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Estudio Sampere opens school in Cuba

The beats of salsa music, 1960s cars and breathtaking landscapes provide a backdrop to the Spanish courses offered at Estudio Sampere‘s newest school in Havana, Cuba.

The Estudio Sampere building

Opened in January of this year, the school pioneers more flexible time schedules, accommodation options and exclusive study/travel courses in the nascent Spanish language teaching market.

Estudio Sampere has spent the last year commercialising an established Cuban language school. It has prepared the existing teachers and provided teaching material in order to bring the curriculum and service up to the Estudio Sampere standards established over the company’s 50-year history in the Spanish language industry. Currently they are preparing for IALC auditors to come next year.

“It’s a really small school and we wanted to come in and give it a bit of a boost,” Estudio Sampere Marketing Director David Sampere told The PIE News. “It’s in a residential neighbourhood of Havana so we also wanted to create some movement of money there for the locals.” He’s quick to establish that Estudio Sampere didn’t buy the school, but rather entered into collaboration with them.

The school is managed by a cooperative made up of eight to 10 government approved individuals and headed by the school director

Previously Estudio Sampere worked exclusively with a Swiss-based agency for 15 years. Keen to open a second school in Latin America (they opened a school in Ecuador 18 years ago), Sampere followed the advice of the agency and became involved with the school. “Cuba was attractive for its folklore and culture,” said Sampere, who plans to use the country’s embargoed history to attract students.

“We’re also offering a travel/study course at the Cuba school which takes students to rural areas of a country that has been in stand-by for the past 40 years.”

A classroom at Estudio Sampere Cuba

Sampere added “There’s much less competition there. As far as I know there are only three other schools in Cuba.”

Because of the political system in Cuba, the school is managed by a cooperative made up of eight to 10 government approved individuals and headed by President Alberto Rodriguez, the school director. Profits are reinvested into the cooperative to cover operational costs. Sampere described working in Cuba as “fun and challenging” and added: “Nothing is clear. There’s always a change in plans.”

The courses are sold in euros and prices are higher than at its other schools in Latin America because processing fees in the country are more expensive. Estudio Sampere is planning to host students from Western Europe, Canada, Brazil and Martinique.

As an established Spanish language provider in Spain and Ecuador, Sampere is optimistic about the new venture in Cuba but says the economic crisis has affected businesses. “We’re going to take it slow and see how it goes. Little by little.”

Estudio Sampere’s three schools in Spain offer Spanish courses worth credit at many US universities and two years ago the company launched an exam preparation programme to enter Spanish universities.


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