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Learn Spanish in Barcelona: Teaching

Let’s get you talking Spanish in Barcelona!

Teaching Methods

The main focus is to improve communicative skills, the classroom activities in Barcelona are therefore aimed at developing the students’ abilities to speak and understand spoken Spanish. Classes are ONLY conducted in Spanish and students are given many opportunities to practise the style of language they would use outside the classroom. The college want you to be able to actively “use” the Spanish language not just “know” it academically!

The curriculum is structured on twelve theoretical language levels, with a natural duration of two weeks per level. There are of course classes in grammar, oral and written exercises, practice with video and audio material and conversation on subjects of general and cultural interest.

The methodology is the result of years of experience in the teaching of Spanish. Special importance is given to the communicative aspect of the language and its use in everyday life. Whilst the classroom atmosphere is relaxed and informal, students have to be prepared to work hard and participate fully.

The main objective of most of our Spanish courses is to improve the students’ communicative skills. The emphasis of classroom activities is therefore the development of the students’ abilities to speak and understand spoken Spanish.  For this reason, classes are conducted entirely in Spanish and students are given plenty of opportunity to practise the sort of language they are likely to need outside the classroom. Due attention is also paid to grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing skills, and a wide variety of materials is used including published materials from many sources as well as materials which have been written by the Spanish language school’s teachers.

The cost of the first course book is EURO 25. You can exchange your book for a new one if you move up a level (provided it hasn’t been written in and is in good condition). Students who attend private classes will have course materials designed specifically to meet their particular needs.

The teaching and the course programme are carefully supervised by the Director of Studies, who is also responsible for ensuring that students are placed in the appropriate levels and that their progress is satisfactory.

Spanish Language Levels

The table (below) gives an idea of how the Spanish language school levels compare to those established by the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF, in Spanish the MCER) and by the Instituto Cervantes for its Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) examinations. The school prepares students for DELE exams at B1 and above levels.

School system      CEF  DELE descriptions
You will normally need at least 40 lessons tuition (2 weeks)
at any one level before advancing to the next course.
Principante      A1  Diploma A1
Elemental      A1/A2  Diploma A2
Preintermedio      A2        “
Intermedio I      B1  Diploma B1 (Incial)
Intermedio II      B1        “
Intermedio III      B1        “
Preavanzado      B2  Diploma B2  (Intermedio)
Avanzado I      B2        “
Avanzado I Alto      B2        “
Avanzado II      C1  Diploma C1
Avanzado II Alto      C1        “
Perfeccionamiento      C2  Diploma C2  (Superior)

On the first day that you begin a Spanish course, there is both a written and an oral placement test.
Lessons will begin on the following morning (generally speaking Tuesday AM)

The main goal of most of our courses is to help our students develop their communicative skills. The best way to accomplish this is to conduct the classes entirely in Spanish and to provide students with plenty of opportunity for oral practice.

This does not mean that other areas are neglected; our students also work on reading and writing skills, grammar and vocabulary.

Language Course Content

Phase 1 – Beginners, Pre-Elementary, Elementary
Students develop basic skills in Spanish grammar, including gender and number nouns, adjective formation, adverbs, adverbial phrases, comparative and superlative, prepositions and the use of “ser” and “estar”.

Present, simple past and future tenses are presented at the appropriate level. Participants express needs and desires surrounding their daily routine and experience as a student in Barcelona. Students learn to identify and to describe people, places and objects in their environment and to express personal opinions in simple concrete language.

Other basic functions of language include: agreeing and disagreeing, asking for help, expressing lack of understanding and asking an interlocutor to repeat or to speak more slowly.Participants develop comprehension of simple written and spoken messages in a variety of media: signs, news highlights, announcements, personal letters, postcards, etc.

Instructors place language in its proper situational context which, at these levels, includes: the classroom, the workplace, the restaurant, the market/supermarket, the travel agency, the bus/subway, a celebration or sporting event, etc.

Phase 2 – Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, Post-Intermediate
In the intermediate levels, students develop an increasingly accurate use of Spanish grammar. Building on work in previous levels, students learn more subtle and idiomatic uses of grammatical forms including contrasting uses of the perfect and imperfect tenses.

Instructors introduce complex verb forms such as the conditional and subjunctive moods for the first time. Students develop an understanding of more complex messages and learn to contribute comments and personal opinions to a conversation, turn taking and other conversational norms.

Participants begin to develop a passive understanding of colloquial phrases and slang. Students also learn to describe their personal experience in greater detail and to narrate events in the past with greater accuracy.

Situations and topics include: the family, making invitations, describing character or personality, relationships, planning a celebration, the movies, asking for advice from friends, family or others, appreciating art and music and looking for a job or apartment.

At this level, instructors begin to introduce more cultural topics and current events in the target language.

Phase 3 – Pre-Advanced, Advanced
The advanced levels provide students with an opportunity to hone their command of Spanish grammar, to develop fluency and to improve pronunciation.

Upon completion of Phase 3, students will have covered the core grammatical syllabus. Students develop greater idiomatic control of the language and begin to understand movies, read literary passages and write advanced texts.

Students develop ability with complex linguistic functions including: inferring opinions from a text or dialogue, arguing a point, recommending or giving advice and instructions and making predictions.

Themes at this level may include idiomatic expressions, relationships, the newspapers and media, contemporary music, theatre and cultural events, etc. Specific topics vary according to the needs and interests of the class.

Phase 4 – Post-Advanced, Proficiency
These are the most advanced grammar and conversation courses offered and the most individualised.

Instructors assess individual needs and design a programme to review complex grammatical forms that students have not fully mastered. As the names suggest, these courses are designed to perfect and polish linguistic ability.

Instructors use a range of media and materials to develop the courses around topics of interest to the participants. Students further develop colloquial conversational ability.

Students and instructors become co-creators of the course programme and work closely on individualised assignments.

Timetable

Group Course Timetable / Monday to Friday, 09.30 to 13.30 hrs, with a twenty-minute break.
Classes 4 hours a day, giving 20 hours a week
Class size 7 average, with a maximum of 10 students

July and August
During the summer, some intensive courses may be scheduled to take place in the afternoons-evenings, from 16.00 to 20.00. If you attend afternoon classes, we have a special social programme of visits and activities that takes place in the mornings.

Private Tuition Timetable
Offered Monday to Friday / Generally in the afternoons
Can be offered in the mornings on request (given sufficient notice)

Spanish Teachers

The Spanish teachers are all university graduates with extensive teaching experience. They have also been specifically trained to teach Spanish as a foreign language, which makes them highly effective when it comes to helping students maximise learning. Many of the teachers work in the Spanish teacher training department. The teaching staff can count on academic support and on-going training under the supervision of the director of studies and with the cooperation of the teacher training department.

The quality of teaching is reinforced through teachers’ meetings, classroom observations and teachers’ workshops. The Spanish teachers and teacher trainers have also been responsible for writing a large number of the best-selling Spanish language text books and other materials, as well as books on teaching methodology. Teacher training is an on-going process. The school organise seminars and training sessions to keep their teachers up-to-date with all the latest developments in language teaching methodology.

Spanish Students in Barcelona

Students come from all over the world to study Spanish at the language school in Barcelona. The majority of them are European, although there are always some Americans studying here. They also have a number of students from Asia (especially Japanese) and even some Brazilians, who come all the way to Barcelona to improve their language skills.

The percentage of students from each country is as follows:

American 13%, Chinese 11%, German 9%, Japanese 7%, British 7%, Italian 7%, Belgian 5%, French 5%, Swiss 3%, Swedish 3% and Russian 3%.

The average age of the Spanish students is 25 to 30 yrs of age, although the school cater for students as young as 17 yrs and as old as 75 yrs. The majority of students are young professional people, who need Spanish to develop their careers. However they also have a large proportion of students who are still full-time students in their own countries as well as an increasing number of people who are simply learning Spanish as a hobby.

The school also offer a popular “Over 50s course” for older students.

Age range of students:
16-20 year olds / 25% (mainly summer courses)
20-30 year olds / 45%
30-40 year olds / 20%
40+ / 10%

Students studying other languages:
The school have a large number of local people studying English in the school, so in places like the bar and our terrace, and at events like the popular weekly Friday Club, there’s plenty of opportunity for you to meet and make friends with Spanish native speakers and to improve your fluency.

Spanish & Catalan

As most people now know, there are two official languages in Cataluña: Spanish (or Castilian) and Catalan. Catalan isn’t a dialect of Spanish; it is a separate language which in many respects is as close to French as it is to Spanish.

The Catalan government has spent a lot of money trying to increase the number of people who speak Catalan. Not surprisingly, some students have written to us asking whether Catalan could interfere with their Spanish studies. The answer is “no”. At our school in Barcelona, we teach Spanish (not Catalan) to our foreign students, and our host families will also speak Spanish (not Catalan) to them.
Students may overhear some conversations in Catalan, but they are equally likely to overhear conversations in English, French or Italian – Barcelona is a very cosmopolitan city!

According to a recent survey, over 67% of the people in Barcelona consider Spanish to be their first language. In small towns and villages Catalan is more widely spoken, but in Barcelona, because of a long history of immigration from other parts of Spain, the dominant language is very definitely Spanish. Most of the television channels currently available broadcast in Spanish, and all the leading newspapers – including those published in Barcelona – are also written in Spanish.

What’s more, everyone in Barcelona automatically uses Spanish to speak to foreign students as they don’t expect them to know any Catalan, so there is very little danger of students being asked to understand anything other than Spanish while they are here.

It is also worth noting that we always ask our students for feedback on every aspect of their course, and in all the years we have been teaching Spanish in Barcelona, not one student has ever complained about Catalan interfering with their studies. In other words, the perceived problem simply doesn’t exist.

Finally, it is also worth bearing in mind that all Catalans are totally bilingual and that they speak Spanish without any noticeable accent. So what Spanish students will hear in Barcelona is in fact much closer to “correct” Castilian Spanish than the Spanish they would hear in some other regions of Spain where Spanish is often spoken with a very strong regional accent.