Last Updated on 26 October, 2020
Hola mis amigos! The four months that I spent in Latin America were some of my best memories from my epic Career Break, and one of the highlights was definitely learning Spanish and using it daily. Now that I’m back home, I started Spanish lessons in Singapore with Spanish World Group (Formerly known as Las Lilas Spanish School) to try and keep my hard-earned pidgin Spanish from disappearing completely – here’s a Las Lilas Spanish School review for anyone who’s looking for Spanish schools in Singapore.
A note: I first wrote this review in 2018, a few months after I started level A1.3 with Las Lilas. There weren’t a lot of actual Spanish class reviews online to help me decide which I thought was a pity, so I reached out to the school about working together. While my Spanish Lessons with Las Lilas are sponsored, the opinion and review here is all my own. As of this update, I’m currently at B1.5 after about 3 years with them – I wouldn’t have stuck around that long if I didn’t like them. Another bit of awesome news that comes with this collaboration is that I have a discount code for new students who might be interested in signing up for their own Spanish classes – just quote “The Occasional Traveller” in your order so receive 5% discount off your course fee!
Also another note: in the time of COVID-19, Spanish World Group has moved some classes online so you can safely social distance. Since travel is pretty much off the table now especially to anywhere Spanish-speaking, learning a new language might be the next best thing to broadening your worldview without actually travelling! Singaporeans can also use SkillsFuture credits for classes, though unfortunately not with this discount code.
Why Las Lilas / Spanish World Group?
Quite simply: Las Lilas Spanish School came highly recommended by my friends. When I polled my friends list on Facebook about a Spanish school in Singapore to check out, Las Lilas was the top recommendation by far.
A little about Spanish World Group: Las Lilas Spanish School was one of the pioneer Spanish schools in Singapore and has been in operation since 2005, and have since expanded to Hong Kong and Malaysia as well. They are also one of the few Spanish schools in Singapore that specialises in teaching only Spanish and not other languages.
Spanish isn’t really a language used commonly in and around Asia, so Las Lilas employs teachers that are native Spanish speakers from Spain or Latin America – I’ve had teachers from various parts of Spain as well as Chile. What I like about that is that besides hearing proper Spanish accents, the teachers often provide a more real-world look at how Spanish is used instead of purely book learning with their stories about cultural events and even local slang.
Las Lilas Spanish School is located on the 8th floor of The Bencoolen, an office building right next to Sim Lim Square and Hotel Ibis – click to see the Google Map Location. I like that it’s centrally located and convenient – it’s a short walking distance from Rochor, Bugis or Bras Basah MRT. Bugis+ and Bugis Junction are nearby and my usual dinner stops after class.
Obviously I study in the Singapore campus and I feel for language learning, it is nice to be able to properly interact with people in person, but they do have online conversation and private classes for adults and kids. Small Group lessons are mostly conducted at the school.
As of COVID in early 2020, some group classes have moved online to Zoom. I had classes that way for a few months and we were able to do quite interactive things despite not being in the same classroom. As Singapore moved into Phase 2, some smaller classes like mine within the 5-person limit moved back to the school, albeit with masks and proper sanitising.
What level of Spanish do I start at?
For new students who might have some Spanish background already, Las Lilas conducts an entrance test to decide which level to place you in. I took this entrance test because of my classes back in Panama previously. My entrance test started off with a multiple choice questionnaire, followed by a one-on-one interview in Spanish (of course) with one of the teachers.
It was pretty nerve wrecking to stutter my way through in rusty Spanish, but ultimately I was placed in level A1.3 instead of the complete beginner A1.1 level. I had covered some of the things in A1.3 before in my other school, but I thought this was a good fit because my foundation is still pretty weak so the revision was definitely welcome.
Here’s what the level system looks like. It follows the AULA system. Note that if you’re looking to get certified with a DELE, that’s a different thing altogether. I’m just covering what the general level looks like:
- A1 (A1.1-1.4) is the starter level absolute beginners start out from. With 3 weeks of Spanish classes in Panama under my belt, I started out at A1.3.
- A2 (A2.1-2.6)
- B1 (B1.1-1.6) intermediate level << I’m currently here at B1.5 as of Oct 2020
- B2 (B2.1-2.7)
- C1 (1.1-1.7) advanced level
We used the AULA Internacional as a textbook and workbook for all the lessons – AULA 1 for A1 classes, AULA 2 for A2 lessons and AULA 3 for B1 classes. You can buy the book from the reception if you want convenience, but if you are a bit more prepared than I am and want to save some money, I suggest getting your book online. Get your book via the publishers Difusión (free shipping because it’s over 20 Euro, but be prepared for a wait so make sure you do this in advance), Amazon or Books Depository.
Besides the textbook, the school usually gives a separate handout for each level to supplement the book teachings. In addition, my teachers often distributed their own prep materials depending on the class as well.
What a typical Spanish class is like
Most of the Spanish classes in Las Lilas are conducted in 2-hour sessions over a total of 10 weeks, and there are classes on weekdays as well as weekends.
For those in a rush, sometimes they conduct intensive sessions where you finish your 20 hours over 2 weeks of class every weekday night – that’s how I learned Spanish in Panama which is pretty hardcore to fit into your daily life if you have work and class to juggle, but ultimately I think it depends on your learning style and how much time you can afford to spare.
The class sizes range from a minimum of 4 students to a maximum of 12 students, but most of the time my classes had around 6-8 people. Classes at beginner A1.1. level are the most packed of course as it is the taster course for most people to decide if they really want to pursue learning Spanish.
The more you progress, unfortunately the less options there are when it comes to class schedules as there will be less students. The school needs a minimum of 4 pax to open a class so it sometimes involves a bit of negotiation and organisation to find the right class if you want to keep the same time slot and teacher. I’ve been quite lucky as I spent the last few levels with mostly the same classmates progressing at the same pace as me.
My current class has 4 people (including me), so during the COVID period, we were able to come back to school for lessons as we were under the maximum cap of 5 pax.
Classes in each level are conducted by the same teacher for all 10 sessions, though there are substitutes occasionally if they aren’t available. As with any school, each teacher has their own style of teaching, though so far most of those that I have encountered have been quite friendly and informal.
If you are particular about your teacher, consider asking to sit in or check out some of the other classes besides your own to see which teacher’s lesson style suits you best. There is a feedback form as well distributed during each level so you can give your teacher some comments. If you stick to the same time slots as you progress, there is a good chance you can keep the same teacher as you move up the ranks as well.
What lessons are like
Lessons are a mix of reading, listening and writing exercises, conversation and even some role play and games in Spanish. A caveat is that it also depends on your teacher – there is a syllabus to follow of course, but depending on the teacher and the students, they might introduce their own activities to help make learning more fun.
One of my teachers was a big fan of games that involve conjugating in Spanish, and I’ve also practiced my bargaining skills in a pretend market amongst many activities. Some teachers use more English than others in their teaching, while others were more insistent about speaking Spanish all the way, but they are all bilingual enough.
Besides classes, Las Lilas Spanish School does organise some of its own activities. They had an Open Day with little bits of Spanish culture like trial flamenco lessons, culture talks and even paella for sharing. And at the end of each term, there is a Spanish karaoke session.
Honestly there aren’t that many opportunities to interact with people outside your class at this point, but I know the school is looking into planning more activities in the near future. It’s not the most social of places, but I’m comparing this to my time at Habla Ya in Panama which catered more to tourists and foreigners and had a lot more social activities. Many students are Singaporeans using their Skillsfuture credits to learn a new language at the lower levels, but you get a pretty good mix of international students as well.
All in all, I’m quite happy with my Spanish World Group / Las Lilas Spanish classes and hope to continue working on my Spanish lessons in Singapore in the near future. It’s definitely harder work now that I’m not using the language as much as I was in South America, but I hope to improve my grammar and conversation level for when I eventually return to that region. I’ve had quite a positive experience overall.
Spanish World Group Discount Code
Quote “The Occasional Traveller” in the comments to get 5% off your course fee. Note that this only applies for brand new students to Spanish World Group, as well as those not using their Skillsfuture credits. Or if you are emailing them, just quote my blog name ‘The Occasional Traveller’.
Hasta luego mis amigos. If you see me around in school, drop me an Hola!
My Spanish lessons are sponsored by Spanish World Group, but this review was all my own.