21st June, 2020
Where to study Spanish in Spain
Want to learn Spanish while immersed in the culture or planning ahead for a future move? Read our guide to the different regions and the best language schools in Spain.
If you’re living in Spain, are planning the big move soon or want to learn Spanish to talk to friends and family living overseas but haven’t learnt the language yet, you may be missing out. To really get to grips with a country, its culture and its people, speaking the language is a necessity. You’ll soon find that you’ll receive a positive response from the locals once you attempt to speak to them in their own language – even if it’s just the basics.
Learning Spanish to suit your needs
If you simply want to learn Spanish in Spain so you can easily go shopping, understand a menu or watch local TV, it can be helpful to take some classes to learn the vocabulary and essential grammar. A non-intensive class will suit your needs.
However, if you really want to explore Spanish culture, absorb films, read different local websites, converse with your Spanish friends or even live in Spain, then it’s time to find the best place for learning the language.
As the country is so large, one of the first things that you’ll appreciate is that the language itself can vary from region to region. There are 17 autonomous communities in Spain, and you should be aware that a number of these regions use different accents and colloquialisms – just as the northern and southern accents vary in the UK. Some communities like Catalonia, Galicia and the Basque Country use more than one official language, including Spanish and their mother tongue. Spanish, on the other hand, is Spain’s only national language.
Castilian or Peninsular Spanish
Spanish is based on the Castilian language, which originated in Spain’s historic region of Castille. The term “Castilian” is also used to denote the Spanish spoken in central and northern Spain including the cities of Madrid and Salamanca, but is also understood and commonly used in the rest of the country. Castilian Spanish is distinguished from other regional variations by its famous ‘th’ sound which is used when the letter ‘c’ is placed before an ‘i’ or an ‘e’. The letter ‘z’ is also pronounced as a ‘th’.
As Castilian is akin to received pronunciation in the UK, a city in central or northern Spain might be the best place to learn Spanish for those who want to speak the country’s most commonly used variety. You’ll be able to source an intensive course at one of the numerous Spanish schools.
The costs vary. A monthly fee for a standard intensive course in Madrid can cost a very reasonable €544 (£485.80 as of 22 May 2020) and in Malaga that fee will only set you back €490 (£437.56) (as of 22 May 2020)
If you don’t have any Spanish banking facilities, you can always use the PagoFX mobile app to pay for your fees in Spain through your UK debit card – no matter who you bank with. Launched by global bank Santander, the payments service provides the security and backing of a high-street bank with the ease and low costs of a digital solution or fintech (financial technology) company. With a transparent service and no hidden fees, you will know exactly how much you’re paying and how much your recipient will receive.
You can expect to attend 80 classes over the course of the month. As the number of classes and the fees you’ll be expected to pay differ, it’s wise to carry out a bit of research in advance.
If you’re a real enthusiast and are looking across the country to assess where is the best place to study Spanish in Spain, you can always start with the capital, Madrid, and then move across the country to absorb the different accents and colloquialisms of this fascinating language.
If you’re already living in Madrid, you’re probably either working or studying in the city. The Ail Madrid language school on Calle O’Donnell in the Ibiza barrio is highly rated by users. It’s open until 10.00pm, so if you’re working and need an evening course, this school will be ideal. The type of course you choose is up to you. The school offers an intensive course, which is taught in groups, or premium lessons, which can be taught individually or in groups. The weekly cost of an intensive course is €180 reduced to €160 after eight weeks.
Span Easy in Calle de Alcalá, in the centre of Madrid, offers a wide range of courses. Some are taught individually, some are online. The courses are priced dependent on your needs.
There are numerous language schools right across Madrid and a quick online search will reveal the best ones to suit your needs and timetable. Have a look for the schools with the highest ratings or best reviews.
Seville, the capital of the Andalusian region and situated in the south of Spain, is not only a stunning city, but also a wonderful place for learning Spanish. The Sevilla Habla school has received great reviews from its students and offers a range of courses to suit all standards and tastes. You can either take a small group course, or you can enjoy the delights of a one-to-one lesson.
This is mainly spoken in southern Spain and somewhat differs in its vocabulary from Castilian Spanish. Andalusian is also the second most widely spoken dialect in Spain. Most dialects of Spanish differentiate the phonology of ‘z’ and a ‘c’ – however, Andalusian often does not, with ‘s’ being used for both. This is called seseo.
Barcelona, the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia, is a cosmopolitan city where learners can study both Spanish and Catalan. You should ensure that your chosen language school teaches the language you want to learn.
One of the most popular Spanish language schools in the city is Speakeasy, based in the city centre and close to the University of Barcelona. An extensive course here will cost you €129 a week and after four weeks the fee is discounted.
If you’re spending a fair amount of time in Barcelona or Catalonia, then knowledge of Catalan might help. Barcelona is proud of its heritage and there are a number of academies and universities that offer Catalan language classes. Escuela de Idiomas Parla and Escuela de Idiomas BCN Languages are two highly-rated schools offering Catalan courses in the heart of the city.
Take a look at the differences between Catalan and Spanish languages:
|Don’t understand||No entiendo||No ho entenc|
If you’re thinking of learning Spanish in Valencia, you’ve chosen a beautiful city and an ideal place to get to grips with the language. Valencians speak both Spanish and Valencian, a Catalan dialect. As Valencia is Spain’s third most populous city, you’ll find numerous Spanish language courses here.
The Elealeph school is well regarded by its students and consistently receives high ratings. You can take group, private or conversation classes here and the school also offers daily activities to help you improve your Spanish. Prices vary in Valencia; an extensive course could start from as little as €29 per week, while others can be more expensive. A useful website to compare the costs and types of courses is LanguageCourse.
Palma de Mallorca
The popular island destination of Mallorca (or Majorca) is also home to many expats of all nationalities. It’s the largest of the four Balearic Islands, and Palma is its capital. As you’d expect there are countless Spanish language schools in Palma, and Spanish by Isa is one of the most highly rated. Isa offers lessons for children as well as group and individual classes for adults.
Castilian Spanish is widely spoken on the island. There is a local dialect, Mallorquí, which is a variety of Catalan. However, in general, Spanish is more frequently spoken.
Study abroad experiences
If you are looking for other options, you can try online or local study experiences. For example, International House schools offer cultural study abroad experiences from wherever you are in the world. International House offer summer camps, young learner and teen classes to adult courses. You can either learn at a school locally, or travel to Spain to study.