This is a 12-day course, Monday through to the following Friday, with a pre-planned bespoke excursion (2 nights) at the weekend – Friday evening to Sunday afternoon.
The course structure
We start by focusing on the basic necessities – the things we need to be able to say and understand, and enjoy life in Spain. Invariably, this begins with food, drink, customs and etiquette; then we move on to a wider range of issues and topics.
These are not listed in order of study but are taught together in a visual, interactive and intuitive way. Each topic is accompanied by several worksheets and diagrams. We advocate a visual approach, whereby an image is associated with sound and meaning. Often, visualising the item or concept helps to recall the sounds, phonetics and meaning associated with it.
Each morning starts with breakfast on the plaza, or in one of our local eateries. In Spain, breakfast consists of a coffee or tea and a croissant, bun or sandwich. Alternatively, some people may prefer freshly prepared Spanish omelette, often served with an accompaniment of finely chopped marinated chillies or chilly compote.
Weekend excursion and getaway
Each weekend excursion is a bespoke, pre-planned event designed on a person-to-person basis but based on two people sharing. We arrange a getaway to various boutique hotels in La Rioja or the Basque Country, on a full-board basis. All arrangements are made by the academy, but it is still very much part of the course. You will be using your newly acquired Spanish conversational skills to make your way via public transport to and from your arranged destination. The academy will deliver your luggage, then collect it the following Sunday and return it to your place of accommodation in the village.
Class starts promptly at 10:30 and loosely follows the structure mentioned previously’ , with the use of interactive SMARTboards, visual aids and other printed materials.
At 13:30, the class relocates to the main plaza for practical interaction with local Spaniards, in real-life situations. It is also a golden opportunity to indulge in another of La Rioja’s famed products: a glass of wine, as an aperitif, before heading off to lunch.
Each person will be coached and assisted but will try to make themselves understood by the service staff. We will have covered the vocabulary required in our morning session and applying what you have learned in a real situation helps to embed the meaning, phonetics and concepts.
Class resumes at 17:30 in the academy, where the curriculum is focused on what happened on the plaza and during lunch. After a further recap of the materials covered during the morning session and interactive games based on these topics, the class again relocates to real-life situations. These will vary greatly but are carefully designed and considered to optimise your interaction in an interesting, informative and expressive way. On various occasions, the group will be broken up into smaller units, each with their own task and objective.
Dinner is around 20:30/21:00 and will be at various venues in different locations, to allow for broader experiences and a greater opportunity to interact on various levels. Associated local Spanish people (interlocutors), many of whom are registered English students at the academy, will be invited to join the group to further enrich your interactions and build your confidence in speaking Spanish.
Evenings may also include visits to different places of interest, each of which will be presented in Spanish. For example, dinner may be in bodega, with a tour of the facilities prior to aperitifs. That morning session would have focused on the vocabulary you would need to understand and follow the presentation.
Students would be encouraged to interact with the presenters and ask questions. Any difficulties encountered will be discussed in the following day's morning session.
After dinner, students may retire at their leisure.