The beautiful Basque cities of San Sebastián and Bilbao are perhaps best known for their gastronomic offerings – and those who come here to study Spanish will inevitably spend much of their time ensconced in pintxo bars sampling the city’s most famous delicacy, not least because it’s probably the cheapest way to eat here.
But there’s also plenty else to enjoy here, including a pristine stretch of coastline and numerous museums and galleries, most famous among them Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum. One thing’s for certain: if you’re here to learn Spanish, you’ll come away with plenty of superlatives to describe one of the country’s most charming and captivating cities. To further whet your appetite, here’s our pick of the three best language schools in San Sebastián and Bilbao.
El Aula Azul (San Sebastián)
Situated in a beautiful building in the heart of San Sebastián, El Aula Azul has grown to become one of the city’s most highly regarded institutions for learning Spanish. Classes are held within four spacious, fully equipped classrooms, with computers, projectors and reference books available for the use of students in some rooms and throughout the school. Courses include intensive, super intensive, semi intensive and extensive options. One-to-one courses, family courses and Dele exam preparation courses are also available, as well as combined courses that fuse language learning with activities such as surfing and horse riding, and – unique to the school – total immersion courses that are free for al students and are designed to immerse you in activities and assignments with native speakers. Students can connect to the school’s free WIFI, access on-line resources and borrow books or films in Spanish. All of the school’s teachers have a degree and specific training or experience in teaching Spanish as a foreign language. For down time, there’s a common area with sofas, a coffee machine, and a signboard where you’ll find tips for activities and how to make the most of your free time in San Sebastian. The school hosts a number of free activities including kayaking, river trips, visits to local pintxo bars, and yoga lessons. They also help students find accommodation in a shared apartment with Spanish residents.
Lacunza International House (San Sebastián)
Part of the International House global network of language schools, Lacunza is located in the neighbourhood of Eguia, a short walk from the city centre. Modern and purpose built facilities ensure a comfortable study environment, with 17 large classrooms including interactive whiteboards, 8 computers with free Internet access, a spacious open air terrace, a social area, a library, and a multimedia room. The school is accredited by the Instituto Cervantes and offers a range of academic Spanish language courses adapted for different levels and age groups, and there are also specialised courses for teachers, groups and professionals. The methodology is focused on the practice and action of using the Spanish language for communication from day one. The school also runs a diverse social activity programme as well as helping students find a range of accommodation options, including host families, private and shared apartments, and student residences.
Lince Spanish School (Bilbao)
Located in the centre of Bilbao, a 10- minute walk from the famous Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Fine Arts, Lince Spanish School offers a wide range of Spanish language courses. Among them are Intensive courses, Business courses, evening courses, teacher training courses and school group courses. The methodology is designed to instil self-confidence in students by using a communicative approach involving the four acknowledged language skills – speaking, writing, listening and reading comprehension. All of the school’s teachers are professionals in teaching Spanish to foreigners, with specific training and years of experience. The school also offers a varied program of free cultural activities in which all students are invited to participate weekly. There’s also a dedicated accommodation service to help students find local hostels or host families to live with during their stay.
Tandem San Sebastián
Founded in 1987, Tandem San Sebastián offers linguistic and cultural training for international students, either for short stays or long term courses. There’s a wide programme of Spanish courses, from beginners to advanced level, taught all year round in the school’s six well-equipped classrooms and computer lounge. Courses last from anything between one week and several months. Classes are kept small, allowing all students to actively take part in lessons and enjoy plenty of individual attention. Students can also combine their Spanish learning with a wide range of activities including surfing and cooking, delivering an immersive cultural experience that goes beyond language learning. The school also helps with all students’ accommodation requirements.