13 Oct Master Spanish at the Top 5 Language Academies in Madrid
Congratulations and welcome to Madrid! I see that you've decided to embark on a journey to learn Spanish. A wise choice considering that, at present, over 41 million people in the United States habla español en casa. Professionally, Spanish bilingualism is in hot demand!
Luckily, Madrid is home to 23 Spanish language academies that are officially accredited by the Instituto Cervantes. These schools can provide the structured support you need to reach those language goals. But with so many options, how will you ever decide which is the best fit for you?
By all means, have a look at the official Instituto Cervantes search engine. (Note: the information isn´t always up-to-date … welcome to Spain!) Or instead, you can choose to spend hours sifting through websites and online reviews. But, if you're smart, you'll skip the hassle and take the advice of the many madrileños that came before you because here's a list of the Top 5 Language Academies in Madrid!
The Best Schools to Learn Spanish in Madrid
5. Escuela Oficial de Idiomas
The Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (EOI) is a system of 25 state-run language schools that offers quality classes on a budget, and not only in Spanish. The centers teach 22 other languages as well including English, Catalan, German, French, and Portuguese! (But obviously Spanish is the most important, duh). Even though class sizes are significantly larger than other academies (around 20 students per class), past participants rave about the effectiveness of the course in relation to the bang for their buck. But please, serious candidates only. The program is so popular that you will lose your spot to someone on the waiting list if you habitually fail to get your butt to class!
All certified academies differentiate classes by language proficiency (A1/2, B1/2, C1/2), the EOI included. However, while most other programs – including the next four on this list - offer rolling admission and different types of courses depending on specializations, interests, and desired duration, the EOI keeps it simple with only two choices (269€):
- Option 1) The quarterly course spans either October- February OR February-June. 2-3 hour classes are held 4-5 times a week.
- Option 2) The yearly course runs from October to June. 2-3 hour classes are held 2-4 times a week.
If this sounds like your cup of tea, plan ahead! You may ONLY register for the program in September or January. Check the website and contact the branches closest to your piso to inquire about the levels and time slots available. Be warned, you will need to jump through at least four different hoops with paperwork, etc. Spain literally loves making protocol as complicated as possible.
4. Tandem Escuela International
Founded in 1982, Tandem is a versatile company that offers both traditional and adventurous classes in Spanish, English, and German for a variety of age ranges. Feeling a little sassy? Select the “Spanish with a Passion” course and learn Spanish alongside wine, flamenco, art, or Spanish film. Nobody will be falling asleep in these classes, guaranteed. Added bonus: the building itself is a gem – I mean, who wouldn´t want to have class in a 19th-century mansion with ornate doors, stained glass windows, an adorable little courtyard? And not to mention that it is steps away from the stunning Neptune fountain and world-famous Prado Museum. Tandem takes advantage of such wonderful proximities by organizing four, free cultural events per week such as a museum tours.
Note from the author:
I signed up for a two-week, 40-hour intensive course (395€) upon my arrival in Madrid and continued with bi-weekly classes (240€) for eight weeks thereafter. Gemma and Javier were both excellent teachers and emphasized conversational practice. We reviewed verb tenses while discussing dating culture, restaurant and apartment lingo, cultural values, and more. Finally – phrases I can use! What a happy departure from the ridiculous sentences we memorized in high school. (Remember those days? El gato bebe leche … I mean, come on).
3. Academia Contacto
Opened since 2001, Academia Contacto´s courses are pretty straightforward: three main options dedicate either 5, 10, or 20 hours per week to group classes. And in case you happen to be one of those overachieving types, you may add additional hours per week in exam preparation, conversation practice, or even a ¨Bildungsurlaub¨ which incorporates discussions of literature, film, and social-political topics – um, sounds amazing. Apparently, the strange name signifies that the class complies with German standards for foreign languages.
Of course, Academia offers the typical small class sizes and cultural outings and excursions; however, in addition, they offer an internship option – oo la la. This particular course requires four hours of Spanish classes in the morning and then four hours in the afternoon working at the assigned Spanish company. Granted, you may need a few espressos to get you through the long days, but what an amazing way to learn Spanish in Madrid and emerge yourself into the community!
2. AIL Madrid – Locos Por El Español!
AIL is located near the stunning Retiro Park in the desirable Salamanca neighborhood. (If you are not already aware – Retiro is the best!) With 11 years of experience, this academy offers 24 different courses and allows for open enrollment, so you can begin whichever Monday suits your fancy. Similar to other successful academies, AIL also plans extra-curricular outings and activities for students – 60 different and exciting events that rotate each week. And an added bonus, the common area has couches, so you can check Instagram in comfort. (#ilovespain #learnspanish #winning).
AIL testimonials are overwhelmingly positive on the Madrid Expat Facebook group, citing teacher enthusiasm, engaging lessons, and real-world applications. And finally, AIL´s call to fame is that they are ¨the only Spanish school in Madrid to make up all group and private classes, as well as activities, missed due to public holidays¨ which you think would be a given… but I guess not. So go, AIL
1. LAE Madrid – La Adventura Española
Finally, the top dog! At first glance, La Adventura Española seems pretty standard, it´s true. Similar to predecessors in spots #2-#4, LAE offers Spanish courses with small class sizes that cater to different levels, interests, and durations; housing arrangements for those seeking an immersion experience; and regular cultural outings. And the building is located downtown in an equally trendy neighborhood close to restaurant and local shops. So, what´s the big deal?
For starters, the program offers a 10% discount to students with Youth Cards and occasionally offers a 20% discount for referral bonuses. In addition, unlike the competition, LAE has an absentee reprieve and allows two, make-up sessions. How kind! And it is worth noting that the building is renovated with a sleek modern design and students have access to a common area, a kitchen, and even free fruit.
Wait, free fruit? Not sold yet, well … you should be.
Although LAE is a relatively new academy, established in 2013, the school is a wildly popular place to learn Spanish. Seriously, 153 reviews via Google and a 5.0-star rating!? At first, I was suspicious and thought the company was offering ice cream or something as an incentive. (What wouldn´t I do for a Klondike bar?) But, no, everyone I spoke to about their experience with this company was truly that impressed.
¨In this school, it is so easy to integrate and feel as a member of a vibrant and active team. Every day is a different experience, that you don’t want to end. Loved it!¨ - Ioulia Kontopoulou
¨I had an absolutely amazing experience studying Spanish at LAE Madrid. The class size of 6 students was perfect & it was lovely learning alongside people from all over the world..¨ - Harriett Johnson
¨ If you're looking to learn Spanish at a super fun environment, then this is the school for you. I'm so thankful that I chose this school over the others. My Spanish improved a great deal during my time here.¨ - Kimya Payami
So, bravo LAE. Carry on.
And … that´s a wrap.
What are you waiting for? With so many great options, you can´t go wrong. Chose the lucky winner, grab your notebooks, and learn Spanish! Remember to participate as much as possible, even if you initially feel foolish. Always do your homework and continue studying between classes outside of the academy. And before you know it, estarás hablando español como un nativo. Buena Suerte!