Imagine sipping a glass of sangria at a 16th century square while watching families wander during their evening stroll. Think sitting on the coast of the Atlantic or Mediterranean Sea chowing down on fresh seafood while soaking up the gorgeous sunshine. Consider what it would be like to see ancient ruins from 3000 B.C. alongside state of the art buildings. During any language program In Spain, you’ll be able to do all this and so much more. Let’s not forget to mention that Spain boasts a number of world class restaurants, bars, and nightclubs too. Begin your language study abroad in the land of bulls, siesta, and sangria, and you’ll surely have fun every step of the way.
With so many different regions in Spain, how could you possibly decide where to go? There are 17 different regions in Spain, and each one has its own attractions and distinct culture; the phrase “Spain is different” is known as the catch phrase used to promote the entire country for a reason afterall. You can go fishing in the Atlantic, take up flamenco dancing in the south, or watch some of the best soccer teams in Madrid or Barcelona, all while studying a foreign language in Spain.
One of the most popular places for language study in Spain is the city of Salamanca in the region of Castilla y Leon. True Castilian Spanish was born in this region, which makes it the easiest place in Spain to understand and practice Spanish. Salamanca’s charm attracts many international students; since it’s the country's biggest university town, you can bet that there is great nightlife. Some Spaniards even say that the Plaza Mayor in Salamanca is the best in all of Spain.
Another great city for language programs in Spain is Malaga. When you think of the south of Spain you probably think of Seville or Granada, but Malaga should be on top of your list too! With sunny beaches on the Costa del Sol, the museum of Picasso, and the historic Alcazaba, you’re sure to find an exciting adventure as well as two of the best language schools in Spain in southern Spain.
The city of Vigo, though fairly unknown to tourists, is a popular spot in the region of Galicia for Spanish language learning. Although this region does have another official language, thousands of people flock to Vigo every year to attend one of the many Spanish language schools. Vigo is located right smack dab on the Atlantic coast, which means you’ll find plenty of things to do by the sea. On a street called Rua de Barcelona you’ll find plenty of bars and nightclubs to dance the night away too.
Language Programs in Spain
Spain is home to many different Spanish language programs, offered at a range of language schools and universities, making it very easy for aspiring Spanish speakers to find the perfect program to suit their needs. Other than Spanish language studies, it is also possible to study one of the country's other official languages, including Galician, Basque, and Catalan, along with a handful of other world languages.
If you choose to go the university route, you’ll likely have lectures, take notes, and complete the usual exams to test your language skill development; university language courses also usually end with a shiny transcript filled with unique academic credits.
On the other hand, you can also sign up for smaller, more intimate classes hosted at language schools in Spain, which some argue make language learning easier, as you’ll likely have more time dedicated to practicing your new vocabulary and verb tenses with native speakers. Generally, the primary focus of language schools in Spain is to get you as much practice speaking the language as possible.
Another option for language study in Spain is to arrange private language lessons. You can find many locals in Spain offering private Spanish, Catalan, Basque, and Galician lessons; but, it is also possible to sign up for language lessons through a language school or alternative program provider and be paired with a local tutor. Private language lessons are an extremely effective way to learn a new language, as you will be able to practice your language skills and pronunciation directly, one on one with a native speaker.
Most language schools in Spain offer students the opportunity to enroll in immersion programs as well, where students will oftentimes be required to use the target language for the majority of the day (if not all of it). These intensive programs will expose students to both local speakers and other international students in various scenarios, in order to provide even more opportunities for language practice. Language immersion programs in Spain are for students that are very serious learning a foreign language and care a great deal their fluency levels after they return home.
Keep in mind that no matter what type of language program in Spain you choose to pursue, many will offer excursions or trips around the city, to give you even more opportunities to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom and experience the culture of Spain.
Costs & Affordability
The cost of language study abroad in Spain will vary, depending on what city you choose to study in and what type of language courses you pursue. The cost of living in Spain is relatively low, making it very easy to participate in cultural events outside of your language courses. Along with coursework, most language schools in Spain offer various cultural activities for students to participate in, such as the opportunity to attend a flamenco show, tour a vineyard, or attend a local soccer match. Many language schools in Spain even offer these cultural events at a discounted price if it is not included in your tuition.
Accommodation & Visas
So how do you begin your stay in the land of pallea, jamon, and orxata? First of all, all non European Union citizens need a visa to attend language courses in Spain. The process is easy though, and more than likely your university or language program provider will help you with all the necessary paperwork. Depending on where you’re from, you’ll have to make appointments with your local Spanish consulate. Some consulates will allow you to walk in without an appointment, or even allow you to mail your documents without a visit at all. To be sure you know what is required, you can reference to find details for your local Spanish embassy.
When it comes to accommodation, you can opt to to stay in a homestay, which is a great option if you’ve never been to a foreign country for a long period of time. Staying with a family will also help you practice your language skills, and both you and your host family will get to experience a new culture. Remember that if you stay with a family, it is like you will become part of the family, so you’ll have to abide by some rules and might have to sacrifice some free time for family obligations sometimes too.
If you want to skip the homey environment, you can rent an apartment for the duration of your language program in Spain. Renting an apartment in Spain can be quite easy, and there are many websites to help you find the perfect one. Apartments in Spain are usually much cheaper than in the U.S. and they are surprisingly big. Be careful with utilities though, they can often be much more expensive than what you are used to.
Some language schools in Spain also offer accommodation within school grounds. On campus housing can be a great option for students who want to meet people from all over the world and share languages, cultures, and stories, all while helping each other out with language learning. However, this housing options can sometimes hurt your chances for practicing your new language skills as you are more likely to speak English or the common first language of the majority of your group.
Benefits & Challenges
Language study abroad in Spain comes with many benefits. Every city has a story and unbelievable history. You can relax on one of the many beaches, eat the world’s best pintxos, and partake in one of the dozens of festivals this country has. Spain is also one of the world leaders in the number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You can admire La Alhambra in Granada, the Roman aqueduct in Segovia, and the entire city of Toledo all while studying a language. The benefits and positive moments from studying in Spain definitely outweigh the negatives, but there are a few things that you should know before you make your trek to a foreign country.
Be aware of changes to daily life and timing of certain things. If you usually eat lunch around noon back home get used to waiting until 2:00 in the afternoon to eat. Also, on Sunday most stores in smaller cities are closed. This makes grocery shopping nearly impossible (you’re left hitting the same pintxos/tapas bars!). In cities like Madrid, Barcelona, and Granada, pickpocketing is a common problem; keep a close eye on your valuables.
There is so much variety, the people are very friendly here, and the food is killer. So what are you waiting for? Come learn a language in this unique country.