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 Las Lilas Spanish School (they’ve since changed their name to Spanish World Group) 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 B1.3 after about 2.5 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 at the bottom of the post.
Also another note: in the time of COVID-19, Spanish World Group has moved classes online so you can still pretend you’re somewhere Spanish-speaking even if you can’t actually travel. They’ve also lowered prices slightly so along with the discount code, this might be a good time to take the plunge into learning a new language. You can also use your SkillsFuture credits though unfortunately not with the 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. 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 who 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 convenient and central – it’s a short walking distance from Rochor, Bugis or Bras Basah MRT. Bugis+ and Bugis Junction are nearby and my usual dinner stop after class.
As of COVID in early 2020, classes have moved online to Zoom, and while I do miss having classes in person, I think the quality of the classes still remains and we have been able to do quite interactive things. More about that below.
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 B1.3 as of May 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.
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.
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 pretty bilingual.
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 which catered more to tourists and foreigners and had a lot more social activities. A large percentage of the Las Lilas students are locals using their Skillsfuture credits to learn a new language :)
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.
Las Lilas Spanish School 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 Las Lilas, 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, drop me an Hola!
My Spanish lessons were sponsored by Las Lilas Spanish School, but this review was all my own.