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Reviews are compiled and evaluated by an independent third party, BazaarvoiceTM, the No. 1 provider of customer reviews. Reviews are never edited or deleted unless the content does not comply with EF and Bazaarvoice's™ terms and conditions, which prohibit the use of such things as personal information and inappropriate language.
Immersion is the way to go!This was my first time as a group leader and the only tour I was interested in was the immersion tour to Madrid with the Barcelona extension. Students that went had to be recommended by their world languages teacher and had to have just completed Spanish 3 or above. They had such an amazing experience interacting with locals, taking culinary and flamenco classes, learning about the culture, history, architecture, etc. The tour director and I only spoke Spanish to them and by the end they were very confident in their abilities.
Best I could have hoped for!I have been so excited for this trip for the last eight months, I haven't even planned anything else for my summer. My standards for this trip were so high that I figured I would probably be a little disappointed once it was actually happening. Instead, we had the most amazing tour anyone could have asked for. Our tour director was amazing and I miss being in Madrid already (it's only been two days, haha). The classes were great and our teacher was so sweet! I loved visiting Toledo and getting to see all of the old cathedrals and the forge. The market challenge was probably my favorite part just because the people who worked there knew that we would ask them all of the questions we had (not to mention all of the delicious foods). In all, I had the experience of a lifetime and I would definitely recommend an immersion tour to anyone who's looking to expand their understanding of a language and/or its culture.
No Airline Ticket?Not recommended for two simple reasons: EF Tours' inability to provide a safe and secure travel environment for minors and unable to take corrective action in a real life situation. EF Tours' incompetence handling special travel requests caused my family a great deal of grief and uncertainty that almost left my child stranded in an airport without an airline ticket. Their easy solution was a 6 hour unsupervised taxi ride at own cost. No checks and balance in place to prevent re-occurrence. Totally unacceptable.
Very bad experienceWe were hoping that my son first experience in Europe was amazing but everything started with the wrong foot. Our request to extend the tour was done and paid almost a year before the tour and the travel arrangements were terrible. He travel by himself and not with the tour and with a very constraint time frame between connecting flights. Fortunately, everything went smoothly and he reached the destination two hours after the rest of the group. The rest of the academic part was fine until we reached the point of the extended stay. The group went to Santiago de Compostela and the morning of the return at 5:00 am we received a calll that he didn't have plain ticket to return and there were no other flights until the day after. This was hectic and the tour guide only solution because he couldn't contact any EF emergency line, was to send him 6 hours by taxi alone with no adult supervision which was a poor decision on the group leader and chaperones. The taxi driver got lost at the final destination and took another 30 mins to find us. EF tours is indeed refunding the taxi cost but they will never restore the 6 hours pain that our family got waiting for our child driving with an stranger in a host country. We will not support our school to continue using EF tours and recommend another travel agency.
Capstone ExperienceThe Language Immersion in Madrid tour was the perfect capstone to my daughter's high school language education. The organized theme days where students learned/reviewed language specific to the theme then used it with each other and locals while also incorporating sightseeing AND culture activities was just perfect! As a parent it was everything I had hoped it would be. My daughter came back forever changed - in a WONDERFUL way.
Amazing Tour DirectorOur tour director made the experience exceptional. He stayed engaged with each student, ensured our needs were met, and activities entertained and educated students. The director energy remained high throughout the 10 days.
Wonderful experienceMy students had a wonderful time in Spain! They loved the activities, the food, everything! I can't wait to take another group there with EF Tours.
Amazing experienceI really liked the tour, everything was excellent and all the services were great!!!
I really enjoyed everything that was programmed in the tour and all the places we visited.
Immersion Tours are Amazing!I can't imagine doing any other type of tour. Students, especially if they are at an intermediate level or above, grow by leaps and bounds. My students greatly increased their comprehension skills and the ability to speak spontaneously.
An Eye OpenerRatings
Fun Rating: 5 Stars
The sights and activities provided throughout the tour really helped improve my Spanish language. I just wish we didn't have to take the classes because they seemed pretty pointless to me. However, our schedule was engineered very well and kept us occupied but excited at the same time.
Tour Guide: 5 Stars
My tour guide was amazing; she was supportive, friendly, and easy to talk to whenever I needed her. My teacher will request the same tour guide for the trip she is doing next year too.
Hotel Quality: 5 Stars
We stayed at a hotel across the street from the Royal Palace and the room was very functional. On a previous EF tour, I was forced to sleep with two people in one bed and everyone felt very uncomfortable. This time, our room had 4 twin beds that were extremely comfortable and easy to sleep on. Hotel service was also excellent.
Class Quality: 3 Stars
When I first enrolled for this trip I was told that I would have to submit a Youtube video, be given a written test upon arrival, and be sorted into a class at a university in Madrid depending on my level of Spanish. Instead, a written test was never administered and we never went to a university in Madrid to study. We simply went to the EF headquarters in Madrid and everybody in our tour was taught basic Spanish. In addition, because our first day of class was on a national holiday, we skipped a day of class that we had originally paid for. Back to the original point, our classes were very basic and elementary; next year I am entering AP Spanish and our classes on this trip consisted of naming fruits and playing games. I went on this trip thinking I would really improve my Spanish through these classes but they were very poor compared to what I expected. Even so, I'm glad I did not go on a sightseeing tour because I came more for a study trip than as a tourist. The language immersion trips (although they have poor classes) have activities geared more towards interacting with locals and really learning the culture of the city. In my opinion, sightseeing tours simply browse through a location without actually getting to know the area. Therefore, I would enroll on a language immersion tour not for the classes but for the more engaging activities provided.
Transportation: In Spain, you will be walking A LOT. The first day you will walk 8 miles and from then on, everyday will be about the same more or less. You will also be using the metro quite a bit but you will most definitely be walking to the metro so you will never get away with not walking.
Food: A majority of Spanish food is made up of meat, cheese (heavy cheese), salads, and seafood. If you are a vegetarian, light-eater, or seafood hater, you will have a hard time eating. In addition, there are small snack stores everywhere around the city that sell water, chips, candy, ice cream, etc. very cheap. I chose to buy bottled water instead of drinking tap water just because the bottled water was so cheap and I was not sure whether or not to trust the tap water.
Pick-pocketing: Pick-pocketers are real, my friend's phone was stolen within 2 hours of our arrival in the city. I am not joking when I say keep track of your belongings and it's okay to be paranoid about it.
Money: Credit cards were used in our group but be sure to tell your bank that you are traveling or else your card will be blocked. If you want to retrieve money from your account, I recommend going to a bank and not using an ATM. My friend's card was taken by an ATM and she never got her card back; she has deactivated the card but never got it back. Remember that your money, your passport, and your phone are your most valuable belongings and always keep them close to you.
Phone Service: Before you depart, try to alert your phone company that you are traveling and ask for some sort of Travel Pass. I used a Verizon Travel Pass that allowed me to stay on my plan from home while traveling overseas for an additional charge of $10 a day. This is important and useful when you don't have wi-fi and are in an emergency and need to contact someone.
All in all, I would like to say that I absolutely loved Spain and would definitely consider studying abroad there one day. My Spanish truly improved after my trip (mainly my speech) and I was also able to break through a barrier of uneasiness and fear when I was forced to converse with the locals. In the end, you can definitely count on me traveling to Spain sometime again within my lifetime.