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.)