9 may. 2018

Striking new artwork in AIL Madrid's calle O´Donnell school

The classrooms in our O’Donnell centre have recently been adorned with striking new artwork from Madrid’s local up and coming artist, Raquel Portillo Caballero. Each classroom now houses a unique design portraying one of the central feature of each of the Spanish cities that our classrooms are named after. Our classrooms are colour coordinated with each one having a common colour in the wall painting, Raquel’s artwork and the flooring, the result being the most aesthetically stylish classrooms in Spain. We are convinced that having well decorated and attractive classrooms adds to our engaging atmosphere and inspires students think more creatively, perform at their best and learn more. 

Bilbao’s Cultural Passion 

Raquel chose to portray Bilbao’s most iconic feature, The Guggenheim, and the piece certainly gives the magnificent building the justice it deserves. Against a red, faded background, the metallic building stands tall; its angular construction standing out to the viewer, thanks to Raquel’s textured style. The light and dark shading presents the magnitude of the building as it dominates over the city, taking up the majority of the painting.

A Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela

The most impressive sight in Santiago de Compostela is the Cathedral; so of course, Raquel bases her design on this, helping our students to gain a greater knowledge of Spain as a whole. The antiquity of the city is shown clearly here, as Raquel uses a pastel, watercolour style design, positioning a walking stick with scallop shells at the forefront of the image, to represent the pilgrimages that continue to take place along the Camino de Santiago. Rather than detracting from the Cathedral, the walking stick only adds interest for the viewer and focuses greater attention onto the spectacle itself. 

Power, Wisdom and Science in Granada 

Granada would not be the city that it is, without the Alhambra casting its shadow over the uncomplicated white dwellings below. Raquel’s pink background features the Patio de Los Leones within the walls of the building. The depiction is majestic, and characterizes the outline of a crown, as water spurts out of the fountain, imparting a regal countenance onto the piece.  

The Art of Sevilla

This design differs from Raquel´s other productions, simply as it portrays a woman in flamenco dress to symbolize Seville as opposed to painting its main physical attraction, as seen in the other paintings around our school. Interestingly, Raquel omits all features from the woman so there is no doubt that she is representative of the essence of Seville as an entirety. The style is dramatic, the red contrasting against a yellow, ageing, slightly tarnished, background, which adds to the longevity of the tradition, that Raquel focuses our gaze on. Seville, apart from being a beautiful city is accompanied by rich and dynamic culture, as shown in the artwork. 

Flying over Málaga 

The beautiful coastal city is also home to a cosmopolitan buzz, attracting visitors from around the world. The perspective here is from above, presenting the city in a purple hue, which transmits a magnificent gleam across the coastal wall. Perhaps this shows the cities progression, which began at the coast and spread inwards through its 3,000 years of history. In the centre of the landscape image, the Roman Theatre stands out, signifying the extent of the city’s historical past. On the right side of the painting, the Alcazaba, a fortified palace gives an example of the strong Arab roots that the city holds onto. 

Gaudi’s Barcelona 

Gaudi’s presence resonates throughout Barcelona, and it is difficult to avoid his impressive architecture when visiting the city. Raquel paints Casa Batlló, the length of it scaling vertically across the entire painting. Raquel mutes the vibrant colours of Gaudi’s sculpture, picturing a more simplistic Casa Batlló. The building is not distinctive; instead, its edges are blurred, perhaps so that the painting is representative of Gaudi’s influence upon Barcelona as a whole. 

Valencia: The City of Science 

Valencia is a city of two halves: that of the ancient town and seaside contrasted with the innovative, modern construction of the Science Museum, surrounded by gardens that have been converted from the mouth of the River. The pink background, dappled with yellow markings, represents the history of the city. The skeletal style of the museum that Raquel depicts, may represent the clash between old and new life, as the museum imposes a futuristic sentiment upon the heart of Valencia. 

Segovia and it’s Never Ending Aqueduct 

One of Raquel’s most simplistic designs, the Aqueduct in Segovia, is painted in deep yellows and golds, harking back to the Roman times in which it was built. Light coloration emphasises the sunlight that perforates through the arches of the feature and the perspective that Raquel creates, portrays the expanse of the construction, as it continues to elongate through the city into the distance. After all, the Aqueduct was built with 25,000 granite blocks and at its tallest it reaches a height of 28.5m, so cannot be missed! 

León: Colour and Innovation 

Raquel depicts the Museum of Contemporary Art, Leon’s most modern attraction and perhaps one of the most modern buildings within Raquel’s “AIL Madrid Collection”. The original building is made-up of individual, distinctive blocks of colour, differing in many ways from Raquel’s portrayal, where the overall coloration is darker and the blocks of colours are blurred into one another. The shadow effect surrounding the building suggest its great size. 

Centuries of culture in Salamanca 

Raquel illustrates the magnitude of the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca, through a distanced perspective that is transmitted through the arches that appear at the forefront of the photo. Not only is Raquel’s design effective visually, it also simulates the magnitude and symmetrical nature of the structure. The image also bears a doctoral sentiment, as the city is most famous for its university, one of the oldest in Europe and still today, the city is internationally recognised as a seat of learning of the highest standard. The construction of the university is so intricate that there are many hidden gems upon the exterior wall for visitors to spot. 

Córdoba’s Picturesque Patios 

The dry heat of Córdoba in the summer months forced its inhabitants to adjust their style of living, adding open patios into their houses. Here, the patios appear enchanting and contain botanical aspects. The green colours within the work present a tranquil setting where the pace of life is slow and the viewer can almost see the heat within the small garden as the sunlight transcends upon it. 

Daydreams of Cádiz 

Cádiz is thought to be the oldest city in the west, offering a lot in terms of its great history. As seen in the work, the most remarkable feature is the stretch of sea that cuts Cádiz off from the mainland. This port was used for trade with America and thus was the central hub of the city. Now, the cosmopolitan city is known for its impressive sunsets, as seen in this piece as the purple glow of the sun spreads across the cathedral in an elegant fashion.

See Raquel’s original work

Please visit us in Calle O’Donnell 27 and see these magnificent works of art anytime from Monday to Friday between 5pm and 7pm.

13 feb. 2018


Have you ever stopped to think about how to use your time efficiently? We’ve found the answer in SIELE (Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española).  In 2017, the Conferencia de rectores de universidades españolas (CRUE), formed by 76 Spanish universities (public and private) and the Association of Language Centres in Higher Education (ACLES) included SIELE as a certificate accepted by the Commission of Accreditation for Spanish as a foreign language.  As well as this, it’s also a valid certificate to enter the Spanish university system.  

Here at AIL, we want to tell you the advantages of taking the SIELE exam and we want to inform you about the uses of your SIELE certificate once you have achieved the qualification.  


If you are foreign, and you’re planning to study in Spain, you’ll need a certificate to demonstrate your proficiency in Spanish. With SIELE you’ll be able to choose the exact day that you’d like to take your exam and within 3 weeks, you’ll have your qualification and online certificate, recognising your Spanish level.  


After the SIELE Global exam, once you’ve received your qualification, you’ll have access to your results at the click of a button and the verification of your level will automatically appear through a code that will be sent out by SIELE.

With this code, you’ll be able access your level to provide it for a work interview for example, giving it to those responsible in the selection process so that they can verify your certification. 


In terms of international recognition, more than 75 institutions worldwide are associated with SIELE and thus support the quality and validity of the certificate, assisting further with job hunting or when entering the university system. 


When the time comes to prepare for the exam, there is no pressure to pass or fail, as you’ll still have a certificate that recognises your level at the time you took the exam.  Aside from this, on selecting the type of exam (SIELE Global or independent modules) you can adapt it to be related to the requirements for your job search or university application. 

5. COST  

A SIELE Global exam costs 155 euros and the independent modules cost as low as 55 euros.  AIL Madrid students will have a 10% discount.

AIL Madrid is an authorised SIELE exam centre, that offers daily announcements for taking the exam.  For more information, contact us on hola4@ailmadrid.com or go to our website.  

12 feb. 2018

What makes Madrid so green?

Caixa Forum’s living wall

Madrid is a fantastic destination for any student of Spanish, but few people know that aside from its fame for football and climate it also boasts fantastic green credentials. According to the European Green City Index, which ranks cities by many factors, Madrid ranks at number 12, one place after London and nine places ahead of Dublin.

According to the Madrid City Council, 35% of the city is public greenspace, compared to just 13% of Amsterdam (Statistics Netherlands/TNO) or 27% of New York (New York City Department of City Planning Land Use). Large, open, green spaces like Casa de Campo (1,722 ha) contribute to the amount of green space in the city but over the years it’s been increased due to initiatives like the Urban Garden project in which members of the public were encouraged to turn roof terraces, patios and vacant lots into green space. It is no wonder the project has been successful, as Madrid receives 2769 hours of sunshine a year so it’s not difficult for the city’s trees and plants to thrive.

The roof terrace at La Casa Encendida

Madrid has 43 parks that make up the majority of its green space. Over the past few years, the area of parkland in the city has increased significantly due to the expansion of the recreation area beside the Manzares River. The Spaniards as a whole lean towards an outdoor lifestyle and the banks of the Manzanares quickly became one of the most popular spots to go jogging or cycling after work while the urban beach near Puente Segovia is one of the locals’ favourite places to take a break from the heat in summer.

Puente Segovia

If the green space in the city isn’t enough, the Sierra Guadarrama natural park is less than an hour by bus and it’s perfect for a day trip. In winter, it’s great for skiing and in summer there are plenty of mountain pools to cool off.

However, Madrid’s environmental initiatives are not limited to green space and park land. Like many of Europe’s major cities the government is taking action to reduce pollution; the most talked about plan among madrileños at the moment is the pedestrianisation of Gran Vía, one of the busiest roads in the centre of Madrid. The Gran Vía project will join the Preciados and Fuencarral shopping areas together and reduce pollution and traffic in the city centre.

As well as the Gran Vía project, the electric bike-sharing programme is still flourishing since it began in 2014, with bike stations on every street corner and the addition of 33 cycle paths to coincide with the system. In addition, the Mayor has announced plans to have all diesel fuelled cars banned from the city by 2025.

Electric bike-sharing programme 

Here at AIL Madrid, a Spanish school that has welcomed thousands of students to our city, we show a great interest in Madrid’s green project and nothing makes us prouder of our city than its long-term environmental plan.

6 oct. 2017

What's left of the Movida Madrileña

¡Madrid Nunca Duerme! Tourists and madrileños alike would agree that this saying is still as relevant today, as it was in a time when it typified the social and cultural freedom of La Movida in 1977. If you too want to experience a Madrid that never sleeps, here are a few post-movida locations that have survived the test of time!

Resultado de imagen de malasaña movida

Madrid is not short of culture; but why not go off the beaten track and see Juan Carlos Argüello’s graffiti, which is hidden around the Malasaña walls, where La Movida first became known.  One of his most famous works, ‘El Muelle’ is located in Calle de La Montera.

If it is a low-key drink and a bite to eat that you are after, look no further than ‘La Bobia’, an original Movida bar turned Sidería! You will find it in the trendy barrio of La Latina, where the young hang out against a post-movida style backdrop.  In fact, the original ‘La Bobia’ bar featured in Almodovar’s film, ‘Laberinto de Pasiones’, so there is no better place to re-live the Movida atmosphere than at this buzzing bar.

Resultado de imagen de malasaña

For those looking for somewhere that will lead you into the early hours of the morning, we suggest partying at ‘Madrid Me Mata’, a bar that prides itself upon its Movida influence.  You will notice the hipster murials that surround the young crowd that flock there, adding to the edgy ambience.  For a more casual option head to ‘Free Way’ or ‘Tupperware’, where you can get to grips with music from the Nacho Pop or Dinerama era.

Alternatively, to experience the true essence of La Movida Madrileña in a more logical fashion, you can take a guided tour by night around the district. 

Below are a few of our favourite post-movida hotspots:

  • La Bobia; Calle de San Millán, 3, 28012 Madrid; 917 37 60 30
  • Madrid Me Mata; Calle Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 31, 28004 Madrid; 609 84 75 04
  • Free Way; Calle Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 17, 28004 Madrid; 915 22 75 82
  • Tuppeware; Calle Corredera Alta de San Pablo, 26, 28004 Madrid

26 sept. 2017

¡European Day of Languages!

On the 26th September, we celebrate the annual European Day of Languages At AIL Madrid  we believe that this day is the perfect way to promote the cultural diversity of Europe, and most importantly, to encourage everyone to get involved and learn a language!

We encourage you to use European Day of Languages as an incentive to start studying the most spoken language in Europe, ¡Spanish!  You will discover new friendships as well as developing a skill that will benefit you in the business world.

The hardest thing about learning a new language, is adapting to phrases that are specific to the country.  In Spanish, there are thousands of sayings that can only be acquired with practise and time!

Therefore, to celebrate European Day of Languages at AIL Madrid , we are challenging students and teachers alike to come forward with their favourite colloquial phrases or sayings and share them with us!
To find out more and to share your own diverse phrases, go to our Facebook page!

If you’re learning Spanish (or want to start) we recommend following us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram because we’re always publishing free Spanish learning resources, exercises, videos and podcasts for all levels, from beginner to advanced.

Want Spanish classes? Get in contact with us
Call + 34 914 35 48 01

24 ago. 2017

Madrid's terraces - The best in Summer

In Madrid you can enjoy some cold cañas on a terrace every time of the year, but admit it, you prefer summer ;) Hot weather came to stay (for a long time), so, what better than sitting on a terrace to enjoy the 'fresquito'. Check out the list below with our favourite terraces:

- El Jardín secreto de Salvador Bachiller: two steps away from Puerta del Sol, and just a few meters from Gran Vía, you will discover a fairy tale in the middle of the city. Full of trees, plants, colorful flowers and rich nature smells, you can have a nice cup of coffee or a delicious cold mojito. You can find it in: Calle Montera 37.

- El Paracaidista: Restaurant, shop, bar and even cinema! This 'concept' store has it all! You can either watch a film, go shoping, have a nice cold cocktail or chill in the big terrace they have on the roof. Located in Malasaña and just next to Metro Tribunal is a great way to scape the routine.

- Terraza Atenas: Next to Madrid Río, this terrace is great to chill in a cool park with the best views. Don't miss out on any of the events that they do during the summer. Another great way to escape the hot weather and enjoy a nice and refreshing afternoon.

- The Hat Madrid: Cheap and near by Plaza Mayor. This beautiful terrace has everything: free WiFi, air conditioning and cold beer.

- El Patio del Fisgón: Located in the famous neighbourhood of Salamanca, you will find the msot modern dishes combined with the best cocktails. Suitable for summer with big windows and for winter, warmed with it's chimeney. You will love this cozy place!