Out of abundance of caution all of our Spanish classes are being conducted live online. We are not offering classes in person for the time being. This is for the protection of both our teachers and students. You can learn more about our Spanish classes live online here.
Our teachers still do not feel comfortable yet meeting in person. Because they make their living teaching, they are scared that meeting in person may make them sick and not be able to teach for a while.
Even if the number of cases drop, the situation is still not stable and we expect choppiness on the way... that is, we expect to have times when it will be unsafe to meet on and off throughout the year. It is not encouraging to see that in some countries in Europe and Asia, such as Germany and Hong Kong, the covid cases are still on the rise. We have learned that what happens there comes back here. Deltacron and B2 variants are on the rise worldwide. Covid is back on the US sewer system as of March 2022. This means Covid cases will increase here as well.
Despite vaccinations and boosters (protection offered by some of these insufficient or dwindling down faster than others), Covid-19 tests, and mask use, it is still not safe to conduct one-on-one classes in person at this time due to the droplets and aerosol risk of either you or your tutor getting infected over prolonged periods of time talking in front of one another. Wearing a mask also makes it difficult to be able to hear your new language properly.
If you are not willing to have your Spanish classes live online, please DO NOT apply yet.
We do not expect to conduct classes in person until the first semester of 2023 at the earliest as we look to safely address the current shortage of tutors in certain areas, who are willing to have classes in person, the social distance requirements, and the maximum capacity limits of meeting venues.
Our Spanish program in Chicago is composed of 10 conversational belt levels ranging from the Pearl Belt (complete beginner) to the Black Belt (ultimate Spanish master). The ranks are useful for monitoring progress and matching you with Spanish students of comparable ability.
As our focus is to help you improve your conversational Spanish skills, it makes a lot of sense that the most important criteria we take into consideration when suggesting starting levels, is what we perceive is your current ability to use the language verbally.
We have a pretty good idea of what that ability is based on our interpretation to your responses to a few questions included on our application form. Then, as you get started attending your classes, a brief Spanish evaluation, completed within the first three sessions, ensures that you are assigned the correct belt level.
After the first three Spanish classes you are ratified on your belt level or recommended a change to a different level. When you surpass the minimum standards assigned to the next belt level on all variables considered, congratulations! You are granted a new color belt.
Our conversational color belt levels are as follows...
For Spanish students that are just starting or studied in the past but have forgotten most of it.
Complete beginner, or new to the language in practical terms
If you had some knowledge of a romance language, such as italian or french, but it is now practically gone, or you would prefer to have an introduction to the Spanish language as smooth and as light as possible, we would recommend considering starting at this level.
Can barely speak using phrases such as Yo como (I eat).
If you are new to Spanish but have some knowledge of a romance language, such as italian or french, at an intermediate level or higher, and you are a fast learner of languages, we would recommend that you start at this level.
Completing this and the prior belt level is the equivalent to acchieving the European A1 beginners level.
Can speak using phrases such as Yo había comido (I had eaten), Yo habré comido (I will have eaten), Yo estuve comiendo and Yo estaba comiendo (I was eating), and Yo estaré comiendo (I will be eating), along other phrases from prior levels."
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European B2 upper intermediate level.
Can speak using phrases such as Dudo que el coma (I doubt that he would eat) and Dude que el comiera (I doubted that we would eat), Si yo fuera,... (If I were ...), Yo comería (I would eat), along other phrases from prior levels.
For Spanish students who are already comfortable with Spanish but want to master it to a level close to that of a native Spanish speaker.
Advanced 1 Spanish
Can speak using phrases such as Dudo que el este comiendo (I doubt that he is eating), Dudé que el estuviera comiendo (I doubted that he was eating), and Yo estaría comiendo (I would be eating), along other phrases from prior levels.
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European C1 advanced level.
Can speak using phrases such as Dudo que el haya comido (I doubt that he had eaten), Dudé que el hubiera comido (I doubted that we had eaten) and Si el hubiera..., yo habría comido... (If he had...,I would have eaten....) along other phrases from prior levels."
Can speak using phrases such as he estado comiendo (I have been eating), había estado comiendo (I had been eating) and habré estado comiendo (I will have been eating) along other phrases from prior levels.
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European C2 proficiency level.
If you have already completed or are about to complete the Black Belt level, please keep in mind that you can continue taking more classes with an open program by which you and your tutor decide on what to focus your attention, whether it is on:
open conversations about current events or hispanic culture, or even
standardized Spanish test preparation.
Ascending through the belts requires accumulating Spanish tutoring session time to hone your skills. Purple Belt, for example, requires the successful completion of 16 hours. So will any other level.
In addition to successfully completing the required hours you will need to pass an Spanish examination and meet minimum score requirements to move up to the next belt.
Are you still unsure about your level?
If you already know some Spanish, we would recommend that you consider filling the exemption exam for the level right below the level that you think you belong. You will get your score right away with a minimum passing grade of 70%. The exemption exams for each level can be found right before this section (scroll up the page until the levels are seen). Click on any of them and then select FREE exemption exam.
If you do not pass, consider trying the test for a lower level.
If you pass easily, consider trying one level higher just in case to be sure.
If you still have doubts, please give us a call so that we can help you assess your level over the phone, or just apply and we will suggest you a starting level based on the information you include on your application
Frequently Asked Questions About Our Levels
It all starts with your online application. On this form you will be answering some questions regarding how you see your self in the different areas of the Spanish language. Our Academics Department then sends you a formal proposal with a recommended starting level, based on your responses.
Finally your native Spanish tutor, on the first or second Spanish class, ratifies your level or suggests a different starting level. Oral interviews over the phone can also be requested free of charge to make sure your suggested starting level is appropriate.
The most important criteria we take into consideration when suggesting starting levels is what we perceive is your current ability to speak Spanish at the right level. Knowledge of vocabulary in isolation or grammar theory without proper usage in a real conversation in Spanish has minor weight in our assessment. Most people have some prior knowledge of Spanish. They have either studied it in high school or in college. Despite this experience is welcome, students may still be placed in the Beginner I level (Pearl Belt) or Beginner II level (White Belt), if not able to recall or use the language verbally in the present tense.
Generally, for example ...
If you are able to fully express yourself verbally in the present tense in Spanish, then level Yellow (Beginner 3) may be the right level for you.
If you are also able to fully express yourself verbally in the past tense in Spanish, then level Orange (Beginner 4) may be the right level for you.
If attending private Spanish classes, just let your Spanish tutor know on any session so that you start working right away on the level that is most appropriate for you.
If you are attending small group Spanish classes that we have set you up with and you think other members in your group have different levels, please let your tutor be aware of your concern right away. Many times, though, first sessions' nervousness may mislead you. Please wait until you have your second session to address this concern with our office. You may observe that after the second session that your levels look much more similar after initial nervousness and/or shyness from all participants is overcome.
If still after your second or third session you think that you have been placed on the wrong level, please contact us so that we transfer you to a higher or lower level subject to availability. You will be able to start at that new level from its first class at no extra cost.
If attending private Spanish classes, you will be able to move on to the next level as soon as the fluency objectives for each level are reached. This means that you may be able to move on to the next level before or after completing the 16 hours normally required for each level.
If you attend small group Spanish classes that we have set you up with, you will need to complete the 16 hours of instruction to be a candidate to pass to the next level. If after your second or third session you feel that you have been placed on the wrong level, though, please let us know and we will be happy to transfer you to a higher or lower level subject to availability.
Unfortunately not. We offer 10 different levels of Spanish instruction. Each of these 10 levels requires the completion of 16 hours.
Only after completing the whole program, or 160 hours, you will be able to communicate your ideas and understand Spanish in a manner similar to that of native Spanish speakers. Most students do not need to complete these 160 hours to communicate, though. Its up to you to decide how good you want to become.
After completing each of our 10 levels, average students notice significant improvement in their ability to speak and understand provided that they also do some complementary self-studying at home on their own, through the help of our online student center, for at least the same number of hours per week that they meet with their instructor, to read in advance what they will be working with on the next class, and to do related homework.