El Pasaje Spanish School - Buenos Aires
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Dec 13, 2012 10:40 AM Last Post By: XandruDiac
Nov 17, 2012 9:04 AM
El Pasaje Spanish School - Buenos AiresDoes anyone have any recent experience of the El Pasaje spanish school in Buenos Aires? I am starting a 7 month trip around SA in January in BA and have v little Spanish so want to take classes for a couple of weeks to start with. I don't want to go to one of the large factory type schools and after a lot of research I've found El Pasaje school, which seems to be small and independent and gets amazing reviews on trip advisor. The reviews almost seem too good to be true though so I'd be grateful if anyone on here has any experience of it that they can share.
Nov 17, 2012 12:51 PM
1"Amazing reviews" on Trip Advisor ARE too good to be true, the site is highly controlled and many negative reviews of advertising clients are removed after complaints by clients. Many of the positive "reviews"are just spam by those working fr the clients. I have not gone to El Pasaje, so I cannot give a comment about what kind of a school it really is.or how good it would be.
Trip Advisor says they will not list "Classes" as attractions for reviews, but they do if they advertise with them and become a client. Totally contradictory.
It is better to look on more open forums for reviews, like TT or baexpats.org (look for regular contributors); or, probably the best is Couchsurfers, where there is some ownership of the comments due to people in the different community forums knowing each other.
The big problem is that most of the Spanish schools in latinamerica, including BA , especially the big schools, are really just party places for young travelers, and not serious places to learn Spanish. I say this as an English teacher who has worked at and/or studied at many of these schools in different cities (many of which also teach English and other languages to the locals). Besides this, you will be tempted to hang out with the other foreign students and not use your your Spanish when here, as well as not have a truly cultural experience. And, many of these schools have untrained, overly-tired or not-so-good teachers, regardless of the glowing things (often patently untrue) that the schools claim. Individual instructors are often the best way to go, but again you are left with the same dilemma: how do you know the quality before investing the time, money and energy?
There are many posts about schools here in Thorn Tree: enter the name of the city and then "Spanish"or "Spanish school". Be careful, because much of what looks like "recommendations" are in fact just spam. Be careful of controlled advertising sites that pretend to give objective reviews, such as Tripadvisor , other travel sites, or sites supposedly devoted to "reviewing" Spanish schools. Be careful about the big chains or webagents (such as ABC, Coined, ECELA, Patagonia, Don Quijote, Forinex, just to name a few of dozens) many which claim to have their own schools in different cities (but in fact do not),as the quality there is quite low. Be careful of "extras", such as homestays, dance classes and volunteer components, as these can often be jokes (best to do that elsewhere after you start studying).
Try to get direct recommendations from people who have actually gone there, which I know is not that easy. If you can, try to visit the place before and feel out the place. Do not be pressured into registering early and payingfor classes under the marketing threat of no spaces left, as most big schools will always fit one more in regardless of what they tell you about class size. Do not be fooled by assurances that the school is monitored by some professional association or certification as a school of some type, this is just another form of hype and there is no external monitoring. Pay no more than a week in advance, so you are not trapped if you find the instruction unsatisfactory (and do not trust promises of refunds, some have walked away with such assurances unmet). Once you give your credit card or debit card details out, they got you.
Having said that, there ARE some very good Spanish teachers in Argentina. In the bigger schools, it is often a matter of luck who you end up with. But there are some pretty lousy ones too, including some who are friends of mine.
Both for learning about the place,finding both better local, fellow-traveler or expat companions, and to ask about Spanish instruction, I strongly suggest joining couchsurfers (it is free, ignore the request for a donation),and especially the groups (forums) of the cities you are interested in. There, you can use the search function of the group to get info about the area, including Spanish schools or teachers, or post a request for info (in English,Spanish or both). The replies and info tend to be accurate, as the known profiled members "own" their comments and are often more responsible than the anonymous posters in forums like this. Also, there are lots of free social and outdoor activities listed you could go to and have fun while practicing your Spanish with good locals or others who view you more than just a source of money. Couchsurfers is more than just a place to find a place to crash.
Here are some threads here about approach to start with:
Dec 5, 2012 11:04 AM
I studied in El Pasaje Spanish School for two months and I couldn't be happier with the experience. I also found the school through Trip Advisor and after reading the reviews I was pretty confident it was the best choice. Before I went, I exchanged some e-mails and they were really helpful and patient so after that I was even more excited about having found them.
It is one of the cheapest schools, they didn't charge inscription fee, and the teachers are young and really cool; you can always talk to them about politics, art, and music. They all seemed very well informed about history and culture in general. The classes were small and the teachers were very patient too.
I seriously recommend this school, 'cause I've heard from some guys in the hostel that other schools have bigger classes with many different levels in it, they charge you for inscription and if you want to pay in pesos they take the black market rate which I found trully ridiculous.
Hope you enjoy as much as I did!
Dec 5, 2012 12:33 PM
3sometimes people are simply awesome, when that's the case you should take the time and enjoy what they have to offer.
I was with these guys for a whole month, they were great. As well as teaching me Spanish they found me the perfect flat share, sorted my airport transfer and more.
They are not too good to be true, it's simply true that they are so good!
Dec 5, 2012 2:22 PM
Dec 5, 2012 3:12 PM
5I went there for "1 week" of lessons in August at the start of 5 months in South America and ended up staying 7 weeks as I loved it there! Believe it all. The teaching is great but on top of that they're all really cool people and make your lessons fun. I'm thinking of trying to convince a couple of the teachers to come teach in London so I can continue my learning!! (Come on guys, you know you want to!)
Dec 5, 2012 4:24 PM
I completely understand you . It´s very hard to choose when there is too many schools in BA. I spend a year in BA with the objetive to study spanish. First I follow courses at Laboratorio de Idiomas (from Universidad de Buenos Aires). It was great but then I realized that I wasnt progressing as well as I needed, so I took one-on- one classes with a little school named Ñ de español (www.eniedespaniol.com.ar) and it was great for me. They are very profesional and really kind. Even now, back to my home in Rome, I continue taking online classes with them
Dec 6, 2012 6:44 AM
7I’m writing on behalf of El Pasaje, as I work there as a director, but this is valid not only for our reviews but also for Trip Advisor web site.
We can assure Trip Advisor is a trustworthy website, renowned for being built day by day by the travelers themselves. It is nearly impossible to modify its reviews; we could neither erase or edit them (we would have to be true hackers to do it). Besides, you can verify each reviewer's profile as they are linked to their Facebook profile. Even if we were making up positive reviews, we wouldn't be able to erase the negative ones, which we would get from unsatisfied students. This is why so many schools refuse to have a Trip Advisor profile: no one wants to get potential negative reviews. The fact that we only have one bad review (which, as you may see, we have already answered) is a proof of how satisfied our students are with their experiences. We are truly happy with our Trip Advisor site and we think it reflects the great amount of good friends from all over the world we have made in the last years.
I hope I’ve been of any help, beyond your choice, as this is valid not only for our reviews.
Dec 6, 2012 8:51 AM
8I want to be clear, I was not criticizing el pasaje school, as I know nothing about it beyond what its website claims. I do not know why GiIda is being so overly defensive. El Pasaje is being spammed quite a lot on this and other sites at the moment, so they are going beyond mere paid advertising, and this alone should make people suspicious. And, if they spam on forums and advertise on questionable sites, then they should be open to question. It appears to have many of the features of mere party schools, such as extra tours and questionable "volunteer" components, and this should (with respect) make potential students at least question the seriousness of its educational claims.
However, I was criticizing the phony way "reviews" for paid advertisers like el pasaje are put on and maintained on tripadvisor, as opposed to more open (but still somewhat controlled) "forum" on tripadvisor. Tripadvisor expressly states they will not accept "reviews"for attractions like schools, but then takes money from advertisers such as schools in direct contradiction of this policy, lists them as '"attractions", and accepts, and then monitors, "reviews" for them (what a joke). People who have had experience trying to post balanced reviews on tripadvisor know this to be true.
Many other travel forums have many negative comments along this line.
Last month, the UK Advertising Standards Authority criticised TripAdvisor, warning the site "not to claim or imply that all the reviews that appeared on the website were from real travellers, or were honest, real or trusted."
Just be cautious about "reviews" you see posted here by apparent newbies (as opposed to the more committed posters that try to give consistent, helpful and more neutral advice).
Dec 7, 2012 2:22 PM
9¡Gracias Kim y June for helping us convince Nina our reviews are real! (yes, we do know and remember our students that well) ¡Las extrañamos!
mendocinateacher: 1- I wonder why offering COMPLETELY FREE volunteering projects and OPTIONAL extra activities for our students is a "party school" feature.
2- We have never paid Trip Advisor to appear as an atraction (it is completely free, why don't you offer your services there?), and as far as we know, it's not possible to do so. We cannot delete negative reviews either (how could we, a 4 classrooms small school, do such a thing, when much bigger companies (i.e.: luxury hotels) seem not to?).
We're proud of the services we offer. In more than 4 years, we've had 2 or 3 complaints so far, and LOTS of very warm farewell notes and reviews online. Thank you all for your comments!
Lic. Natalia Boquet (Owner, Academic Director and Spanish Teacher at El Pasaje Spanish School, graduated with honors in Linguistics and Literature at Universidad de Buenos Aires)
Edited by: pasaje
Dec 7, 2012 6:15 PM
10Natalia and Gilda: I do not offer my services on English language travel sites, I am only a lowly English teacher.
Are you saying you do not have to sign up as a student at your business to volunteer, that you will give and assign volunteer positions to anyone? If so, then it is free; if not, it is not free at all. As to whether the "volunteering" is genuine and helpful, there is little detail on your website. My concern is that the vast majority of volunteer projects at language schools in Argentina and elsewhere in Latinamerica have clearly proven to be next to useless, and are only there to (at least) draw in customers.
I will let others decide for themselves as to the veracity of your "reviews" both here and on other sites. I was only providing some facts and knowledgeable sources. It is interesting though that there is a recent flood of very apparent spam citing your school on so many sites. Coincidence?
Good luck with your business (I know the challenges from having worked at many language institutes). I have never specifically criticized your school, I made that very clear from the very start of my first post. I have raised issues that are problematic for many language schools and those considering using their services throughout Latinamerica, and am merely telling students to be careful, as I have consistently done. I think my general help on many themes related to travel over the years here have demonstrated this. There is no reason to be insulted or defensive unless there is a real reason to be from your end.
Dec 13, 2012 10:40 AM
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