Best Spanish-language school in Valencia? VIVE Spanish!

Looking for the best Spanish-language school in Valencia? VIVE Spanish is  a brand-new, state-of-the-art language school in Benimaclet that ticks all the boxes, says Eugene Costello

Looking for the best Spanish-language school in Valencia? VIVE Spanish is  a brand-new, state-of-the-art language school in Benimaclet that ticks all the boxes. It is specifically aimed at those wishing to learn Spanish as a second-language, especially the teenage and young adult offspring of expats who have chosen to make Valencia and its environs their home. Or those who live abroad but wish for their young adult children to take a deep dive into Spanish. And by this they mean both language and culture.

Because it is also an immersive facility that seeks to help students absorb Spanish culture. Classes are usually in the mornings, and in the afternoons they offer a wide range of excursions around the city. Many of these are free of charge. They even organise meals with Spanish families for further immersion. And if overseas students wish to come to Valencia to learn Spanish, they can help with finding lodgings. 

Y Viva España

Sylvia Vrethammar
Sylvia Vrethammar

First, the name. This loosely translates as ‘Long live Spanish’. Note the use of the subjunctive, literally meaning ‘May Spanish live.’ Those of us of a certain vintage might remember their first introduction to Spanish culture. The global chart-topping sensation by the Belgian duo Leo Caerts and lyricist Leo Rozenstraten in 1971. Due to a translation error, this started out as ‘Eviva España’. Later, they ‘corrected’ this to ‘Y Viva España,’ covered in English by Swedish popstar Sylvia Vrethammar. Which actually means ‘And Spain lives’. Trust VIVE Spanish to deploy the subjunctive correctly!

An ultra-modern facility

And so to VIVE Spanish. It is a recently built steel-and-glass facility, filled with sunshine and friendship. It is in Benimaclet, just off Avenida de Catalunya. It’s a hop and a skip from Blasco Ibañez. This is a student area, with Vive Spanish halfway between the University of Valencia and the Polytechnic. I am meeting the founder, Vanessa Carnet Paya, a youthful mother of teenagers and a young adult.

As for the claim to be the best Spanish-language school in Valencia, it’s perhaps not surprising, with Vanessa’s background. “I grew up in Valencia, after being born in Benidorm,” says Vanessa. “We lived in the centre. My husband, Enrique, has been incredibly supportive. My mum’s sister founded the first language school for foreigners in Valencia 40 years ago, and I worked with her as a teacher, so you could say that it is in my blood.”   

VIVE Spanish Valencia
Born to be mild: Vanessa Carnet Paya grew up in the world of teaching Spanish to foreigners

When she was young, Vanessa’s mum used to dress her up as a fallera and she used to stand up on desks in front of students so she says she is very linked to the idea of promoting Spanish language and culture to foreign students.

Her aunt’s school was CILCE, Centro Internacional de Lengua y Cultura Española, so she grew up with the smell of chalk and blackboards and exercise books. “I feel very comfortable in this world. At University, I studied psychology, so I feel very relaxed with people. We work with young people so we are not just teachers, we are mother, sister, friend and psychologist.”

A family affair

Vanessa has three children. Natalia, 22, Enrique, 19 and Jacobo, 13. Natalia’s boyfriend, Juan, works on reception at VIVE Spanish, making it very much a family affair. This is perhaps what adds to the warm and inclusive feeling one experiences when visiting.

“After CILCE and my time at university, I realised I loved teaching Spanish and Spanish culture to foreign students, and I returned to CILCE. But it became a victim of el Crisis in 2007, when her aunt decided to close it. We had had students from Eton and other top English schools so I felt very sad.”

After that, Vanessa went to International House in Ciutat Vella where she taught for seven or eight years. “That’s where I met Antonio Jerez, now director of studies at VIVE Spanish. Then when I left, I decided to go freelance and teach in companies, to teach overseas employees. And then I created a website and was enjoying my freelance life.

“Then suddenly, out of the blue, three years ago, Antonio called me to say he needed a teacher. And that was the beginning. We started to talk about creating a new school and business.”

Vanessa talked with her husband, Enrique – “a lawyer, with a very good head” – and he was hugely supportive. “He said, ‘OK, let’s do it’, and we started to look for a venue. And we found this place and did a complete renovation.”

“This place” is a very modern building with a reception, six classrooms, some small individual rooms for private lessons and recreation space. 

Best Spanish-language school in Valencia

“Everybody is welcome, we have people coming from all over Europe, Australia, China and everywhere. Lessons are from 9am to 6pm, and at least three afternoons a week we organise excursions to museums, galleries and all the culture that Valencia has to offer.”

One dream that Vanessa has is to take students to play golf. She took up the sport last year and is now an addict, alongside husband Enrique, regulars at the course in El Saler. “We thought about introducing students to golf, which would be a dream. We also offer the students the opportunity to come to football matches, and there is no shortage of cultural venues in Valencia, and we want to show them everything that exists here…”

Prices are very keen. There is a good range of intensive courses, and are in the process of getting accreditation from Instituto Cervantes):

  • 20 sessions per week, 160€ per week, 60€ registration including coursebook
  • 10 sessions per week, 110€ per week, 60€ registration including coursebook
  • 20 sessions per week, priced at 4,700€ for an entire year and fully compliant with the requirements for a student visa 

All of which makes VIVE Spanish the best Spanish-language school in Valencia.

Of course, says Vanessa, everyone has different requirements so you don’t have to choose from set menus, you can always go à la carte. “Just give us a call,” she says with a smile. “We’re here to help…”

• VIVE Spanish; C/ Guàrdia Civil 30, Bajo Derecha, 46020 Valencia; telephone/WhatsApp +34 682 190 240;

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