8 sept 2015

AIL Madrid 50+ Club: the adventure starts here!

This is a guest article by one of our awesome 50+ Club Spanish students: explore his motivations, live his favorite moments, and discover AIL Madrid classes and activities from a new point of view!

Over the course of the last 40 years, I have travelled extensively in Latin America, often for months at a time.  Along the way, I have taught myself enough Spanish to be able to function as a tourist: find an hotel, reserve a room, order food in a restaurant, purchase items in a store, and so on.  But I had only a vague notion of Spanish grammar, and my vocabulary was very limited.  Recently I retired, and this has provided me the opportunity to take some classes.  I decided that it would be a bit of an adventure to take language classes in Madrid, and fix up my Spanish.

I searched on the internet for language schools, and found that there were quite a number of them.  But which was right for me?  Various websites provided comparisons of the different schools, and every school seemed to be “accredited” in some way, but it still was not clear how honest or competent a school was.  I was concerned that I might find myself stuck in Madrid for two weeks at a school I hated, in lodgings in an unpleasant part of the city.

I ended up applying to two places, AIL Madrid and another school.  I started with an on-line chat with a representative from AIL Madrid; she was able to answer most of my questions immediately, pointed me towards some reviews of the school, suggested that I look at the AIL Facebook page, and suggested that we talk by Skype the next day.  Between emails, on-line chat and Skype conversations, I decided that AIL Madrid was the place for me, and dropped my application to the other school.  I took the on-line language test, made my airline reservations, and hoped that all would be well.

And things turned out very well: AIL Madrid was an excellent choice.  I had signed up two weeks of four hours of classes per day, which was about right.  The teacher was enthusiastic and engaged, and injected a lot of Spanish culture into the classes.  The other students were dedicated to their learning, and each had his or her own strengths, which the teacher built on to assist the remaining students.  Not having studied in a classroom for many years, I sometimes felt completely out of my depth, but that was simply treated as an opportunity to learn, not a disaster.  I did have to spend some time outside classes working on my grammar, but that was only to be expected.

There were a large number of organized afternoon and evening events, but I found enough else to keep me busy in Madrid and only attended two events: a tapas evening, and a night out at a local fiesta; both of these were very pleasant. In the mid-morning break, all the students in the class went out to a local café for a snack, and we got on well as a group.

In light of my overwhelmingly positive experience, I can wholeheartedly recommend AIL Madrid to anyone wanting to improve their Spanish language skills.

Of course, there is the added advantage that Madrid is a delightful city in which to spend some time (during my time there, I made a day trip to Toledo, and also spent a week in Seville, including a day trip to Cordoba).

Peter Cleary

San Francisco, California

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