado museum was my favorite as it is such a beautiful building full of art that I had only ever seen in books. The rest of the time I was free to explore the city and the reception team at AIL were always giving me advice on where to go next. The group of students was great and it was a splendid surprise that we all got on so well given that we ranged from 22 to 65 years old.  I still keep in contact with them now and hope they will come and visit me in America soon. I keep in contact with AIL through Facebook which my granddaughter introduced me to so I could share pictures of my travels. It was a lovely experience and I hope to return some time soon.

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