Any recommendations for (or against) Spanish classes in NYC?
September 2, 2015 3:51 PM   Subscribe

Language learning questions here tend to get a lot of "watch Univision, listen to podcasts, converse with native speakers" types of answers, which are great. I will probably utilize some of those things, but I'd really like to take a class because I would benefit from the externally imposed structure.

I've looked at Fluent City, Idlewild, and Instituto Cervantes, but have no idea how to choose among them or if I should be looking at other options.

I took Spanish in high school and college many, many years ago, but never felt like I had a good handle on it and haven't attempted to speak it in probably 15 years. So assume beginner level with some residual stuff possibly knocking around. I want to be able to converse when I travel to Spanish-speaking countries and also on a basic level with my clients (I am a legal services attorney).
posted by Mavri to Writing & Language (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I, too, found the structure of (graded) class to aid my language learning. You may be more advanced than the levels offered, but I really recommend community college (SPA 101/102, 201/202) as an affordable and consistent way to learn. (Should you be interested, they surely have a placement test you can take.) I've both taught and taken languages at community college, and have been happy with the results.

How about taking a class for legal translators? You'd learn the proper language for your job, although it'd be less helpful for the travel bit. I will mention this caveat: I'm learning Spanish for various reasons, including my work as a schoolteacher. However, unless it's an emergency, I use the services of a (school-provided) translator because I don't want to risk messing up such an important conversation (even if I might be able to get by without one.)

If time is an issue whereas funds aren't, you could try a tutor or personalized class focused on the topics you want and need.

Instituto Cervantes would be cool but you'd be learning Peninsular Spanish whereas (I'd assume) most of your clients would be native speakers of Latin American Spanish, and that might limit you in certain ways. (Then again, friends who are native speakers have told me that there are huge differences even between the Spanish spoken in Mexico and El Salvador, for example.)

Is educational travel a possibility? I found just visiting Spain as a tourist this summer to be great practice, and I hope to attend a private language school in Argentina one day that was recommended to me. If you're interested in the name, I can pass it on to you.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:45 PM on September 2, 2015

I love taking language classes because I find it's a great way to meet likeminded people. So go for it!

I can't comment on the first two or even NYC specifically but I took a class at Instituto Cervantes in another country and they were great.
posted by kitten magic at 4:45 PM on September 2, 2015

Speaking of taking the classes for legal professionals, I found these two links for starters:

- "Be a Better Lawyer: Learn Spanish" (General suggestions)

- A summer crash course on "Spanish for Lawyers" at Boston University

- This class is offered at NYU and starts September 8th! It might be too late or already full but it certainly could be something to consider for the future.

There are also a number of books and recordings available online, and a private tutor could work with you on the books of your choosing.
posted by smorgasbord at 4:49 PM on September 2, 2015

I took classes at Fluent City, and really enjoyed them. No tests or grading, but my Spanish did improve quite a bit. I particularly liked my instructor, Andres. (I don't know about other instructors, but he was very good).
posted by ocherdraco at 5:57 PM on September 2, 2015

I took French at Idlewild and loved it. The environment is really nice.
posted by bquarters at 6:22 PM on September 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

You may take courses at CUNY as a visiting student. At my campus, the lingo is "undergraduate non-degree student" if you don't have a bachelors degree from somewhere else, and "post-baccalaureate non-degree student" if you do. Ask at the Admission Office of any CUNY campus about how to take courses that are not towards a degree. Practically all of the 26 campuses offer Spanish.

There is also the Continuing and Professional Education programs, which may be somewhat easier to pop in and out of, have shorter term duration, and will offer courses at a schedule that may be more convenient to you as a working person. I notice that Conversational Spanish as well as Business Spanish is offered.
posted by Liesl at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2015

I used to work at a legal services agency with many, many native speakers...FWIW, we would refer people to El Taller. Now on the East Side. OP, you and I commented on many of the same threads under my old username, so I think you should look into them.

As a major, major supporter of CUNY, without which I literally wouldn't be where I am today, I'm not sure I'd recommend the average intro language class for a professional adult. The quality of the class depends too much on whatever adjunct you have teaching it. You could strike gold, or it could be the same as you'd do by yourself, but less efficient.
posted by 8603 at 1:53 PM on September 3, 2015

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