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26 May 2014

¡Hasta luego Madrid!

Our destination of the month has a lot to offer, summer or winter. Madrid guarantees a fun and cultural stay for all ages and budgets, especially if you decide to participate in one of our Spanish programmes. 

This capital city, located in the centre of the country, has a rich history and is an important aspect of Spanish culture. It has been home to some controversial monarchs and is now the site of many important cultural institutions such as the Prado, Royal Botanic Gardens and the Reina Sofia museum just to name a few. Not only that but Madrid was home to some of the most important names in Spanish history including Velazquez, Quevedo, Lope de Vega and most notably Cervantes.


Source: www.citytripplanner.com


The city's diverse range of neighbourhoods ensures that there is something for everyone, year round. Whether you are looking for some Tapas in La Latina, going to relax in Retiro Park or going shopping on the Gran Vía you will definitely find something to entertain yourself with in this bustling capital city, especially while enjoying the Mediterranean climate. History lovers can explore the areas where monarchs such as Ferdinand, Isabella, Philip and Charles all lived. If sports is more your thing then you can not only visit the two football stadiums, home to Atletico and Real Madrid, but you can also visit Madrid's bull fighting stadium, Las Ventas, which is considered to be the home of bullfighting in Spain.  


Our schools in Madrid


Spanish for adults and students aged 16+:  This option allows students to take general or intensive Spanish or even DELE exam preparation courses. There is the option of adding cultural workshops onto the programme to give your lessons that little extra something.

Summer Camp in Madrid: This programme is available for students between the ages of 5 - 18. It combines lessons with supervised activities and excursions, enabling students to discover Madrid and other Spanish cities in a safe and fun environment.




School Groups in Madrid: Closed school groups of students aged 14-18 are welcome to come and take 20 Spanish lessons per week and participate in various cultural and social activities, all with the aim of improving Spanish skills and getting to know the Spanish culture.


If you have any questions or would like more information about our courses in Madrid, or elsewhere, do not hesitate to contact us!

20 May 2014

El Derbi Madrileño

When deciding what to write about this week for our Destination of the month, only one thing came to mind and it's happening this Saturday the 24th of May...El Derbi Madrileño.

Atletico Madrid will be playing against Real Madrid, which has obviously happened before (think of a Spanish version of a Manchester derby) but never has a UEFA Champions League Final consisted of two teams from the same city, so naturally tensions are high. The two teams first met in 1929 and since then, Real has been the favourite for all of their head-to-heads.


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Atlético Madrid


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Atlético was founded over 100 years ago under the name 'Athletic Club de Madrid'. Historically, the club has been linked to the working class of Madrid and some even say that it is "characterised by a sense of rebellion", even the location of their stadium, Vincente Caldéron,  in the south of the city near the river illustrates this aspect of the club. In recent times though this connotation has softened and the club has many different supporters. The club saw its golden years in the 1960's and 70's, however since Diego Simeone stepped in in 2011 Atlético has been very successful, their highlight being the end to the 14-year losing streak against Real in their 2013 Copa del Rey win.

Atlético may be the underdogs going into this match, but they are worthy finalists having just won La Liga and with manager Simeone being one win away from arguably one of the greatest single-season feats ever accomplished by a manager.


Real Madrid


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Founded in 1902, Real's original name was 'Madrid Football Club'. On the opposite end of the scale to Atlético, Real was historically linked with the monarchy and upper classes, especially when King Alfonso XVIII bestowed the word Real (royal) to the club along with the royal crown in the emblem in 1920. However, as with Atlético's historical roots, these have faded and the club now has fans from all over the world. It is the world's richest club in terms of revenue and has always had a lot of success, particularly in the 1960's & 70's, when Atlético was the only team really challenging them.  Due to the team's reputation for success, there have been some important names throughout the club's history, particularly during the early 2000's in the 'Galácticos' period which saw players such as Zinédine Zidane, Ronaldo and David Beckham grace the pitch. The club's most recent manager, Ancelotti, went through with the much awaited transfer of Gareth Bale - reportedly a world record signing. 

Real's track record puts them as the clear favourite for this Derby, however they are facing a lot of pressure with a rejuvenated Atlético and the possibility of finally ending their 12 year wait to become the first club to achieve double figures in European cup wins.  



15 May 2014

A tour of Madrid with your senses

If, like me, you love to travel but don't get much chance to go abroad, you will surely love our solution: experiencing Madrid with your 5 senses.

You may already know some of the history or some facts about Madrid, due to its constant modernisation and development, and far from pretending to be a tourist guide, today I would like to suggest what not to miss when visiting the capital of Spain with your five senses.


Sight


This month we are talking about Madrid, the capital of Spain, a city that has seen Royalty, revolutions, academia, culture, sport and fashion all develop here in the centre of the country. It is home to the world's oldest restaurant, the third largest bull fighting stadium and even one of Europe's most successful football clubs, so there's no argument that there is a lot to be seen. However, stealing the top spot as the sight not to be missed is: El museo del Prado.



El Prado is located in central Madrid and is one of the most visited sites in the world and is considered to be one of the greatest art museums in the world. The collection currently comprises around 7,600 paintings, 1,000 sculptures, 4,800 prints and 8,200 drawings among other pieces of art and historical documents - I'm sure you'll admit, plenty for the eye to see. Highlights of the collection includes works by Goya, Titian, Rubens, Bosch and the best known piece, Las Meninas  by Veláquez.



Sound


If you put Spain and sport together, you may well come up with Real Madrid, one of the most successful football clubs in Europe. This paired with the fact that their stadium, Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, can seat 81,044 people means a fantastic atmosphere, and a lot of noise, whenever the team are playing.


With 32 La Liga titles, 19 Copas del Rey and 9 UEFA Champions League titles, it is fair to say that Los Blancos have a very strong following. Their grounds are located on the Paseo de la Castellana, just 20 minutes on the metro from the Plaza Mayor. The excitement, cheers and chants of the Real Madrid fans will definitely leave an impression on you...and your ears!




Smell


As for your sense of smell, we're going to Parque del Buen Retiro (literally the Park of the pleasant retreat). It is one of the largest parks in the city and used to be owned by the monarchy until it became a public space in the late 19th century. 


While under ownership of the monarchy, Buen Retiro saw the constructions of the Casón del Buen Retiro which served as a ballroom, the Museo del Ejército which housed the military museum, and the developments of the Great pond, the bellflower pond and the great and narrow canals. El Retiro is seen as the last great creation of the Renaissance in Spain.

The park has become the green heart of the city, with the beautifully landscaped Campo Grande, fruit trees and the Rosaleda rose garden and not forgetting the lake where you can even rent a rowing boat.


Taste


Taste, perhaps the easiest sense, yet difficult to satisfy, in my opinion due to the tremendous choice on offer. However, as a general rule of thumb, you cannot go to Spain without eating tapas. Although the origin of this new meaning for the word 'tapa' is debated, it has been stated that the original tapas were eaten in Andalusian bars where drinkers would place a slice of bread and ham over their drink to detract flies from their sweet sherry. As the phenomenon of tapas spread across Spain, the ingredients and influences also changed.


Selecting the best tapas bar in Madrid is near impossible, if anything due to the sheer amount of restaurants that are available. Some of the recommended ones are:
  • Taberna Matritum
  • Taberna Tempranillo
  • El Anciano Rey de los Vinos
  • La Cabrera
  • Almendro 13



Touch


You may think that this would be one of the harder senses, well think again as Spain is home to flamenco. As a dance style it is known for the emotional intensity, expressive use of the arms and rhythmic stamping of the feet. The genre originally derives from Andalusian and Romani music and dance styles, however as with tapas, the tradition spread throughout the country. There are various forms of the Flamenco dance, including 'Flamenco puro' and 'Flamenco nuevo'. 



In spite of its southern origins, it cannot be disputed that this tradition is an important part of Spanish culture. The capital offers many places to see flamenco shows, you could maybe even try out a lesson or two. One of the better known flamenco shows is the Corral de la Moreria. 






Remember our schools in Madrid would love to meet you, and if you have any doubts or questions do not hesitate to contact us!


12 May 2014

Official Spanish language exams

Spanish is a dominant world language, it is second only to Mandarin in terms of the number of native speakers worldwide. In addition to this, there are 60 million people who speak Spanish as a second language and 20 million students of Spanish as a foreign language, so it is fair to say that you will be in good company in choosing this language.

This time we are looking at the DELE exams - Diplomas of Spanish as a Foreign Language. The DELEs are divided into three levels, depending on the language level.


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  • Diploma de Español A1: This level proves that students are able to understand and use daily expressions; for example asking and giving personal information about yourself and daily life and interacting on a basic level. 
  • Diploma de Español A2: The student is capable of using and understanding daily phrases and expressions related to experience relevant to them (family, daily life, shopping, occupations, places of interest etc). 

  • Diploma de Español (nivel inicial - B1): Mid-intermediate level. This accredits sufficient knowledge of the language to allow control in situations which require an elementary use of the language.
  • Diploma de Español (nivel intermedio - B2): High-intermediate level. This accredits the  necessary knowledge of the language to allow communication in everyday situations which do not require specialised terms. 
Source:www.costadevalencia.com

  • Diploma de Español C1: This proves sufficient linguistic ability to cope in common situations of daily life which require a specialised use of the language
  • Diploma de Español C2: Superior level. This accredits an advanced knowledge of the language, allowing communication in all situations requiring advanced knowledge of the language and a knowledge of cultural background. 

We offer specific courses to prepare you for the DELE exams, with a chance to sit the exam at the end of the course. 

To name just a few of these programmes...

  • Spanish in Madrid: 16+, DELE preparation course: 20 lessons per week, enables students to sit the exam at any of the three levels. Available in: April, July & October. 
  • Spanish in Valencia: 17+, DELE preparation course: 2 or 4 weeks long, 20 lessons per week.
  • Spanish in Salamanca: 16+, DELE preparation: 20 lessons per week, enables students to sit the exam at any of the three levels. Available in: April, July & October. 

If you are interested in these or any other of our courses, don't hesitate to contact us!

8 May 2014

It's time for summer!

With summer just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about the holidays. Easy Languages has a few ideas so you don’t get caught out this summer…


Sourcewww.qdkfqsz.com

For the younger ones among us, the summer holidays are the best time of year. There are of course many school holidays, but the summer has something special about it: some return home, and others are lucky enough to go abroad, to the countryside, the beach or go camping... For many parents it’s a terrifying thought having the children at home everyday hearing “I’m bored!” 24/7. Parents, do not fret, Easy Languages has the answer.

Adults (myself included) spend most of the year thinking about summer, the beaches, the countryside…We no longer have to worry about what time we go to bed and we can forget about the word “alarm clock”. Obviously, we want to make the most of this moment and forget about any worries or stress. Well, luckily Easy Languages also has the answer for you. 

Bearing in mind that a lot of our schools are starting to fill up at certain dates during summer, so we wanted to offer you a few helpful tips for planning your summer holiday.  

Before you travel


Budget. This is probably the most important point, and the first to take into account. Remember that our programmes are adapted to suit all budgets.


Type of holiday. Relaxing, adventure, sporty, practical... you will find more information about each and every one of our courses on our website
Source: www.inntravel.co.uk

Home or Away. It is true that you can find some very good summer camps in the UK, but you cannot deny that going abroad and experiencing a new culture has a certain allure about it, not to mention the sun!


Duration. This is another important point and is directly linked to your budget. You should take into account the aim of your holiday and the practical aspects such as transfers, sightseeing and your ultimate goals, which will affect the duration of your stay.


Accommodation will also influence your budget, but above all you should think about whether you are looking to relax and have Independence or fully immerse yourself in the culture of your chosen destination.


Practical Details



Documents. Travel where you may but you must have a valid Passport or ID card, especially if you are travelling outside of Europe or by plane. You must also have health insurance, be it your EHIC card or other medical insurance.  

Organisation. Be sure to keep all documents such as plan or train tickets and cash in a safe place both during the journey and your stay. 

During your holidays


It may seem obvious but the holidays are there to enjoy and to make you forget about the stresses of the year. Children, teens and adults all need a change of scenery and remember that this is a time to have fun and do all of things that you normally cannot do. With that in mind, here is the most important piece of advice: Have fun!



Some of our programmes  



Juniors

·   Summer camp in Madrid (5–18). All included (lessons, books & materials, accommodation, meals, supervision, activities, airport transfers) with the exception of flights. 2 weeks: €1,625
· Summer camp in Biarritz with surfing (14–18). All included (lessons, books & materials, accommodation, meals, supervision, activities, end of stay certificate) with the exception of flights. 2 weeks: €1,685
· Summer camp in Germany or Austria (8–17). All included (lessons, books & materials, accommodation, meals, supervision, activities, end of stay certificate) except flights. 2 weeks: €1,190

Adults

·  Spanish in Barcelona (16+). Includes lessons, course materials, accommodation & meals, does not include flights or transfers. 2 weeks: €760
·   French in Montpellier (16+). All included (lessons, course materials, accommodation, meals and end of stay certificate) except flights. 2 weeks: €805
·   German in Heidelberg (16+). Includes lessons and accommodation, does not include flights. 2 weeks: €675

Sourcewww.qdkfqsz.com


Easy Languages offers so many options: culture, sports and hundreds of different ways to enjoy the summer holidays while seizing the opportunity to learn a new language. We will make sure that everything runs smoothly, but you first need to make sure that you have planned in advance. So contact us for some advice! 

Original by: Blanca Díaz Blanco

6 May 2014

Bienvenido a Madrid

With just one month to go until summer is fully under way, it is futile to try and think about anything else. During the month of May with the fast approaching holidays in sight, it is a good time to start thinking about how to spend your free time this summer.

Now, I'm not one to tell you how to spend your free time, but you might just be swayed after you hear about our destination of the month, because for May we're going to Madrid ¡Olé!

What can I tell you about this city that you don't already know? Well we are lucky enough to have the inside scoop about this city as we have two Madrileños working with us in the office, and not only that but a lucky few of us were invited to our colleague's wedding there just two weeks ago!

In Summary 


Source: www.canstockphoto.de

Madrid is the capital of Spain and it's largest city. The city's population is around 3.3 million and it is the third largest city in the European Union after London and Berlin. Madrid is located in the centre of Spain and is surrounded by the autonomous communities of Castille and Léon and Castille-La Mancha. The city enjoys a Mediterranean climate ranging from 10ºC in winter to 31ºC in summer. It is often considered as the birth place of the Castilian language.




A Brief History


Perhaps the best known event in Spanish history is the 'Reconquista' which saw Christians taking claim of the country from the African Muslims. This ended in 1482 under the rule of Ferdinand and Isabella. Madrid was integrated into the Kingdom of Castille in 1085. It was not until 1561 that Madrid became the political centre and capital of the country when Philip II moved his court from Toledo to Madrid. Although Madrid has not necessarily had a peaceful history with many revolutions and invasions, the city was finally explicitly made capital in the Spanish constitution of 1931 (the was again reconfirmed in the 1978 constitution). 


Throughout all of these events, Madrid has never ceased to progress culturally and artistically. Charles III's time as king is arguably the most notable period of Madrid's cultural development. Charles ordered the construction of street lighting, sewers, monuments (Puerta de Alcalá, Cibeles fountain) and many cultural institutions (El museo del Prado, Royal Botanic Gardens, Royal Observatory etc). Other notable periods were during the reign of Philip III and Philip IV of Spain during which time Cervantes, Velázquez, Quevedo and Lope de Vega produced their most important works.






The Neighbourhoods


Source: www.catfinnema.com
Madrid is divided into 21 districts. Each district is governed by a body called 'Junta Municipal de Distrito'. Some of the best known barrios  are:
  • Atocha: It contains several of the main cultural institutions, including the Reina Sofía museum and one of the two main train stations. 
  • Gran Vía: While this is first and foremost a shopping street, there is also plenty of nightlife and many theatres. It also links to many of the other districts, making it one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the city. 
  • La Latina: Here you will find the origins of Madrid. There are quite a few nightlife spots, but it is best known for having one of the highest concentrations of Tapas bars. It boarders with Plaza Mayor and Los Austrias (where you will find the Royal Palace). 
  • Retiro: A classic neighbourhood surrounding the famous Retiro Park. The north part is very lively with lots of bars and restaurants and then to the west of the park you will find the Prado museum and many 18th & 19th century buildings. 



What is there to see?


Obviously there is a lot to see and do in this city, but if you are only going for a short while here is what we would recommend for you to do in Madrid



  

In short, Madrid has much to offer. Whether you plan to take one of our courses or would prefer to discover the city on your own, it is certain that the capital of Spain will not disappoint!

2 May 2014

Learn Spanish in Madrid

Madrid, the capital and largest city in Spain, as well as the third largest city in the European Union. It offers all of the modern and cultural attractions of other European cities while preserving the historical look and feel of many of its neighbourhoods. It is the home of Castilian and the centre of much of Spain's history and culture, therefore a fantastic place to learn Spanish.

There are over 400 million native Spanish speakers worldwide, making Spanish the second most widely spoken language, after Mandarin. It has quickly become the most popular second language learned by Americans, and is the most widely understood language in the western hemisphere.

Spanish in Madrid


This programme is available for students aged 16 and up. The school is located in the city centre with good public transport links. It was recently renovated and offers comfortable and modern surroundings and facilities, including an IT suite, free internet access, a library and 40 spacious classrooms. 



There are three types of accommodation available with this programme. Host families, a student residence or a shared apartment. Host families are located around 20 minutes from the city centre and offer the choice of single or double rooms with breakfast. If students are looking for more independence the residence and apartments enable participants to live with other international students in double or triple fully furnished rooms. Although meals are not included with the apartment option there is a fully fitted kitchen in each apartment that students can use.  

Course options:
  • General Spanish - 20 lessons per week. Lessons cover all of the basic language structures and skills and last 55 minutes each. 
  • Intensive Spanish - 25 lessons per week, plus 5 cultural workshops. The available options are: radio, media, drama or history, literature and art. 
  • DELE exam preparation: 20 Spanish lessons per week dedicated to exam preparation, enabling you to gain a level recognised by the institute of Cervantes. 

Summer Camp in Madrid


Courses available for students aged between 5 - 18, combining Spanish lessons with supervised activities and excursions. The lessons take place in the main building of the Francisco de Vitoria university, one of the most prestigious universities in Spain. The campus offers many sporting facilities but also, a TV room, a study room, a dining room and an IT suite. 

The students' accommodation is on the same campus as the school. The residence provides single or double rooms, full-board and an international immersion experience. 


On the programme:
  • 20 Spanish lessons per week (4 a day) in small groups of eight students on average. At the end of the programme students receive a certificate attesting their progress. 
  • The school also organises activities and excursions, allowing students to discover Spain and its rich culture and heritage. 
  • Example excursions include: a day in Toledo, Segovia or Salamanca. Visit the historical sites in Madrid (museo del Prado, a guided tour of Madrid). Other activities such as sports, parties and workshops

School groups in Madrid

Our partner in the centre of Madrid welcomes closed groups of students aged between 14-18. Accommodation is with host families in and around Madrid with double rooms on half-board, giving students that extra chance to speak Spanish.



A typical programme includes:
  • 20 Spanish lessons per week 
  • Social and cultural activities such as visiting Gran Via, Sol & Paseo del Prado, exploring the Habsburg District and Plaza Mayor, and activities in Retiro Park.  
If you are interested in any of these programmes or any others do not hesitate to contact us!