Language learning should be a fun process. Spanish isn’t just about how to conjugate a verb, what a perfectly structured sentence looks like, or extensively studying grammar.
Without question these things are important, but speaking a second language such as Spanish, is equally about being able to communicate with another person in a way that expresses exactly how you feel, as well as understanding the language and the culture that will influence their reply. It is about understanding the history of the language, and the processes which have shaped it.
It is possible to learn Spanish online, or to take a Spanish course at a local language school, but for this reason, the most effective way to learn the language of Enrique Iglesias, Shakira, and Diego Maradona, is to fully immerse yourself in a Spanish speaking country.
By doing so, you will develop your knowledge of Spanish grammar and expand your Spanish vocabulary. With each conversation that you have, you will learn new Spanish words as they are used by everyday people, in everyday life, in a way that language courses struggle to match.
This is not to mention how your Spanish pronunciation will improve as almost everyone you speak to will be a native speaker.
Learning Spanish while travelling doesn’t even just limit you to Spain, either. Spanish is an official language spoken in an incredible 20 different countries, across 3 different continents. So what are the best options available to you?
The chances are, if you want to learn Spanish in Spain, you are trying to choose between Barcelona and Madrid. Madrid has a number of advantages, but in this article we are going to focus on the Catalan capital.
Barcelona is a city renowned throughout the world for its charms and culture. In Spain, Barcelona has a very specific status, and is well known for its welcoming atmosphere and for being a mixing pot of people from different countries.
Located on the coast, the people of Barcelona speak Spanish, as well as Catalan. You will find a variety of options when it comes to choosing a Spanish language school, but you will also be able to learn Spanish with the natives in the street simply by talking to them.
If Barcelona is so popular among tourists and students, it’s for its warmth. Indeed, like many cities across Spain, Barcelona enjoys warm weather for long parts of the year.
Thus, you will often want to have a drink on the terrace, or to relax on the beach (located a few minutes by transport from the center of the city). It’s a hard life, but you will learn to enjoy it!
And to become bilingual and get used to the Spanish culture, moving around the city and discovering its heritage is sometimes a more effectively done on a beach, rather than in Spanish lessons or online Spanish courses where your teacher will try to teach you about Spanish through academic-styled grammar lessons, or with some Spanish verbs that you might not use again.
Discover the magnificent architecture of Barcelona!
In addition, Barcelonans are known for their open-mindedness and hospitality. It’s a fact: in Barcelona, you will never get bored.
If you are still undecided, then why not check out this guide to the best student cities in Spain.
First and foremost, you need to find a place to stay. An ideal Spanish immersion would involve living with Spanish people.
One of the most efficient way to learn how to speak a new language is to immerse yourself intensively in the culture and the language.
By living with Spanish people in a Spanish city, you will find your Spanish roommates to be the best Spanish teachers! You could learn to speak Spanish over breakfast, simply by conversing with them. Fluency also comes much naturally through immersion. That’s also because you have no choice other than to be in the position of a learner every second of every day, without even noticing it.
It is true that rents are relatively high in Barcelona, so you will find that the cheaper options involve living with other people. Many announcements are posted at the University of Barcelona.
Speaking of university, do you know that you can learn Spanish without paying?
Indeed, the government of Catalonia offers free Spanish classes to those who request them.
This is certainly an opportunity not to be missed. You will learn how to speak Spanish by having the opportunity to study with a native Spanish teacher, and get the best Spanish lessons to learn vocabulary, grammar, conjugation and tenses, as well as the correct pronunciation of key words.
Remember, if you want to work in Barcelona, you will need to get a foreign worker identification number. You can do this at a police station in the coastal neighbourhood of Barceloneta. Once this number is in your possession, you can look for a job on dedicated websites such as: Infojobs.net, loquo.com or laboris.net.
Our second destination that we would recommend for learning Spanish abroad is Argentina.
It’s the perfect country if South America is your passion.
It is interesting to point out that life is not expensive in Argentina, when compared to countries in Europe and North America. Thus, with an average salary, you should be able to live comfortably.
In addition, Argentina offers many outdoor activities and life is really enjoyable. Whether in terms of cuisine, entertainment or the arts, Argentina offers you many of Latin America’s hidden treasures. Patagonia is a particular highlight, with its snow covered peaks, glacial lakes, and stunning views.
Discover the glaciers of southern Argentina!
For citizens of almost all western countries planning to spend less than 90 days in Argentina, you won’t have to worry about a visa (although Canadians and Australians have to pay a reciprocity fee before arrival). All you need is a valid passport that will be stamped upon arrival. However, if you wish to stay for longer, consider getting information on how to obtain a Working Holiday Visa (PVT) quickly.
This type of document allows you to live and work in Argentina for a maximum of one year.
If you are a student, technician, journalist, contract worker, trainee, you can also obtain a resident visa (or temporary visa) valid from 6 months to 3 years. With this type of document, you obtain a DNI (Documento Nacional de Identidad) for the same period.
Once there, you will need to find accommodation. Some choose to stay at the hotel or at the residence while waiting to find an apartment. However, we advise you to call a real estate agency before your arrival. Thus, you will not have a housing problem once there. For this, you will obviously need some basic Spanish, so complete beginners with no knowledge at all will need to enlist the help of a Spanish speaker.
Costa Rica is a dream destination for taking a Spanish class or two.
Located in Central America, the country has a majority Spanish population that will allow you to improve in the language.
In addition to sublime landscapes and pleasant weather, Costa Rica is a warm country. The inhabitants are all open to discussion, and it is very easy to approach a variety of subjects.
Speaking Spanish will be a part of all aspects of your life, which is maybe the most efficient way to learn Spanish and become bilingual. Think of each conversation as a series of free Spanish lessons; talking with the natives will teach you the real conversational Spanish and an unlimited amount of vocabulary.
Costa Rica: a beautiful and natural ecosystem!
Moreover, it is interesting to note that the country is widely seen as one of the safest in Central America, and is largely able to avoid the problems that plague its neighbours, which in turn helps to attract a large number of tourists every year.
Since 2010, it has become more difficult to travel to Costa Rica, unless you already have a job. If you don’t, you will have a hard time finding a certificate of temporary residence.
The best way to stay permanently in Costa Rica is to be married to a Costa Rican, to have Costa Rican parents, or to give birth to a child in the country.
That being said, to go to this country easily, we advise you to start volunteering on behalf of a humanitarian organization. Thus, you can easily return to Costa Rica. In addition, you will be in direct contact with the local population. Not to mention feeling useful. If you learn the language in this way, you will develop your linguistic skills, as well as your personal ones.
In our opinion, it’s the best (and easiest) thing to go to learn Spanish on a Costa Rican vacation. To learn Spanish fast, you need to spend more time outside of the classroom environment of language lessons, and more time talking to the locals. You can do this perfectly whilst on holiday in Costa Rica.
We continue our tour of the best destinations to learn the Spanish language with the Dominican Republic. Indeed, looking at the pictures and seeing the beautiful landscapes, who would not dream of going there? And why not live there for a while you learn Spanish abroad?
The Dominican Republic is a real dream destination. Indeed, this country offers pleasant weather, long sandy beaches and above all welcoming, stressless and warm people.
Learn Spanish under coconut trees!
It’s a well-known fact that in order to live in the Dominican Republic, you have to love improvisation, parties, and have a certain openness about you. If this sounds like you, the Dominican Republic is the perfect place to enhance your learning experience in Spanish.
As we have already emphasised, learning a language requires spending time in a country where that language is spoken. If you wish to live in the Dominican Republic for a long time, you will need a work visa. With this type of document, you can obtain a local driver’s license and open a bank account at the same time. To do this, you will need to find, at least, a fixed-term contract there. It is also possible to obtain a student visa, which you will have to renew each year.
Note: the language spoken by locals differs a little from classical Spanish. You will probably need a little bit of time to adapt at the beginning.
For this reason it is probably advisable to learn Spanish before travelling to the Dominican Republic, or at least some phrases and expressions so that you language skills can cope with this change. This is a good destination if you are already approaching intermediate Spanish, but perhaps not the first choice for a complete beginner.
Finally, we also want to talk about the country of the cigar: Cuba. It is also an incredible destination to learn Spanish.
Cuba is a country with a rich history, and proud people. Everything in this country tells a fascinating story; from the embargo with the United States, to the communist domination of the time of Fidel Castro.
The streets of Havana are a great place to learn Spanish
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, so you can enjoy the island life at the same time as exploring a large variety of different places and landscapes.
Cuban people are among the most social and eager to share their culture, an ideal opportunity to practice your Spanish everyday.
Once there, nothing beats the casas particulares as places to live with the local residents. By doing so, you will have the opportunity to meet Cubans who will rent you rooms directly within their home.
Regarding visas, the Cuban government places different specifications on people of different nationalities, so check with the Foreign Ministry in your country before you travel.
Note finally that it is always interesting to revise your Spanish before the holidays …!
You get it now; if you want to learn Spanish, you have a large choice of destinations. Discovering the language and culture of these countries is an important part of the discovery when you visit each place.
One huge advantage is that a large amount of Spanish speaking countries are idyllic places to spend some time whilst learning a language spoken by over 440 million native speakers worldwide. It’s up to you to make your choice according to your preferences. In any case, prepare yourself to have an unforgettable experience.
By the time you start thinking and dreaming in Spanish like a native speaker, you will be able to tell yourself: my task is complete.