When should I fly in and out?
We ask the participants to arrive in Madrid the evening before the program starts, Saturday, since we have the Welcome reception at 5pm and due to the early departure of the bus Sunday morning. Return flights should not be earlier than Friday evening (depending on the venue you will be coming from, give or take 2 hours to get to the airport). You can find all scheduled departures and arrivals here.
Where is it?
Our week-long immersion programs – VaughanTown and FiftyFifty – take place at three picturesque venues – you can find descriptions of all of them here.
What does the program offer?
The single most important benefit without a doubt is the human and cultural experience that is gained during the week. You will meet around 15 Spaniards and 15 other English-native speakers and spend intense 12-hour days in conversations, dizzily funny skits, theater, games and outdoor activities. For many participants, VaughanTown and FiftyFifty are great ways to get to know Spanish people and culture first-hand which is often difficult when traveling on your own. Founder Richard Vaughan has been featured in CNN, Frommer’s, Irish Times and dozens of international publications acclaiming the uniqueness of the holiday initiative. Vaughan Systems won the "Best Idea" award in 2003.
What’s the catch?
There is absolutely no catch. Our Spanish clients (think Microsoft, Mercedez-Benz, Volkswagen, Accenture, Pfizer..) pay to attend this unique program and we recruit volunteers from all kinds of backgrounds (not English professors nor linguistic experts) to volunteer six days of their time simply conversing with them. This is how our business works. You exchange conversation during the dedicated talking times for your stay during the week.
What expenses will I be shouldering?
You will pay for your flights to and from Madrid and any accommodation before and after the program. Our company will cover all the expenses as soon as the program officially starts on Sunday morning. Vaughan Systems provides you with accommodation and three meals a day in any of the venues, transfers to and from the towns from Madrid and accident insurance during the course of the program. We also invite you to a tapas sampling orientation on Saturday afternoon where you get acquainted with the volunteers in your group.
Who are the English-speaking participants?
Over 9,000 volunteers from all over the world have come to Spain to take part in this cultural holiday program: writers, doctors, social workers, backpackers, executives, musicians, students, etc… The variety is endless: participants from over 12 different countries, between ages 18-80, and a healthy mix of temperaments and personalities.
Who are the Spaniards?
The majority are business professionals from a variety of companies and sectors with an intermediate level of English. Most have studied classroom English for ten years yet lack the practice that comes with living and working in a foreign country. Their use at the workplace is very limited and they find it difficult to understand English spoken by natives and handle a conversation with confidence and fluency. They come from all over Spain and range from ages 25-55.
What is required of me?
The VaughanTown and FiftyFifty programs were designed to offer the most intense variety of accents, personalities and conversation topics possible to create a rich, linguistic atmosphere for the Spanish participants. During the week, the Spaniards throw their grammar books out the window and gear themselves up for a real-life language situations that require listening and speaking. Your job? Keep the conversation going through dedicated talking hours, activities, games and meals. You will essentially be a friend to the Spaniards during the week and help them become confident, fluent speakers.
What is the program schedule?
All programs are six days long and run from Sunday morning to Friday afternoon. Although structured, the week´s schedule is very relaxed and allows for participants to explore the countryside, nearby towns and enjoy the venue´s amenities. Each day begins at 9 a.m. for breakfast, and one to one conversations run through to lunch at 2 p.m. . After lunch, participants have free time until 5 p.m., where group activities and one-to-ones proceed until entertainment hour at 8 p.m.: theater, comedy, cultural presentations, karaoke and jokes. Dinner is a nine p.m. after which most participants spend time after hours at the bar. To see the full schedule, click here.
What profiles do you look for?
You must be at least 24 years of age and a native Speaker of English. If you are however between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, we also have a Special Young Adult program. Please check the dates here. We look for enthusiastic, inquisitive individuals who enjoy sharing their culture and experience with others. You will be open, adventurous, a good listener, a generous conversationalist and a fun-loving personality. We seek variety of ages, nationalities and backgrounds to offer the Spaniards an intensity and richness found in no other English-speaking country on the planet.
How do I apply?
Fill in the form in the Apply section of the website here and tell us about yourself, your travels, interests and personal/professional background. Our Madrid office will process your application based on your date preferences and how your profile fits into the rest of the group. Depending on which dates you apply for, it may take up to a month for us to get back to you. If the date or location is not available, we may suggest an alternative for you. We have programs scheduled all year around, you can find the dates here.
Do I need experience teaching English?
No. We want to expose our clients to real-life language situations which is where you come in. Neither at VaughanTown nor at FiftyFifty will you be doing any teaching at all. However, if you are interested in a career in English teaching and would like to move to Spain, Vaughan Systems is the largest in-company English language training firm in the country with offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Santander, Vigo and Valladolid; we constantly hire native speakers to join our team of teachers. No teaching certificate or qualifications are required: we are far more interested in your personal qualities and potential. Visit www.vaughanenglishteachers.com to find out more.
Can I speak to someone who has done the program?
Yes of course! Email us to get feedback from a past participant and we´ll send you an email address of someone living in your country. You may also check the testimonial page to read up on what people are saying about us or the video page to view clips of volunteers on location. Another option would be to write on our Facebook page and one of our veteran participants will be sure to answer!
What should I wear?
You will be doing a lot of walking outdoors so bring comfortable shoes. Most participants come in casual, travel clothing and make sure to bring a sweater even during the hottest months of summer, as temperatures may drop a little at night.
Can I bring pets?
No, you cannot bring pets to the program because the towns we stay in do not allow it. For all the animal-lovers out there, we apologize and hope for your understanding.
What should I bring?
Do you have a hidden talent that no one knows about? Do you play the djembe drums? The guitar? Are you an expert poker player? These are all good things to remember when you think about what to bring. Bring that deck of cards! Bring that guitar/drum set/stamp collection that you want to share with everyone! Remember to bring a camera, some postcards from home or your travels, or any pictures you would like to share. Remember- we will have an ongoing online photo album, so save the pictures and send us a copy.
How can I get from the Airport to Centertown?
There are several ways, Taxi, Airport shuttle and the easiest would be to use the Underground (Metro). Click here for a full explanation of the different ways to get to our Meeting Point.
Where is the pick up point/tapas reception?
The pick-up point and the tapas reception are in the same neighbourhood, not a five-minute walk from one another in the center of Madrid. The closest metro stations are Cuzco (line 10) and Tetuan (line 1) Click here for a map to see the Meet Up Point and the Tapas Reception are held.
Do I need a visa if I am not an UE citizen?
If you are not an UE, USA, Canadian citizen, please contact your embassy. We can send you a letter of invitation if required.
Do I need to be insured while I'm there?
You will be covered by insurance during the duration of the program. If you are 70 years old and above, we will need a bill of good health from your Doctor and you will need to get your own insurance.
Which airport do I have to flight to?
Adolfo Suarez - Madrid Barajas Airport (IATA code MAD)
Is smoking allowed?
All the indoor areas are smoking free, including the bedrooms. In order to smoke one must do so outdoors.
Is Madrid a safe city?
Madrid is a very safe city but just like anywhere else in the world you have to be careful.
What should I expect?
Expect to have a great time! The linguistic journey that our Spanish students embark on at the beginning of the program turns in to a personal one and you will see many changed faces by the end of the week. They will be less timid and scared of speaking English. They will have more confidence in themselves and in their ability to communicate. Above all, new friendships will have been made and new bonds created. You will soon discover that you will be able to travel all over the world and find a friend in every place!