Escuela Oficial de Idiomas

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An Escuela Oficial de Idiomas (EOI) (English: Official School of Languages) is part of a network known as '"Las Escuelas Oficiales de Idiomas"' (EEOOII) one of many Official Language Schools of Spain that are found in most substantial towns. These are publicly funded centers of education dedicated to the specialized teaching of modern languages, not just Spanish as a second or foreign language but any modern language for which there is a demand. The EEOOII are centers that are funded and organized by the various regional education authorities of the various Autonomous communities of Spain and they are framed within the non-university special regime, which facilitates subsidized or grant assisted access and support to suitable candidates.

Foreign students of all standards are welcome, and may enroll locally at the advertised times (usually in September). However to ensure suitable placement prospective students are often required to provide documentary evidence of their level of educational achievement. This should ordinarily be a certificate recognized in their country of origin but exceptionally a testimonial from a former teacher is sufficient.


The first school opened in Madrid in 1911 under the name Escuela Central de Idiomas which from the outset included English, French, and German in its curriculum.1 In the 1911 enrollment appear the names of several notable people including Maria de Maeztu Whitney, Claudio Sánchez-Albornoz and Carmen de Burgos. The study of the Spanish language for foreigners and the teaching of Moroccan Arabic were introduced the following year. Soon afterwards Italian, Portuguese and Esperanto were added.

This first school was located in a ducal property owned by the Countess of Medina and Torres, No. 3 in Cuesta de Santo Domingo street. The (then) Ministry of Public Instruction paid the Countess six thousand pesetas for rent (a subatantial fee, about the value of 20,000 Euros in early 21st century spending power)

Although in the early years the number of men and women was approximately equal, after about 1918 the number of women enrolled has exceeded that of men. It is also noteworthy there were no examination standards until the end of the fourth year.

During the dictatorship of Primo de Rivera the school was attached to the university and during the civil war, classes were suspended. In 1957, the introduction of Russian into the school took place. The Russian teacher at that time recounts that during the first years there was a secret policeman infiltrated in her classes, who left the class about a month after starting the course!

In 1960 new schools were created for the first time in Barcelona, Valencia and Bilbao. Each of the new schools was called an "Official Language School"; because would be confusing if there were to be more than one "Central School". From that moment on to the network of Schools, including the Central School in Madrid were approximately coordinated.

In 1965 Chinese was introduced.2 In 1968, four other Schools were created in Alicante, A Coruña, Malaga and Saragossa. From the 1970s onwards, other languages of Spain were added including as Catalan (19703), Valencian, Basque and Galician. In 1982 four more Schools were created in Burgos, Ciudad Real, Murcia and Salamanca, a total of twelve, centrally coordinated establishments.

Following the restoration of democracy in 1978 the direction of the individual "EOIs" was transferred to the various education departments of their respective autonomous communities, which have each expanded and developed the service according to their different regional needs and policies, but within a national framework (see below).

Thus, after more than one hundred years since its founding, the initial institution has expanded to become a network of 300 dynamic learning spaces distributed throughout Spain with a total repertoire of some 23 languages, although the availability of any particular language course at any specific time is dependent on a sufficient local demand.


In Spain, studies of the Official Language School (EE.OO.II.), are regulated by Organic Law 2/2006 of Education, Royal Decree 806/2006 of 30 June, establishing the calendar Application of the new organization of the education system and Royal Decree 1629/2006, of 29 December, by fixing the basics of teaching curriculum of specialized language regulated by Organic Law 2/2006, of May 3, Education. This standard replaces the previous (BOE of 10 September, Sorting corresponding to the first level of the specialized language), by Royal Decree 1523/1989 of 1 December (BOE of 18 December, Content first Minimum level of Foreign Language Teaching Specialist) and by Royal Decree 47/1992 (minimum content of the first level of the Spanish languages). They stated that each language studies were divided into two cycles:

    • Elemental Cycle (3 courses, minimum 120 hours each).
    • Superior Cycle (2 courses, 120 hours minimum each).

The Organic Law 2/2006 on Education (LOE) modifies this situation, adapting to the current scheme of three levels:

    • Basic level (equivalent to A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference)
    • Intermediate (equivalent to B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference)
    • Advanced Level (equivalent to B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference )

In practice, some regions (Andalusia, Catalonia and Navarra) have created curricula of five years to impart the teachings of the three levels while others have opted Communities plans six years, with two years at each level. The same law equates the old certificate with the Elemental Cycle Intermediate Certificate and Certificate of Proficiency old with the new Advanced Level Certificate.

Some regions, such as La Rioja and the Balearic Islands, have also implemented levels C1 and C2 in some languages.

Names of levels might change following the recently passed Organic Law of Education LOMCE. Schools all over Spain follow in their curricula the descriptions given by the CEFR and teach from A1 to B2 or up to C1 or C2.

Number of EOIs[edit]

The schools are dependent on each Autonomous Community. The number of schools in each Community is as follows (in approximate numbers):


The prerequisite to enter an EOI is to have completed the first of the two cycles of secondary education in Spain or the equivalent abroad. Spain is the only country in the European Union offering this kind of public education and issues official certificates for it.


The 22 languages offered vary according to the school size:

Some EOI offer also summer courses and programs specialized in translation, writing, business or law.

External links[edit]