In today’s increasingly mobile society, more and more of us are finding ourselves in freelance or flexible work situations. These enable us to live the dream; travel abroad, learn new languages and broaden our personal and career horizons. For many, living in Spain and learning Spanish is one of those ambitions and if you’re reading this, chances are the possibility has already crossed your mind. Whether you are planning on moving to Barcelona or you are already working in the city, there are plenty of options for learning Spanish, honing your skills, practicing with locals and feeling integrated in the community. So here’s a quick guide on what you should consider before taking the plunge.
It must be noted that the official and mainly encouraged language of Catalunya is Catalan, however Spanish is also acknowledged and accepted as a natural default language between foreigners and locals here. Spanish is one of the top three spoken languages globally so obviously an important investment. But in Barcelona, be prepared to confuse Catalan and Spanish at first as street signs, posters and shops will vary between the two.
Barcelona has a majority population of Catalans, Spanish, Europeans and South Americans. Therefore in Barcelona there is no such thing as “correct” Spanish. You will learn “street” Spanish from many different nations. This has a great advantage for your understanding of colloquial terms and Spanish accents internationally, although it may make things more difficult at first. So don’t despair!
Some language schools are now offering extra-curricular activities along with the courses, which make them a competitive option when it comes to deciding on the right academy.
Located inside what can only be described as a Modernista townhouse, the extremely quaint Linguaschools befits what nearly anyone would want from a Barcelona language learning experience. Googlemaps actually lets you enter the building and see inside the schoolhouse, with its abundance of mosaic modernista features, just to remind you where you are. They offer a variety of intensive courses along with exam preparation, with prices per week to suit almost any budget and timeframe. More interestingly with Linguaschools is their emphasis on group activities for alumni. Meet for a drink in their garden, you can picnic, hike, go for tapas and daytrips which are organised by the school; to make you feel welcome and involved. The location near Passeig de Gracia and close to Plaça Catalunya also makes finding accommodation for during your course easy, although options are also provided by the school.
More of a boutique academy, Dinamo Academy is a trendy establishment on the border of El Borne and Plaça Catalunya mixing crash courses in Spanish with intensive levels and media studies modules in English. That’s right, you could come to Barcelona to learn Spanish and come away with an up-to-date CV with indesign, photoshop and community management, to name a few. What’s more, Dinamo likes to host pop-up events, giving it that multi-dimensional appeal and the opportunity to mingle and network with locals over wine tasting or an art expo, for example. Since Dinamo also offers English classes to Barcelona residents, you can be sure to meet a diverse range of expats and Barcelonians.
If you are planning on studying part-time, you should consider the length of time you want to be in classes and whether you would like intensive classes or more time to travel and explore. A good option for practicing what you’ve learned is to attend conversation groups in civic centres such as Drassanes. This is a free and weekly supplement where you can chat with a group and discuss topics in Spanish. The key to learning Spanish is practice, practice, practice! Attend meetups and language exchanges, there are plenty available across the city. Some final advice; don’t skip classes, perseverance is key and most importantly, have fun learning Spanish!