You are here

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what level I should take?

To help determine which of our Spanish levels would be the best fit for you, we suggest taking one of our online placement exams. Another option is to have our Academic Director orally evaluate your current knowledge and level of fluency in person or by phone. We also encourage you to check out our course descriptions and compare the topics covered to what you’ve previously studied to get an idea of what level you think would be most appropriate for you.

What’s the difference between a regular course and an intensive course?

Each of our course levels (for example “Beginner 1” or “Intermediate 2”) covers the curriculum for that level in 10 class sessions. Our regular courses meet once a week for 110 minutes and complete one level in 10 weeks, while intensive courses meet twice a week for 90 minutes, completing the same content in only 5 weeks. Regular courses start at the beginning of each of our four annual terms, and new intensive courses start at the beginning of each term as well as at the “mid-term” point.

The same amount of information is taught in each type of class, but the main difference is that they are taught at different paces. Some students find that coming twice-weekly improves their retention of the material covered while others enjoy the once-weekly classes being more spread out and having a whole week to digest the material and study on their own.

How many students are there in each class?

Our small-group Spanish classes have a maximum of eight or nine and average of six students, providing an intimate atmosphere in which students get to know one another and actively participate in class through group conversation and practice. Learning in a small-group setting is ideal for foreign language study, combining the communicative benefits of social interaction with the attention and rapport that only a small class size can provide.

Will my class continue to the next level when we finish? How can I find out when the next term starts?

Yes, our classes almost always continue to the next level in our series with the same schedule in the following term as long as a minimum of four students enroll. Check out our Academic Calendar for information on our terms and course start dates.

Can I switch levels if I find the class I register for is too easy or difficult for me?

Through our online placement exams and alternative of oral assessments, we are able to recommend the best class for almost all students new to our school. In the rare situation that you find the recommended course either too easy or too challenging, it is possible to switch to a different course in the current term if there is space in the class and the schedule works for you. We always strive to accommodate the needs of our students, so please let us know about any issues you have in class as soon as possible and we will work with you to find the best solution.

What happens if I miss a class? Can I attend a different group class to make up the class I missed?

Tierra offers high-quality, small group classes; under these circumstances it is not feasible to allow students to switch classes for certain weeks since that would disrupt class dynamic and pose logistical problems. That said, we are committed to providing support in the case you miss a class. If you contact us after missing a class, we will send you a detailed email with the material covered in the class and any homework given, so that you can study on your own and come prepared for the next class.

If you'd like a more thorough review and study of any material missed, we offer a one-hour private make-up lesson at a discounted rate to current students in a group class and students can purchase up to two private one-hour lessons at this price during the term they are currently enrolled in. If you want to move ahead with this option, please contact us to schedule your make-up lesson.

Will the Beginner 1 course be too hard for me if I’ve never studied Spanish before?

Our Beginner 1 course is designed for people who are new to learning Spanish, or who learned very little a long time ago and want to re-start at the beginning. We emphasize the importance of placing students in the level that is most appropriate for their ability because we believe that ensuring all students in a class have a similar knowledge base is vital to creating a comfortable classroom environment. You can rest assured that if you join a Beginner 1 course, you will be accompanied by classmates who are also just starting to study Spanish and guided by a skilled teacher who will make learning the basics of Spanish structure accessible and fun.

Is there a textbook?

The textbook "Bregstein, Barbara; Easy Spanish Step by Step; McGraw Hill" is used for all Beginner levels and for Intermediate 1. You can buy a copy from us on the first day of class for $14 or you can get it at your preferred book retailer.

Some other courses, such as Spanish for Healthcare Professionals and book seminars, also use textbooks. We will always include the book information in the course description and in a confirmation email when you enroll in a course.

Where do the classes take place?

We offer a wide range of Online classes through Zoom and In-person classes at our center located at 5745 NE GLISAN ST in Portland, OR. Please check our current schedule to see which classes are offered Online and/or In-Person.


How does your center support students and provide opportunities to practice?

At Tierra, we are dedicated to providing our students as many opportunities as possible to practice speaking Spanish, get answers to their questions, and meet other people interested in language and culture.

We offer a Student Support Session - a free service provided exclusively to our current students in which they can meet privately with Tierra’s director, Norberto Medina, for half an hour to get individual attention beyond what class time allows. This is a unique opportunity to get extra help if you feel you need more explanation and examples to comprehend specific course material, have questions about any Spanish grammar topic, or simply want to practice speaking in Spanish and receive helpful feedback.

Do you offer conversation courses?

All of our standard level Spanish courses utilize dynamic conversational activities, giving you the chance to practice the grammar topics you're studying in natural and engaging conversation. We believe that the social nature of language makes it a skill that must be developed in the company of others. Textbooks and online resources may help us understand the rules behind the structure, but only by practicing listening and speaking do we truly acquire the ability to communicate in a foreign language. Thus, our experienced instructors emphasize conversational practice for students of all levels.

We also offer conversational and cultural immersion courses which provide students a chance to focus entirely on strengthening their speaking skills and expanding cultural knowledge. In these classes, students apply the skills they’ve gained thus far and take a pause from learning new Spanish structures. Cultural immersion courses may focus on literature - exploring a novel, poetry, or short stories - the history and culture of a particular region or country, or other topics such as music, film, travel or notable women. Our Conversational courses give students the chance to practice their conversational skills often discussing daily life, their memories, interests, and popular culture . You can check out the broad range of conversational and cultural immersion courses we’ve offered by perusing our course programs.

If you are looking for a specific course that you don't see on our current schedule, contact us to find out when it will be offered next and please feel free to suggest an idea for a course that you would be interested in seeing in the future!

Can I audit / observe a class?

Due to space limitations and our commitment to preserving a comfortable group dynamic, we are not able to arrange for anyone not enrolled to observe a class.  However, you are welcome to visit Tierra during our office hours to see the center.  We are also happy to arrange a time for you to meet with one of the directors to discuss our courses and methodology in more detail.

Are private lessons an option?

We offer private Spanish lessons which are custom-designed for you according to your ability level and learning goals. Meeting one-on-one with an instructor provides a highly personalized educational experience to help you achieve your specific learning goals and offers great flexibility in scheduling.

Can I enroll my teenage daughter/son in a Spanish class at Tierra?

We limit enrollment in our small-group adult classes to students age 18 and over. This is to ensure we are able to serve each student's needs to the fullest extent and create a predictable classroom dynamic. As levels of maturity and comfort participating in an adult group setting can vary widely among young students, in order to be fair and consistent we must enforce this age restriction in all cases. Thank you for your understanding. We are happy to arrange private lessons for any students under the age of 18.

Do you offer Spanish classes for kids?

In the past we used to offer group classes for Kids, however at this time, we are focusing exclusively in adult group classes. As an alternative, we are happy to arrange private lessons for kids, to find more information about our private lessons please click here

Can I get a discount for referring a friend?

Absolutely! If you refer someone to us who registers for a class at Tierra you’ll be eligible for a $50 off your next group class registration. You are responsible for claiming the discount, so make sure that the person you refer includes your name on their registration form and ask for your discount when you sign up for your next class. Please note, discount can only be applied once to a payment, must be used within one year of referral, and cannot be combined with other offers including our early bird discount, however there is no limit to the number of referral discounts you can get.

Can I get a discount if a family member joins a class?

Yes, we offer a family discount of $60 off for any additional immediate family member who registers for a 10-class group Spanish course. You both must take courses during the same term to qualify for the discount, but do not need to take the same course. Please note that these discounts cannot be combined with other offers or discounts like the early bird discount.

Can you certify that I’ve taken a course so I can get reimbursed by my employer?

Yes, we’re happy to provide our students with a signed letter certifying course completion at Tierra at no charge. The letter will include the level of your course, the amount paid for tuition, and number of class hours completed. We’ve had many students take advantage of this service for a variety of purposes; just let us know that you need a letter and we’ll get it to you promptly.

Please note that Tierra is an independent, family-owned language education business, not an accredited school, and our Spanish classes are not structured in the way that provides grades or credits for student performance.

What is your refund policy?

If you must cancel after paying for a class, contact us as soon as possible. Due to the organizational and administrative costs of planning small-group courses, we can only offer a refund of tuition minus a $150 administrative fee up to 48 hours before the start time of the course. Course fees will be non-refundable if you cancel your registration less than 48 hours’ before the first class session or at any point thereafter. Please consider that the participation of one student may decide whether or not a course has enough students to take place, and that if a class is full, holding your space may have prevented other students from being able to join. This policy enables us to offer affordable rates for everyone. You can find all of our group course policies here.

I started my Spanish course but can’t continue at this time. Can I transfer my registration to the following term?

Registration is valid only for the term for which payment was made and cannot be transferred to a different term. However, if a course you enroll in does not work for you, it can be possible to switch to another course in the same term provided there is space available and the level is appropriate. Please contact us if you have a schedule conflict or wish to switch classes for any other reason and we will explore all possible options.

Do you offer on-site classes and services for businesses?

Yes, Tierra Educational Center also specializes in designing and implementing on-site and online language courses in a variety of fields. We’ve developed Spanish, English as a Second Language, and translation courses for private businesses, non-profit organizations, and government agencies. These specialized courses are custom-tailored to the students’ Spanish ability level and workplace language needs. Offering members of your organization classes at your location is affordable, convenient, and a great way to help participants expand their skill-set and work on team-building outside of normal daily activities. Please contact us to inquire further about this option.

Do you offer gift certificates?

Yes!  Please contact us to learn more about our gift certificate options.

What is a “Specialized Course”?

Our specialized courses are designed to meet the Spanish learning needs of a particular group of people. These courses have included “Spanish for Healthcare Professionals”, “Spanish for Educators”, and “Spanish for High School Students”. If you use Spanish in the workplace or need to learn the language in a specific context, let us know! In addition to the option of custom-tailored private lessons, it might be possible to form a group class with others who share your needs in the future.