Study at a Spanish Secondary School

Summary Information

  • Location: Host communities throughout Spain
  • Ages: 15-18
  • Accommodation: Host family
  • Duration: from 6 weeks to a full year
Celebrate festivals with Host Families and friends

The culture and lifestyle of Spain, its creative flair and enthusiam for life make it a great destination for your child to experience a new culture not too far from home. Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world; it is spoken by more than 500 million people worldwide and is the official language in 21 countries, with over 330 million native speakers. It is always an advantage to have a second or third language to help your child prepare for their future educational plans and career.

This selective programme gives young students the opportunity to discover Spain, its way of life and its culture, while improving their language skills. Ideal for Transition Year students, it is available throughout the academic year. Students assume the life of a typical Spanish teenager- they live with a carefully selected host family, attend a local Spanish secondary school and experience the life, culture and language of Spain through complete immersion. Available for a minimum of 6 weeks up to the full academic year, this is the best way to experience the Spanish way of life, achieve fluency and become more independent and mature young adults. Your child will return home with more confidence and memories that will last a lifetime.

The application deadline for Autumn 2017 is April 1. We are able to consider applications on a case-by-case basis. Contact Gillian on 021-4551535 to discuss your application.


All Spanish host families are sourced, vetted and screened through our Spanish partner organisation based in Madrid. They have a team of local coordinators based throughout Spain, who live in the local areas. Host families are carefully selected by the local coordinator after an interview and a home visit according to very definite selection criteria: open-mindedness, availability, receptiveness, welcoming, and good accommodation conditions. Placements are always in safe residential areas, which guarantee good conditions. Placements are mostly made in rural areas (countryside), suburbs and small towns, but very rarely in the centre of big towns. Students may be placed in any region in Spain, although there is an option of Guaranteed Placement, should you have a specific area of Spain in mind or are not comfortable with a small town placement. The regions where this option is available are: Seville, Zaragoza, Valencia, Madrid, Málaga, Cádiz or Alicante. There are additional fees for Guaranteed Placement. If students want a more international experience (more populated towns have more diversity of nationalities), then this would be recommended. If you are open to any location, you will not be charged anything extra and all locations in Spain are considered in the placement process.

Host families have a genuine interest in learning about the countries of their students and exposing themselves and their children to another culture by hosting. Some hold the belief that hosting a student from Ireland is the next best thing to visiting Ireland itself. Also, some Spanish families ask for reciprocal help in learning some English (no more than 5 hours per week). The host families will provide: a genuinely caring environment, clean and comfortable surroundings, convenient access to school, full board, and a shared or single room. The families are visited and counselled through regular contact with the local area coordinator during your child's stay.

There is no such thing as a "typical" Spanish host family. Some host families are married couples with children, some are single parents, and some do not have children of their own. Students and parents alike should be open-minded to any family structure and be prepared to immerse themselves in Spanish culture in whatever form the family takes. Your child is truly considered a member of the family, equal in rights and duties, and they share the day-to-day life, including leisure activities and outings. In return they are asked to comply with family rules, which might include some minor tasks like washing the dishes or cleaning their bedroom. The host family is seen as being responsible for the student's welfare and we insists on their role as 'parents.' Sometimes families may host more than one student, but they will always be a student from a different country and of a different first language so that Spanish is spoken in the home.

The Spanish school system is divided into Primary Education (grades 1-6), Secondary School (1-4 ESO grades) and Baccalaureate (1-2 Bachillerato grades). This programme is open to students ages 15-18 who are currently enrolled in an Irish secondary school.

The Spanish school year works on a Trimester system:

  • 1st Trimester normally from mid-September to Christmas.
  • 2nd Trimester, from January to Easter holidays (March/April).
  • 3rd Trimester, April - May/June.

There is usually a 2-week holiday for Christmas and a week over Easter. Semester programmes are available beginning in September and February. Shorter programmes with flexible start dates dates are also available for 6 weeks, 2, and 3 month periods.

A typical school week is Monday through Friday, 5 days per week. Classes start at 8:30am, lasting usually 1 hour each, and go until 2:30pm, with an hour break in the middle.

Core subjects as followed by the Spanish Ministry of Education:

  • Language and Literature
  • Physical Education
  • English Language
  • Geography and History
  • Science
  • Electives (1-2)
  • Catholic Religion or Ethics
  • Mathematics

Transition Year students will most likely be placed In ESO 4, which is the Irish equivalent to 4th year.

Students will not receive special Spanish lessons in school, but will join normal classes with the rest of their Spanish peers. Some schools offer special assistance for international students, but this is not always the case in all schools. The local coordinator is always available to contact should you need assistance adjusting in school or at home.

Private schools, either as a day student or a full boarding student, are also an option. There are several private schools which our partner office works with for international students. Keep in mind that these private schools are usually 3 to 4 times the price of the public school programme and are only available for trimester, half year and full academic year students. Information on these schools is available on request only after EIL determines the main criteria of the private school you are looking for. Please note that applications need to be submitted a minimum of 4 months in advance for private school placements. 

Transfers are included in the programme price, but only from the airport we instruct you to fly into. This airport will be the closest to your host family where they and/or your local coordinator will collect you. Once your placement has been confirmed, we will tell you what dates to arrive and depart from Spain. The flights are not included in the programme price and are up to the participant to arrange.

Your host family and local coordinator can inform you about local transportation to and from school. School may be within walking or cycling distance, some by carpool or bus.

Friends will not be placed together.  This is a programme designed for independent and individual students.  Emphasis is on full language and cultural immersion.  If friends apply together, they will be intentionally separated and placed in different communities and schools.

Students may not return home for the duration of their programme.  This includes Christmas and Easter holidays, and mid-term breaks.  All family visits must be limited to the end of the student's programme, not at the beginning or in the middle.  After years of experience, we find that such visits disrupt the adjustment process and can lead to further homesickness and integration problems.

Students and parents cannot reject a host family placement in favour of a new one.  Once host family details are sent to the student, they are final.  Cancellations will incur loss of deposit.

EIL and our partners in Spain reserve the right to send home any student whose health requires it or whose conduct is considered improper or offensive to the host family, community or school.  Such conduct includes drug use, unacceptable sexual behaviour, excessive drinking, violation of the law or failure in schoolwork.  In the event that the student is returned home, either alone or accompanied, parents or guardians are responsible for all expenses above those covered by the fee.  In such cases, no refunds will be available. If a student chooses to end the programme early on his or her own accord, for reasons including travelling home for a holiday or during mid-term, no refund will be given.

Students agree to participate in language exchange with their host family 3-5 hours weekly if the family request. The student should agree on a suitable time for this with their host family.

Further conditions of participation are included in the application forms. Please read them carefully.



  • Will I have to host a Spanish student in return?

    No, this is a one-way exchange. You will not have to host a Spanish student. Some Irish students remain friends with the host family and siblings and stay in contact, but there is no obligation to have them come to Ireland unless you make a personal arrangement amongst yourselves.

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  • What do the fees pay for?

    Administration costs for the hosting (Get Ready) and sending organizations (EIL), interview, orientation material, insurance with Caremed, support from a local coordinator and EIL Ireland, school enrolment fees, and transfer costs. EIL and Get Ready are both not-for-profit exchange organizations.

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  • Can you offer placements in specific types of schools, e.g. music focus, science focus, sports available, equestrian, etc?

    Yes, but only as part of the private school option. Private schools have better facilities for sports, music and technology. The public schools have differing facilities and we cannot make a placement that guarantees particular extra curriculars in the public school system.

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  • Are there placements in regions that speak a different dialect?

    Yes, but we place students in regions that offer standard Spanish as the first language. Keep in mind that most regions of Spain do have a local dialect which is taught as a second language in schools. Students may have to sit classes where the local dialect is taught, but not exclusively. This is like how Irish students must take Irish.  We have no control if the particular area has a style or regional accent when speaking standard Spanish.

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2017/2018 Academic School Year Prices

Call Gillian on 021-4551535 for more details. 

Guaranteed Placement Zones:

Zone 1:     Sevilla and Malaga: Year €850; 4.5 months €550; 3 months €350

Zone 2:     Madrid, Alicante, Valencia, Granada and Cadis:  Year €550; 4.5 months €350; 3 months €150

2017/2018 Programme Start Dates Coming Soon!

Full Year: 



Shorter programme dates can be flexible and are accepted on a case-by-case basis.


  • For September start applications: 1 April 2017
  • For February start applications: 1 September 2017

All other mid-term applications are due no later than 3 months prior to requested departure. Dates are flexible for mid-term applications and are accepted on a rolling admission basis. If you indicate the dates you are available from and the duration, we will try to find you a placement that suits.

Please fully complete this application form. The student portions should be filled in by the student in Spanish, unaided. Minimum requirement for acceptance is 2 years of prior Spanish.

Applications must include the following additional documents:

  • €500 deposit for short term applicants (6 week, 2 month and 3 month programmes) or 25% of the programme price for half and full year programmes
  • Copies of current and previous school reports for the last 2 years
  • Clear photocopy of passport
  • Copy of E111 European Medical Card
  • 5 passport photos
  • Medical report and vaccination records, must be completed by GP
  • All signatures requested of student, parent, teacher/school and physician signature and stamps must be completed. Please read carefully and complete neatly.

Failure to include or complete any part or portion of the application will delay acceptance and may result in missing deadlines.

EIL and our Spanish partners reserve the right to reject an application for any reason. In such a case, your deposit will be refunded. Students must have a telephone interview and complete all application forms and submit all requested documents before acceptance is confirmed.

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High School in Spain

Tricia spent 4 and a half months in Zaragoza Spain on the High School Programme in Spain. Here is what she had to say about her host family:

"They were brilliant. We got on extremely well and they made a huge effort to make sure I was comfortable. They were very interested in my culture and traditions and I tried to make sure I knew about theirs".

Tricia said on her experience as a whole: