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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Escuela #2: ECELA

So up to this point we have lived in Argentina for 9 months, I have been taking private language lessons for 8 months and although I'm feeling much more confident in everyday situations, I'm still pretty shaky with my conversational skills.  With this in mind, I decided to shake up my approach, cancel my private lessons and enroll in "full-time" school.  You may remember back in March I took 2 weeks of intensive classes through BASP and although I really liked the change to group classes, I wasn't entirely satisfied with the school.  My friend Anso recommended another school, ECELA, and she speaks incredible Spanish after only 6 weeks of classes so her recommendation seemed pretty sound.  Not only that, but this school is located in Recoleta at the corner of Ayacucho and Arenales, just a few blocks from home - bonus!  With this in mind, I signed up for a month of intensive courses and as of tomorrow, I will be halfway through the month. 

The classes are in small groups, no more than 6 students in a class for 4 hours every day.  The school is quite different than my previous experience with BASP, here is how the schools match up:

  • To determine skill level, on the first day there is a written exam and a conversation piece with the school's director.
  • Classes available starting at 9:00am or 2:00pm.
  • Class structure:  1.5 hours class, 30 min break, 50 min class, 10 min break, 1 hour class.  During the breaks there are snacks, tea, coffee and water.
  • In addition to classes, they offer an event each night centered around communication practice or a social event that spotlights Argentine culture. 
  • Tutoring assistance between 1:00 - 2:00pm each day.
  • At the end of 2 weeks there is an exam to determine your next placement level.
  • Cost:  $100 one-time enrollment fee, $356.00 for 2 weeks (40 hours) of class.
  • Written entrance exam to determine skill level.
  • Classes available starting at 9:00am or 2:00pm.  The school is small, so these times are contingent on other student's availability.
  • Class structure:  1.5 hours of grammar in the morning, 30 min break, 2 hours of communication in the afternoon.  There is tea and water available during the breaks.  
  • The school doesn't offer any additional entertainment, but offers lots of recommendations for things to do in the city.
  • At the end of 2 weeks, you receive a certificate and graduate to the next level.
  • Cost:  $10 registration fee, $290.00 for 2 weeks (40 hours) of class.  
All in all, I feel that ECELA is a more professionally run school, but the price is higher to accommodate the additional administrative fees.  BASP is a good school to start at, and I met some really great people there that I remain friends with.  For a more complete experience, ECELA has been a much more complete program, for my money, it's worth the few additional dollars. 

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