Ask Fodor's: Where Can I Learn Spanish in Madrid?

Posted by Salwa Jabado on August 4, 2014 at 3:00:00 PM EDT | Post a Comment

Our column this week features a question submitted by @EscCro via Twitter:

can you please suggest links for cheap accommodation (room, flat, shared flat...) in Madrid and schools to learn Spanish?

There's nothing like putting your newly learned language skills to use the moment you step outside the classroom doors. Madrid, as a place to learn Spanish, offers the added benefit of some of the country's best museums, restaurants, and nightlife scenes. To get a head start before you go, Living Language's excellent Spanish courses make it easy to fit in lessons—you can access them via mobile app, online course, or workbook and audio CD.

El Instituto Cervantes accredits language schools in Spain and allows you to search for schools based on the type of course, date, location, and level you are interested in. Unfortunately, the search tool is in Spanish, so you may want to have a dictionary or Spanish-speaking friend at hand. Of the 140 accredited schools countrywide, there are 21 in Madrid to choose from. Here are a couple to try:

International House: The teachers here are all natives or educated in Spain. While International House specializes in teaching English, they have a great Spanish program in Madrid, located outside the city center. They provide a range of levels and course lengths, from intense to super intense, and from one week up to a year. They also offer homestay accommodations or student residences. While a student residence allows you a bit more freedom, a homestay offers a slice of real madrileño life you won't have access to otherwise.

InHispania: This language center, in the heart of Madrid near the Puerto del Sol, is a less expensive option. They also offer multiple course levels and can arrange for homestays, apartments, and student residences.

While not accredited by El Instituto Cervantes, the largest university in Spain, Universidad Complutense Madrid, also has Spanish immersion classes by the month, trimester, or year. It offers hands-on workshops to introduce Spanish culture as well as city highlights to students; however, it's a bit outside the city center. They have helpful information on student housing (in Spanish) as well.

For inexpensive accommodations, your best bet is a homestay or share via your language school. However, Airbnb is a good resource for rooms in local homes. Other apartment rental agencies in Madrid include Segundamano, an online classifieds site similar to Craigslist, and Friendly Rentals. —Salwa Jabado, Senior Editor, Countryside and Adventure (Follow her on Twitter: @salwajabado.)

© Dennis Dolkens |

Salwa Jabado

Senior Editor, Countryside and Adventure

I’m originally from beautiful Miami, attended college and came to love the South in Atlanta, and am now officially a New Yorker with 10-plus years here. I am an absolute Brooklyn convert and yes, I do make my own pickles.

Member Comments (1)

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colins on July 23, 2015 at 9:18:07 AM EDT

I visited Madrid just recently to take a language course. I don't know International House but it seems for me to be more adequate for professionals who wish to have less fun because they target locals who learn English and foreigners and both groups have different expectations. I took a semester course at Universidad Complutense. It was ok but the class size was big (in my class 27!!!). I didn't had much opportunity to practice my spoken Spanish but I learned a bit. If I would take it on again, I would choose a school with a smaller size. The biggest schools in Spain are likely DonQuijote and Enforex which have schools at numerous locations - not only in Madrid. I wanted to take the Dele exam and chose Ailola Madrid for a intensive prep course after my University program at Complutense - nice school, not too big and affordable. The class size was much smaller than at Universidad Complutense. I think all classes will be smaller and more convenient at private institutes. Due to the competition, the prices among most schools are relatively low. I was in Argentina last year and paid probably 30-50% more (for the course only and not considering the flight from UK) - though it is a third-world country if you can say that.

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