1. How did 2014 go for you, and how did it compare to previous years?
Last year was challenging for us, mainly because of the economic context in Argentina, with high inflation and currency fluctuations. We benefited from the fact that some other schools scaled down their operations or even closed. Our Spanish language school has been quite stable over the past years and we have maintained our focus on quality which is now paying off for us.
2. What developments do you expect in 2015?
This year is election year in Argentina and many things could change, for good or bad. Apart from that, we expect more Brazilian students this year as the soccer world cup last year had major impact on Brazilians travelling abroad.
3. Anything new this year?
We have revised several of our Spanish courses and added new ones. Our Medical Spanish course is entering its third year with revised material. Our Spanish for diplomats course is new and aimed at local embassies and UN system employees. We have added a semester course for students wishing to stay for a full 4-5 months, including free university credit.
4. Where do the majority of your students come from?
Most students are from Europe, followed closely by North America, Australia and New Zeeland, Brasil.
5. What are your most popular student activities at your school?
Our student activities in general are quite popular as they offer a new perspective and are free of charge. Most students value the “off-the-beaten-track” nature of our visits around town, when we take them to places tourists would not usually go to. Also very popular – and with a steady crowd of former students – is our weekly movie showing. Students select a movie from three options we present and there is a discussion afterwards with some wine and snacks.
6. What makes your destination special for your students?
Buenos Aires is a gigantic city of 13+ million people and a cultural offering – especially outside of the official showings – that is equal to none. Music, theater, dance, performance, art galleries, you name it. Buenos Aires is a also a good mix of European influences and Latin American lifestyle, so students experience less of a culture shock than if they went to smaller argentine cities or towns. We have many students who choose Buenos Aires because they have a very clear image (or should I say illusion?) of the place, for example because they are football fans, tango fans, etc. or because they are nature lovers and want to combine a stay in Buenos Aires with exploring the country of glaciers, deserts, subtropical forests or Andean mountains.
7. 3 things that make your Spanish language school special for your students?
– Academia Buenos Aires has focused on academic quality from day 1 and the type of student we attract is a reflection of that.
– We offer a wide variety of extracurricular (free) activities and also volunteering. Our interests and networks of contacts are as diverse as our backgrounds. The four founders of the school are a contemporary dancer, a psychologist who has mainly worked with street children, a theatre actor and a sociology professor.
– While we are a profoundly argentine organization with a strong argentine cultural component to our program, all of us have travelled extensively and lived abroad. We know what it means to promise a service and live up to it at any cost. That’s important for a student who books a language course and housing from far away and without knowing the country.
Federico Hoeser from Academia Buenos Aires: www.academiabuenosaires.com