Christmas time is finally approaching! In Madrid, this festive season means a city full of lights, decorations and loved ones gathering for brindis together. Out of the many special held at this time of year, a trip to Madrid’s Christmas markets is one of the most magical.
The colourful market stalls spill onto the city streets every December, offering all sorts of gifts to buy. Taking full advantage of their presence, AIL Madrid’s students bundle up in warm layers and start shopping!
Our favourite market, and that of our students, is the Christmas market of Plaza Mayor. Boasting more than 100 stalls, the famous market is the perfect place to get lost in. You can find everything from nativity scene figurines to Christmas trees, baubles, garlands and glittering lights. The market takes place from November to the last day of the year, leaving plenty of time to explore.
Another Christmas market we never fail to stop by is that of the emblematic Plaza de España. The handmade quality and huge variety and novelty of all its items on sale delight our students. They never leave without purchasing at least one special gift for their families! With the opening dates of the Christmas markets just around the corner, we can’t wait to pay them another visit. Who knows what we’ll find?
Hi! I’m Sandra, a twenty-year-old AIL student from Sweden. I started learning Spanish as a total beginner at the start of September this year.
I chose to take Spanish lessons mainly for my family. My mother’s side of the family is Venezuelan and don’t speak any English. To make communicating with them easier, I decided to start learning Spanish. I went online to find the best language school in Spain. After reading so many amazing recommendations, I decided to study Spanish in AIL Madrid.
My Life in Madrid
I have been in Madrid for two months now. Living in a country surrounded by people who speak the language, I’m amazed at how much my Spanish has already improved. Everyday tasks like ordering in a restaurant, asking a local for directions and talking to store cashiers have become great opportunities for me to practice what I learned in class. I’m feeling more and more comfortable with the language. I can now speak Spanish better than some of my friends who have been studying it in Sweden for years!
The teachers in AIL Madrid are also so warm and welcoming. It really helps when learning Spanish as a beginner. My teacher, Olga, takes the time to make sure we understand everything in lessons. She always helps us with our problems, so no one ever hesitates to ask questions.
The teachers participate in all our fiestas and activities too. This means that most of the time, they don’t even really feel like teachers!
My Future with Spanish
I will never regret my decision to come to Spain. After I finish my time here, I’ll be able to speak Spanish for the rest of my life! If you want to spend your money on enhancing your ‘life backpack’ of skills, I would recommend learning Spanish at AIL Madrid.
From time to time, we like taking a break from the city centre to experience a more tranquil pace of life. Armed with sunscreen, water bottles and hats, ten of our students enjoy a riverside bike ride with our teacher Servando through the city’s very own nature escape: the Madrid Río.
We first scoop up some pre-booked bicycles from Mi Bike Río (www.mibikerio.com), located just by Metro Principe Pío. Then, we begin our journey in a southerly direction towards the Royal Palace. Along the way, we peek in at the Casa de Campo and admire the views of the Catedral de la Almudena.
The river is the perfect location for a bike ride, even if the weather has us working up a sweat sooner than we´d expect! Rather than cycling on the crowded straight path on the east side of the river, we instead stick to the western route. The path is packed with swooping curves, dips and inclines continuing past the Estadio Calderón. Around us, children splash in the outdoors fountains and adults bask on the lawns. It’s as though they’re sunbathing on a private beach.
After reaching our final stop at Matadero Madrid, we head back and return our bikes. Then, we stroll to the nearby Paulaner Biergarten (located riverside by the Campo del Moro) for some well-deserved refreshments. Fancy coming next time? ¡Apúntate a uno de nuestros cursos en AIL Madrid!
If you’re tiring of being enslaved by your GPS, or even worse don’t have any coverage, then getting lost and asking the locals for help is a great way to practice your Spanish. To ask for directions in Spanish, why not use these phrases?
• Perdona, ¿Hay un banco/una estación de metro/una farmacia por aquí? Excuse me, is there a bank/metro stop/pharmacy near here?
• Disculpa, ¿Para ir a……? Sorry, to get to… (insert street name/area)?
• ¿Sabes dónde está……? Do you know where ….is?
The answer you receive will very likely include common direction verbs such as:
• Coger – to take
• Girar – to turn
• Seguir – to continue (irregular!)
• Ir – to go (irregular!)
• Cruzar – to cross
It will also nearly always involve the imperative. In the informal singular form, this tense is really easy! To help you, here are the same verbs again in their simplest imperative form.
1. Coge la primera/segunda calle a la derecha/izquierda… (take the first street on the right/left…)
2. Gira a la izquierda en el semáforo… (turn left at the light…)
3. Sigue todo recto… (continue straight on…)
4. Vete a la derecha/izquierda… (go right…)
5. Cruza la plaza… (cross the square…)
Until just recently, the only language I could speak was English. Having promised myself that I would learn another language, I took advantage of a short break between jobs to work as a teaching assistant in Madrid. I work during the day, so I was looking for a language school that could offer me night classes. Most of all, however, I wanted somewhere where I would feel at home.
I came across a perfectly timed night Spanish course for me at AIL Madrid, a language school with great online recommendations. My first class was fantastic! My teacher, Edu, was incredibly friendly and I got on really well with the other six people in my class.
The most difficult part of learning Spanish can be having the confidence to start a conversation in it. However, the atmosphere of the classes at AIL were perfect for practicing. We all helped each other and no one ever laughed if someone made a mistake (and we made plenty at the start!). Edu was also really attentive and always took the time to respond to any doubts we had.
If you want to learn Spanish or simply improve your current skills, my advice would be to apply to AIL. Everyone is so kind, so I always feel at home there. My Spanish has improved dramatically. When I first arrived in Madrid, I never dared to speak to my Spanish friends. Nowadays, they have to ask me to stop – once I start speaking in Spanish, there’s no stopping me!