Can I become fluent in Spanish in a year?

These days, more and more people all around the world want to learn Spanish.  Our language is 471.4 million people’s mother tongue, only behind Mandarin Chinese, and it’s the official language in 21 different countries, as well as having a very strong presence in countries like the United States. Every year, thousands of students arrive in Spain or Latin America with the intention of learning through immersion, and many of them pose the same question to teachers and experts: Can I become fluent in Spanish in a year? In this entry of our blog we’ll try to give an answer to that (spoiler: it’s not a resounding “yes” or “no”).

First of all, let’s state something that may seem obvious, but in our experience not everyone seems to fully understand: learning any language is a complex process and, as such, it requires work. Immersion is an excellent method to acquire a new language, and it’s been proved to be effective. But for it to be effective, the learners must make an effort to put themselves in a situation where learning can actually happen. This can be done in many different ways: by taking lessons with professional teachers at schools like Cronopios Idiomas, or interacting with locals in everyday scenarios, or maybe watching shows and movies that reflect the culture (or, ideally, a combination of them all). However, all these things take time and dedication. Living in a Spanish-speaking country is a great start, and maybe you could eventually learn the language just by listening and observing, but if you don’t want it to be an extremely long and slow process you must actively look for opportunities to study and practice. The good news is: it’s up to you! If you are really determined to pick up Spanish and you put in the work, you will see the results and will be encouraged to continue. Don’t give up even if it’s hard at the beginning!

Can I become fluent in Spanish in a year?

Madrid, a good place to learn Spanish

Now, although everyone should apply themselves if they want to become fluent in Spanish in a year, it’s true that this process may be a bit easier for some people than for others. For example, those students who already speak another language from the same family as Spanish (the other major romance languages are Italian, Portuguese, Romanian and French) will probably experience less difficulties understanding the grammar or assimilating the vocabulary due to the similarities between both languages. This, however, can become a double-edged sword: the fact that they are sometimes able to communicate and be understood even using words from their own native language may cause students to feel overconfident and end up speaking a mix of Spanish and some other language (Itañol and portuñol are famous examples) that can be functional at times but probably won’t be enough to get a job or access university.  At the same time, learners whose mother tongue is completely different than Spanish (most Asians, for instance) and don’t speak a second language will traditionally struggle a bit more, especially at the beginning, and can easily get frustrated when they see other classmates progress at a faster pace. There’s nothing wrong with that: all they need to do is to apply themselves and be patient: it’s not how fast you learn, but how strong your foundation is. Once you get the fundamentals, no matter how long it takes, everything will be easier and you will be motivated to advance. So don’t be afraid to ask, repeat and make mistakes: all three are essential parts of a proper learning process.

It’s also true, even in the case of students who come from the same country, that every person is differently gifted: according to Harvard University neuropsychologist and educator Howard Gardner, there are eight types of intelligence. Obviously, those with linguistic intelligence are more likely to have an easier path than those with, say, bodily-kinesthetic intelligence. But that doesn’t mean that the latter can’t learn a language or the former can’t learn how to play tennis: again, all it means is that some will have to push themselves a bit more than others. In almost 20 years as a Spanish teacher, I’ve seen countless Asian students surpass their European counterparts through dedication and study. Like Tim Notke, a high school basketball coach, once said: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard”.

So, to sum it up, what could we answer to those people who ask: Can I become fluent in Spanish in a year? We should probably say something like: yes, you can, as long as you are willing to put in the time and the work you need, which is different for everyone. Persevere, be patient, don’t get frustrated if things are not going as fast as you expected and you will be speaking fluently in Spanish sooner than you expect!

How to learn Spanish effectively

Studying a new language can be hard: new words, new grammar and a new culture, all mingled into one language that you have to speak fluently and understand fast. You may think that this can be only achieved by locking up in your room and studying for a trillion hours, but there are ways to make the most of our studying, so that we learn Spanish and we never forget it. I’m a Spanish teacher at Cronopios Idiomas and here are some tips on how to learn Spanish effectively:

There is a reason for everything

First things first: why do you want to learn Spanish? Sometimes we are so focused on the ups and downs of studying the language that we forget to take the time to ask ourselves what our goal is. Is it for the pure pleasure of enjoying films in Spanish? Are you daydreaming about living in the Caribbean? Did you just get an awesome position in a company where Spanish is required? Learning a new language is like running on a track, and like any track, there is a start and a finish line. So before you hear the starting signal, visualise where you want to get, that way you will be able to lay out a plan, focusing on the things you really need and avoiding feeling frustrated with things that are not that essential. For instance, let’s say you will be traveling for a few weeks around the north of Spain -you might want to focus on the language you will use when asking for directions, eating out, booking an accommodation, etc..

Marie Kondo your Spanish

The KonMari Method™ consists of organising your things (and, therefore, your life) according to the category those things belong to. Clothes with clothes, books with books, and so on. Languages, like houses, include a wide variety of items that could fit in one category. The more specific, the better. In order to learn Spanish effectively, stop thinking of grammar like a huge pile of books with complex explanations and impossible examples and start looking for context: what structures do I need in a restaurant? In a classroom? In an office? Vocabulary can be infinite, instead of writing words, find connections between them. Even Spanish conjugations can get easier if you group them by type of irregularity (mentir, sentir or preferir share the same irregularity in the present tense –miento, siento and prefiero)

Reading is the new sexy

Get rid of endless lists of words, put on your favourite pair of glasses (in case you need them) and start turning pages! Books are a great source of new vocabulary, mostly delivered in full sentences that make it easier to understand the meaning of new words and when to use them. I know ‘reading books’ might sound a little bit old-fashioned, but the fact that nowadays there are a thousand ways to learn new vocabulary (ranging from apps to quizzes) shouldn’t mean that books are completely erased from our learning process. Being engaged with a story allows us to understand words that, in other circumstances, we wouldn’t be able to get as fast. Having said that, there is no need to be taking notes of every single word that we don’t fully understand. Learning a language is also admitting that we won’t always be able to get absolutely everything, and that’s ok. Getting the general idea of a sentence without looking up every word is also a way of achieving communication skills that will be invaluable under pressure.

Just do it

I know (I know) -subjunctive is pretty much the same as burning in hell. But as long as you commit to it, you will get it sooner than later. Being in a classroom, listening to the teacher and practising with your classmates is the first step. Most students believe that this is the most crucial part of learning Spanish effectively but that’s only the beginning. The truth is: our brain remembers better and faster our own experience than all of those lectures where we just listened. Take that sentence that took you half an hour and three questions to understand, make it your own and use it at the first chance.

How to learn Spanish effectively

Spanish classes at Cronopios Idiomas

Nobody’s perfect

Making mistakes is a marvellous way to feel ashamed. I mean, to learn. We tend to think poorly of ourselves when the words don’t come out the way we planned them, but there is nothing wrong with being wrong. Actually, it is only one more proof of our human condition. Keep in mind this is an extra effort that you are making to learn a language besides your own. You already speak fluently in your native tongue, there is no shame in making mistakes in a new one. We should start looking at mistakes as ways to spot a problematic structure and practise it. How to learn Spanish effectively: talk, talk, talk. You won’t be the first nor the last one to make mistakes and they will lead you to that sweet spot where all learners want to get: the finish line.

What’s the best way to learn Spanish?

What’s the best way to learn Spanish? is one of the most common questions students ask us when they come to our school Cronopios Idiomas. Today we would like to give a proper and detailed answer to it today in our blog.

When people decide to learn a foreign language, they must know it will require time and effort. Sometimes in the learning process the studentn will feel frustrated and desperate, but in the long term they will experience a huge satisfaction as they are being able to communicate with native speakers.

Nowadays there are so many different methods and ways to learn a foreign language as per preference, and we cannot state that one is better than the others. However, we can recommend you some of them that are proved to work  effectively.

Firstly, regarding the place to learn, most new students sign up for a course at a language school, that can be either on site or online. On the contrary, some of them prefer to do it on their own at home, using a textbook or some online material.

The most common option among those who learn Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country is an on site course. This kind of courses is usually very intensive, i. e., between 3 and 4 hours a day. However for students who work at the same time, a twice a week course is a good choice. In this last case the learning progress is much slower. Besides, some students need to see a very clear and welldefined goal by learning Spanish and that is why they decide to prepare themselves for the DELE Spanish Diploma. This official title certifies the competence of Spanish a student has reached and it is a requirement that Spanish Universities set for foreign students is required by Spanish universities to study.

As to learning tools textbooks are the preferred option and language schools use it following a progression set up by the CEFR. You must know there is a big variety of textbooks on the market and many of them are really good and useful. They offer a comprehensive number of excercises according to the skills learners must develop to master Spanish properly, such as reading, listening, writing and speaking. These four skills are practiced in different ways.

Additionally, other students, specially the younger ones, who are used to the digital world, are fond of using devices and apps to learn a foreign language. And of course, quite a lot of students take advantage of all these ways and combine a textbook with an app, a digital programm with interactive contents…

Furthermore, as many learners love cinema and series, they enjoy learning Spanish by watching them movies and series in original version (sometimes with subtitles). This way of learning is really helpful to acquire vocabulary and some cultural information too.

After having mentioned the previous information on where to learn, what kind of course to take, what material and tools to use and related aspects we should ask ourselves again the question that has led us to write this article: what is the best way to learn Spanish?

As we already said, the different ways to learn Spanish will depend on the needs and kinds of students. For this reason  we cannot exclude any method or technique. But, in our opinion, there are some good and useful ways that can help you to learn Spanish more efficiently.

First of all, an on-site course is in general the most suitable option. But why?

Language learning studies have proved that learning a language in a class with other students with the same needs makes the process and the experience more effective and enjoyable. Actually, we see it every day at Cronopios Idiomas. Our students dive into a deep yet enjoyable learning process in a comfortable atmosphere. Although we use a textbook due to the aforementioned reasons, we always encourage our students to use  other tools and techniques such as  board games, songs or going together to some exhibitions.

We are located near the most famous art museums in Madrid (The Prado Museum, Thyssen-Bonermisza Museum and Reina Sofía National Art Museum). Moreover, as the Buen Retiro Park is very close to us, we often practice Spanish in the open air there when the weather is pleasant.

What's the best way to learn Spanish?

We are a Spanish School managed by teachers

Another advantage of learning a language following a course is that teachers get to know you and your needs well. It means that your teacher guides you properly in your learning proccess by giving you advice and helping you in the best way (that matches your needs).

Furthermore, at Cronopios Idiomas we also focus on those students who prefer to learn online or combine both ways of courses (on-site and online). For this reason we provide them with a virtual classroom, where they can practice Spanish in a remote environment.

Last but not least, it is important to be patient in your learning process and try to use the language in every opportunity that comes up for you.

Therefore, what’s the best way to learn Spanish? We are a Spanish school managed by teachers focus on quality teaching and recommend taking a course with us.

How to obtain a student visa in Spain

You are not in Spain and you want to stay in Spain asking for a student visa. In this post we want to explain you how to obtain a student visa in Spain. Coming into Madrid to study Spanish is a great decision: you’re going to love our country.

Normally there are two ways to come to Spain: with a tourist visa that will allow you to visit us for a maximum of 90 days or with a student visa for more than three months.

In this post we are going to focus on the student visa.

The first step, even before looking for a Spanish language school, is visiting the Spanish embassy or consulate in your city or country. There are several key questions to ask them that will make your life much easier:

Do you accept partial payment for the Spanish course?

At Cronopios Idiomas, our Spanish language school, we ask for a 30% down payment to start the process, but in several countries this is not enough and they require the full payment of the course.

Do I need to present the original documents or are they scanned?

It depends on the country. Sometimes scanned documents are sufficient, sometimes scanned documents to start the process and then the originals, and in some countries, only originals.

How many weeks of accommodation should I book?

Normally it is 4 weeks, but it is best to clarify this with the embassy.

What is the resolution time for the study visa at the Embassy?

You should ask for it. If we know the estimated time for the resolution, it will be easier to define the date of arrival in Spain, the beginning of the course, the dates of the flight, etc.

Well, well, this is already taking shape. We already know what to do, now it’s time to look for a good Spanish school. To make the final decision easier for you, you should keep in mind that our school fulfills the conditions to get a visa and we have a long experience.

*Our Spanish school is accredited by the Instituto Cervantes.

*We have a long experience in the management of visas and we will help you during the whole process.

*Our refund conditions in case of refusal are very advantageous.

*We do not add visa fees to the price of the course.

An important question to keep in mind: Although we know that your priority is to learn Spanish, some Embassies will ask you to explain your reasons. The most frequent question is: Why do you want to learn Spanish? The reasons may be to study at a Spanish university, to take the DELE exam or to improve your cv.

You already have the necessary information about the steps to take at the embassy. The next step is to choose a Spanish school in Spain. If you choose our school, we will send you a quote that you must accept before starting the process.

Reasonable doubts you may have:

Income level:

You must prove that you have the money to pay for the weeks of the course, the time spent in the accommodation and the expenses during the stay. Apart from the cost of the course, you should have about 540€ per month for accommodation and daily expenses.

If you do not have enough money, sometimes embassies will accept your parents as a financial guarantee, but please inform your about this because of different conditions in each country.

If you do not have enough money, or simply you don’t want to spend so much money, maybe you should think about a 90-day visa and, once in Spain, try to renew that visa to stay more than 90 days in Spain.

 Accomodation:

Normally it is mandatory to book 4 weeks of accommodation. Living with Spanish families for a few weeks is more than recommended: it facilitates language immersion and will allow you to look for longer term accommodation alternatives such as apartment or shared apartment.

 Medical inssurance:

If you are not sure which medical insurance you should take out, our Spanish language school recommends several reliable ones so that you can take it out before your arrival. Remember that it is an essential requirement to obtain the student visa.

Bureaucracy upon arrival in Spain:

In our Spanish school we have experience with administrative procedures and we will help you at all times to fill out the forms and apply for an identity card.

Staying in Spain after finishing the Spanish course:

In our Spanish school we have a lot of experience managing that. If you want to continue in Spain longer as a student after finishing the Spanish course, let us know from the beginning and we will explain you the whole procedure. There are many options to continue studying in Spain; one of the most popular is to get the official DELE certificate and use it later to study at university or get a job.

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.