Department of Modern Languages and ESL Programs

With students from more than 65 countries, the cultural diversity of SLU-Madrid will allow you to use your language skills in authentic situations.

Modern Languages and ESL


Knowing more than one language enhances your profile when applying for jobs or to graduate school. What’s more, bilingual or multilingual people have greater mental flexibility, superior critical-analysis skills, a longer attention span, greater ability to concentrate and more creativity.

Situated at the very center of Spain, Madrid has easy and relatively inexpensive access to many countries where you can put your language skills to the test.

Degree Program


Academic English

SLU-Madrid's Academic English Program is the most intensive and complete academic English and TOEFL preparation course in Madrid. The program prepares students for entry into universities around the world where the language of instruction is English.

Our program offers small classes and individualized tutorials, feedback and progress reports. You’ll have access to SLU-Madrid's library, writing center and other academic resources, as well as campus events, sports and campus organizations. Saint Louis University offers 19 hours of classes per week for 12 weeks. Credits may also be eligible to count toward an American B.A. or B.S.

Students must meet the University’s undergraduate admissions requirements to be eligible for the program. Apply directly through SLU-Madrid's admissions office, whether you are interested in pursuing a SLU-Madrid degree or preparing for entry to another university. If you are eligible for the program, you will be invited to campus to write an academic essay. If you are not able to visit us in Madrid, you may submit an essay to the Academic English Program Director.

For more information about studying academic English at SLU-Madrid, contact Hamish Binns at


Madrid is geographically and culturally close to the Arabic world, In fact, the Spanish language contains more than 2,000 words of Arabic origin, and the cultural inheritance of the Arabic world is highly visible, especially in Andalusia.

At SLU-Madrid, we teach Al-Fusha Arabic, or Modern Standard Arabic, and there are many chances both on and off campus to put your language skills into practice.

For more information about studying Arabic at SLU-Madrid, contact Muhsin Al-Ramli, Ph.D. at


Studying French at SLU-Madrid offers students exciting opportunities to learn another Romance language in addition to Spanish. You’ll be able to converse with French speakers on campus and even visit nearby France where you can apply what you've learned.

SLU-Madrid offers:

  • FREN 1010: Elementary French I
  • FREN 1150: Elementary French II
  • FREN 2100: Intermediate French I

Events hosted by the program include regular meetings at a café where you’ll speak French while enjoying a "Parisian" breakfast and a visit to a crêperie during the month of February, the traditional season for crêpes in France.

When applying for a job, having an official certificate to corroborate the level of your language skills is increasingly important since university courses, even majors, are not always accepted as valid proof of language level. We encourage our students of French to take the DELF, the official language exam for French to certify the skills they acquire.

To learn more about studying French at SLU-Madrid, contact Roswitha Casmier, Ph.D., at


For speakers of Spanish, learning Portuguese is relatively easy. The sister languages both have Latin roots. By learning Portuguese while perfecting your Spanish, you will also speak both of the main languages of Latin America. Portuguese is the sixth most widely spoken language.

Studying Portuguese in Madrid is an attractive option, as you are close to Portugal, making it an easy travel destination. We also offer an exchange program with the Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC) in Brazil.

Each semester, the program organizes weekly talks between the students in the Portuguese classes and with Portuguese native speakers from the campus. These are relaxed chats, where you can practice what you learned in class, while having a good time and making new friends.

When applying for a job, having an official certificate to corroborate the level of your language skills is increasingly important since university courses, even majors, are not always accepted as valid proof of language level. Students of Portuguese are encouraged to take the CELPE-BRAS, the Official Language Exam for Brazilian Portuguese to certify the skills acquired.

To learn more about studying Portuguese at SLU-Madrid, contact Rejane Queiroz, Ph.D., at


Community ESL

SLU-Madrid’s Community ESL program began in 2002 and in the spirit of the Jesuit mission,  serves the local community and responds to students' increasing interest in volunteering.

For many people in Spain, English is essential in order to find employment. Community ESL classes provide an invaluable opportunity to study for those who cannot afford to attend a language academy.

Volunteers are put in teams of two or three per class and receive a short training session before the course starts. Depending on availability, volunteers can choose the level that they’d like to teach.

The University provides the equipment and mentorship required by the student volunteers,  although they are given almost complete autonomy if desired and are encouraged to be independent and creative. Volunteers either teach once a week from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays or Tuesdays, or twice a week from 7 to 8 p.m on Mondays and Wednesdays.

There are generally 20 to 30 students per class. Most students are Spanish or Latin American. Ages range from 12 and 80 years, with a wide variety of profiles:  bank managers, unemployed, street sweepers or students. There are few other places in the city where such an eclectic group of people can be found.

Many volunteer teachers from the program go on to become professional educators, and students who have attended the classes routinely report significant improvement in their level of English. Each semester, 25 to 40 SLU-Madrid student volunteers teach free classes to between 200 and 400 students from the local Madrid community.

To learn more about participating in the Community ESL program, contact Hamish Binns, ESL program director, at

Language Exchanges

Language exchange helps students to perfect a language they’re interested in learning while teaching their native language to someone that they enjoy speaking with. The result of a successful exchange is not only language but also friendship. The most common languages up for exchange at SLU-Madrid are English, Spanish, Arabic, French, German and Chinese.

For anyone interested in a language exchange, there is a bulletin board located on the first floor of Padre Rubio Hall next to the Modern Languages and ESL department office. If you don’t see any language exchanges that suit you already posted on the board, fill out one of the forms there and put it up.

Most of the exchange forms on the board are filled out by SLU students, but people in the outside community may also participate. To ensure that your exchange partner is who she or he says, we advise you to meet for the first exchange on campus.