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Which is the Best Spanish School and Course for You?

Your choice of Spanish study abroad program should be made according to your specific personal needs and objectives. Using ABT's pages to make your choice will save you hours of work and ensure that your final decision will be the right one. With ABT's guidance, you'll need to keep in mind three or four basic ideas in order to choose the most suitable program for your particular situation:

  • Location (country and city)

  • Type of school

  • Type and length of course

All of the other variables (qualifications of teachers, standard of accommodation, quality of social activities and excursions, etc.) have already been checked out for you by ABT. And all of the Spanish study abroad programs recommended in these pages have passed our extremely strict quality criteria. This way you can be fully confident about any course you choose through ABT.

All you have to do is look at the following sections for our recommendations on how to choose the location of your Spanish study abroad program, the type of school, and type and length of course. When you've done that, just go to the pages corresponding to the country you've decided on and see which schools offer exactly what you're looking for.

To choose your Spanish study abroad program, just read on....

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Study Spanish Abroad - Which Country?

The first thing you need to decide is which Spanish-speaking country is best for your course. In most cases, you'll already have a preference - for whatever reason - and our advice, in most cases, is to stick with that. You've probably decided that you really want to visit a particular country, rather than any other, and actually going there, and needing to learn Spanish in order to communicate with the people, will be your greatest motivation.

However, if you're going to study Spanish for professional reasons, and need to master a certain type of accent, then obviously you need to choose a country where that accent is prevalent.

Basically, there are two types of Spanish: Castilian Spanish, as spoken in Spain; and Latin American Spanish, as spoken on the American continent (although within each of these main types there are lots of different accents). The differences are more or less the same as those between British and American English.

If you're going to be working with people who mainly speak Castilian Spanish, then Spain will be the obvious choice for your Spanish course. And if you know that the people you will be dealing with are overwhelmingly from one particular country, then obviously that's the country to choose.

But, if you're going to be working with Spanish speakers from many different countries, it's probably a good idea to study Spanish in a country with a "neutral" accent. In this case, your best bets will be Spain, Ecuador and Chile.


Which City?

Once you've decided on your country, you need to consider which city is best for you. Again, you've perhaps already decided on the city where you want to take your Spanish course. And, again, we would say that's fine - feeling at home and motivated is very important in learning your Spanish faster and better!

If you haven't yet decided, we'd simply say choose the type of city where you feel most comfortable. Some people feel better in large cities, with lots of things going on, even though the traffic and noise can be horrendous. Others prefer the relaxed lifestyle of a colonial city. Even others prefer to be in a small town surrounded by countryside where they can escape each weekend.

ABT gives you a description and introduction to all the cities and towns where we recommend Spanish language schools. Just read the different descriptions and you can base your final decision on that.


What Type of Spanish School?

All of the Spanish language schools recommended by ABT are "good" schools - indeed most of them are excellent Spanish schools (see our Quality Criteria to see how we chose them). So you don't have to worry about quality when choosing between the Spanish language schools recommended on these pages.

The only important distinction between the Spanish schools listed here is size. Some schools will be big, with a very large student body, while others are much smaller and more personal. We advise you to choose a school where you think you're going to feel more comfortable - some people like to be amongst a whole lot of people, with things going on all of the time, while others prefer a cozier, more personal atmosphere. You can choose by seeing the information on each school on these pages, where you'll find a reference to the number of students usually enrolled there.


How Long Should my Spanish Course Be?

The simple answer to this question is: as long as possible. However, we know that many people have a limited amount of time. If that's the case, you obviously have no choice.

However, we recommend a minimum of three weeks for your Spanish course. This is because for most of the first week of a course you'll be getting used to your new surroundings, to the teacher's voice and accent, to a new teaching method, etc. For that reason you won't be able to concentrate wholly on learning the new language - you have too many other distractions.

And in the last week it's also difficult to maintain 100% concentration on your language learning - you, the teacher and your classmates are winding down, even if involuntarily, you're thinking about the journey back home, perhaps you're thinking about presents to take back, etc.

Therefore, the first and last weeks of any course are never as useful as the middle weeks - which is why we recommend a minimum of 3 weeks.


What Type of Spanish Course Should I Take?

No one knows your specific needs as well as you do, so in the final instance, you'll need to trust your own judgment. However, we can give you some general advice:

  • If you can only take a short course (up to 3 or 4 weeks), go for an intensive course (25+ classes per week).

  • If you are going for a longer course (over 4 weeks), opt for a semi-intensive course (15 - 20 classes per week. You'll find that you can only take in and process a certain amount of new language, after which you become "saturated". More than 4 weeks of an intensive course will have that precise effect.

  • If you need any kind of specific language (Spanish for Engineers, Spanish for Business, etc.), book either an individual course, or at least a number of individual classes to supplement your group course. Even if a group course is titled something like "Spanish for Business", beware - the language taught will be very general Business Spanish and probably not exactly what you're looking for.

  • An individual course is more useful the higher your level - if you are a beginner you won't find so much difference in your progress between a group course and an individual course, but as your level increases, your needs become more specific and individual classes will help you much more.


The First Step....

Your first step will be to decide on the country where you want to take your Spanish course (or, if you know which country, to decide on the exact location. Visit one or more of the following pages to take that first step....


Spanish Courses Abroad
Choose Your School