Concerns

Finances

How much do your courses cost?

Check out our Course Fees page for information about fees for our standard group Spanish courses. Special Workshop fees can be found on the Enrol page.

Can I pay for my enrolment in instalments?

Most certainly! El Patio now offers interest-free payment plans through Limepay.

Please contact us if you'd like to discuss how to arrange this.

How much are your private classes?

Please contact us for information about private class fees. Let us know whether you'd like the classes to be online or face-to-face, how often you'd like to take classes, when you are available, and what goals you would like to achieve with your Spanish, so that we can set up a schedule and find you a suitable teacher.

Can I pay with cash or AMEX?

El Patio accepts AMEX. However, we no longer accept cash.

Do you offer group discounts?

Please contact us for information about group enrolment discounts.

Can I take a Trial Class?

Sure! Please contact us to arrange an appropriate level and class time.

Unfortunately we can't provide casual classes for the first class of Elementary 1 or El Cheapo. These classes often fill up and we do get last minute enrolments, so we need to save our places for full-fee-paying students.

If you're interested a beginner who's intewrested in trialling Spanish without investing too much at first, check out our 8-week El Cheapo Introductory courses.

Can I transfer my enrolment to a later Term?

El Patio runs classes based on the number of students who enrol each Term. Unfortunately, this means that we are unable to transfer enrolements to subsequent Terms.

Read our full Terms and Conditions of enrolment.

Concerns

Do you teach Spanish from Spain or Latin America?

The question about whether our teachers are from Spain of Hispanic America pops up fairly frequently. We’ve written this little article addressing this.

As a beginner, the relationship with the teacher, the quality of their teaching and the course content is much more important than the teacher’s background. Down the track there’s lots to discover in terms of differences from place to place (accent, vocabulary, etc), but the basics are the same regardless of where you travel or where your interests lie.

Our approach is to teach a general Spanish that you will be able to use anywhere you go.

We also run a Pronunciation & Accent Workshop which focuses in more detail on some of the differences in accent across the Spanish-speaking world as well as the different sounds of Spanish. 

Where are the teachers from? Are they native speakers?

Our teachers are all qualified teachers and come from many different countries.

The majority of our teachers speak Spanish as a first language. However, we also have a number of teachers who are not native speakers but who are qualified in teaching Spanish as an additional language, Spanish Philology or Linguistics.

Students often reflect that our non-native Spanish teachers are highly skilled at teaching Spanish. Often these teachers are able to identify and clearly explain concepts that are difficult because they've needed to overcome these challenges themselves. 

It can also be inspiring to see non-native speakers who have an equivalent level of Spanish to a native speaker. It's exciting to know it's possible!

We have a series of I Teach Spanish blogs done by our teachers on our website, so you can see for yourself who some of our teachers are!

Is learning Spanish hard?

Yes and no.

Learning Spanish is relatively easy for speakers of English because there are lots of words that are easy to recognise (because they share the same origin) and because both Spanish and English use the same alphabet 

Spanish pronunciation is also relatively straightforward. For example, compared to the pronunciation of Australian English, Spanish pronuncation is a lot simpler. 

As far as grammar goes, Spanish can get quite complex in higher levels, but there are also many things that feel familiar too.

In general, learning any language is a lot of work in the sense that it requires continued effort and application. However, if you do just a little bit of study as often as you can, you'll find the whole thing more enjoyable and achievable – and you'll be surprised at how quickly you progress.

How big are your classes?

Class size depends on the classroom. The maximum class size at our Melbourne CBD centre is 15 students. At Northcote it's 12. Online classes are also capped at 12 students.

Most classes have around 8 to 10 students. Some groups are even smaller. 

We need a minimum of 5 students to run a course for the full 10 weeks. Any less that this and we need to shorten the course in some way for it to be viable. See our Terms and Conditions on Small Classes for more information. 

Do you teach much grammar and writing? I just want to learn how to speak.

El Patio takes what is called a communicative approach to language teaching. This means that everything we do is designed to help students communicate with Spanish speakers in real-world contexts. In particular, students are encouraged to speak as much as possible from the very beginning – so you'll definitely learn how to speak!

However, that doesn't mean we don't teach grammar. What it means is that when we teach grammar, we teach it with a specific communicative purpose. Grammar is not something you learn for it's own sake: it's a tool to help you do all the things you want to in a new language. 

Writing is also an excellent tool for improving your other language skills such as speaking because it makes you think about how you are saying what you want to say. As a teacher, written exercises are a great resource for working out what your students need most help with. It may sound paradoxical, but writing in Spanish is one of the most effective ways of learning how to speak it!

So in class you can expect to develop all language skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing.  

All together, you will learn how to communicate and express yourself in Spanish.

What happens when I miss a class?

If you can't attend, we email you with what was covered in class as well as the homework set. Catch-up classes in another session running at the same level can sometimes be arranged if organised in advance – just contact us and we can work something out.

Around what age are the other students? I don't want to be the oldest...

The age-range of our students is from late teens right through to retirement age and beyond. We have students of all ages at El Patio! The average age is somewhere between 25 and 40.

How long will it take before I'm fluent?

This largely depends on each student, but it is a question of years, not weeks or months. Check out this description of our levels for more of an idea of how you can expect to progress in your learning. 

Fluency in a language is a long-term project. But it is possible! Many of our students have started in Elementary 1 and have gone on to become very fluent, some completing very high levels of study or living and working in Spanish-speaking countries.

Being patient with yourself and enjoying the journey is one of the keys to long-term language learning success.

Are your teachers experienced and qualified?

Yes, they absolutely are. 

We have very high standards when it comes to teachers. All of our teachers are qualified in either teaching Spanish as an additional language or in related fields such as Philology or Linguistics. 

In addition, all of our teachers are required to attend classes as observers as part of their training process. They're a passionate group who are all helping each other to be the best team of Spanish teachersa you'll find anywhere.

What teaching methods do you use?

While every teacher will teach a little differently and have their own teaching style, our overall approach is known as a communicative method. This means that everything we do is focused on using language meaningfully from the very beginning, to help them achieve communicative autonomy in the real world. 

All teachers follow programmes based on the textbooks we have chosen, which means our levels are consistent. It also means that if you miss a class you can attend another from the same level fairly seamlessly.

What are the classes like? 

Classes are a lot of fun!

Communicative learning activities ensure that classes are very social. Particular groups will often stay together from Term to Term, and there are plenty of instances of people forming life-long friendships in our classes. Learning languages is all about connecting with people, after all!

Expect lots of talking, interaction, laughing as well as trying out new vocab and grappling with complex things like verbs forms and tenses. It's a good combination and is what makes learning a language so great.

Some students also like to bring wine and tapas to class to share with their peers. As a school, we love this approach to learning. Come and try it out!

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