Malaca Instituto is an award-winning Spanish language school with over 40 years’ experience of teaching Spanish and preparing students for Spanish universities.
We chat to school owner Ida Willadsen to find out more about Malaca Instituto - Club Hispanico SL and how it feels to be part of IALC.
Q: Hello Ida, when did you join IALC and why?
A Malaca Instituto was actually one of the first schools to join IALC after the founding members. We attended the first meeting in Paris and hosted the very first IALC AGM/Workshop back in November 1985, literally as the cement was drying on the entry step to the new Malaca Instituto. This was a great moment for us as we had just put everything we had into the campus setting of Malaca Instituto-Club Hispanico and this had been a vast and scary level of investment.
We saw the importance of IALC as a grouping and platform to enable international networking and as a way to distinguish a school from its many local and national competitors. It also soon became apparent that it would become a great group of international friends.
As it happened, the journey was not quite as uneventful as it might have been and due to some typical association squabbles, we left some years later. We rejoined in 1997 and have greatly enjoyed membership ever since, including hosting the AGM/Workshop again in 2002.
Q: How does it feel to be part of this exclusive global community of quality language schools?
A: It is incredibly supportive. We know we have friends we can turn to for professional advice and comment, schools to whom we can send staff and receive staff in return and, in general, feel the support of being part of an exclusive club of high quality schools. Over more recent years the increasing professionalism of IALC and its secretariat has enabled it to gain an enviable reputation in the sector which in turn has produced huge benefits to its members.
Q: How is 2012 going for you and how does it compare with last year?
A: 2012 looks as if we will finish the year almost exactly the same as 2011 which was around 5% up on the previous year. While these are obviously not the best years due to the economic crisis, we feel that this is quite a good achievement. We have been fortunate in that our resources have enabled us to open new markets which has countered some decline in more traditional markets.
Q: Malaca Instituto was established in 1971. How have things changed at the school since then?
A: The school started in 1971 with a handful of students in a converted flat. Over the years it grew and grew, and we had several school buildings and also other associated businesses like a bar, a discothèque, a “croissanterie” and our first school-residence in a former hotel. In 1984 we made the huge step of putting everything into one building and buying the campus of Malaca Instituto-Club Hispanico. This was starting to go very nicely when a certain Mr Hussein decided to invade Kuwait and of course, as we all know, some difficult and uncertain times followed, together with my personal “war” and divorce (1990). With great difficulties we managed to come through all this and into the “modern era” and new century. In parallel to this historical development there has of course been a tremendous development on the teaching side: materials creation, teacher training and the evolution of new teaching styles and strategies for the ever changing student profiles. As we also have a 102-bedroom residence, restaurant, bar and other leisure and study facilities on the campus we have also had to learn about estate management, hotel and catering and all the other many facets of this complex operation.
Q: What are your main aims for Malaca Instituto?
A: Basically I want it to continue developing along the same lines and remain a school with an excellent reputation for providing high quality programmes and an enjoyable place to study in. I also want it to continue to be a place where my staff enjoy their work in a supportive and caring environment.
Q: Well done on your Star Award. What is it that Malaca Instituto does differently that makes it a Star Award winner?
A: There are of course many quality schools of Spanish providing excellent services. I think that the main distinguishing feature of Malaca Instituto has to be the campus environment which I believe to be unique in Spain. It creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere which everyone from staff to students enjoy and is a perfect place for professional and social networking. I would also like to add that we try to be real “detallistas” – we try to look after all the smallest details from answering all the questions agents send us to helping the students with all aspects of their stays with us.
Q: Where do the majority of your students come from?
A: The majority of our students come from Europe – around 70%. Germany has always been our main market, except for a few short years when the Swedish market went beserk! Other main European markets are Switzerland, Netherlands, Scandinavia in general, UK and increasingly France and Italy. Outside Europe the Americas provide their fair share and little by little Russia and Asian countries have been building their numbers.
Q: What are your most popular student activities?
A: We really do offer a huge range of activities. In the school itself our dance classes - Flamenco and Salsa but also Tango, Merengue, and other Latin dance - aerobic workout classes such as Step, Body Combat, Yoguilates, cookery classes, theme evenings with live dance shows and many more. In the city of Malaga the visits to the Picasso and Thyssen galleries are very popular, as are also the regular tapas evenings. At the weekend excursions to Granada (perhaps the favourite of all with its visit to the spectacular Alhambra Palace), Sevilla and Cordoba are all popular, as is also the possibility to combine a stay in Malaga with a weekend in Morocco!
We mustn’t forget that many of our students have very stressful professional lives and like to spend time by the pool, having a beer with their new-found friends and generally chilling out until it’s homework time.
Q: Moving on to you, which is your own favourite travel destination?
A: Apart from my home town Copenhagen and my second home for the last 42 years, Malaga, it has to be said that in recent years the charms of London have had their effect on me, especially during the first week of September when my favourite place in the world has become the Hilton on Park Lane.
Q: Your favourite pastime?
A: I have two lovely Golden Retrievers, male and female and the three of us are planning to raise a family….! I like nothing more than to relax in their company and to go for walks around my house or in the Montes of Malaga.
Q: Your favourite meal?
A: I love Spanish food: fresh fish, sea food, salads, etc. and as Malaga has plenty of good restaurants there is not just one favourite meal. I love them all.
Q: Your dream dinner guest(s)?
A: People who are good at cooking and willing to help as I myself have had very little time to cook during the years. The school has taken almost all my time – and besides this I have always had somebody to cook for me in the school.
Q: Finally, what would you say are the main benefits of learning Spanish at Malaca Instituto?
A: Clearly there are great benefits to learning Spanish per se – it’s one of the leading world languages. I hope and believe that to do so at Malaca Instituto is for many students an unforgettable experience which provides them not only with a useful social and professional tool but also memories and moments which will remain with them for the rest of their lives.
Malaca Instituto provides a wide range of Spanish language courses in a unique mini-campus setting in the historic Mediterranean city of Malaga. In recent years its high standards and success have been underscored by winning the Star Award for School of Spanish four times out of a possible seven.
Malaca Instituto tel +34 952293242 Email: espanol@MalacaInstituto.com
Malaca Instituto website