Elephants and light bulbs - why we fear grammar and how to learn to love it

Leaping out at us from the pages of our textbooks, grammar is often feared and is often the 'elephant in the room'. But grammar isn't meant to be scary. In fact, it's something we're naturally good at. Grammar is part of our daily lives and is part of what makes us human.

Which Course or Workshop for my Level in the Summer Intensives?

¡Yupi! 2019 is the year of learning Spanish! (well, every year is ... but this year is THE year). And the Summer Intensives are an excellent way to get things started. If you're wondering whether to take a Conversation Course or a few Workshops or are thinking about completing the next level up in two weeks, here's where to find out which options are right for you.

Take your Spanish further with an 'Improve' Workshop

If your Spanish is an ice-cream, the Improve Workshops are the extra toppings that really take things to the next level. But instead of chocolate sprinkles, we've designed the Improve Workshops to tackle KEY LANGUAGE SKILLS. These key skills - such as Listening and Speaking - are those essential aspects of language that always need extra work. The Improve Workshops are the chance for you to do just that.

The Surprising Benefits of Being a Beginner

What is it to be a beginner? Is it something we get to leave behind? And if not, then how might the attitude of being a beginner help us as we learn?

El adiós de Anisa (B2-C2)

Ana's latest story takes place during the final moments of Moorish Spain - in 1492 - a time when the world was changing fast. Written for students at advanced levels, it follows the exile of a young woman named Anisa, her hopes for her family of birth, but also the love she has found with her new kin.

Ana has crafted the story to reflect the time in which it is set, using words and expressions that trace the origins of Spanish we use today (if you look closely you'll see where of the terms ustedes and ojalá come from).

A beautiful story for anyone with an interest in the history of the Spanish language and in this pivotal point in the history of Spain.

La máquina de escribir (B2/C1)

Read a story about a spooky Spanish typewriter, forgotten for decades and passed down through generations. What mysteries does it keep leaving? And what secrets has it kept throughout its life? Ana Ruiz has created another gothic tale, this one for the B2/C1 level. It's great for vocabulary, verb tenses, adjectives you've never seen before, history, and of course, a bit of suspense.

Write like Cervantes! Thou hast seen nothing yet ... (B2-C1)

Miguel de Cervantes was known to capture the human condition like no other - perhaps personified most poignantly through his famous creation, Don Quijote. Cervantes died 400 years ago, on April 23, 1616, leaving behind a most influential literary legacy.

Well here we have tried something in class. To commemorate this day (which is UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day), some of our advanced students have written an autorretrato (self-portrait) in the style of Cervantes for a class exercise.

To get an idea - Imagine describing yourself in the language of William Shakespeare (Cervante's English counterpart), who happened to died in the same year. (Some say even the same day. But that depends which calendar you're looking at!) This task is aimed at the higher levels - those studying either B2 or C1.

La acompañante del tren (C1)

Not everything is as it appears with a lost little girl on a train! This cuento by Ana Ruiz is designed not only to thrill... but to help C1 (Advanced) students with their tenses: pretérito indefinido, pretérito imperfecto, pretérito pluscuamperfecto, condicional y pretérito imperfecto de subjuntivo. This tale also comes with some helpful exercises and a translation at the end!

Cenicienta - una versión feminista (Cinderella - a feminist version) (B1-C1)

What if Cinderella never needed Prince Charming after all?

Lynne Ellis, a long-term, advanced student of El Patio entered her twist on a traditional fairytale for our Short Story Competition. Cinderella is re-imagined as a strong, independent, educated woman who escapes the clutches of slavery!

Direct Object Pronouns - Told through Banksy's Street Art! (A1-C1)

This is a tricky one, but don't lose heart! Direct Object Pronouns are short little words used to help make phrases easier to say and more interesting to hear! It, her, him, them (to name a few) all make our lives easier. But learning when and where to use them in Spanish can be frustrating! To ease you into it, we've matched photos of some of Banksy's best artwork with the examples, think of them as a memory aid!

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