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3 posts categorized "Updates from CIEE Staff"


Language Exchange Programs

Language exchange activities are a central part of Spanish language courses offered at the CIEE Barcelona study center and are one of the most popular out of class activities. As a requirement for their Spanish course, students must attend at least one language exchange activity. In addition, students can attend additional sessions or start a one-to-one exchange on their own.

Language exchange activities take part in a popular bar close to our study center, where a group of CIEE students and local students meet to spend two hours in a relaxed environment. CIEE students must complete a written assignment for their Spanish course with information gathered during the exchange session. This assignment is designed to help students discover Spanish and Catalan culture through interaction with local university students.

Our evaluation of this activity is highly positive. From a pedagogical point of view, language exchange helps students develop not only their linguistic skills (speaking, listening and writing), but also their intercultural competence. Besides, due to its festive atmosphere, language exchange becomes a fun way of learning the language.  

-Pedro Gras, Director of Linguistic Services



Jornadas CIEE Alicante

Pedro Gras, director of Linguistic Services of CIEE Barcelona, attended Jornadas CIEE Alicante (, a two-day conference devoted to Spanish language and content learning. The event gathered specialists in linguistics, language learning and related fields who presented current trends in language and content integrated learning.

Pedro Gras’ contribution (Una propuesta para el tratamiento de la escritura académica en niveles intermedios y avanzados ‘Teaching academic writing at intermediate and advanced levels: a proposal’) dealt with one of the special needs of US students who study Spanish in a study abroad program. These students being able to interact not only in ordinary situations (talking to friends, shopping, going to restaurants, etc.), but also in an academic context (understanding lectures, participating in class discussions, writing papers and exams, and so on). In his presentation Prof. Gras introduced some of the pedagogical methods being used at CIEE Barcelona in order to integrate academic communication while developing general Spanish communicative skills.

CIEE Staff


Staff Retreat 2014


Each May, the staff at the CIEE Barcelona Study Center reserves a day for a staff retreat, a chance to have meetings and talk about our programs but also to do something fun as a team. This year we visited the Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages, a former Benedictine monastery about one hour from Barcelona. The Romanesque monastery was thoroughly restored at the beginning of the twentieth century by the Catalan architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch.

The area and several of the surrounding buildings are now used for a variety of activities. From organic farming, meeting spaces and the Alicia Foundation which uses scientific methods to research new ways to enjoy food.

The staff spent the morning in meetings, and then toured the monastery, had lunch and then a lecture on how each of our senses impacts the way we experience food.