Is it possible to become fluent in a language while studying your MBA? That is the question we have been asking students all over campus who are taking part in the Business Spanish Program (BSP) at IESE Business School.
There are about 400 million native Spanish speakers around the world. That is why about 40% of the students in IESE opt into the Bilingual MBA, where the focus is on Business Spanish. The program ensures you are able to use Spanish in a business setting whether that be in presentations, reading business cases, reading business journals/magazines/books, and being able to actively participate in business meetings.
The IESE MBA has two options when it comes to language: study the entire MBA in English or choose the Bilingual MBA Path.
The Bilingual MBA Path consists in participating in the Business Spanish Program then passing the DIEN certification exam (DIEN level B2 CEFR), which certifies your high level of comprehension and fluid use of the language . The BSP program (entirely optional) offers the opportunity for students to study business Spanish right alongside their MBA. It kicks off right before the normal school year begins (this year August 22nd) with an intensive course on the Barcelona campus (6 days per week, 8 hours per day) for two weeks. It is a 12 module course, but do not worry. If you have had any previous encounters with Spanish, you will take a placement exam to make sure you end in the right level.
Finishing level 12 of BSP and a successful DIEN exam, assures you a “Bilingual MBA” degree. If you then want to take your language skills to the next level or if you are a native speaker, you can decide to take elective classes in both English and Spanish in your second year. No classes are translated or duplicated, so you just get access to an even more comprehensive elective course offering.
Business Spanish classes are also available to partners of IESE students as well!
So, yes, it is possible to learn Spanish while studying your MBA! But do not take my word for it! Hear from our students!
Betty Wenyue Fan (MBA 2015), China
“The Business Spanish Program was one of my favorite courses in the MBA and it truly elevated my experience in IESE and Barcelona. I came in with no knowledge of Spanish, but the interactive teaching style and the great atmosphere in the class brought me to conversational level within just a few weeks. Even though I still could not take MBA courses in Spanish during my second year, the lessons I learnt from living in Spain with Spanish was already unparalleled. Now thanks to my Spanish, I have the opportunity to work in Latin America for my next career move within the company.”
Hilda Kabushenga (MBA 2016), Uganda
“Spanish class was definitely one of my best experiences at IESE. Since I had never been exposed to the language, I started from the very beginning. Progress was slow but steady, and I didn’t think in just how much I was learning until I needed to rent a new flat in the second year. My agent did not speak any English, and so you can imagine just how much pride, joy and satisfaction I felt when I was able to go through the entire process end to end, in Spanish!
On top of this, my closest friends from the MBA were not from my section, but rather from my Spanish class. We were a very close group and built connections deeper than I could have imagined.”
Francois-Xavier Bonneville (MBA 2017), Canada
“The BSP program was for me a decisive criterion to select the IESE MBA. Coming in August with the ability to barely understand a conversation, 9 months later I was working full time in Spanish for Amazon in Madrid. I was fortunate to have a remarkable teacher along with amazing students who never failed to make the 2h classes enjoyable. Although it added up a considerable 6 hours of work to my already crowded weekly student schedule, I feel it would have been a shame to miss the opportunity of taking part in this high quality learning experience.”
Sam Glasswell (MBA 2016), UK
“I started the BSP program at IESE as near beginner and having stuck with it throughout my entire MBA, left with a highly proficient level being able to communicate (if not always flawlessly!) on most topics. For example, my wife was launching a leather business during the MBA and we had to visit the South of Spain to meet some local suppliers. It was amazing to be able to sit in a business meeting, and cover everything we needed to discuss with only 12 months or so of learning. Above all else, you’ll meet different people and have a lot of fun so it’s well worth sticking with it no matter how intense the first couple of terms can get.”
Terence Chia (MBA 2017), Singapore
“Having the Business Spanish Program (BSP) in my first two weeks at IESE was a welcome introduction to Spain and the MBA program. Not only did it give me a foundation in Spanish (useful when getting food, groceries or a NIE card – very important!), but it also introduced me to a great group of fellow students in the MBA program.
Continuing the BSP during the school term helped me to gain a better grasp of the language, not only in terms of grammar, but in how it could be used in practical, workplace situations. Continuing the BSP during the first year in parallel with the MBA program helped ease me into life in Spain, beyond the academic coursework.”