Learning another language is much like acquiring any other skill – the more you do it, the better you get. And for anyone keen on improving their Spanish, there is no better way than spending time in the country, immersing yourself in the place it is spoken.
The Pack Language Experience allows you to do just that with five and seven-day Spanish-language learning trips to three beautiful destinations in Spain. The trips give you a chance to improve your language skills, as well as experience all that Spain has to offer, including food, wine, art, history and culture, with a good helping of fine weather thrown in for good measure – Madrid is one of the sunniest capital cities in Europe after all.
The language immersion holidays are the brainchild of Madrileños Adrian Lago and Ana Sanz. Adrian explains, ‘The idea came from our own experience of learning English when we moved to Scotland in 2006. It was all about being able to communicate, to understand the language well enough to be able to find our way around, to shop and to meet people. It really made me think of language in a different way, it made me think much more about communicating and conversation.’
Co-founder Ana adds, ‘Because of the experience we had, we believe that immersing yourself in the language you want to learn is the most enjoyable way of learning and your language skills improve much more quickly.’
The couple have been organising trips to Madrid since 2017. These proved so popular that two new destinations – Asturias and Sierra de Guadarrama – have been added this year. The same format is applied to each destination, with classroom lessons each morning, followed by lunch together with the Spanish teachers – Adrian and Ana accompany each trip – in a different local restaurant each day, a cultural activity in the afternoon and free time in the evening, all conducted in Spanish as much as possible.
‘We keep the groups small so that everyone has the chance to get to know each other and to feel relaxed and comfortable,’ Adrian explains. ‘People can feel lost in a big group, or overwhelmed. We want to create memorable experiences for people, where they can meet new friends and get a real sense of what it is like to live in Spain and to feel comfortable speaking Spanish. We want participants to explore the food, drink and culture here, and feel confident doing so. This is a holiday that we hope guests will treasure. It is as much about connecting with people and making memories as it is about language learning.’
‘It’s great to see our students immersing themselves in Spanish culture and language from the outset,’ Ana says. ‘You can really see people growing in confidence as the days go on. Our trips are designed to help you discover a Spain you might not have known exists.’
Prior to booking, holiday-makers choose from a range of accommodation options – budget, standard or deluxe – all of which are centrally located, while activities are based around the best of what each area has to offer.
‘Our Madrid Pack puts the focus on culture with themes such as History and Heritage, which includes a walking tour around the city to discover the hotspots and hidden gems,’ Adrian explains. ‘Another day we explore Art and Literature, and visit one of the most interesting barrios, Barrio de las Letras, an area steeped in literary history,’ he adds.
Food and drink are never forgotten in Spain, and the Madrid Gastronomy day features lunch in a food market to sample tapas and local specialities, and a cooking workshop in the evening with a Spanish chef. ‘Of course, the dinner – and the cooking – are accompanied by wine and plenty of Spanish conversation. Sometimes a couple of glasses of Rioja really helps with the Spanish speaking!’ Adrian adds.
The Asturias Pack offers the opportunity to explore Spain’s beautiful northern coast. Ana says, ‘This area has an unspoilt landscape, it’s a real escape from the city. There are pretty towns to explore and fresh seasonal foods to try, it’s a beautiful spot but lots of people don’t know about it.’
The natural surroundings are at the heart of a Pack Language trip here, including exploring host city Aviles, as well as a visit to Arnao museum, a 19th-century coal mine, a day spent learning about the flora and fauna at the Covadonga lakes, with lunch in an Asturias mountain hut.
Sierra de Guadarrama is the mountain range that separates Castile-Leon from the province of Madrid. ‘Our trip here introduces you to beautiful nature reserves and great places to walk,’ Ana says. It is also a treasure trove of history – the area was of huge importance during the Spanish Civil War – and it offers guests the chance to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites. ‘This trip is perfect for people who love both nature and history,’ Adrian explains, ‘It’s truly a unique setting in which to immerse yourself in the Spanish language.’
The Pack’s students to date have been equally as enthusiastic, with quotes on the company’s website ranging from, ‘Five stars for the 5-day Pack Language Experience in Madrid, which exceeded all my expectations’ to ‘It more than lived up to its description of being total immersion in the language’ and ‘Highly recommended as a way of improving your Spanish while having a great time’.
Sheila McCombie travelled to Madrid in 2017 and again in 2018 with The Pack Language Experience, ‘It is so much more than just a language course; the cultural and language immersion aspect was completely authentic. I had been to Madrid a few times before, but I had never visited some of the neighbourhoods, markets, bars and restaurants that I discovered on this trip.’
So, if you are looking for a Spanish holiday that offers a lot more than sun, sand and sangria, it might be time to pack your bag and let The Pack Language Experience do the rest.
The Pack Language Experience 5-night packs to Madrid start from £660; 7-night packs from £970.
For full details go to www.thepacklanguageexperience.com