i:46 p:1
Is Avila the perfect place for me?
Who is Ávila ideal for if you want to do a Spanish course?
[click +]

· For minors: Avila is one of the safest towns in Spain and it offers a lot of leisure time activities for young persons (cinema, swimming pools, etc.)

· For university students: In Avila you can easily meet Spanish students of your age and live an authentic Spanish “nightlife”.

· For business people and VIPs: In this town you can study in a relaxed atmosphere and without being disturbed.

· For pensioners and culture lovers: Avila is an incredible, beautiful and quiet place, which was announced a world cultural heritage site by the UNESCO in 1985.

· If you wish to learn Spanish in terms of Castilian (= "castellano”): The Spanish spoken in Avila is well pronounced and there is no problem for non-native speakers to understand the residents. Therefore, you have the possibility to practice your newly acquired language skills in the streets!

· If this is your first visit to Spain: because of its size and its hospitality Avila is the PERFECT CITY for a first contact with Spain and its people.

· If you wish to study without distractions and if you want a healthy balance between concentrated study and having fun.

· If you wish to take a trip to Madrid, Segovia, Salamanca, El Escorial, Toledo, etc., it takes less than an hour to get there

· Even the vice-rector of Salamanca University says that “Avila is the ideal city if you want to attend a Spanish course, mainly due to its particular historical interest and its rich cultural programmes.” (Diario de Avila, 17 June 2005)

i:47 p:2
Do I have to know the basis of Spanish before arriving?
[click +]

It is recommended to bring some basic knowledge. Please contact us before booking which language skills are required for the course or any activity you want to book or participate in.

i:49 p:3
When can I start my course?
[click +]

Our academic year starts September 1st and ends August 31st. If you choose a group course you can start any Monday. If you are a complete beginner you should start on the first Monday of each month. Check for exceptions. If you choose a private course or a course for two, the course can begin whatever day you arrive.

i:48 p:4
What will happen the first day of my course?
[click +]

If you have not received the starting time of the course, please come the first day of the course at 9.00 am. We are located in the city centre of Avila, just in front of the stairs of San Juan Church.

After welcoming you we analyse your previous knowledge (short level test). As our school is not a big one generally it is possible to give you your results the same morning. Afterwards, if you have chosen a mini-group course, we will place you in the corresponding group.

Should you come to the course with little or no knowledge you may start your course without doing the level test.

If you have booked a "Course for two people" or private lessons, you may start immediately.

In general we can recommend you only that day for definite in which curricular (in addition to regular language courses) and extracurricular activities you may participate (depends on language level, in some cases also on health conditions). You therefore may look at any additional activities such as sports, field trips, dance classes or other specific cultural courses yourself online for an idea as to what you would like to do, and then you will be assigned your activities in a consultation in our school office once you are here. Also, different activities are not available at certain dates.

i:50 p:5
If I already have some Spanish knowledge how will I know my level and in which group to participate?
[click +]

Do not worry. You will be placed in the right group, on the basis of a small, oral and written test given by a teacher. We also offer you the option to evaluate your language skills and classify them according to the new European criteria.

Moreover, you have the option to do a general level test "online". Click on “Examen” for the access code to this test on our web site.

i:51 p:6
What will happen if a suitable group is not be available for me?
[click +]

If you have chosen a mini-group course and we would think that you will not fit into any group, we will offer you lessons together with a second person or private lessons in order to be able to compensate the amount paid by you. You will have the great advantage of studying much more intensively and make a better progress. Moreover, we will adapt the intensity of the lessons to your personal situation and organise the contents to your personal interest until you fit into a group.

i:54 p:7
What progress can I achieve?
[click +]

IEMA didactic material has been designed along the lines of the six general levels of the “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages” and then divided into weekly programmes. At the end of each week you will be assessed and, depending on your progress, you can advance to the next level.

Some private classes would accelerate your progress and greatly help you improve your Spanish but of course, your progress depends to a large extent on your own participation.

In order to help you achieve 100% of our objectives, we give you an exam to identify your level, we assign you to the appropriate group (if you desire a group course) and we assess your progress, acquired knowledge and skills at the end of each week.

If at any point you do not achieve the objectives, we offer you additional exercises and practice and/or private classes. If you achieve the objectives early, for example, as a result of private classes, we will assign you a more advanced level and group.

i:61 p:8
How does IEMA evaluate?
[click +]

IEMA evaluation and assessment takes into consideration the most recent criteria of the “Common European Framework” which allows us to analyse the skills and knowledge of our students in detail.

The evaluation is carried out taking into account different aspects that are key to the learning process. We don´t consider an evaluation as simply one final exam which assesses the basic abilities that you develop. Instead, we evaluate your knowledge and skills from your arrival and continue evaluating your learning progress, how it evolves, your understanding at the end and of course our own teaching. Everything focuses on the main objective of reaching a level of efficient communication.

With monitoring your own work, progress and coordination together with the teachers, you will be conscious of your own learning progress and can take advantage of this in assessing your work in your own time.

The evaluation is designed to help students throughout their learning progress, not to be a series of exams with corresponding marks. This way we get to integrate the evaluation within the learning of Spanish. With this, not only do we achieve our educational objectives but also come up with programs adapted to characteristics of different types of students (multicultural, different ages, different interests etc.), allowing us to develop the best working environment in class.

i:58 p:9
Who are IEMA students ?
[click +]

IEMA welcomes students from all over the world and from all professions. More than half are former students and students who come to IEMA through recommendation.

Depending on the season, different nationalities are represented. For example: In May traditionally students from the Philippines visit our school, July is the month for Americans; in September Chinese come to start their programme and during the Easter holidays Germans like to come.

i:59 p:10
When and how can I go to Ávila?


estacion de autobuses:
[click +]

You can fly to Madrid or Valladolid. From there you can take a rented car, taxi, train or bus to Avila (1½ hours). If you wish, we can meet you at the airport and bring you to your accommodation in Avila.

· If you come by train, you can just take a taxi to your hotel or family; it is very cheap, no more than 5 euros.

· You should arrive on a Saturday or Sunday (one or two days before your course starts). If you would prefer to arrive on another day, please consult us.

· If you have reserved accommodation in a Spanish home, please ensure that the plane does not arrive after 19:00 or leave before 10:00. · Here you can find timetables of trains: www.renfe.es CLICK HERE

· Here you can find timetables of buses: http://www.estaciondeautobuses.com/frameset.html CLICK HERE

i:62 p:11
May I register even though I do not have my flight detail?
[click +]

Yes. You can hand us your flight details later.

i:63 p:12
What to do if I get homesick?
[click +]

The best thing to do is meet with your classmates and go on an outing or get some ice cream together in Avila. You can click on “leisure activities” to find something to divert you.

i:64 p:13
What to do if I run out of money?
[click +]

Please ask our secretary (NOT YOUR HOST FAMILY) for monetary assistance, while your parents transfer money by “Western Union” to Avila (it takes less than a day).

i:65 p:14
[click +]

Tipping is not common in Spain. Our teachers will help you with further information.

i:66 p:15
What is the location of my family / hotel?

[click +]

We organise your accommodation in Ávila and inform you before arrival. This can be located between about 10 and 35 minutes walking distance from the school. In exceptional cases IEMA may reserve more distant homes. If this is recommended, it is because of the friendliness of the host families and the comfort of the accommodation. If you consider the criterion distance of accommodation to school more important than other criteria, please let us know when registering. A note for parents concerning the way to school and concerning residential district of your child: Avila is one of the safest cities in Spain (if not the safest). In Avila there is no district you would have to avoid.

The use of public transport is very cheap in Ávila, but you will not need it much due to the fact that distances between places are short.

Here you will find information on public transport: http://www.avilabus.com/: CLICK HERE

i:67 p:16
What does "Host family" mean?
[click +]

The “host family” offers the practical part of your programme in Spain – the Cultural Immersion. A “host family” could e.g. be a young couple with or without children, as well as an elderly couple or a widow looking forward to host someone.

All families have to pass our high standard selection procedure (please call for further information). It is obvious that you must contribute to make your programme a successful one, because success is only guaranteed if you adapt and communicate! However, a big advantage for our students is, nearly all host families benefit from their experience over many years which is decisive for those who visit Avila or Spain for the first time. You will see that most of the following hints are written primarily for young people who do not have much experience in intercultural communication and who are perhaps making their first trip abroad.

It is necessary for you to adapt yourself to the new cultural circumstances. As we specialise in the field of intercultural communication, please contact our administration office or your teacher immediately if there are any questions.

You will gain enriching experiences as well as intercultural understanding during your stay with your host family. The following information is a must to make your stay unforgettable.

One suggestion: Please check directly with the host family concerning equipment, facilities and further services, especially if you need something specific (elevator, length of the bed, etc.). If you need assistance, please ask our office.

i:68 p:17
How to get along with my host family?
[click +]

Try to talk to you family right from the start. If you are shy and hide yourself, your host family – whose well defined duties are primarily providing bed and board - will think you like to be independent. Further action is optional and will result from the interaction from both sides.

Bring along pictures of your family, your home or your pet to Spain. You could buy a little present for your Spanish host family e.g. something your city is famous for or some sweets to overcome your starter inhibitions.

You cannot expect that your host family will hold your hand for 24 hours a day. They all have their duties. However, if you should be invited to participate in family fiestas, this should be taken as an extraordinary honour and as a high success of your intercultural sensitivity and competence.

i:69 p:18
Host family´s daily routine
[click +]

There is no way to generalize a host family´s daily routine but here are some points that might differ from the daily routine you know:

• The Spaniards get up quite late, for breakfast they don’t eat very much, they would have some biscuits or toast or even just coffee.

• They have lunch towards 3 pm and dinner from 9 pm on. Don’t be surprised, the Spaniards don’t switch off the television during meals. This means no impoliteness, it’s simply a habit. The Spanish dinner is sumptuous; this also explains the reason for the little breakfast.

• They go to bed towards 12 pm.

Please do not compare the host families as each family has its own daily routine and eating habits.

i:70 p:19
May I call "for just a minute" my family or friends from my host family´s phone or do any other phone calls?
[click +]

No, please never do that. Neither call if your family does offer, it is only a matter of politeness. Normally there are no problems in receiving a call; ask your host family when would be the best moment to receive call.

i:71 p:20
May I wash my clothes/underwear in my host family`s home?
[click +]

There is no reason to feel embarrassed if your host family does your laundry including your underwear. From the family’s point of view washing and ironing your clothes is a habitual service without causing any embarrassment. Some students feel embarrassed with the host family doing their underwear, which they try to keep secret by doing the laundry themselves. Sometimes they hide it and dry it in their wardrobe, which ruins their clothes. The damage has to be paid for by the student, so please do not do it!

In Spain, they wash clothes almost every day. The host mother will surely ask you if she should wash your clothes, because “I don´t mind” (she wants to serve you, and, of course, earn some extra money). Be aware, that, if you accept, you must pay the amount corresponding for your complete stay, not for one single service. In order to avoid problems, pay host mother IMMEDIATELY or, if you feel embarrassed, pay at our office no later than the following day. Please consider if you choose this service before accepting! This is one of the points that causes most conflicts between host families and students, as families think, students do not honour their services if they discuss payment for laundry service.

i:72 p:21
Why does my host family enter my room and arrange and clean it again although I have already done it before?
[click +]

It is a gesture of good will: they want to make sure you notice that they are serving you.

i:92 p:22
Why does my host family make my bed although I have already done it before?
[click +]

It is a gesture of good will: they want to make sure you notice that they are serving you. Not making your bed means in Spain that you are uncivilized. Please make your bed properly in deference to the host family.

i:73 p:23
Why do I always receive more food than I am accustomed to?
[click +]

It is an indication that you are welcome. You may state “Muchas gracias, está todo muy rico, pero mi estómago desgraciadamente es pequeño.”

i:74 p:23.5
"My food is fatty!"
[click +]

As the Spanish cuisine is said to be one of the healthiest, the Spaniards do use a lot of olive oil. There is a great variety of olive oils. Please have a try of every kind. May we give you a hint? Have a toast with garlic and olive oil, it´s delicious!

i:75 p:24
"I don´t get my kippers!"
[click +]

The fact that you are wishing to live together with a host family makes everybody understand that you are wishing to know more about Spanish life and customs. This includes trying Spanish eating habits. However, if you cannot miss your cereal or fruit please ask the host family if they feel uncomfortable if you buy some of your preferred products. You can tell them without any problems that “My doctor asked me to have this diet.”

You may have problems adapting, first of all, at breakfast time. Never try to persuade your host family that they should change their breakfast habits as this would be insulting their sensibility of honour. Or simply they would not understand at all your concern.

If you have to fulfil complicated diets or if you must take into consideration special eating habits (e.g. due to your religion), or if you are a vegetarian, please let us know long before the programme starts. Your host family simply cannot adapt to the more than 100 different nationalities who join IEMA programmes – it must be the other way round! But if you cannot live without your peanut butter, you must bring it along (you will not be able to buy it in Spain) and let the host family taste it!

i:76 p:25
Why are the shutters always closed?
[click +]

The same would happen even in a hotel. There is a simple reason for it: to keep the sun, heat and cold away. While you are in your room, don’t hesitate to open the shutters.

i:77 p:26
Why is it so noisy in Spain?
[click +]

If the Spaniards would visit your country they would ask “why is it so deadly quiet in your country?” Noise from their point of view is no noise at all, and if so, it is positive: an expression of “life” and “happiness”. Don´t complain about the noise, as nobody would understand what the problem is.

Spain is one of the noisiest countries in the world. If you are very sensitive to noise take some ear plugs with you, those might help you to sleep more peacefully.

i:78 p:27
Will I receive any packed lunch if I do an excursion?
[click +]

If you plan an excursion, please let the host family know one day in advance (not later than noon) to prepare a “bocadillo” for you. Please do so also for your day of departure, especially if you have booked full board.

i:79 p:28
Am I allowed to take friends or other people to my host family´s home?
[click +]

No, you are not. Please don’t do it, even if your family does offer which is only a matter of politeness. It would be a grave infringement of the host family´s hospitality. It is an absolute must to know that a Spanish apartment is considered as private in which only the occupants may enter (Don’t worry, as you are a guest in a Spanish family there won’t be any problems: all services you get are paid services). The visit of e.g. a friend or someone who does not belong to the family is said to be an exception and always considered a special honour. Please do not invite anyone. If you do so, you might be expelled from your host family’s apartment. Please be aware that there won’t be any compensation in this case.

i:80 p:29
What happens if I destroy or deteriorate something?
[click +]

You have to replace it. In this case please contact our office as mediator.

i:81 p:30
What else do I have to pay attention to?
[click +]

Please use water and electricity sparingly (as it is expensive).

Show interest in your host family and always try to make the first step in communicating with the family members.

Noisy conversations are not due to maliciousness, but due to temperament. Maybe the family members might speak at the top of their voices because the simple reason is that they probably think you didn’t get a word/sentence acoustically right. If they are shouting to you this should not bother you at all. These families are usually quite communicative.

Please don’t hide yourself in your room. In Spain it is used as dormitory but not as living room (therefore it is also very small).

Never open any cupboard or fridge, even if host family invites you to do so. These are quite delicate areas. Never take away anything to eat. However, you might ask if you could place something to drink into the fridge and take it whenever you would like to. You will see on the other hand that host family opens your wardrobe, for example in order to place your clothes in the host mother´s way or simply to re-arrange everything in order to show you that they are serving you!

Don´t change the kind of board you have chosen. Never accept host family´s invitation to participate in a meal you did not book. If you do so, you must contact IEMA office in order to change your kind of board or compensate host family inviting them one of the following days for a dinner.

Never talk to your host family about money as this will for sure create problems. If you have to pay for any additional services, you could put the money into an envelope and leave it on your bedside table. However it is more recommended arranging all questions of money with IEMA secretary.

If you are over 21: Feel free to ask your host family if they accept you bringing back a bottle of Spanish wine for lunch/dinner sometimes (and, of course: invite them to drink from the bottle…). Usually they drink water from the water pipe or fountain, and alcohol in the bars.

We ask you to talk to our staff immediately if there are any problems (generally based on linguistic and/or intercultural misunderstandings). Especially if you are a minor always communicate with our office. As we are an international team in the administration we understand you much better. If you in spite of all information provided in FAQ should continue to have problems, please contact our office and remain in contact with us until your problem is resolved. Please don’t call your parents because they are not present and therefore unable to understand the situation adequately, even to solve the problem from outside Spain.

It is very difficult to filter out the real meaning of the Spaniard’s words – Spaniards generally hide their messages in a huge context (“high-context communication”, see Edward T. Hall and Mildred Hall “The Hidden Dimension”) you only will understand properly if you read between the lines. It is practically impossible for you to communicate 100% perfectly, as in addition to the linguistic problems you must know about the new cultural ambience, and, more: you must be aware that, at least unconsciously you are applying your own criteria and values, you must learn the techniques of how to act in the new intercultural situation which is created every time when you communicate with your host family. - Don´t worry! You come, because you want to learn, right?

The reasons why there are hardly any conflicts between the students and the host families are not only the families’ experiences, but also “pacienca” (patience) on both sides and the families’ diligent supervision on the part of IEMA administration. Indeed, IEMA´s largest amount of energy and time is dedicated to communication with the host families, as it is here where our students struggle with the biggest problems of adaptation. Trust in our preparation of your programme and contact us whenever any doubt arises, it can only be positive for your experience in Spain.

Please act on our advice seriously and you will not only benefit from your stay in Avila but also make friends for a lifetime!

i:82 p:31
What clothes are necessary? What will the weather be like?

tiempo avila:
[click +]

Our classes are relaxed, a tie or formal dress is not necessary. Bring comfortable clothes. The climate of Avila is agreeable and is known as being especially healthy.

Avila is situated at 1100m (3300f.); there is sun during the day (summer 23-28ºC, 80-90ºF) and it is cold during the night (15-20C, 60-70F). During wintertime the temperature falls to less than half.

Avila’s climate is very agreeable as it is dry (there are no annoying insects) and almost always sunny (it is the city with the most sun in all Spain). It is not possible to compare this climate to the heat and oppressive weather of the Spanish coast.

tiempo avila:

i:83 p:32
What do I have to bring to the course?
[click +]

A good motivation! We also recommend bringing a bilingual dictionary (with at least 100,000 entries) and a grammar book. Please bring your laptop computer (or "Tablet", "Netbook", etc). You need this for your work. You can also use the "Wifi" at school. Please give your teacher an e-mail address so they can send the tasks and other information.

i:84 p:33
What can I do in my free time?

CLICK HERE ocioavila:
CLICK HERE lienzonorte:
CLICK HERE avila360:
[click +]

The school, too, proposes various activities. Please ask for the specific conditions for each activity, such as language skills required, minimum age or health conditions.

i:85 p:34
How can I get Internet access?
[click +]

A lot of bars next to IEMA offer wireless internet access free of charge.

At school, too, you may use our wireless internet access for free. Therefore we recommend that to bring your mobile computer – netbook or laptop.

i:86 p:35
May I smoke at school?
[click +]

No. However, you can use the square in front of our school gate or the terrace, but not the columned patio.

i:87 p:36
What happens if I have a problem during my stay?
[click +]

If there is a problem please contact immediately our secretary. Ask for our emergency telephone number. You may contact in case of problems one of the following people (Phone 920 222 773):

Principal: Dr. Rainer Rutkowski
Assistant director: Ms Rie Sugiyama - mo.-fr. 9:00am-2:00pm and 4:00pm-8:00pm.
Director of studies: Jose-Luis García Hernández, mo.-fr. 9:00am-1:30pm.

i:88 p:37
Where to find my consulate or embassy?

[click +]

link above

i:89 p:38
What happens if I fall ill or have an accident?
[click +]

If you come from the European Union, bring a document from your insurance company concerning health problems in Spain. If you are from another country, purchase medical assistance insurance. The private insurance can also include repatriation. IEMA may offer you as well a general health insurance, please inform our secretary if you need a health insurance.

Bring your medication and carry it in your hand luggage. Inform us before arriving if you have any health problems. We will look after you in the best way possible and help take care of hospitalization and repatriation.

i:90 p:39
Are there fiestas, festivals and holidays during my stay?
[click +]

Fiestas and public holidays have a very strong tradition in Spain. If one falls during your stay, you will have the great luck of experiencing Spanish customs first-hand.

The Consulate, the Spanish Embassy in your country, the Cervantes Institute, the Spanish Tourism Office, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and of course Internet could all inform you about fiestas and public holidays. IEMA cannot give you a guarantee when fiestas are really going to take place, as they can be changed by local or regional authorities at any time.


01/01 Año nuevo
06/01 Epifanía del Señor
29/03 Jueves Santo
30/03 Viernes Santo
23/04 Día de Castilla y León
1/05 Fiesta del Trabajo
2/05 San Segundo
15/08 Asunción de la Virgen
12/10 Fiesta Nacional de España
15/10 Santa Teresa de Jesús
1/11 Todos los Santos
6/12 Día de la Constitución de España
8/12 La Inmaculada Concepción
25/12 Natividad del Señor

i:91 p:40
Flight confirmation before leaving
[click +]

Please make sure you bring along the complete information of your airline or your travel agency then our secretary can confirm your flight.

i:93 p:42
How could a week unfold?
[click +]

As is explained in the chart, the Spanish classes take place in the mornings and then, in the afternoons, you can choose between various cultural activities, private classes and leisure activities.

i:94 p:43
Indeed, "Spain is Different!"
[click +]

Put a good face on the matter! If you have any problems please communicate immediately with our secretary. We do accept and need fair comments in order to be able to solve your problems. We ask you to talk to us immediately if you are not satisfied with anything concerning your whole programme, we cannot help if you let us know at the end of your stay.

Remember, compared to other countries or to your home country, Spain not is “worse” or “better”. It is only a matter of habit, or let’s say “Spain is different”. Please do not expect that your paid services will be fulfilled in the way YOU expect to. It is difficult to accept this fact, but, as you are in Spain you will be confronted with Spanish criteria and circumstances.

We want to make you feel comfortable in Spain. You have invested a lot of money coming here and your expectations are high. So please don´t sit it out if a problem bothers you. Again: If you would like to comment anything, if you have a problem, if you consider anything “bad” or simply uncomfortable – at school, the host family, during an excursion, etc. -: You must inform our secretary as soon as possible. As our promise and intention is to make you feel as comfortable as possible we want to help you once your problem arises.

“¡No pasa nada!” Easier said than done! Follow one of the Spanish virtues - “paciencia”. There is a reason for everything; we will help you to find solutions and explanations for the inexplicable.

i:95 p:44
Further practical information for a better preparation of my stay
[click +]

The list of questions could be never-ending. So we suggest you to send us an e-mail containing your specific questions.

More information about cultural events, sports and entertainments in Ávila you can find at: www.andevamos.com, visit also www.ocioavila.com, www.lienzonorte.es and www.avila360.es

The following book is highly recommended. It gives you an excellent idea of Avila, its history, art, architecture, fiestas, well known writers on Avila, and Avila Today: Avila Viva (Lunwerg) 2005, ISBN: 84-9785-220-6.

ll publications of Jesús María Sanchidrián Gallego are highly recommendable. Here are just two examples:

Jesús María Sanchidrián Gallego. La Muralla de Avila. Telón de fondo. Avila (Ayuntamiento de Avila) 2006

Jesús María Sanchidrián Gallego. ”Avila Rural”. Rutas Mágicas por los pueblos del Adaja. Mingorria (Piedra Caballera) 2001