Spain is one of the world's favourite tourist destinations.
Geographical proximity to many other countries, change of scenery, good weather, nice beaches, cheap food,... tourists are enchanted with this wonderful sunny country.
The recent real estate crisis of the first decade of the third millennium that hit Spain, only increased the number of travellers who were looking for low-cost housing and sunshine all year round!
Obviously language learning in Spanish is important if you want to live in the country, but it is also important in other parts of the world. Spanish is an official language in 20 different countries. This means that there are clear advantages to taking Spanish classes in order to learn Spanish as a second language, one being the fact that it is the second most spoken language worldwide by number of native speakers.
This therefore begs the question, what is the best way to learn Spanish?
As you do more and more research you will see there are a variety of options. You can learn Spanish online, take language courses, or learn Spanish with a Spanish teacher, but to name a few.
You will find there are advantages and disadvantages to both, so it will be a question of what suits you personally. However, perhaps the best way to learn Spanish fast and effectively is through immersion. Particularly by travelling to a Spanish speaking country, you can enhance the studying process as every situation will be an opportunity to practice and learn.
So then, how can you optimise your holiday with an "intensive internship" to progress in Spanish language? And which are the Spanish speaking countries that are the best to travel in?
Learn Spanish Before You Travel
Learning a language requires dedication and hard work. But remember, with any foreign language, you will need to define your goals. After all, you will need very different levels of speaking Spanish depending on how you want to use your skills.
If you're are a beginner departing for a Spanish speaking country, how can you learn Spanish before you leave? You won't need to be fluent, that will come with time once you're there, but you do need to have a conversational Spanish level and know some basic words and phrases in order to communicate with the locals.
So, you've found a cheap stay for a dream holiday in a Spanish-speaking country?
If you want your language immersion experience to be perfect, you should learn some Spanish words, phrases, and verbs before you go abroad.
If you do not know the language of Cervantes, you should take some Spanish lessons before you leave home.
Here are some tips to familiarize yourself with the Spanish language before you fly:
- Listen to Spanish music, movies with subtitles, radios to improve your listening skills
- Establish Spanish vocabulary, Spanish grammar, important notions, polite expressions "por favor", "gracias" and common expressions "hola que tal", "puede ayudarme", "puede darme" "espere un momento", "no entiendo "... This is perfect for oral expression and the development of Spanish vocabulary!
- Opt for a book that offers thematic lists: do not clutter yourself with the conjugation of Spanish verbs, or overly complicated terms that are more for intermediate speakers.
Learning Spanish doesn't need to be done in a classroom. You can learn how to speak Spanish online, often for free. Search for "Free Spanish courses", "Study Spanish", "Spanish language course", "Learn Spanish free" or "Spanish course online" on the internet!
- Download fun apps like Nemo Spanish to practice Spanish speaking before working with native Spanish speakers.
- Go to learning sites like Easy Spanish.
- Choose a tutor for an intensive course before you go.
- Go for online platforms like Superprof rather than a private tutoring agency that requires an expensive upfront subscription fee.
Please note, as a new learner, your pronunciation will improve more by taking language lessons with a native speaker.
Spanish Courses: Improving Your Spanish on Holiday
How can you learn Spanish whilst on holiday?
To ask for services, to have information on a means of transport, to learn the most beautiful beaches, to go to discover some places unknown to the general public or even simple know where to go at night...
Knowing how to speak and understand basic Spanish is a great asset.
So how can you improve your fluency in Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country?
If you are between 10 and 18 years of age, you can do a language course: a full immersion in the language and culture of Spain will allow you to familiarize yourself quickly with this new language.
Alternatively, you can volunteer abroad or teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) and have a Spanish immersion experience that way.
Certainly you will not be staying in an all-inclusive 5 star hotel, but you will discover the country in another way.
You will progress much more quickly because you will have to deal with Spanish speakers every day and you will have to make yourself understood which will mean your Spanish pronunciation will improve.
But then which destination to choose?
- Costa Rica
- Colombia, plus so many more!
You have the choice!
You could even do Spanish summer courses in one of these countries which is tailor-made: intensive courses, group or private lessons, conversation classes or more academic courses...
Finally, if taking courses in a Spanish school or online is of absolutely no interest to you, you can always go out and meet Spanish speakers, or look for a Spanish correspondent on the internet...
Where to Go to Progress in Spanish?
What are the best destinations for learning Spanish?
Are you planning your holiday in a Spanish speaking country, but you can't figure out what your exact destination should be?
Holiday Club in Spain? All-Inclusive on a desert island?
You probably have plenty of travel ideas but you can not decide which one is the best.
What about Barcelona? The sun, beach nearby, historical monuments, remarkable architecture, numerous restaurants... Activities are plentiful in this big city!
If you fall in love with the city and want to stay there to work, be sure to get a NIE. This is an identification number for foreign workers.
Want to travel further afield?
Go for Argentina.
The strong points?
The prices are low. Argentinians have an average monthly salary for registered employees of just over $1,000 per month. Compare this to the global average salary of $1,480 per month and you can see that your money will go further in Argentina.
Would you prefer a more idyllic destination?
The Dominican Republic is a dream spot.
Again, the price of life is very low. Depending on where you live, the cost of living in the Dominican Republic is between 40-50% cheaper than most western countries.
In addition, you can enjoy breathtaking scenery, sandy beaches and undeniable human warmth.
Practical information: a work visa will be required if you wish to stay there for some time.
Madrid or Barcelona?
However, if you have decided that Spain is the place for you, you will often be faced with the prospect of choosing between Madrid and Barcelona.
For a summer holiday, choose Barcelona.
In Madrid, summer is extremely intense with temperatures up to 100 degrees!
Also, due to its inland location, there is no beach nearby to bask in the sun while reading Don Quijote in its original version. However, if you want to leave in the spring or autumn, think about what the two cities have to offer.
In Barcelona you can:
- Walk down the Rambla, considered to be the Champs Elysées of Barcelona, and stroll to the Boqueria.
- Go for a ride to Parc Guell. Did you know that a scene from the movie the Pot Luck was shot there?
- Visit the Sagrada Familia; the most visited monument in Spain, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005.
- Go to the mythical Camp Nou stadium of F.C Barcelona.
- Get some food, enjoy a drink, or go partying in Plaça de Sol or Plaça Reial.
In Madrid, there isn't any Gaudi architecture, but you do have the possibility to find places as remarkable as:
- The Royal Palace, home to the Spanish royal family.
- The Prado Museum: a renowned art gallery with 3000 works, some of them by Goya.
- The Centro de Arte Sofia: Spanish national museum of modern and contemporary art.
- The Parque Del Buen Retiro is a great place to go for a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
- The lively Chueca area for partygoers.
If you're want to work in Spain, and learn the Spanish language at the same time, then Madrid is the place for you.
Indeed, Barcelona has opted for bilingualism combining Castilian and Catalan, while Madrid speaks exclusively Castilian. However if you want to become bilingual, you can learn to speak Spanish in both cities!
On returning home why not take one of the different DELE level tests to demonstrate your oral and written skills in the Spanish language?
Spanish Student Cities
What are the best student cities in Spain?
Do you want to go on a language course through a university exchange program?
If you are adventurous and eager to become bilingual in Spanish, go for it!
You will need to apply for a diploma equivalent of the Universidad Nacional de Education a Distancia (UNED).
It's only after that you can make your choice among the many universities present in the cities, where you wish to get to speak Spanish as well as a native!
But where to go?
The capital of Spain is home to 20% of ERASMUS (the European exchange program) students.
Want to be a future engineer? You may be interested in the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid.
Other options include the Universidad Carlos III or Complutense would be a good alternative to achieve a professional level in Spanish in addition to a current Castilian.
Barcelona and its remarkable architecture coupled with the proximity of the beaches are a dream come true for any student!
What's more, the city appeals to sports fans as it is home to one of the most famous, and successful, teams in the world.
Seville, and Andalusia in general, have borrowed many charming characteristics from the Arab period. You probably didn't know that the city spent several hundred years under Arab rule, during which Arab architecture heavily influenced the infrastructure of the city.
You can still see this influence today, as the city pays homage to its Arab past.
Valencia is Spain's third biggest city, with a population of almost 1.5 million. It is another coastal option for those of you who love the sea breeze and spending time at the beach.
Its university is spread across 3 campuses, with the city as a whole being home to nearly 8% of foreign students.