Interview with director María del Mar Peñalver

Melkart, the school of friends, has been around since 1995. I founded the school in 1995 together with my husband, José Manuel Torres, my sister Pepi Peñalver and her husband Manuel Barro. The enthusiasm of this family for teaching Spanish language and sharing our culture was the main reason to set up a Spanish language school.

The school is located in the old part of the city, in General Menacho Street 7 between “Plaza de Mina” and “La Alameda”, a promenade with a view to Cádiz Bay. Melkart is the Phoenician name of Hercules who was the mythological founder of the city. The school itself is a typical building with a terrace and three floors, dating back to 1856. In the ground floor there is a courtyard with andalusian wall tiles, the office and a multipurpose room (library, video library and Internet access) and a handicap accessible toilet. On the first floor there are three classrooms, the staffroom and a toilet. On the second floor, you can find four classrooms and a toilet. On the third floor, there is a classroom and the terrace where our students meet each other, sunbathe, relax …

Q. From your perspective, Mrs. Peñalver, what is a good reason to study at MELKART?

From experience, I could say that the best reason to study at Melkart is the combination of quality teaching, a friendly treatment to our students, our extensive extra curricular activities program and Cádiz itself, surrounded by the ocean. Teachers and staff  are always willing to help and motivate you.  Our extra curricular activities enable students to enjoy learning. These include: BBQ´s on the beach, excursions, flamenco, lectures, concerts and exchange programmes. Many students come back or recommend our school to their friends, relatives, colleagues... Fridays I hear the students saying: “ I’ll be back”. After that we get fully satisfied.

Q. Where do the majority of your students come from?

Most of the students are coming from European countries: Germany, France, England, Italy, Sweden... but we also receive students from other nationalities like Japanese, Australian or American. During the summer the nationalities are diversified.

Q. When is it the best time or season for students to attend your language school?

I would say all year around, because each student looks for something different. If you want to spend your Summer holidays learning Spanish and enjoying beaches, sun and water sports you should come between June and September. During these months we receive more students. For this reason I would recommend you to come in another time, when you still could enjoy beaches but also the mountains (white villages route) and the school is more quiet. Futhermore, you could know Andalusian folklore and its festivities like Carnival (February), Semana Santa (March/April) , Ferias (from April) and theater, cinema and flamenco festivals as well as sailing, surf, windsurf championships.

Q. Could you tell us briefly about the philosophy behind your school? What makes your school different?

Our philosophy is based on quality:

  • Quality teaching method: after many years of experience we have developed our own didactic materials
  • Quality teachers: enthusiastic and motivated as well as experienced and with a good training
  • Quality treatment: you will find a warm environment where you can ask for help anytime
  • Quality accommodation: where you feel at home
  • Quality activities: a wide range, having fun is also important on your language holidays

And the most important: “human quality”, which makes our school different.

Q. What other factors should be considered when choosing a school to study Spanish/English/French/Italian?

Besides what I’ve mentioned above, I think what the students wish for when they are looking for a school is “authenticity” and Cádiz is a very “authentic” city. Far away from mass tourism, Cádiz keeps its customs and traditions up and its people remain welcoming and friendly. That’s why it is easier for the students to integrate in the city and get in touch with the locals.