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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.

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.

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.

Nuestra escuela está rodeada de arte

Our school is surrounded by art

We are lucky enough to find our school located right in the middle of the so called Triangulo del Arte, or golden triangle of art. Yes, it’s a bit of a touristy name, but you have to admit it has a catchy ring to it. The reason the triangle has been given this name is that the three most important museums of the city are a few minutes from each other (and from Cronopios Idiomas): Prado Museum, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza.

To start off with, if you’re taking afternoon classes at Cronopios Idiomas and you come out thinking ‘I could really do with seeing some of the greatest works of art in the world for free, and I want to walk less than 200 meters!’, well then you’re in luck because the Prado museum, which hosts paintings by the likes of Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, Rubens, Titian, Velázquez, Rafael, Albrecht Duerer and so on, opens its doors to visitors for free every weekday between 6 and 8 pm.

If you’ve seen all the 1500 works of art the building houses, or if you want to see some world class modern and contemporary art instead, with a tiny bit more effort you can walk to the Reina Sofia museum in 5 minutes where you can completely sate yourself on its collections of two of the masters of 20th century Spanish art, Salvador Dalí and Pablo Picasso, with as highlight Picasso’s overwhelming work Guernica. Free entrance is possible on mondays between 7 and 9 pm, as well as from Wednesdays to Saturdays at the same hours.

Not enough you say? More masterpieces spanning the 14th to the 20th century? More Impressionism, as you won’t find that in the other two museums, with works from Monet, Renoir, Gauguin, Cézanne, and Vincent van Gogh? Well your luck still hasn’t run out, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, a couple of minutes further north from the Prado has all this and over a thousand other works as well. Here also there are hours when entrance is free, better for those taking morning classes; on mondays between 12 and 4 pm.

And, in addition to these three temples of art, we also have very close to us other cultural centers that we recommend our students to visit. For instance, the school finds itself directly facing the lovely Retiro park, which houses the Palacio de Velázquez and Palacio de Cristal where you can find temporary modern art exhibitions which are always accessible without charge. I could go on and tell you how cool the Tabacalera in Lavapies is for instance, but you get the point, if you think learning a language should go hand in hand with discovering culture then here you’re exactly in the right place!

Our school is surrounded by art

Working conditions for SFL teachers

SFL teachers undergo tremendous stress: they love their job and take the preparation of their classes very seriously; however, the working conditions for SFL teachers are bad in most schools. Students usually don’t feel this tension: the teachers are very professional and they want the best for their students. But who is responsible for this situation?

The answer is pretty obvious: the schools’ owners must be able to run a business model that guarantees gainful employment for its workers and a good service for its customers. Apparently, many schools don’t accomplish this: we know it because the teachers at Cronopios Idiomas have worked in other schools before and also because many SFL teachers say so. Students can learn about their teachers’ working conditions if they ask them directly.

Our school has got a commitment to guarantee high-quality lessons and good working conditions. At Cronopios Idiomas the teachers have time to prepare their lessons and don’t have to participate in after-school activities; we all receive equal pay, well above the collective bargaining agreement; our recruitment policy forces us to sign permanent contracts as soon as possible; and our working schedule always takes into account the balance of family and work life and the workers’ rest periods. Once they have been working with us for more than two years, the employees can become partners and participate in the assemblies were decisions are made in order to keep building a different school altogether.

Take SIELE with us!

At Cronopios Idiomas work hard every day so that our school of Spanish and our catalog keep growing. That’s why we are very happy to announce that, starting on the 1st of February, you can take SIELE with us!

SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española) is a new exam, promoted by Instituto Cervantes and some of the most important universities in the Hispanic world, which certifies electronically the command of the Spanish language proficiency for students and professionals. It’s not a substitute for the famous DELE: it’s a different exam with different features. These are some of its advantages:

-You can choose among 6 types of exam combining the different tests

-You decide the exam date

-The whole process (booking, the exam itself…) is electronic, which makes it more agile and fast

-If you take it with us, you may get a discount on the original price

Book your exam in Cronopios Idiomas now! Take SIELE with us! For more information, please visit the SIELE official website.

Three new teachers have joined the company

Our school is different from all others because it is a cooperative: teachers are the owners and managers of the company. This way of organizing and working make a great team spirit possible.

We think that the better working conditions and work environment, the better didactic quality and attention we offer to our students.In addition, the teachers are committed and excited about the project as partners of the company.

We are very happy because three new teachers have joined the company: Carmen, Ángel and Clara. They have been working in the school for some time and have decided to become partners and participate in decisions about the school model, working conditions and everything that has to do with improving and being happier doing what we like.

In the heart of Madrid

During the last month, May 2018, we moved into a better place that is in the heart of Madrid: a short walk away from Retiro Park, Botanical Garden and Madrid’s most important museums. Come to visit us! We are at 12 Espalter Street.

This is a fun video about the move:

SIELE: el nuevo certificado de español

El Instituto Cervantes, junto con la Universidad Autónoma de Méjico y la Universidad de Salamanca organizarán desde el próximo 2016 las nuevas certificaciones de lengua española: SIELE.

El SIELE es un examen de dominio que certifica el grado de competencia en la lengua española. Funciona sobre una escala de puntos con equivalencias a los niveles A1, B2, B1, B2 y C1 del Marco Común Europeo de Referencia para las Lenguas (MCER).

Se trata de una certificación que recoge las diferentes variantes del español y que evalúa las cuatro competencias básicas.

Los test se realizarán de forma electrónica, al estilo de otros certificados similares en otras lenguas, como el TOEFL y su vigencia es de dos años. No sustituye a los DELE, sino que los complementa, apelando a un público potencial diferente.

SIELE

 

Nuestra gente: Olga

Hoy os presentamos a Olga, la última incorporación al equipo.

Antes de trabajar en Cronopios había viajado por todo el mundo, enseñando español en lugares tan dispares como Francia, Canadá o Vietnam, donde pasé una larga temporada antes de volver a España.

Tras mi experiencia enseñando a grupos de un sólo país, estoy encantada de dar clase a grupos internacionales. Lo encuentro muy estimulante, ya que me hace poner en práctica todos mis recursos como profe.

Fuera de clase, me encantan la literatura y los viajes. Me gusta vivir en Madrid, aunque echo de menos estar cerca de la naturaleza: como la escuela está tan cerca del Retiro, lo atravieso todos los días al volver a casa.

 

Olga García