Having read a great deal about Spanish schools in Quito I thought it might be helpful to some if I posted our recent experience of searching for a school:
When we arrived in Quito our first task was to seek out a good Spanish school where we could take lessons of around 4 hours a day. For background, we had previously had a few weeks of lessons in Peru about 5 years ago and so were not complete novices, but had forgotten much of what we had learnt.
Staying at the SA Explorers Club we sought opinions there and came up with a shortlist of five schools and visited them all over our first couple of days here. Our impressions/ experiences are as follows:
A bright open plan school which partially sells itself on its work in the community. We were provided with a run down of the school and its methods by the Scottish born owner. It seemed the most professionally run by far of the schools and was probably our second choice. What put me off was the open plan set up, which I felt I would find a bit distracting and, to a lesser extent, the ages of the teachers, who all seemed a little too young.
We spent only about 3 minutes in this school before leaving. The person we spoke to seemed to be not at all interested in answering any questions and just wanted to give us a few brochures and get us on our way ( maybe because it was lunchtime?)
Other Spanish schools were not complimentary about this place ( I won't go into detail) but we went anyway as we had read lots of good TA reports. Again the place was open plan and from what we saw the teachers were again, quite young. As we were looking for if not, properly qualified teachers, then certainly those with experience, this was a concern. When we asked the owner about this he didn't really have any answers. This was the cheapest of the schools which begs the question as to how well paid the teachers are?
Two things concerned us about this place:
The poster in reception offering 2 hours of free lessons to anyone posting a positive review on Trip Advisor and,
In the handout pack on vocabulary etc. the page devoted to the crudest sexual phrases and obscenities. Useful for some, no doubt but to put it in their promotional pack - I don't think so! I am no prude but even I found it offensive!
We did try to find Terracentro Spanish School as recommeded by the DE here but unfortunately, after searching and asking around for 30 mins we still couldn't find it and gave up.
We spent a while chatting with the director and a couple of the teachers at La Lengua all of whom were older and more experienced than the other places we visited and we warmed to them immediately and decided that, although they were a fair distance from The club, they were the school for us. There was a bit of discussion around which teachers we would get and (I specifically wanted a teacher who spoke reasonable English ) and we agreed a programme for the next few weeks.
Our time there was not without incident, a slight lack of direction at times and a tendency to digress from the planned program from time to time. A couple of times we had to change teachers because of illness etc., but nothing too disastrous.
We both got on well with our respective teachers and made good progress over the three weeks we studied.After a couple of weeks, I decided that I had had enough of grammar and vocabulary and asked for more specific focus on "travellers Spanish" which worked well for me.
We started off with 4 hours per day study but after a week and a half or so decided to reduce to 2 hours a day as we found that we were running out of steam halfway through the lesson.
We supplemented our school study with a great website http://www.studyspanish.com/ which helped a lot with revision etc.
Don't be afraid to ask for exactly what you want in terms of programme, teacher experience, fluency in your native tongue etc. Immersion teaching methods work for some but not for me, at least in the beginning when I found being able to query stuff in English to be essential. Teacher experience and maturity count for a lot and, most importantly someone who speaks Spanish clearly and SLOWLY ( at least at first) helped me immensely.