Both Spanish schools in Spain and Spanish university language programs offer effective ways to learn Spanish and in both settings you’ll find a fun, exciting environment in which to learn Spanish and get to know Spanish culture. The programs offered by both are much the same – Spanish schools in Spain specialize in teaching Spanish to foreign students and their programs mirror the Spanish university programs.
At a Spanish school in Spain your classes are going to be smaller and you will get to know your fellow students quicker. You’ll also get to know the staff and teachers more closely and come to see them as friends and family in Spain. The teachers and staff at Spanish schools become both familiar faces and a source of support in a new environment. The teachers and administrative staff at Spanish schools tend to be approachable and more responsive than those at Spanish universities. If you have problems with housing or some kind of emergency, you can count on them to help you out.
In a university setting it’s not that Spanish teachers and staff are not friendly, but classes are much larger and Spanish universities are, after all, large institutional environments in which the Spanish teachers and staff are working. Spanish schools, on the other hand, have smaller student bodies and everyone just gets to know each other as a result.
If you take part in a Spanish language program for foreigners at a Spanish university in Spain, you will be one of a large number of students in the Spanish language program. So it is a bit more difficult to meet friends and build relationships with the other students. On the other hand, there are lots more students to get to know.
There’s another plus to studying Spanish at a Spanish university, and that is if you are planning to study for 2 trimesters or an academic year. While students at Spanish language schools come and go throughout the year, the longer-term Spanish courses at the universities mean that the people you meet in your class on day one are going to still be there at the end of the trimester, semester, or academic year. That might not sound too important, but it’s a great thing to meet friends abroad and to be able to share the entire study abroad experience together with them. When your good friends leave and you stay on, it doesn’t leave you with the best feeling.
Whether you choose a Spanish school in Spain or a Spanish university language program, you will learn plenty of Spanish and you will have a fantastic time. Spanish schools are more cozy, supportive environments, while universities have larger class offerings and university services. Long-term programs at universities are a plus because the students don’t come and go as quickly as they do at the Spanish schools.
One hint about Spanish schools – if you are interested in spending 3 or more months learning Spanish at a Spanish school in Spain, look for a Spanish school that offers monthly start dates instead of weekly start dates. Courses that start monthly have two benefits – your classes are not interrupted by new student arrivals every week (which obliges the teacher to adjust the class to the new students…who might not know what you just learned last week) and you will see the same familiar faces longer.