November 2010 issue

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Direction I
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Regional Focus

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Spanish in Latin America

Spanish is considered the official or co-official language of 18 Latin American countries but how do language providers stave off competition and distinguish themselves from other Spanish speaking destinations? Nicola Hancox finds out.

While there are some variations in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary, the type of Spanish spoken across the Latin American region is essentially very similar from one country to the next. Regardless of whether students learn Spanish in Argentina, Mexico or Ecuador, all will be able to effectively communicate with one another as well as nationals anywhere in the Spanish-speaking world, including mainland Spain.

“We teach Argentinean Spanish as well as Argentinean culture,” enthuses Lorena Belcastro, Director of Buenos Aires Spanish School (BASP), based in Argentina. “We also explain the differences with the Spanish spoken in Latin America and Spain,” she adds. Students at Mundo Español, also based in Argentina, benefit from a teaching staff made up of Argentinean, Uruguayan, Mexican and mainland Spanish speakers. “This enriches the programmes offered,” vouches Mariela Tort, Director at the school.

Programming has evolved since the launch of Mundo Español in 1995 affirms Tort and today students can sign up for Spanish plus Tango, Spanish plus football or Spanish for specific purposes – for example, business or medicine. In fact, course evolution is crucial to a school’s development and Belcastro at BASP indicates that the school tries to introduce new courses each year. A professional development programme for teachers of the Spanish language and a course focussing entirely on the Argentine Tango were added to the academic programming this year. “Both are really successful,” she observes. Owing to a favourable Latin American economy, Expanish, based in Argentina, has chosen to target business executives in 2011 with the introduction of a Business Spanish group course. A surge in student enquiries concerning the DELE language exam prompted the school to offer a preparatory programme also.

Familiarising oneself with the local culture can enhance a students’ overall language learning experience and students at Colombian-based language school, Spanish World Institute (SWI), are actively encouraged to get to grips with local customs. “Students have the opportunity to exchange ideas, to learn the language while also gaining an understanding of our cultural background,” notes Maria Rozo at the school. Their Spanish plus culture programme – launched last year – focuses on the country’s indigenous culture as well as current political issues says Rozo and includes visits to historic sites and museums in Bogotá. Other cultural fusions include Spanish plus Salsa and Spanish plus Colombian cuisine.

Total immersion during the language learning process is a way to get to grips with the targeted language quickly and Ramona Riedel from Intercultural – Lenguas Extranjeros Español in Argentina, relates that the school lays on extra afternoon activities to help students outside of the classroom. In their free time students can learn to cook local dishes, watch Argentine movies or visit local museums. Riedel explains, “The great advantage of these activities is that [students] can practise their Spanish in everyday situations with a coordinator at their side.” The school also boasts an interesting range of plus programmes including Spanish plus wine, Spanish plus adventure and Spanish plus Vendimia – an annual festival which celebrates the wine region of the same name. The course, which is available in February, comprises Spanish lessons, a city tour, visits to a working winery, lunches and tickets to the festival itself.

Several schools in the region also offer add-ons such as volunteering, giving language students the opportunity to give back to the community they have chosen to study in. The Yanapuma Foundation and Spanish School in Ecuador is one such example and according to Executive Director, Andy Kirby, students can combine one month’s tuition with one month’s volunteering on one of eight different projects. “This programme is very popular with younger students, but also appeals to older students too,” says Kirby and placements include working with children, volunteering at a health centre or getting involved in a local environmental project.

Choice of school often hinges on the type of programming an institution has to offer. For example, EPA! Español de Panama in Panama targeted the lucrative summer vacation market this year by launching a Summer Camp programme. “[It is] designed for teenagers aged between 14- and 16-years old looking to immerse in a different culture while attending Spanish classes during the months of June, July and August,” notes EPA’s Alberto Orillac.

Similarly, Katy Cossio from StudyTeam in Cuba has developed a truly original programme, noting that they are the only school with no actual school building. Instead, students are immersed from the start in a host family. She explains, “The main purpose of our programme is offering the participants the opportunity to experience real Cuban life, so we make possible students live with a local host family and learn Spanish with a native Cuban teacher at a local home or cultural centre.” Class sizes are also kept to a minimum – a maximum of three students per group, says Cossio, with a real onus on culture. “The programme is an experience like never before!” she enthuses.

Contact any advertiser in the this issue now

The following language schools, associations and accommodation providers advertised in the latest edition of Language Travel Magazine. If you would like more information on any of these advertisers, tick the relevant boxes, fill out your details and send.






International Students House  

British Council  
English Australia  
Groupement FLE  
International House World Organisation  
IALC International  
Languages Canada / Langues Canada  
MEI Ireland  
Neas Australia  
Quality English  

Globus Education Agency  
IEFT- International Education Fairs of Turkey  

Cambridge Esol  

Dr. Walter GmbH  
Student Guard Insurance  

LTM Digital  
Student Marketing  

Cyprus Tourist Office  
Malta Tourism Authority  

Twin Group  

Academies Australasia  
Bond University  
Browns English Language School  
Carrick Institute of Education  
La Trobe University  
Language Studies International  
Neas Australia  
Pacific Gateway International College  
Shafston International College  
Universal English College (Global Village Sydney)  
University of Tasmania  
University of Western Australia  
University of Western Sydney College  

Ecela - Latin Immersion  

Ceran Lingua International  

Berlitz Canada   
Bow Valley College  
Braemar International College  
Camosun College  
Capilano University  
College Platon  
East Coast School of Languages  
English Bay College  
English School of Canada  
Eurocentres Canada  
Geos North America  
Global Village  
Guard.me Insurance  
International Language School of the YMCAs Quebec  
LSC Language Studies Canada  
National School of Languages  
Niagara College  
Ottawa International Student Programmes (OISP)  
Queen's University  
Saint Mary's University  
School District No. 42 Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows  
Stewart College of Languages  
St Giles Colleges  
Study Abroad Canada  
Thompson Rivers University  
Vancouver English Centre  
VanWest College  

Cyprus Tourist Office  
Language Conquests  
The Language Explorer  
Xenion High School  

Tandem Santiago  

Mandarin House  

Intensa Spanish Language School  

Study Team Cuba  

IH Cairo  

Active Learning  
British Study Centres  
Bury Language School  
Cambridge Education Group  
English Language Centre Brighton & Hove  
English Studio  
Excel English Language School  
Hampstead School of English  
Hove College  
International House London  
INTO University Partnerships  
Kaplan International Colleges  
King's Colleges  
LAL Language Centres   
Language in Group  
Malvern House College London  
Quality English  
Queen Ethelburga's College  
Sedbergh School  
Spinnaker College  
St Clare's Oxford  
St Giles Colleges  
Study Group  
TUI Language   
Twin Group  
University of Essex - International Academy  
Wimbledon School of English  

Accent Francais  
Alpha B - Institut Linguistique  
College International de Cannes  
Ecole PERL  
Ecole Suisse Internationale  
Education En France  
Institut de Langue et de Culture Françaises - ILCF  
Langue Onze Toulouse  
Le Franc Parler   
LSF Montpellier  
Lyon Bleu International  
Media Langues Caraibes   
Paris Langues / Club CEI des 4 Vents  

GLS Sprachenzentrum  
International House Berlin - Prolog  
F & U Academy of Languages   

Media Langues Caraibes  

Academia de Espanol Probigua  

Cork English College /Language & Activity Holidays  
Dublin International Foundation College  
Galway Cultural Institute  
Horner School of English  

Alpha School of English  
Clubclass Residential Language School  
EC English Language Centre  
English Language Academy  
Feltom (Via Malta Tourism Authority)  

Habla Ya Language Center  

Derzhavin Institute  

EAC Language Centres and Activity Camps  
University of Stirling  

CLIC-IH Seville   
Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL  
Malaga Si  
Inturjoven Spanish Courses  
Pamplona Learning Spanish Institute   

EF Language Colleges Ltd  
ESL Ecole Suisses de Langues  
Eurocentres International  

Hargrave Military Academy  
Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs  
Language Consultants International  
University of California Riverside  
University of San Diego  
Zoni Language Centers  

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