5 reasons to learn Spanish in Madrid

Join the club. Learn Spanish, a truly global language, only beaten by English and Chinese in numbers of speakers. A gateway to communication with half a billion people, to a massive range of cultures, to a different state of mind. Very well, you will be asking yourself where? Well, Spain obviously. Why? Here in this article, we are going to make the case that your best bet is definitely to learn Spanish in Madrid. Here you have 5 reasons to learn Spanish in Madrid:

1. WHY SPAIN

You might firstly want to take note that according to the HSBC global survey taken in 2019 was ranked as the fourth most desirable place to live in the world. With quality of life and the weather being reasons people gave for scoring Spain so highly, another thing that stands out is that the other countries in this list are much more expensive to live in, places like Switzerland, Canada and Singapore. Conclusion: Spain, the good life, yet affordable.

Secondly, if you’re coming from Europe, then going to Spain is easier to organise, being part of the EU, and cheaper, than crossing the ocean to Latin America. If you’re coming from further afield, then consider that from here Europe lies at your doorstep, once in the EU you can easily visit places like France, Portugal and Italy by train or use this as a starting point for inter-railing. If you’re considering Latin America, you might want to be mindful of regional differences in language, Spanish from Spain is internationally the most recognised and easily understood.

Alright then, why Madrid? To start off with because visitors consistently rank it as highly satisfying, Lonely Planet for instance puts Madrid in second place in 2019 for best place to visit in Europe. In the same vein Time Out magazine picked one of Madrid’s centre neighbourhoods as the “coolest place in the world”.

2. LOCATION

Another reason for choosing Madrid is that it’s the perfect base for visiting the rest of the country as it’s geographically pretty much in the centre.

From here you can go on many day trips, just using the cheap and regular local train network Cercania, you can e.g. visit the birthplace of Cervantes Alcala de Henares, or the mountain village Cercedilla.

A bit further afield with the main rail network RENFE you’ll be able to go on day trips to places like Toledo, Segovia, Avila and Salamanca. If you don’t mind paying a bit more you can use the AVE, the high speed train which can also get you within an hour to places like the amazing Cuenca.

3. CULTURE

Obviously, this is the capital of Spain, and not just any old capital “Madrid is Europe’s sunniest capital, with over 300 days of sunshine per year,” and it is where all of Spain’s varieties of culture can be found in one place.

5 reasons to learn Spanish in Madrid

But also, within a couple of hundred meters from Cronopios Idiomas you will already find the Prado museum, one of Europe’s greatest classical art museums, think Louvre but with better weather and shorter queues. A few minutes further away, you’ll find the Thyssen-Bornemiza museum and if you want to overdose on Dali and Picasso there is the Reina Sofia museum just 5 minutes walk from the school. There are dozens of other museums , loads and loads of art galleries (just go to Doctor Fourquet Street in Lavapies which is lined with them) In fact, go to Lavapies anyway, just to see this wonderful neighbourhood before it’s transformed too much by developers.

4. PEOPLE

Spaniards have flocked to live in Madrid throughout its existence. There are very few true Madrileans, or ‘gatos’, people whose roots go back for centuries here. There has been a great deal of migration to this city over time which can be seen in the sheer number of bars from different regions of Spain.

Just near the school you can find a bar with a Asturias theme, a Galicia theme, an Estremadura theme and so on. What this also attests to is that it is every Spaniard’s dream to open a bar one day, and many of them clearly succeed. As the saying goes, nobody is from Madrid, therefore everybody can be from Madrid. And for that reason people really are very welcoming, whether in their local bar or in other situations.

5. FOOD

One of the biggest reasons you might also consider coming here is the food. You might find similar quality in Barcelona, but the variety at prices that just can’t be beat in other cities. As said, Madrid is the city where people from everywhere else in Spain have moved to over time, and consistently people from the regions have brought their cuisine with them and have opened restaurants and bars serving dishes from back home.

This makes it possible to sample all of the traditional cooking of every region of Spain without having to leave the city, often even the neighbourhood. Another thing to watch out for is that there are still places that hand out generous free tapas with every drink that you order, just search online for lists of places. This often comes as a surprise to visitors but it is perfectly possible to eat your fill for free just by ordering a few rounds of drinks.

All things considered we hope we’ve made the point here that to learn Spanish in Madrid, is in many ways an excellent idea!

Come to our Spanish school by bicycle

Some of our students come to our Spanish school by bicycle. Madrid has its own public bicycle scheme called biciMAD, it’s not particularly expensive, but more for incidental use, and it’s not always easy for foreigners to use because of registration issues and accepting foreign bank cards. Instead getting a second hand bike is your best bet, there are a range of shops in town, often cheapest is to use a website like eBay or Wallapop.

Come to our Spanish school by bicycle

Admittedly cycling in Madrid is not ideal if you live further afield because of the heavy traffic in the large multi lane roads between the ‘manzanas’, but in the centre it’s actually very useful, better than public transport because of the narrow streets and the unevenly distributed metro routes.

One really nice thing to try is the bike route along the river, where there used to be a highway there is now a lovely park, with a great bike path! Cycle along the river down south and visit one of Madrid’s most overlooked attractions, the amazing Matadero centre.

Trying to be trendy and having a fixie or an old Dutch style bike is not the most practical for cycling in Madrid, to take on the hills and valleys that do exist around town make sure you get one with a good number of gears, more than 3 at least. In terms of economics, if you ride your bike every day to the school, and perhaps a couple of further trips on the weekends instead of using public transport, and you have paid 150 Euro for a decent bike, then after a couple of months you will have already recuperated your investment. The pay-off though in terms of exercise, experiencing street life, and generating loads of happy brain chemicals is of course priceless!

CCSE exam

The CCSE exam is a test prepared by the Cervantes Institute that assesses whether you have enough knowledge about society, culture and the Constitution. The exam is one of the legal requirements that you need if you want to get te Spanish nationality. CCSE are the initials of Conocimientos Constitucionales y Socioculturales de España.

CCSE exam

Who can take the CCSE exam?

All people of any nationality over 18 years old and resident in Spain, as well as Sephardim originating from Spain who want to regain their nationality regardless of their country of residence.

How is the exam?

It is a multiple choice test of 25 questions in total divided into 5 tasks that separate the different aspects on which you will have to answer. Most of the questions have 3 closed answer options and others have a true / false option. Some typical questions of the exam are, for example: How many autonomous communities are there in Spain? What is the minimum age to vote? Who is the head of state? What is the name of the climate of the Canary Islands? What is the profession of Pedro Almodóvar? He is a soccer player, a director or a virologist.

In the task number one there are ten questions about the laws, the government and the processes of citizen participation. In the task number two there are three questions about the rights and duties of Spanish citizens. In the task number three there are two questions about the territorial organization and geographic distribution. In the task number four there are two questions about cultural aspects. Finally, in the task five there are seven questions about some aspects of administrative life and elements of daily life.

You have 45 minutes to complete the test, and to pass it you must have fifteen correct anwers, that is the 60% of the test. On the website of the Instituto Cervantes, in the exams section, there are official models of the CCSE exam that you can do to practice, so it will be very easy for you to prepare it. It is not a difficult exam or too specific, you only need to have some basic knowledge.

Where can I take the CCSE exam?

In the main cities of North and South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania, Europe and the Middle East, at the Instituto Cervantes centers, universities, public or private institutions and associated centers of the Instituto Cervantes. For example, in the community of Madrid there are 25 accredited centers where taking the exam, including our school: Cronopios Idiomas. On the Instituto Cervantes website there is a search engine for centers by countries, regions and areas where you can find the center that suits you best.

When can I take the exam?

In normal circunstances, the CCSE exam to obtain Spanish nationality is on the last Thursday of each month in double calle, that is, two exams a month, one at 6:00 p.m. and another at 8:00 p.m., but due to the situation that we are living through the pandemic, until November 2020, there will be tests on the second and last Thursdays. For the same reason, these calls can be extended during 2021 or change, so it is convenient that you visit the official website of the Instituto Cervantes where they update any changes that occur. An important fact: in August and December there are no CCSE exam.

What is the cost of the exam?

Registration for the CCSE exam costs 85 euros, and with this registration you have the right to take the exam a maximum of two times. You have to make the registration and payment through the website of the Instituto Cervantes. Once you register, you receive an updated test preparation manual and an exam template.

Frequent questions

Can I take the test if I am under 18 years old?

Yes you can, but in this case you have to register under the guardianship of parents, guardians or legal representatives.

What documentation do I need to present on the day of the exam?

Apart from the exam registration receipt, the documentation varies depending on the nature of the candidate. For example, if you are from a Member State of the European Union or you are from Sephardic origin, you need the passport or official identity document of your country of origin; If you apply for Spanish nationality by residence, the valid official passport; if you are a refugee, the TIE (foreigner identification card); if you are stateless, the TIE and a document that proves your condition.

Can I take the exam if my passport has expired?

You can take the exam if your passport is expired as long as it is in an extension status and has an official seal from the corresponding consulate or embassy that proves that extension is valid at the time of taking the exam.

Can I take the exam if I am five minutes late?

We ask you to arrive in time for the exam, as explained in your exam session. In general it is necessary that you arrive half an hour before the exam time. If you have a problem, you can enter the exam room for up to 15 minutes after the start . You cannot leave the exam room until 15 minutes after the start, even if you finished earlier.

When and how can I find out the results of the exam?

The results of the CCSE exam to obtain Spanish nationality will be communicated about 20 days after the test. You can access them through the web page where you registered by entering your username and password. There it will appear SUITABLE / NOT SUITABLE or NOT PRESENTED. In any case, on the day of the exam you will be provided with a document detailing all this information.

Can I take the test if I have a learning disability or disability?

Of course, yes, there are facilities for candidates with any type of visual or hearing disability, candidates with reduced mobility and candidates with a learning problem such as dyslexia and even candidates who cannot read or write by filling in a form to access be special measures.

Spanish courses for level B2

Levels B1 and B2 represent the intermediate stage of mastery or independent use of the language, a fundamental stage in the consolidation of the language, with level B2 being the last before the level C1. B2 is where students achieve a sufficient range of linguistic and non-linguistic resources to participate in communicative exchanges with a degree of precision, fluency and naturalness so that their interlocutors do not have to make any particular effort. In addition, they acquire an awareness of the language that allows them to avoid mistakes that give rise to misunderstandings and to avoid situations of ambiguity. Spanish courses for level B2 involve the consolidation phase of the language, not only at a linguistic and communicative level but also as an intercultural speaker, autonomous learner and social agent, which is why Spanish courses for level B2 are fundamental in our journey of Spanish as a foreign language. Choosing a Spanish course well for level B2 is the key to success to close the door of the grammatical, lexical and basic functional content of Spanish and open, in turn, the mastery and perfection that level C supposes.

Objectives of Spanish courses for level B2

As we have explained previously, level B2 or advanced level is the last step before starting the higher level and mastery of C1 and C2, a level at which the student already enjoys sufficient linguistic independence thanks to its wide lexical range and functional, as well as an optimal control of the grammatical basis of the language.

The objectives of a B2 level Spanish course will be aimed at consolidating the Spanish language in all its aspects. This consolidation will allow the student to function in any ordinary transaction of their daily life. We must not forget that, in addition to the linguistic and functional contents of a language, we have fundamental cultural issues that the student must also learn. In this sense, the objectives of a B2 level contemplate the awareness of the student of cultural diversity, accept this diversity and take advantage of it as a source of knowledge, in addition to strengthening their motivations, their sensitivity and openness towards other cultures, in particular towards that of the Hispanic countries. This content is very important in the development of the student’s daily life, who will have to deal with complex and delicate intercultural situations. Cultural or intercultural errors often lead to very unpleasant situations that we have to avoid in class.

Spanish courses for level B2

Last but not least, a fundamental objective of a B2 level Spanish course must seek to strengthen the student’s autonomy. The student must consciously and autonomously manage their own learning of Spanish, develop their own strategies and exercise conscious control over the affective factors that influence the language learning process.

As we can see, the objectives of a B2 level course are many and important. Achieving them will be essential in the consolidation of the language by the student; the role of the teacher, together with the characteristics and programming of the course, will play a fundamental role in achieving these objectives.

The grammar level in our B2 Spanish courses

We have previously described the objectives of a B2 Spanish course and it seems that we have tiptoed over the grammar issue. Grammar is of basic importance at this level, since it will be in B2 where the student completes their grammatical study of Spanish, not only in terms of studying verb tenses, but also, and almost more importantly, their use.

The review of previous grammatical contents, such as the past tenses, together with an in-depth study of all the subordination in Spanish will be two of the fundamental points of the grammar program of the level. Within this subordination our beloved subjunctive plays a basic role. The student will study the rest of the verb tenses of the subjunctive mood and their use within subordinate sentences: the conditional, concessive or relative ones will be grammatical content at this level.

How is grammar approached in a B2 level of Spanish? In the same way as in the rest of the levels: always in a communicative, functional and relevant way. Grammar is the gear that sets communication in motion together with the lexical component. In our B2 level Spanish courses, grammar always fulfills a communicative function, a function that occurs within real and pertinent contexts for the student. In this way, not only a greater motivation is achieved on the part of the student, but the grammar is assimilated in a more effective and adequate way.

The communication in the B2 level

Communication at a B2 level of Spanish is like a goal in a soccer game: it is our primary objective. You only learn a language by speaking, so communicating and putting everything studied in class into operation in that communication is the only way to learn a language. All objectives and grammar specified above are always communication oriented.

Asking, giving advice or reacting, transmitting what others have said, expressing opinions, agreement and disagreement or narrating events and events from the past are just some of the functions that communication will be aimed at at a B2 level of Spanish.

The linguistic tools that the student has at this level are greater than those of the same student at lower levels, with which, we must take advantage of this circumstance to always favor interaction on the part of our students. The teacher must always favor communication in the classroom. The class manual and academic programming will help us, in turn, to motivate the student with topics that are appropriate, pertinent and close to their reality.

What kind of activities will be done in B2 courses?

All the activities and exercises that we carry out in the Spanish courses for level B2 will have as objective communication, pertinent, real communication and adapted to the linguistic and functional contents of the level, starting from our approach by tasks.

Thus, when we study the relative sentences the student will have to simulate the purchase of a grammar book using indicative or subjunctive, depending on the idea of that object that he has in mind. Carrying out this real communicative exchange, which you may need in your day-to-day life, puts the studied grammar, lexical resources and functions into operation. In addition, these activities will be carried out in pairs or in a group which will help, in turn, to the cohesion of the same.

Other exercises at level B2 will have important playful elements that will help the assimilation of what has been studied, For example, the realization of the game called pasapalabra in groups or pairs to review relative sentences with prepositions or the description of the ideal boss or couple in which The student must use the perfect past subjunctive or the compound infinitive, together with the appropriate lexical resources. Both activities contain healthy play and competition elements that promote learning and group cohesion.

How do I know if I have a B2 level?

The best way is to come to our school, get to know it and take the placement test that we have, in addition, our coordinator or one of our teachers will chat with you for a little while to corroborate this level.These leveling tools are fairly accurate, though not perfect, and give us a true X-ray of the students’ level.

However, if once in the classroom you think that your level is higher or lower there is no problem of any kind. We have absolute flexibility to respond to student needs, so come on and visit us!Achieving level B2 is at your fingertips!

Communicative Spanish classes

Learning Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country is a fantastic opportunity to practice directly with native speakers. It is recommended to combine a stay in Madrid with communicative Spanish classes. Many ELE students come to the classroom with a fairly good grammatical level but very limited oral expression, because they have hardly had the opportunity to speak to people whose mother tongue is Spanish.

What is a communicative approach in Spanish?

Although many language methods focus their efforts on the ‘what’, which is very important, it is useless if it is not related to a ‘for what’. For this reason, our communicative Spanish classes always end with an interactive activity where students can practice the contents explained that day to a real situation. And this is the way from the first day of classes.

How can someone communicate in Spanish when they barely know three words? It seems impossible, right? Well, there is no greater satisfaction for a teacher than seeing the happy face of their students when they discover that they can already spell their names thanks to a simple game after their first lesson. A little interaction and our students will believe they are the kings of the world!

This is the magic of the communicative approach that we believe in as teachers and that we try to put into practice in all of our Spanish classes. Does this mean that grammatical rules are not learned? Grammar is essential, but we prefer that the student knows at all times why they are going to need a specific content. After all, language is an instrument created with one objective: to communicate.

Communicative Spanish classes

And how can we make our classes more communicative? My maxim is that we should take every opportunity for students to interact with each other, especially if one is shy and feels more insecure when speaking directly in front of others. Even in a boring or traditional activities, I try to have a minimum of oral exchange between them. For example, a simple “compare the answers with your partner” after an exercise already forces them, however little, to use Spanish for a communicative purpose. I think that I have not done a good job if all the students have not produced their own phrases during the Spanish classes.

What are you going to learn?

Any excuse is good to make our students speak Spanish, and getting it done successfully depends on well-designed activities. One of the dynamics preferred by my students, and that gives me very good results, is the phrase auction, a fun way to review grammar and vocabulary content before an exam, and ideal for any level. It is an individual or team competition in which you have to buy some sentences that the teacher writes on the board; But buying them is not easy: you have to guess if they are correct or not and, in this case, correct them properly. Simulating the procedure of a traditional auction, students have to bid with “imaginary money” to get the option to buy sentences. If you not find the mistakes in the sentences, you lose the money. The competitive factor is usually infallible and is a motivation for Spanish students to be encouraged to participate. In addition, it is not only useful to review specific content, but also to re-practice the high numbers that, at times, cost so much, or even develop strategies to justify your decision. This is the perfect example of how even a task as initially boring as the final review can be turned into a fun communicative activity.

One of the activities to practice the pasts in Spanish is the “battleship” game using verbs instead of letters and numbers to find the ships. This is a great way to repeat the forms and assimilate them without realizing it because you are playing, what you want is to beat your partner and you forget that you are practicing verbs.

Without thinking much about the form and more about the context, for the pasado perfecto, we can play at asking questions about implausible actions to find out the experiences that each one has had in her life. For example, if we use the question “have you ever …?” but with absurd situations, it is more fun: Have you ever flirted in a bar? Have you ever traveled alone? Have you ever missed a plane?

For the pasado indefinido, it’s a lot of fun to play tricky trivia games with group response options and compete with the opposing group. For example, if there is a student from South Korea and another from Italy, questions of this type can be asked: When was the Olympic Games in Seoul ?, when was the last time that Italy won a World Cup ?, etc. This game can be repeated with the past tense with the same type of questions such as: What was the name of the first woman president of South Korea ?, who was Julius Caesar ?, etc.

Obviously, the higher levels have fewer limitations and allow the design of more ambitious communicative Spanish classes. Role plays are ideal from B1, when students have a higher vocabulary and greater improvisation capacity. The idea of ​​playing a different character from us is always attractive (since we are children we like to dress up) and provides extra motivation that can make students lose their fear of speaking. They are very grateful activities to put into practice colloquial expressions learned in class and improve intonation and pronunciation.
For example, to practice feeling verbs with a subjunctive, I use an activity based on the famous reality show Big Brother, where several strangers live together in a house. I give each student a character with a personality and they must act according to them. Once the situations are resolved, they must tell which partner they want to expel from the house and their reasons. An example: “I nominate Angel because I can’t stand him snoring at night”.

Of course, to get the most out of the communicative Spanish classes, participating in our cultural activities, socializing outside of school and speaking with natives are the best.

Madrid life in all its glorious Madridness

This post is part of our series on places to have a drink as well as the series on bookshops. This time’s recommendation is perhaps not so close to the school, but what a great place it is. A slightly eccentric bohemian champañería (champagne bar) with poetry readings and spectacular sunsets with a view over the Casa de Campo. Go here to ponder on Madrid life in all its glorious Madridness

Café Cultural María Pandora: Plaza de Gabriel Miró 1, Madrid.

This bar is located on the edge of the oldest part of the city, just by the Segovia Viaduct that leads up to the royal palace. Here the higher ground of the La Latina district ends and slopes down steeply towards the river plain below. Because there are no further buildings in the way, only a small park, the bar offers a beautiful view westwards over the Casa de Campo and the mountains beyond. Be sure to find out what time the sun sets, once you get there get a table next to one of the open French windows, order a couple of flutes of champagne and spend a moment realizing that this is the kind of thing you came to Spain for.

The walls here are lined with book cases with second hand and even antique Spanish books, if you find something you like they are actually for sale, and so, as with other places recommended in this blog, you can have a drink or two here and feel good about yourself because you can come home with more literature for practising your Spanish! They don’t really have their own kitchen but if you book ahead you can get food ordered from La Tabernería restaurant nearby and it will be brought to your table for you. Apart from poetry readings, there are also book presentations, photo and painting exhibitions as well as the occasional music performance.

Madrid life in all its glorious Madridness

La Violetera

Even though as said the royal palace is nearby, this little area has plenty to make it a really interesting place to explore in its own right. If you want to wander around a bit before the sun goes down, you’re in the neighbourhood called the Moreria, where the old Muslim quarter was once located. From here it’s just a minute walk to the one place where the original city walls built by Muhammad I of Córdoba in the 9th century are still visible. You also have the Vistillas park right outside the door, where you’ll come across the iconic Violetera statue, dedicated to a famous romantic song about a flower selling girl. Look it up after you’ve come home in case the whole experience actually hasn’t made you feel lovey dovey enough, the lyrics make for a fascinating view into the amorous Madrilean soul.

Juegos para practicar español en nivel A1

Games to learn Spanish in level A1

The new way to learn Spanish through playing

Playing is fashionable. It is increasingly common to find playful elements in apparently unrelated contexts (perhaps the clearest examples being the world of marketing and business), and words like gambling or serious games are on everyone’s lips. Teaching foreign languages is an ideal field for the application of some of these approaches, so in this entry we will talk about some games to learn Spanish in level A1.

Is it easy to learn Spanish with games?

We humans like to play. Disciplines such as psychology and anthropology have demonstrated the importance of the recreational dimension in the development of culture. According to the experts, when we play, as when we dedicate ourselves to everything that we are passionate about, time passes without us hardly noticing, because we have entered into a situation of perfect balance. For this to happen, however, a number of conditions need to be met, such as the rules being clear, the difficulty of the challenge we are facing being right and a precise objective being set. If these circumstances are met, there is no doubt that learning Spanish by playing is one of the best ways to do so.

Games to practice Spanish in level A1

Why do you learn Spanish better through playing?

Playing is one of the purest forms of learning that exists, as it basically consists of understanding a series of rules and getting the most out of them. There are many similarities between the playful and the educational process, so the use of games in the learning of second languages is especially appropriate. For example, it is possible to play games alone, and also to learn a language, but it is certainly more satisfying to do so together with others. On the other hand, we learn by solving problem situations, and what is a game if not a big problem that we have to solve in order to be successful? We could also say that, in the two processes we are talking about, participants learn by doing; or that making mistakes is something not only natural, but necessary when it comes to perfecting our skills either as students or players. For all these reasons and others, Cronopios Idiomas strongly recommends the use of games to learn Spanish in level A1.

Some of our favorite games to learn Spanish

Below we show you some of the game titles that we like the most to learn Spanish and that we use the most in our classes:

Game 1 – Dobble

With millions of units sold worldwide, Dobble is undoubtedly one of the most popular card games around. The rules are very simple: participants must quickly find the only image that repeats between two cards with multiple figures and say it out loud before the others. Always according to this premise, there are four different game modes. The fact that it is so easy to understand makes it one of the best games for practising Spanish in level A1 (Games to practice/for practising Spanish in level A1), since with it you can work on your vocabulary and pronunciation almost from the first day of class. Due to its small size and its more than affordable price (around 15 euros), it is also ideal for students to learn Spanish by playing outside the classroom.

Game 2 – Dixit

Another classic, winner of multiple awards, including Game of the Year in 2010. The rules are also very simple: in Dixit, each participant receives a series of cards with quite surreal illustrations (some of them true works of art) that can be interpreted in very different ways. In each round there will be a storyteller, who will have to choose one of his cards and think of a phrase (it can be just one word) inspired by the image that appears on it; this card is then mixed with others, and the rest of the players will have to guess which one of them is the one the storyteller used to build his phrase. But be careful: it is important that it is not too easy or too difficult, because if all the players (or none of them) get it right, all of them will score points except the storyteller. The favourite of the most creative students, Dixit is a point of reference when it comes to learning Spanish with games.

Game 3 – Duplik3

And we end up with what is probably the least known of the three, but has already become one of our favorite games to learn Spanish: Duplik, perfect for practicing description and reviewing contents towards the end of level A1. One of the participants takes a card and describes the image on it as accurately as possible, while the rest try to draw it before time expires. Then the secret requirements of the image are revealed: details that have to appear both in the description and in the drawing (for example, if there is a person: how is his hair, what position is he in, what kind of clothes is he wearing, are his eyes closed or open, is he looking left, right or straight ahead…). For each requirement fulfilled, both the narrator and the cartoonist will earn one point. Don’t worry if the visual arts are not your strong point: in Duplik it’s not the quality of the drawing that matters, but the elements that appear in it, and a scribble can beat a Velázquez painting. That is why, as the manufacturer himself says, it is the drawing game for those who cannot draw.

Reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course

Reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course

Learning Spanish is becoming more and more popular these days, as well as combining the learning activity with the experience of living in a Spanish speaking country. So as opposed to say, using an online app or private lessons or just learning from people around you, to get the most out of a stay abroad with the most opportunities for exposure to the language, an Intensive Spanish course is the way to go for the most effective and enjoyable language learning experience. In this article we’ll set out some reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course.

1. It’s cost effective. Private lessons are unfortunately expensive, and instead in a group you get more hours for your money. Furthermore, as it is several hours every weekday that you’re doing this, as more of your day is taken up being consistently exposed to the language and concentrated on exercising what you learn, you are really immersed in the language learning experience, and it shows that this is a highly effective way to learn and retain the language.

One on one lessons are for covering specific needs students might have, or if there is a clear goal; for instance preparing for a job interview or preparations for an official language exam such as those required to get into Spanish universities. Another reason might be that a student feels that she/he is not able to get the hang of a particular aspect of the language, such as the verbs past tenses for example.

If the goal is to generally raise your language skills though, then an intensive Spanish course is definitely the best approach, if you have specific requirements then one on one lessons may be more appropriate. At Cronopios we can offer you both intensive courses and one on one lessons, it is possible to take these separately, for instance by taking our Intensive 20 hours course. We also offer a combined package, Intensive 22 hours, which includes 2 hours of one on one lessons per week with one of our teachers. As said, we also offer separate one on one lessons, as well as officially recognised tailor made preparation courses for all the official exams that exist in Spain, DELE, SIELE and the CCSE.

2. You have the all the advantages of group study; participation offers the possibility of interaction with other students, to practice, to make connections, etc. You learn from each other’s mistakes, not just your own. You get to work on practicing realistic situations, not just with the same single person but with different people.

Reasons to do an Intensive Spanish Course

You also get to practice more conversations as this is central to group lessons. You are with people who are at your level, this may be obvious, but you’ll find that these are the people you will at first by far be the most comfortable having conversations with. If speaking Spanish to others is a hurdle for you, then this in particular is a real god-send.

3. The school provides a base, a home away from home, facilities, and helpful staff, for everything that you might need in terms of advice and support. Being new in a country can be quite tough, we see it often that people find being in a new country with a different culture where even English isn’t always widely spoken a bit intense. Doing everything from finding your way, building up a social network, to getting yourself organised in general can be daunting on your own. Instead a language course provides not only the language and the instant contact with others in a similar position to yours but also a daily rhythm, structure as well as content.

4. The school runs a daily activities programme for exploring social and cultural aspects of the city, for instance visiting a museum and then going for a drink with everyone. This is also ideal for practicing your Spanish outside the classroom but still with your classmates. And you will find that not only do you get to know Spanish culture through the teacher, the text book, the social/cultural activities every weekday evening, but also you’ll get exposed to the cultures of your classmates. Typically at Cronopios Idiomas, as we’ve consciously decided not to focus on attracting one type of student only, you will be in a group with people from all over the world.

5. And finally we would say, do it for the memories! Do it for going through personal growth as you experience an intense and full on new life. Do it for the bonds you create with people from all over the world, for the friendships that only occur when you’re living life to the full together with others.

The Cuesta de Moyano book market

The Cuesta de Moyano book market

What is there not to love: with its back against the botanical gardens, little old wooden cabins stuffed to the rafters with books on every theme you can imagine, from 19th century erotic prints to a first edition of Harry Potter in English. Located on a sloping pedestrian street which leads from the Retiro to Atocha station, the Cuesta de Moyano book market, though perhaps not as ancient as the Rastro market in Lavapies, has existed here for a century.

The Cuesta de Moyano book market

You could spend an entire afternoon browsing here, taking your time to just enjoy the quiet atmosphere. Because that’s what this place is all about, a place where little changes, an oasis of tranquillity in the eye of the storm that is Madrid with its traffic and flowing currents of people.

Each of the booths has its speciality, even though most of them have a general literature section as well. Some of the specialities include a focus on Latin American authors whose works cannot be found elsewhere in Spain in booth 17, or booth 27 focusses on books published 50 years ago or more, whereas booth 16 has specialized in books with strange and funny covers. The market also hosts many cultural events, to see what’s on these days, to know more about each booth’s speciality or even to see interviews with the shop owners, see here.

For those in doubt about the ruinous effect of literature, starting from the market you can cross Calle de Alfonso XII and enter the Retiro park through the Puerta del Angel Caido. Here you proceed up the hill to a height of 666 meters above sea level (fact!), which is no coincidence because here you’ll find the only statue of the devil in a European capital, a dramatic statue of Lucifer crowning the so-called fountain of the fallen angel. Find a bench here to sit with your new book and contemplate on the strangeness of life. Whether on your lunch break or after class, the Cuesta de Moyano book market is a little gem of a place less than 5 minutes walk from the school and deserves an unhurried visit.

Ode to a local bar in Madrid

This is our second post on places to go to eat or drink closeby to the school. This is an ode to a local bar in Madrid.

This bar will not feature in any guide, it won’t become a lonely planet hotspot or feature in a New York times article entitled something like ‘If you visit only one bar in Madrid’… It’s what might be known in England as your local, or in the US as a diner. But it’s in Spain and as such it is neither of these things, it’s a ‘cutre bar’ and we love it dearly. Newcomers to Spain may be confused by the napkins on the floor, that is until they find out that this is actually a custom, some other countries’ traditional bars have sawdust on the ground, here people throw napkins on the floor. Some, now equipped with the knowledge that this is normal might find themselves still confused, I find it endearing. It makes the place look well used, not flawless and sterile but much frequented and visited daily.

Becoming a regular, it turns out doesn’t require coming there for years, but a week or so before you get greeted when entering, and soon afterwards you don’t even have to order anymore, they’ll know what you want. Without fail this should be a ‘cortado’ (you may know this one by now as the big chains are starting to market it as they’ve run out of new Italian names) and always, a ‘pincho de tortilla.’

You don’t need to pretend to know much about tortillas, nor that our opinion will count for much in the controversial tortilla debates (ok ok, -with- onion, the potato -finely- chopped, and all very lightly fried) but theirs is the best. No, really, it is just the best. At least one of our students goes there every single day for his second breakfast and so eats their tortilla every day of the week, and claims to still relish the moment his break arrives and he can rush over there and tuck in.

Ode to a local bar in Madrid

Another plus for him is that visiting the place so often has resulted in him being able to practice his Spanish in an environment that is now familiar to him, where the people know him and are always patient with his grammar and pronunciation. We always recommend people to use this approach; become a regular somewhere, invariably it proves to be really rewarding!

Restaurante Leyga – Calle Alberto Bosch, 7, 28014, Madrid