It's serious
but fun
Interview with 'El Patio'
Ana and Toni, smiling at 'El Patio' Spanish School Ana and Toni, smiling at 'El Patio' Spanish School Sara Bosch

2/152 Little Lonsdale St
Melbourne, VIC
03 9650 6032

114 High St
Northcote, VIC
03 9486 5849

Founded 10 years ago, 'El Patio' keeps on reinventing the way it teaches Spanish in Melbourne

That's how Ana, from Spain, and Toni, from Australia, describe the language school they run in Northcote and now in the city too: "Serious but fun". Founded 10 years ago, 'El Patio' keeps on reinventing the way it teaches Spanish in Melbourne.

Why do people study Spanish?

There are many reasons but it's basically either a genuine interest in the language and the culture or people who come back from travelling and want to improve what they've learned.


Is that the demographics of your customers?

At the beginning, we used to get people between 25 and 35 but in recent years there have been older people getting more interested, aged over 50 such as retirees. They end up being the long term students! As it's a great mind exercise against Alzheimer's.


What kind of Spanish do you teach: Spanish from Spain or from South America?

There is no such a thing as standard Spanish, so we address many different variations of the Spanish language. We get that question a lot from people enquiring.


When did El Patio open?

In 2001, so it's 10 years old already! We are planning to have a 10 years anniversary party at the end of October.


When did you open the city office?

Exactly one year ago, so we will be celebrating that too at the party.


From Northcote to the city. Why?

Because we didn't fit anymore! So we have expanded with day time classes in the city and continue with the afternoon ones in Northcote. Plus the city is fabulous because of its accessibility.


What distinguishes El Patio from other language schools?

For starters, we just teach Spanish. We are truly specialised and unique, as students follow different levels designed by us. Teachers are strictly trained and they maintain a close and individual relationship with our students.


What about the fun?

This school has a social emphasis with many regular activities such as daily free lunch time conversations. We have also just organised an excursion, open to all levels, to a Spanish winery in Victoria run by a Spanish family that will provide typical food with tapas along with lots of wine tasting. Their son and the mother studied with us, so we keep in touch with them in a very special way. So it's serious but fun.


How do you apply new technologies when teaching Spanish?

Students have a web support to maintain a steady learning progress plus they get regular e-newsletters. Also, for the first time, we are about to publish an e-book called 'Spanish for Travel', suitable for the iPad. Based on our short courses and travel topics, it's an interactive e-book, as it allows the user to make useful notes. We've designed and recorded the audio with our teachers here, which it makes it pretty unique. More info in soon!


What's your favourite saying in Spanish?

'Quien a buen árbol se arrima, buena sombra le cobija', as it could be translated to 'El Patio': When you attend a good school, you learn.

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