Home > Our Color Belt System.
Our Spanish program in Houston is composed of 10 conversational belt levels ranging from the Pearl Belt (complete beginner) to the Black Belt (ultimate Spanish master). The ranks are useful for monitoring progress and matching you with Spanish students of comparable ability.
As our focus is to help you improve your conversational Spanish skills, it makes a lot of sense that the most important criteria we take into consideration when suggesting starting levels, is what we perceive is your current ability to use the language verbally.
We have a pretty good idea of what that ability is based on our interpretation to your responses to a few questions included on our application form. Then, as you get started attending your classes, a brief Spanish evaluation, completed within the first three sessions, ensures that you are assigned the correct belt level.
After the first three Spanish classes you are ratified on your belt level or recommended a change to a different level. When you surpass the minimum standards assigned to the next belt level on all variables considered, congratulations! You are granted a new color belt.
Our conversational color belt levels are as follows...
For Spanish students that are just starting or studied in the past but have forgotten most of it.
Complete beginner, or new to the language in practical terms
If you had some knowledge of a romance language, such as italian or french, but it is now practically gone, or you would prefer to have an introduction to the Spanish language as smooth and as light as possible, we would recommend considering starting at this level.
Can barely speak using phrases such as Yo como (I eat).
If you are new to Spanish but have some knowledge of a romance language, such as italian or french, at an intermediate level or higher, and you are a fast learner of languages, we would recommend that you start at this level.
Completing this and the prior belt level is the equivalent to acchieving the European A1 beginners level.
Can speak using phrases such as Yo estoy comiendo (I am eating), and Yo voy a comer (I am going to eat).
Can speak using phrases such as as Yo comí (I ate) and Yo comía (I used to eat), along other phrases from prior levels.
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European A2 elementary level.
For Spanish students that already speak the language in its basic form but want to gain more confidence and precision when speaking the language.
Can speak using phrases such as Yo comeré (I will eat), and Yo he comido (I have eaten), along other phrases from prior levels.
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European B1 intermediate level.
Can speak using phrases such as Yo había comido (I had eaten), Yo habré comido (I will have eaten), Yo estuve comiendo and Yo estaba comiendo (I was eating), and Yo estaré comiendo (I will be eating), along other phrases from prior levels."
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European B2 upper intermediate level.
Can speak using phrases such as Dudo que el coma (I doubt that he would eat) and Dude que el comiera (I doubted that we would eat), Si yo fuera,... (If I were ...), Yo comería (I would eat), along other phrases from prior levels.
For Spanish students who are already comfortable with Spanish but want to master it to a level close to that of a native Spanish speaker.
Can speak using phrases such as Dudo que el este comiendo (I doubt that he is eating), Dudé que el estuviera comiendo (I doubted that he was eating), and Yo estaría comiendo (I would be eating), along other phrases from prior levels.
Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European C1 advanced level.
Can speak using phrases such as Dudo que el haya comido (I doubt that he had eaten), Dudé que el hubiera comido (I doubted that we had eaten) and Si el hubiera..., yo habría comido... (If he had...,I would have eaten....) along other phrases from prior levels."
Can speak using phrases such as he estado comiendo (I have been eating), había estado comiendo (I had been eating) and habré estado comiendo (I will have been eating) along other phrases from prior levels.Completing this and all prior belt levels is the equivalent to acchieving the European C2 proficiency level.
If you have already completed or are about to complete the Black Belt level, please keep in mind that you can continue taking more classes with an open program by which you and your tutor decide on what to focus your attention, whether it is on:
Ascending through the belts requires accumulating Spanish tutoring session time to hone your skills. Purple Belt, for example, requires the successful completion of 16 hours. So will any other level.
In addition to successfully completing the required hours you will need to pass an Spanish examination and meet minimum score requirements to move up to the next belt.
If you already know some Spanish, we would recommend that you consider filling the exemption exam for the level right below the level that you think you belong. You will get your score right away with a minimum passing grade of 70%. The exemption exams for each level can be found right before this section (scroll up the page until the levels are seen). Click on any of them and then select FREE exemption exam.
If you still have doubts, please give us a call so that we can help you assess your level over the phone, or just apply risk free and we will suggest you a starting level based on the information you include on your application
It all starts with your online application. On this form you will be answering some questions regarding how you see your self in the different areas of the Spanish language. Our Academics Department then sends you a formal proposal with a recommended starting level, based on your responses.
Finally your native Spanish tutor, on the first or second Spanish class, ratifies your level or suggests a different starting level. Oral interviews over the phone can also be requested free of charge to make sure your suggested starting level is appropriate.
The most important criteria we take into consideration when suggesting starting levels is what we perceive is your current ability to speak Spanish at the right level. Knowledge of vocabulary in isolation or grammar theory without proper usage in a real conversation in Spanish has minor weight in our assessment. Most people have some prior knowledge of Spanish. They have either studied it in high school or in college. Despite this experience is welcome, students may still be placed in the Beginner I level (Pearl Belt) or Beginner II level (White Belt), if not able to recall or use the language verbally in the present tense.
Generally, for example ...
If attending private Spanish classes, just let your Spanish tutor know on any session so that you start working right away on the level that is most appropriate for you.
If you are attending small group Spanish classes that we have set you up with and you think other members in your group have different levels, please let your tutor be aware of your concern right away. Many times, though, first sessions' nervousness may mislead you. Please wait until you have your second session to address this concern with our office. You may observe that after the second session that your levels look much more similar after initial nervousness and/or shyness from all participants is overcome.
If still after your second or third session you think that you have been placed on the wrong level, please contact us so that we transfer you to a higher or lower level subject to availability. You will be able to start at that new level from its first class at no extra cost.
If attending private Spanish classes, you will be able to move on to the next level as soon as the fluency objectives for each level are reached. This means that you may be able to move on to the next level before or after completing the 16 hours normally required for each level.
If you attend small group Spanish classes that we have set you up with, you will need to complete the 16 hours of instruction to be a candidate to pass to the next level. If after your second or third session you feel that you have been placed on the wrong level, though, please let us know and we will be happy to transfer you to a higher or lower level subject to availability.
Unfortunately not. We offer 10 different levels of Spanish instruction. Each of these 10 levels requires the completion of 16 hours.
Only after completing the whole program, or 160 hours, you will be able to communicate your ideas and understand Spanish in a manner similar to that of native Spanish speakers. Most students do not need to complete these 160 hours to communicate, though. Its up to you to decide how good you want to become.
After completing each of our 10 levels, average students notice significant improvement in their ability to speak and understand provided that they also do some complementary self-studying at home on their own, through the help of our online student center, for at least the same number of hours per week that they meet with their instructor, to read in advance what they will be working with on the next class, and to do related homework.