Top 5: Adam

¡Hola! After living in Madrid for a few months I have quite a lot of favourite places, but below you can find my top 5. I hope it’s helpful and you try some of them out whilst you’re in Madrid.

1. Parque del Retiro

Sorry to be basic but this is by far my favourite place in Madrid. You can go rowing, visit the book fair (in June), sunbathe and get a glass of sangria at the cafeteria. Rowing there is great value for money and costs around 7€ for 45 minutes. I cannot recommend it enough and it is particularly amazing to watch the sun set there. It’s really easy to get there from the centre too and you can even walk if you’re feeling brave enough.

Retiro Park
2. Palacio Real

This is another classic. The architecture and interior design of this palace is really something else. I went 3 times whilst staying in Madrid and have got to say it is one of my favourite places. You can access most of the palace, its gardens and take pictures in front of amazing views. Each room has its own theme and it really is a must-see if you want to try out being a Royal for the day. There is a discount for students too if you book it online in advance too at www.patrimonionacional.es/ and this will make sure that you avoid the extremely long queues for visitors who haven’t booked tickets in advance.

Royal Palace
3. LLBar, Chueca

I would highly recommend this little drag bar. Coming from Manchester which has the biggest gay night scene in Europe, I really didn’t expect to find much to compare it with here in Madrid. However, I was wrong. Chueca is a part of the city which really embraces LGBT culture. This bar has drag queen shows most nights and really is so fun and a great way to practice your Spanish talking in the queue or listening to the extremely talented Drag Queens singing and dancing. The entry is free and the copas (doubles) are good value for money.

Chueca
4. Purmina Indian Restaurant

This is by far my favourite place to eat in Madrid. Although not particularly Spanish, it serves authentic Indian food and is run by local Bangladeshi people who are extremely friendly. You can personalize each dish to have it as spicy as you want and the interior design really is to die for. It is a bit further out from the city centre but it is worth the effort, trust me! It is a bit pricey but the mains are extremely big so you could always share a main with a friend or just have a whole dish to yourself! We are all kind of holiday after all ;).

Indian restaurant
5. Ojalá, Malasaña

My favourite café to have brunch at on a Sunday morning is definitely Ojala. It is really quirky inside (as you can see in the photo) and the food is delicious, particularly the breakfast menu. All the brews come in tiny little cute tea cups and the avocado on toast is gorgeous. Go whilst you can! It is in the very trendy area of Malasaña, which is full of cool restaurants and cafes so you can go and do a bit of retail therapy in nearby vintage clothes shops after a delicious breakfast.

Ojalá, Malasaña

Fun ways to learn Spanish

There are many easy and interactive ways to make language learning a fun process. Below are some different ways to help you learn Spanish without having to sit at a desk!

Study Spanish in Madrid

1. Spotify and Spanish podcasts

Spotify doesn’t just have to be a tool for listening to your favorite music artists. Why not listen to podcasts in Spanish? Put the playlist on whilst you are walking to meet a friend or whilst you are cleaning your room. Repetition is key when learning a language, listening to a podcast everyday will improve your listening skills and expose you to more vocabulary and show you grammar structures being used.

I would personally recommend the Español Automatico podcast on Spotify with Karo Matrinez. Her ethos is to learn a language is full immersion; her podcasts discuss typically Spanish phrases and also discuss tricky grammar concepts like the subjunctive case. She also creates transcripts of the podcasts so students also read what is being said.

2. Quizlet

This website and app is ideal for learning new vocabulary. You can create your own study sets using the vocab your Inhispania teachers give you in class, or you can use sets created by other Spanish students. The app helps you to learn new words using a variety of settings: mini-tests, games or flashcards. You can also use it for phrases that you want to learn, like Spanish idioms and colloquialisms. What´s more is that the app is totally free!

3. Keep a diary

Keeping a diary every day is incredibly useful. Not only do you learn new vocabulary through writing about your daily activities, you can also track your progress. Sometimes it can be frustrating when you feel like you are not making any improving, keeping a diary will remind you that you are getting better- slowly but surely! As time goes by, you will find it easier to describe your day, you will be able write more and will make fewer errors. After a couple of months you will look back at your first diary entry and laugh at the little mistakes you used to make.

4. Intercambios! (Language exchange)

Try and find a Spaniard, or someone who is fluent in Spanish to trade speaking with. Meet up and speak half of your time in Spanish and the other half in your mother tongue. This is mutually beneficial. You can both learn how to speak a new language conversationally and you can make a new friend! It is also a good way to get to know Madrid, a local will know the best places to eat and drink. They can show you what it is really like to be a Madrileño!

At Inhispania, every Wednesday at 8pm one of our weekly activities is to visit an Intercambio at Larios Café. Come along and meet new people and practice your Spanish!

We also have an advertisement board in the school for Intercambios, why not make your own advertisement?

5. Netflix

Netflix, as everyone knows it is one of the most popular ways to relax at home. Why not watch Spanish dramas? There are plenty to choose from my personal favourite is Las Chicas del Cable. Other examples include La Casa de Las Flores and La Casa de Papel (the list goes on and on). Everyone learns differently, I am a visual learner so for me having Spanish subtitles with Spanish audio is the best way for me to learn.

If you are a beginner why not try watching a children’s programme in Spanish?

This way you do not need to put on subtitles in your mother tongue (which normally turns into only reading the words on the screen and not actually hearing what is being said at all).

Or watch a series that you know really well (for me it is Friends), but watch it in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, you will know roughly what is being said because it is a familiar programme to you, only this time you will hear how these things are spoken in Spanish. Game of Thrones (Juego de Tronos) is translated into Spanish, as is Friends. See what other series you can find that have a Spanish equivalent!

Traditional festivals in Madrid

If you´re looking for an authentic experience in Madrid, the August fiestas (6th-18th August 2019), could be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the city´s traditions alongside the locals. Each summer, the streets come alive with three of the city´s most famous festivals – read on to find out how to get involved.

The celebrations begin with the Fiestas de San Cayetano (from 6th August, Embajadores). Events will include open-air concerts, dances, parades and games. In the evening you can enjoy a DJ session with a drink from one of the local bars which will be setting up in the street for the occasion.

The party continues with the Fiestas de San Lorenzo (10th-13th August, Lavapiés). Once you´ve worked up an appetite from dancing, why not go on a tapas tour of the local bars and try something new!

Fiesta Virgen de la Paloma

The Fiestas de la Virgen de la Paloma (12th-18th August, La Latina), are undoubtedly the highlight of the celebrations; if you only go to one of the three fiestas, this one is not to be missed. The festival reaches its climax on 15th August, which happens to be a public holiday in Madrid, so you won´t have to skip work to join in! On this day, alongside more events such as workshops and food tastings, the firefighters of Madrid take part in a procession and make an offering to their patron saint.

You can find more information and the official programme here:

https://www.esmadrid.com/fiestas-agosto-madrid-san-cayetano-san-lorenzo-virgen-la-paloma

How to choose the perfect Spanish language school for you!

Best Spanish school in Madrid

Being a student who studies Spanish, I thought long and hard about selecting the best possible Spanish language school for me. Whilst staying in Spain for 4 months, I wanted to be able to speak at least some basic Spanish. So I began researching online. There were so many schools to choose from, which at first, was slightly overwhelming. Below, I have noted down what factors to consider when choosing your school and then explained how Inhispania ended up being my school of choice.

1.     What do you look for in a school?

Before you start looking for a school, you have to know exactly what you are looking for. There is more to learning a language than simply Spanish lessons, it is also an experience. Make a list and write down what you think is important for a school to have.

For example:

– Are the teachers native speakers?

– Are there extra activities available?

– Are classes available for a variety of levels?

– Are class hours flexible?

– What kind of materials are used in classes?

These may look like very small matters, but could actually be a big help once you start looking. In the end, it’s the smallest things that make the biggest difference. At Inhispania, Spanish is taught by Spaniards, and there are classes for all levels. The classes on offer can fit with any work/study schedule and activities are offered every week from Tuesday to Friday. On some Saturdays there are also trips to nearby cities such as Segovia and Toledo.

2.     Location

Location is hugely important; if you are looking outside of the center then easily accessible public transport is essential. For me, somewhere in the heart of Madrid was vital. When you can be a part of the city life and can enjoy its liveliness, the experience you have is all the more immersive and authentic. Whether that means enjoying the “Menu del día” after classes in a local restaurant, grabbing a coffee between lessons or even walking to Sol for some shopping after classes. Inhispania couldn’t be located in a better part of the city.

3.     Reviews

Nowadays, online reviews are a fantastic source of information about places, restaurants, activities and yes, that’s right – Spanish language schools! By reading reviews, you have access to honest opinions written by students (just like you and I).

4.     The student-teacher relationship is KEY!

Learning a language can be frustrating and takes a lot of patience. A teacher who can support students, correct mistakes, answer questions and offer encouragement makes the learning process a lot easier. For me it is very important to establish a good connection with a teacher. Asking questions seems less daunting and making mistakes isn’t as much of an issue. A classroom in which the students and the teacher are enjoying themselves and have a good relationship is a much more effective environment to learn in!

After going on the internet and looking up reviews about Inhispania (as previously suggested), a recurring comment was that the teachers at the school were really friendly and outgoing. After attending classes, I found out for myself that this was indeed true. The teachers were always so helpful and always tried to make you feel at ease. I felt confident and comfortable talking in classes and I was not worried about asking questions if I didn´t understand something nor embarrassed about making mistakes.

5.     Support offered

Does the school cater to your needs? Perhaps this is your first time away from home studying in another country without friends or family; will you get support? Does the school offer accommodation with other students?

Or maybe you are a mature student seeking a totally different cultural experience, what can the school offer you?

Inhispania, for me, lived up to all of my hopes and expectations. I received great exposure to Spanish culture through attending the activities, my confidence in speaking improved thanks to the hard work and dedication of my teacher and the wonderful classroom and learning environment. It was an experience that will stay with me whilst I continue on my journey learning Spanish. I can say with confidence that I will eagerly return to the school in the future!

Feria del Libro, Madrid (Book Fair)

Want to learn a language quickly? Get reading! Take advantage of Madrid´s 78th Feria del Libro (Book Fair) in El Retiro. With over 300 book stalls around the city, the guest country this year is the Dominican Republic, with the event´s slogan ´´A story at every step´´ (Una historia a cado paso). From the 31st May- 16th June, wander around the city´s many stalls and immerse yourself in the literary culture.

Here´s a summary of our top 4 best hidden gems around the city for literature and free activities:

  • La Casquería Antigua

Feria del libro Madrid

Love a good bargain? Here, you pay for the weight of your books, meaning that a whole kilo only comes to only 10 euros. (Nearest metro stop: Embajadores, 41)

2) Tuuulibreria

Books and culture Madrid

The only place where you can actually choose the price of your book. The idea is that everyone has access to literature. The company also sends books to developing countries. (Covarrubias 38, Bilbao)

  • La Casa Encendida or Casa del Libro

More well-known than the two previous places, you can take part in book signings, readings, and free exhibitions.

  • Ever heard of a Poetry Slam?

Poetry Slam Madrid

Try something a bit different and join this Facebook group´s poetry/ rap-style competition to challenge your poetry skills on the spot.

Keep a look out for: The lady with the typewriter outside Opera. Give her a subject and she can type up a poem for you on the spot!

Finally, don’t forget that Inhispania runs a book exchange on the second floor with plenty of novels, tourist magazines and autobiographies!