As well as learning Spanish you will want to make the very most out of your time in Spain. Whether you are here for one week or one year, this is your chance to live experiences and make lots of memories to take home.
Hopefully your freetime will be filled with Spanish practice, Spanish culture and vistas …. and fun times with a group of friends of all ages and from different countries. The three can be combined!
You can read about the activities on offer at ISLA here. These happen almost every day and, while optional, are almost always well attended. We think that this is because we don't out-source activities preferring to organize things in-house and participate in them ourselves to lend them a uniquely ISLA stamp. We love Spain and want to share this enthusiasm with you.
A typical weekly program includes a welcome event, city visit, salsa lesson, cooking lesson and ISLA Surprise. Most Fridays there is a tapas tour or other sort of dinner. And every other weekend a cultural trip or Dieter's Drive. The ISLA Challenge, microtheatre, interactive seminars and wine tasting also feature regularly on our activity program. Every Monday you get an email with the week's offerings which are also posted on the web and on the school screens. Some are free, others have a small charge and it is advisable to sign up quick a some have a maximum amount of participants.
Shopping for a top, the pool, running, cooking dinner with friends, chatting with your host family and of course going out on the razzle dazzle are all things that you will enjoy here too. So remember to save some time for your homework!
Dieter’s Drive, Summer 2015, Clip made by Minkyu, an ISLA Student
ISLA's salsa lessons take place almost every week in the Txoko, usually at 22:00. Juliá and Paul care about teaching you the steps so as well as having a fun time you go away with a new skill. We also offer, flamenco, zumba and breakdance on demand.
You will be able to wow your family and friends back home after learning easy crowd-pleasing Spanish dishes in Cristina's weekly cooking sessions.
On the menu are: "patatas bravas” (deep fried potato cubes with spicy sauce) , “pisto” (ratatouille), "patatas arrugadas” (baby baked potatoes with special Canarian sauces) , two - way nachos, "huevos rotos” (potatos and broken eggs) "la paloma” (Potato salad in a giant crisp), "salpicón de marisco” (seafood salad) and more. The first 3 are fine for vegans, the first 5 for vegetarians.
As well as learning how to prepare a few dishes, and making them yourself, you will also eat them in a jolly atmosphere while practising your Spanish!
Newcomers will have already seen each other in the morning at the classification test and over the welcome coffee in the Txoko afterwards. The welcome party on the Monday evening is a chance for them to meet those students who are "old hands", that is those who joined ISLA a few days or weeks earlier.
The fairy lights are strung around, candles lit, DJ paraphanelia out and drinks cooled. See Dieter's special sangria recipe on
Apart from the sangria there's cava, wine and beer as well a variety of soft drinks and juices for minors and teetotallers. We start at 21:30 and finish at 23:00 when often student chose to continue the evening at “Bar Centenera” around the corner.
On Mondays in quieter months newcomers are taken for Welcome tapas and drinks of their choice at “Bar Trastero” instead. This activity runs from 20:00-21:30. They will meet the other students at the ISLA surprise a day or so later.
Dieter takes charge of this activity which happens on selected Fridays throughout the year. The purpose is to enjoy some good Spanish wine and its food pairings and learn a bit about Spanish wine.
The Cata or Wine tasting starts with a powerpoint presentation about wine in Spain, its importance on the world stage and it also includes hints about wine tasting for beginners as this activity is for everyone, not just for wine pros!
We begin with a cava and then continue with white, rosé and red wines from different Spanish wine regions. Lastly a sweet desert wine and aguardiente. To up the fun, a competition involving a blind tasting in which students order the bottles (whose labels are concealed) by price and are quizzed on Dieter's presentation, the winner taking home his peer's adulation and a nice prize!
At the end of the presentation Dieter is delighted to answer questions and give advice about wine purchase.
This happens once a week in the long break, either outside in the park in front of ISLA or inside the Txoko. The point is for students to get to know people from different learning groups in relaxed social atmosphere.
Surprises include Chocolate con churros, smoothies, tortilla, ham and cheese on toast, fruit salad and so on. Coffee and tea are also on offer.
UNESCO heritage city, Cultural Capital of Europe Salamanca is so flirty she rather sells herself.
But there is nothing like a deeply knowledgeable guide ready to share the stories and the secrets of the city they are passionate about.
Such a guide is Rosana. On Rosana's weekly walks you will stay engaged from start to finish. And will join in too! This is no tedious plod through the facts and figures but a dynamic and dazzling journey through Salamanca's streets… and her history.
The Old Town visit which takes in the exteriors of Salamanca's beautiful, golden sandstone cathedrals, universities and convents, her Calixto and Melibea garden and Plaza Mayor happens every 2 weeks. In addition there is one other city tour picked from these:
The Cathedral Towers with their magnificent view, the Civil University (one of the four oldest in Europe), the Catholic Pontificia University, the Claras and Dueñas Convents (great cookies made by the nuns) and the San Esteban Convent where Colombus sealed the deal with the Catholic kings to finance his 1492 voyage which resulted in the discovery of the Americas. There is also a special Night Stroll when Salamanca's monuments are lit up in full glory. And a trip to the Art Moderno Art Deco Casa Lis Museum, which also has beautiful stained glass windows (as featured in the ISLA movie) and a lovely café.
Level of Spanish required: none as visits for beginners include English translations.
Length of activity: between 1 hour and 1,5 hours.
Price: 3 euros or free (General Visit and Night Stroll)
Dieter's Drives are days out to off-the-beaten track locations. Often quite literally. Big coaches can't get where Dieter's Drives go and anyway the vibe and size are more road trip than tour group. Here, the highlights are the countryside and small villages rather than grand historic buildings.
They usually involve a picnic with typical Spanish treats, Dieter's wine, idyllic swimming holes, big views and sundowners.
Also the chance to share Dieter's passion for Spain and enjoy relaxed chit chat with your ISLA friends.
Cost: 19 euros.
Bring: swimsuit, jumper.
1) Sierra de Gredos: Peña Negra to watch the paragliders. Pit stop at La Hergijuela, one of the highest villages in Spain. "El Pozo de la Pared" swimming hole with big rocks and a Roman bridge. And to the Santa Teresa reservoir for the sunset.
2) Los Arribes del Duero: the jagged border countryside between Spain and Portugal with a micro-climate and orange trees. Crater bathing by the Duero river, river beach and big birds of prey on big rocks.
3) Sierra de Francia: Mogarraz – with villagers’ portaits painted on the typical houses, Mestas village (inhabitants 21, bars 4) for a magical aphrodisiac drink made out of herbs, honey and pollen, river bathing in the Batuecas valley, sundowners on the top of the Peña de Francia for panoramic views.
More than a lecture, the interactive seminar features a dynamic student-teacher exchange and requires active student participation via role play - students love taking pictures of themselves dressed up in costumes of the age!
Music and images play their part to keep the student's attention captive so they absorb as much information as possible and thus perform well in the quiz at the end of the activity.
Our interactive seminars have their own online platform which comprises exercises, multilingual glossaries, videos, a bibliography and photo gallery. The website is: www.seminariosinteractivos.com
We currently have 3 Interactive seminars:
Don Quijote, The Spanish Inquisition and Columbus in Salamanca.
ISLA's tapas tours take place on selected Friday evenings. We depart from ISLA at around 20:30 and usually visit around 4 bars consuming about 5 tapas, though often we'll share "raciones" which are like big tapas for 3 or 4 people. Students choose between beer wine or "tinto de verano" (a bit like sangria) or a soft drink such as "mosto" (grape juice) or coca cola at the beginning of the tour (usual minor restrictions apply) and often an intern will shoot ahead to the next bar so even larger groups are accommodated quickly. Vegetarians can also be accommodated.
Students enjoy getting to know bars they wouldn't usually visit (we have two or three different routes) and the explanations and stories of the guide. At the end of the tour students often end up in Bar Centenera (also known as the ISLA Bar) to continue with their evening.
Once every month or so we take a trip to the fairytale city of Segovia. With a picturesque backdrop of the Guadarrama mountains, the key sights here are its superb Aqueduct, Plaza Mayor, Cathedral and reconstructed fortress, the Alcazar which legend claims Walt Disney used as a blueprint for his famous logo. The group is accompanied by Javi or one of the other ISLA guides who explains the city's important role in Spanish history, its unique melting pot of cultures (Christian, Jewish and Arab) and the different historical buildings.
On the way home we make a stop to contemplate Avila's magnificent walls, which are lit up if it is winter or which bask in the evening sun if it is summer.
Duration: approx 10 hours (journey time 2´15 hours each way)
On selected Saturdays or Sundays our fitness enthusiast Javi picks a bike route of about 15-30 kilometers through Salamanca's surrounding countryside. The pace is leisurely, the terrain is fairly flat and where possible we use bike lanes so the physical demands aren't too overwhelming. Half way though we make a pitstop with refreshments!
Once a month on a Friday around 20:30 a long table with tea-lights is laid out in the Txoko, along with a service table strewn with random serving spoons, ladles and large plates. What's the event? The Potluck Dinner! Students show up bearing pots, plates and tupperware containing their creations which quickly fill the table with flavours from around the world. Pasta, curry, fajitas, risotto and thai shrimp. Chili, lemon chicken and dumplings, Trifle, cheesecake, and vodka jello. With all these different pots it's a wonder we don't get pot ache! Students love trying new things and there are plenty of options for vegetarians.
Students are offered cava on arrival and then Dieter's Yummy wine. There are as always plenty of equally yummy non alcoholic options for minors and teetotallers.
And with their tyres thus pumped up, the students ride of into the Salamancan night to continue with the festivities.
What is microtheatre? Short 15-20 minute plays, in an intimate space to a very small audience. This new genre of theatre is a mix of theatre and cinema so you feel as if you are right inside the action, identifying closely with the characters and being part of the show. The audience interacts with actors before, during and after the performance.
ISLA microtheatre is adapted to the student's level and the high quotient of non-verbal content means even learners of a low level can understand and enjoy these funny and original plays. We meet a couple watching the final of the World Cup Football, accompany two men who have escaped from a lunatic assylum … and immerse ourselves in the world of Don Quijote with Sansón Carrasco, the Knight of the Order of Blanca Luna.
Price: 3 euros (includes a drink)
Duration: 50 minutes (approx.)
Minimum level: A1 (handouts with key words are provided).
Here at ISLA we love jumping into the water, especially (but not always) in the summer…
Dieter's Drives have a sparkly water element. Pristine mountain rivers, canyons filled with rainwater and natural swimming holes all offer a welcome chance to cool off or shove a chum in with their clothes on.
Salamanca has 4 lovely swimming pools, the favourite for ISLA students being the one in the San José neighbourhood just 10 minutes walk away. It is Olympic size, has a nice café and attractive, grassy areas for sunbathing. Entrance costs 2,50 euros. Oh, and the views back over the city are spectacular.
This is an interactive activity with a quiz show format designed to help students produce Spanish spontaneously. The students are the protagonists here, helped along by the teacher moderator dressed up for the job in a cheesy 70's suit. This competition doesn't take itself too seriously and the moderator will often award points for no reason at all to stir the contestants up and make them protest in Spanish.
First off, the objective of the challenge is explained and then the contestants are divided into two groups for example boys and girls, brunettes and blondes (with the help of wigs if there isn't a natural balance!) and so on. They are given banners to wave when the mood takes them (Champions!, "Tongo" (Cheat!).
The contest has 6 tasks:
tararea, que algo queda, tongue twisters, parejas explosivas, cantamañanas, anti music orchestra, dance off
While not exactly an ISLA activity, this is something we can help organize.
Some students like to take advantage of our special rate at two local gyms (one has an indoor pool, sauna and steam bath). These offer aerobics, pilates, spinning and have all the usual machines.
Other students prefer to arm themselves with some running buddies or their headphones and head off on the jogging paths alongside the river Tormes. From time to time we'll have fitness pro among our number who will round up the students and take them to the Jesuitas park for boot camp.
Take advantage of all the resources that the web offers to improve and consolidate your Spanish.
In this practical and interactive workshop you will learn about both the tools available on the ISLA website and also the most interesting resources from other suppliers. All the tools you’ll discover are accessible through different devices, so you’ll be able so use them on your smartphone, tablet or laptop. The explanation is accompanied by practical examples and demonstrations, so you’ll speedily get adept at them for use on your own.
The activity is adaptable to all levels and is especially interesting for those who wish to continue learning Spanish on returning back home.
Afternoon games: This activity is intended for students with an A2 level or higher. You’ll have enormous fun practising your Spanish with a variety of games: in the"quiz" games you’ll demonstrate your general knowledge, story-telling games will test your imagination, and in role-plays you’ll show off not only your Spanish but your strategic abilities too. And all with a cosy cuppa: the perfect afternoon.
Beach Volleyball is a sport suitable for all ages and levels of fitness which takes us to a small beach by the river for a couple of hours. There, barefoot on the fine sand, we learn some basics on how to play as a team and then enjoy a game between friends where laughter and enjoyment are assured.
If you would rather play football than volleyball, then “Football Playa” is a great option. You’ll be playing barefoot, with a smaller ball and the goalposts are somewhat closer together . And you don’t need to have 22 people to play. If you prefer classic football, then you’ll have the chance to do this too. Our monitors are keen players and are happy for you to go along and play with them and their friends . ISLA also has a football team playing in the local league. All the players are Spanish and you hang out with them at the games and parties later.
Fayed, our master of the breakdance workshops ( Breakology ) has been participating in national and international competitions for many years solo and with this group, the Mind Boggle Department. This workshop is for participants who have never tried out this dance style. In the 90 minutes you will learn the basic steps and movements and even balance on one hand by the end!
We have posted a few video and photos for you, so that you can get an idea of what this activity is like.
In a small garage, 5 minutes away from ISLA, the climbers of Salamanca have created a space for all to use and enjoy. We learn the basic motions of the sport and the different climbs that exist. After, we have a go at Bouldering for approximately 1.5 hours. This is the most simple type of climbing and ideal for all to do. You don’t need to have a level of physical fitness. You just need the willingness to try something different and submerge yourself in a different challenge that this city offers.
Practising what you learn in lessons outside the classroom is the
objective of any language student and this is also the purpose of the
speedy intercambio. And it goes one step beyond language practice: you
will also meet a lot of interesting people and have a lot of fun. This
dynamic take on the classic intercambio model offers 10 minute slots (5
minutes in English and 5 in Spanish) which mean you get to practice with
more people and have a bigger chance at meeting your ideal intercambio
Joseph Davis (UK)
I really enjoyed the chance to take part in Speedy intercambios, it was a really relaxed and enjoyable environment. Before we began everyone was offered drinks and it helped to make it feel more personal and relaxed as if I was having a conversation at a bar. I thought the activity was ran really well as we spoke in a pair for 5 minutes in English and 5 minutes in Spanish.
Unfortunately in order to make sure I spoke with everyone, conversations were only 10 minutes long. Therefore if you felt like I was having a great conversation with someone then it would be cut short. However vice versa, if I was not enjoying a conversation then it ended quickly but this was rarely the case. Furthermore the conversations did start to feel quite repetitive towards after a few conversations and it was always the same introductory questions. This was not a massive issue though as after speedy intercambios, the majority of us decided to go into town for a drink and some tapas. It was really enjoyable to meet likeminded people who were studying a language and would help to correct any errors I made in conversation. We ended up going out that night and the next day created a whatsapp group so we could all meet up again. We´ve planned to meet up for Paella and for more drinks in the future!
Among ISLA’s extra curricular activities is the movie night. The program includes classics from Spanish and Latin American cinema. Watching movies helps you improve your Spanish comprehension and also adds to your canvas of knowledge about life, customs and history in Spanish-speaking countries. All the films have Spanish subtitles to aid your comprehension. Do let us know if you have any suggestions for inclusion. Movie nights are free and include popcorn and non alcoholic refreshments!
The teachers are such great fun and the relationship you share with them isn´t the traditional one of distance that I was used to England but more one of good friendship. Federica Miller, UK