How To Learn Spanish in Spain?

Learning any language is difficult without some level of immersion. Although you can speak Spanish without a native-speaking partner, you’ll miss out on cultural nuances, like slang, modern gender classifications, and casual vs. professional word use needed for fluency.

If you’re planning to go to Spain, you can improve your pronunciation and cadence by using your skills. If you’re a complete Spanish newbie, you can still learn a lot from your trip.

How to Learn A Lot of Spanish in Spain

Learning some basic Spanish greetings and phrases can really help you enhance your trip experience. That’s why you should enroll in a speaking Spanish course before going to Spain.

1. Choose an Appropriate City

American English doesn’t have a unified accent or speaking style, and neither does Spanish. Standard Spanish, also called “Castilian Spanish,” is mainly spoken in Madrid. You’ll also have the choice to learn Catalan, Basque, or Galician, but most of Spain speaks Castilian.

Valencia, Spain

Some accents, especially in the South, can be harder to decipher for new Spanish speakers, but these speakers are usually situated in cities with a lower cost of living. When choosing your city, consider how you want to speak Spanish and if you can afford to live in a major city center.

2. Research Your Spanish School

As stated, it’s better to go to Spain with some Spanish skills, so you’ve likely used an online learning app to reach some level of fluency. However, it’s in your best interest to go to a Spanish language school in Spain, so you can get acquainted with the culture and its nuances.

Keep in mind that a Spanish school is only as good as its teachers, so don’t settle for online reviews and personal recommendations. What’s more, a good Spanish language school should do more than teach you grammar and vocabulary; it should be immersive and hands-on.

3. Learn Spanish From Multiple Cities

Even if you want to speak Spanish with a Castilian accent, it’s essential to expose yourself to different dialects early on. According to Statista, 543 million people speak Spanish, but you won’t be able to understand Mexican Spanish if you don’t train your ear as soon as possible.

A good way to immerse yourself in a different dialect is by booking two separate courses or studying with a school with branches in more than one city. You can work with your school to synchronize your learning, so you won’t miss key units in one or more of your classes.

4. Get an Intercambio

An Intercambio (“language exchange”) is a language partner that helps you practice your Spanish skills in exchange for help with their English skills. Getting an Intercambio can help you make friends with other Spanish locals because Intercambios often develop close friendships.

Most cities will have Intercambio nights, where locals and foreigners can meet to practice their languages. Sometimes, they’re more like parties where people can hang out, so you’ll need to research the people hosting the Intercambio night if you want to get your money’s worth.

5. Watch TV with Subtitles

A well-known trick for practicing your language skills is reading or watching foreign media. You’ll need to know enough Spanish to follow movies or television shows, as Spanish is a fast-talking language. To avoid getting lost, learn Spanish from your friends and other locals first.

Once you’re comfortable keeping up with Spanish’s language speed, you can start watching Spanish media with Spanish subtitles. This helps your brain slow down and focus on what’s being said and how sentences are structured. Plus, you’ll learn how Spanish words are spelled.

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One thought on “How To Learn Spanish in Spain?
  1. Although I had four years of Spanish in school (8th through 11th grades) plus a semester as an undergrad (which supposedly deemed me “proficient”), I still had difficulty catching what many people were saying. A couple decades later I had the opportunity to spend over a month in the Malaga area (actually as part of my work), and it took me a while to understand the local people. It turned out that words are ‘clipped’ in that area, and the letter ‘s’ is almost eliminated. They pronounce their country as “Epanya” and ask “Como ta?” and answer “Toy bien”. After getting used to that, it was easier, particularly if they speak slowly. Occasional I was asked a question for which I didn’t know the answer, and they would say “No entiende”. I would answer ‘Entiendo, pero no se. Where I spent most of my time, there was a photocopied sheet having various cartoons with captions spelled the way the locals pronounced the words, and when I requested a copy of it, it was simply taken down and given to me. One person said (in English) “We speak very badly here; if you really want to hear the language, you have to go to Madrid.” Since then, I’ve been in Argentina (where I was unaware of the local ‘coger’ vs ‘recoger’ distinction!), Chile, Puerto Rico and Mexico (Sonora) where I was able to get additional practice. I’ve learned that while I can’t understand some people, there are others whose speech I understand even if I’m not actually listening to it (the latter from such places as Ecuador).

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