So, you’re a university student considering visiting Spain, right? At the same time, how about mastering Spanish to make your stay even more rewarding?
Many students like you have joined Spanish Express to do just that. They chose Spain not just for the education but also for the culture.
Spanish Express offers an exciting Homestay Immersion Programme for university students. Stay with your teacher at their home and immerse yourself fully in the Spanish language and lifestyle. How’s that for killing two birds with one stone?
In today’s blog, we will trace the journey of Léa and Tiffany at Spanish Express. These students managed to balance their university responsibilities with an authentic cultural experience.
Before we share their stories, let’s look at some key points that might help you make your decision to study, work, and truly live the Spanish experience.
Why Learn Spanish by Immersion?
Immersion is the fastest route to language fluency, and for college students, it’s a double win.
Not only do you attend language classes, but you also get to live with a host teacher. This exposes you to real, everyday language in a way a classroom can’t offer.
In the Spanish Express Homestay Immersion Programme, you’ll be part of the local community—living, eating, and participating in cultural activities like local students. It’s about learning by living.
Immersion allows you to practice Spanish in the most realistic settings, improving your speaking ability rapidly.
So, when you’re not in private lessons, you can still engage in meaningful conversations with your host teacher, soaking up the language and culture in a much deeper way.
What to consider when choosing a Spanish language programme
Choosing a Spanish immersion programme requires thoughtful planning to ensure it meets your educational and cultural needs. Here are some aspects to consider:
Type of Lessons:
Private lessons can offer a personalised curriculum while group programmes provide social interaction. Decide what suits you best.
Host Family/Host Teacher:
Living with a local family is an important part of the homestay experience. But Living with a host teacher brings more benefits. So, you must decide what suits you better.
We advise you to live with a host teacher as it covers both, your courses as well as the language immersion. Even when not in a lesson, you are still learning while spending moments with your host teacher.
The location should be aligned with what you want to explore. At Spanish Express, we offer SHIP at a variety of destinations:
Programmes often cater to different levels of Spanish fluency. Ensure that the course you select is aligned with your current language skills for an effective learning journey.
Now, before moving forward, let’s test your Spanish language proficiency for free with our test available.
These are great add-ons that provide a holistic language and cultural immersion. From visiting historical sites to engaging in local community events, these activities are often included in the programme.
The Programme duration is one week long, but you can expand it per your requirements. Ensure that this programme duration is not hindering your regular course studies. Join SHIP during your summer or winter break or any other semester break.
Past Participants’ Feedback:
Sometimes, the most accurate information comes from those who have experienced the programme. Check reviews or speak to past participants to get a genuine feel of what to expect.
Here’s what Mary Campbell says about her son’s online classes with Spanish Express and a week-long Homestay Immersion Stay in Mallorca with Pepe, a Spanish Express host teacher.
Another review from another satisfied guest student, Eleanor Maidstone. She stayed in Mónica’s home in Barcelona and experienced the brilliant moments.
Read another review from Sam Georgi, who states some good words about her stay in Pilar’s house in Valencia.
Ensure that the homestay provides a comfortable living situation since you’ll spend a good portion of your time there.
Proven Benefits of Living with a Local Host Teacher
When it comes to selecting a destination for language immersion, one tricky question is whether should you live with a host family or a host teacher.
Choosing to live with a local host teacher through our Spanish immersion programme provides unparalleled advantages for international students eager to master the Spanish language.
Here are some proven benefits:
1. Focused Language Classes:
A host teacher can offer private lessons tailored to your learning needs. These personalised sessions enhance your language immersion and make for an enriching experience.
2. Accelerated Learning:
Staying with a local host teacher means you’re constantly in a learning environment, unlike staying with a local family who may not have the expertise. This can fast-track your Spanish fluency and improve your speaking ability.
3. True Cultural Immersion:
While a local family may offer some degree of cultural activities, a host teacher can integrate these experiences into your language study. Whether it’s cooking a local dish or visiting historical sites, the learning never stops.
4. Real-world Practice:
Living with a host teacher offers ample opportunity to practise Spanish in everyday life. From shopping in local businesses to engaging with the local community, these experiences will cement your Spanish studies.
5. Personalised Assessment:
With a host teacher, you can receive timely feedback on your language level, helping you adjust your learning strategy as you go along.
Suitable for Students of all Ages and any Language Level
Our programmes are open to students from around the world and adaptable to any language level. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re just beginning your journey in Spanish or looking to elevate it, you’ll find our courses ideal.
The immersive experience is specially designed to fit into everyday life, making the process enriching and effective. You’ll see a noticeable improvement in your Spanish level within just a few weeks.
Intensive one-to-one Language Immersion Classes with a Host Teacher for Students and Adults
For those keen on deep language study, our intensive one-to-one sessions with a local host teacher offer a fast track to fluency.
Unlike other group programmes, these lessons integrate seamlessly into everyday life. Taking place in historically rich settings, like Barcelona, Burgos or Valencia to name a few of our destinations, you’ll not only learn the language but also explore historical sites and local businesses, all within walking distance.
This unique approach promises an immersion experience that’s truly amazing.
Read Tiffany’s and Léa’s Experience at SHIP in Barcelona
Destination: Dosrius, Barcelona
Objective: Improve Spanish for exam preparation and learn about the culture.
A Leaf from Mónica’s Diary at SHIP Barcelona
I’m a teacher and examiner of DELE and SIELE, with over 20 years of experience, so for Tiffany and Léa it has been a unique opportunity to spend these days in my house and learn some study techniques that will be very useful for them when they sit in the exam.
Tiffany is a 26-year-old civil servant from England and works for a London Council. Her goal is to pass the DELE C1 exam. She passed the B2 a while ago with Spanish Express and now, after some time, she has decided to take up classes again because she wants to progress to the next level.
For this reason, Tiffany participated in the Spanish Homestay Immersion Programme (SHIP) “Live and study in your teacher’s home”, in order to spend a week with me and prepare herself well for her DELE C1 exam.
Léa is a 22-year-old young student from a University in France. Their international study programmes, covering a wide variety of fields, are developed in partnership with universities throughout the world. Léa is doing a degree in Spanish and in her second year she will be spending a whole semester at the University of Barcelona.
Every student encounters different challenges along the way, which can be effectively addressed through individualised instruction. With this personalised immersion programme in Dosrius, Barcelona, our mission is to help achieve our beloved students’ challenges.
Family and friends welcome meal: Pizzeria in Mataró
Léa arrived on Wednesday afternoon and Tiffany arrived on Friday evening, both took public transport from Barcelona Airport to Mataró. This is a straightforward and cheap journey; you simply take the shuttle bus from the airport to Plaça Catalunya, and from there take the train to Mataró. The buses and trains are very frequent, so no need to rush or worry if you miss one!
Tiffany and Léa hit it off immediately and realised they had a lot in common. I was very pleased because they were going to spend a whole week together in Dosrius, Barcelona. We all had an amazing time, lots of girly chats (in Spanish, of course), sightseeing and relaxing time at our main garden.
I thought it would be a good idea to invite Léa and Tiffany for a meal on the seafront, at the Port of Mataró. We went to one of my favourite Pizzerias, which was ideal for all as Léa loves pizzas and Tiffany is a vegetarian so there were plenty of options for both of them. We were also joined by Natalia, one of my best friends, and my Goddaughter, Claudia, who is also in her twenties.
“But why did I choose a pizzeria if the programme is called SHIP – Spanish Homestay Immersion, you may ask…” Well, I guess you’re right, we are in Spain, not Italy! However, meeting friends for lunch or dinner in any kind of restaurant, be it Italian, French, Spanish or any other cuisine, is a deeply rooted custom in our culture. Talking and sharing news over a tapa, a glass of wine or a coffee is a part of the day that we enjoy very much in Spain, as well as in any other Latin American country.
From a practical aspect, this was a great opportunity for Tiffany and Léa to practice speaking with new people right at the beginning of their stay in Dosrius, Barcelona. The oral exam is often considered the hardest part of any language examination because students lack real-life experience of this in a non-rehearsed way. I wanted Tiffany and Léa to get stuck in straight away with speaking practice, so this was a perfect chance to do that.
Visit to Argentona
On the first day we decided to go to Argentona, near Dosrius, Barcelona. Tiffany and Léa are really interested in history and culture, and therefore Argentona was the perfect first stop as it encompasses what a typical Catalan town is like.
Argentona is full of regional history for this part of Spain, and is filled with the typical amenities you would find in a small town. It’s a very important city in the history of this region. The first main tram route was from Mataró to Argentona.
In fact, we were able to go and see an old tram coach which is proudly on display in the town centre. Sadly, the tramline is now closed permanently.
When we arrived in Argentona, we took a walk through the colourful town centre and absorbed the scenery. We went to a well-known local bakery, as both girls were drawn in by the giant palmeras in the window! We stopped for a moment to enjoy some goodies from the bakery outside the market in Argentona.
Visit to Mataró
Both Léa and Tiffany enjoy shopping, so I decided to take them to Mataró city centre. Mataró is situated between my home in Dosrius and Barcelona and is a great place to explore as a tourist to the area.
It’s smaller than the main city of Barcelona, but has plenty of things to do and plenty of shopping opportunities! In the centre of Mataró, there is a buzzing market with stalls selling all different kinds of things.
This was a good chance for Tiffany and Léa to practice their Spanish as they conversed with market sellers and the locals.
We settled for lunch in a restaurant I regularly visit with my family. Here, they serve “menú del día”, which is typical across Spain. Normally, the menu consists of 2 courses, drinks, bread and dessert for between 10 and 15 euros (depending on when and where you eat).
In some areas, it’s even cheaper, and you eat really well for that price! In Spanish culture, lunch is probably the most important meal of the day and the largest meal of the day too. Therefore, it felt only right to give Tiffany and Léa the full Spanish culinary experience!
Tiffany ordered bacalao (cod), which is a traditional and popular fish dish. Léa ordered huevos rotos (broken eggs), a classic Spanish tapas dish. As “menú del día” is so reasonably priced, it’s a good opportunity to take advantage of trying new foods.
At the end of lunch, we had a coffee and enjoyed a stroll through the streets of the city, always accompanied by spectacular sunshine.
Following our meal, I arranged a visit to La Casa Coll i Regàs, which is a famous building in Mataró designed by the architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch in 1898. It has a very distinct style and is a local treasure.
La Casa Coll i Regás features modernist architecture and is a large building which was originally two separate houses. During our visit, we had an intimate guided tour delivered in Spanish. The guide was very friendly and answered all of our questions.
Prior to her arrival, I asked Tiffany and Léa about their interests, and they both enjoy museums, history and architecture. Therefore, this visit was the perfect addition to their tailor-made SHIP.
On our way back home to Dosrius, Barcelona, we walked past the Nau Gaudí, the first structure designed by Gaudí after his graduation from the architecture school. It was amazing to see how his work has developed from this moment.
The building was commissioned in 1878 by the Mataró Workers Cooperative as a cotton-bleaching house. Now, all that remains is the original wooden structure, which has been restored. This is a modest structure, but the arches are a typical Gaudi style.
The Enchanted Forest of Órrius
Aside from the city-based adventures, this area of Spain has some stunning natural beauty spots, perfect for relaxing walks and enjoying the outdoors. One of my favourite spots is the Enchanted Forest in Órrius, just a short drive from Dosrius, Barcelona.
The forest itself is a wonderful vast open space where you can lose yourself. What makes this forest enchanted? Well, simply because there is a collection of very rare rocks that play tricks with our imagination.
Some of the rocks resemble those in Easter Island, with faces carved into them. There is a large rock which is carved and positioned to look like an elephant. Some people also believe that fairies and gnomes live here.
We didn’t find any, but never say never! We spent a relaxing morning wandering around the forest, chatting away and reflecting on our day in Mataró. Both girls had a lot of fun!
Barcelona: solo trip
Tiffany’s flight was in the early evening, so she decided to spend the final day with a few hours looking around Barcelona. This was a great opportunity for her to go alone and make the most of the city before her flight.
I was really pleased that Tiffany felt confident enough to spend the day in the city, speaking and using all the Spanish she had learned. Here are some of the photos she took!
Though I love any excuse to get around in the city, the SHIP is totally tailor-made, so students are welcome to add additional leisure time in Barcelona or Girona should they wish.
The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is the most well-known building and features intricate designs inside and out. You can enjoy a good view from the outside for free, but the inside is definitely worth a visit.
Sant Pau is the world’s largest Art Nouveau complex, as well as the most important work by Lluís Domènech i Montaner, one of the most renowned Catalan modernista architects.
The Art Nouveau Site, which was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 for its uniqueness and aesthetic splendour, is a complex of 12 pavilions connected by a mile-long network of underground corridors.
During the Christmas season, the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site was once again dressed in lights and colours to become a space full of magic and joy. This year the theme was a journey into the cosmos.
An extended tour through the facilities of the Sant Pau Art Nouveau Site allowed us to delve into the mysteries of space: galaxies, stars and planets. A real spectacle!
The Casa Batlló is one of Gaudí’s masterpieces. Tiffany went by foot from the Plaça Catalunya, along the Passeig de Gràcia. It is situated in the ‘Eixample’ district and is on a row of houses called the Illa de la Discòrdia, where there are 3 other buildings in the modernist style. Again, you can get an excellent view from outside, but it is definitely worth the ticket price if you have time to go inside.
Lunch in the sun
To round off a busy morning walking in the city, Tiffany stopped for a “menu del día”! Learning quickly from the experience in Mataró! This type of meal is very easily found all across Spain, even in busy city centres. I recommended Tiffany visit the neighbourhood “La Barceloneta” for lunch, as this is the perfect place to take in the beach and port views.
Visit Dosrius, Barcelona, and live an experience like Léa and Tiffany
If you are looking for an exciting adventure like Tiffany and Léa, join our SHIP!✈️
Thanks to our programme, you will discover cities such as Barcelona, Valencia and Palma de Mallorca while learning Spanish at the same time in the homes of our teachers. 🇪🇸
No matter your interests are: sports, cultural activities, food, history… or all of the above! We can tailor your stay with activities to suit you. 😄
Here, you can read more about one of our students in Dosrius, Barcelona. 📖
Spanish Homestay Immersion Programme
Join us and become a future protagonist for our next diaries. 🤩
At Spanish Express, you will learn Spanish in a different way!