- When and why was the EEA Association founded?
AEEA (Association of Spanish Schools in Andalucía) was founded on November 8th, 1991. The reason for its establishment was the situation in which the ELE teaching sector was in Andalucía. There were more and more Spanish students in schools that did not meet the basic requirements to satisfy the teaching process of the students. For this reason, schools with the SACIC accreditation from Instituto Cervantes and having quality criteria, consider creating an association that would represent professional Spanish schools focused on the welfare of the students.
- How many members founded it and how many are you currently?
The association was founded by a group of 18 schools, but we are currently 32 schools. These schools represent the provinces of Cádiz, Granada, Málaga, and Sevilla. Little by little we are expanding the group and we hope that soon we can have representation of all the Andalusian provinces.
- With which memberships or quality certificates does the association count?
Our association is formed by schools that have gone through the accreditation process of the Instituto Cervantes; this makes the associated centers have a quality standard that shows the hard work of the school.
The association belongs to FEDELE, the Federation of Spanish schools in Spain, which has direct contact with public institutions such as Instituto Cervantes, ICEX, universities, etc.
Currently, we have agreements with universities such as UCAM or with foreign associations such as UNOSEL that allows us to keep up with the news on the language sector. In the same way, we work together with regional public institutions such as Turismo Andaluz and Extenda that allow us to develop our work promoting our region abroad.
- What is the main objective of the association?
The main objective of EEA is to guarantee the quality of teaching Spanish and promoting the learning of Spanish and the member schools. The ELE sector has changed a lot in recent years and the association must be able to adapt to the changes offering the highest professionalism possible.
In order to achieve the annual objectives, the members meet several times a year taking training courses (teachers, managers, marketing team, administration) and attending assemblies to discuss current issues in the sector and decide on future EEA actions to continue growing.
- What has been the evolution of the ELE sector in your region in recent years?
As I said before, the ELE sector has evolved a lot and keep in constant change. In the last 6 years, the number of students in EEA has grown a 50%, reaching more than 30,000 students in the last year. But not only the number of students has changed, also the way of teaching, the use of new technologies in the classrooms, the motive of students to learn Spanish… we must think about a global change in the sector.
- What challenges does the association have and what tools does it have to face them?
As I mentioned before, the ELE sector is in constant change. Sometimes it is difficult to be up to date with the latest developments in education, marketing human resources, etc. For this reason, we have a network of professionals who help us to be informed and to receive training courses each year.
The main purpose of EEA schools is to offer students a quality teaching and services. For this, it is essential to have good professionals and good conditions at schools. That’s why in Spanish in Andalucía we want to bet for a more stable situation, struggling to de-seasonalize the demand and betting on the professionalization of the offer. An improvement of this kind will result in better working conditions both for professionals in the teaching of Spanish and for centers, with an expansion of the objectives and actions of continuous training and with new proposals for language placement programs based on innovation.
Another of the main challenges is to represent all accredited schools that meet quality requirements and commitment to the sector. And, of course, continue to grow in number of students and promote Spanish in different markets.