Spanish Teaching Fellow Ana Sevilla-Merino offers some tips on language courses in Spain if you're keen to practise your Spanish over the summer.
Once your coursework has finished and the stress of exams is over, you can think about how to put to good use the language(s) you learnt this academic year.
My students often ask me how they can practise their language skills in a Spanish-speaking country, so here are some suggestions to help you plan a trip.
Why go abroad?
Learning a language is fun, you enjoyed your classes in Bath, but you’re sure it will be even better to meet the speakers in their own environment and broaden your international skills. And you know it is an invaluable skill for employability.
In COVID times it was difficult to travel around but studying the language abroad still is the best option for new experiences, knowledge, adventure and, above all, challenges.
Before you travel, make sure you check the UK Government’s travel advice for the latest information on entry requirements.
To practise Spanish, you can go to many different and appealing places, but I'm focussing here on Spain.
Which city to choose?
Barcelona and Madrid tend to be the most popular destinations: plenty of choices to study and great culture, night life, beach, mountains, and city life. My suggestions are based on Barcelona.
Bear in mind that if you choose coastal places, you'll have a wonderful holiday, but you might not practise the language as you expected. Move towards inner Spain and it might not be as fun at the beginning, but you will have more opportunities to mix with the locals, practise the language and learn about the culture.
What kind of language course?
There are many language schools in different cities. If you Google: ‘Learn Spanish in + place’, you will get many answers. Check which language schools appear in different cities, and what qualifications or awards they offer, and you will know the most popular ones, e.g. Don Quijote.
Be aware that if you type “Best language centres/academies” you'll get a list of places that pay to be in those searches (like in this blog), although the real best ones should be there too.
Language centres at universities and Official School of Languages offer summer intensive courses that tend to be excellent.
Where to stay?
You can choose to stay in a student hall, with a family or find your own accommodation (e.g. AirBnB). Remember that each city has its own laws about letting private rooms; for instance, it’s illegal in Barcelona.
If you want to get the most out of your stay, the best option is to stay with local people. Always ask if they will have time for you or just want to let the room.
In a student hall you will meet people your own age, so you'll be able to interact with people with similar interests.
A different option: volunteering
Look for something you will enjoy and that matches your cultural interests, for example at: worldpackers.com.
Other useful websites:
- Au-pairing: aupair.com
- Tutoring, teaching English: internationalteflacademy.com
What to do whilst you’re away?
Once there, think about how to enjoy your spare time. Take a look at the following websites:
Spanish people are very chatty and will approach you in their own language so always be prepared to have impromptu conversations, at the bus stop, at the market, anywhere anybody will talk to you!
Espero que encuentres lo que te interese y que encaje con tu perfil.
If you’ve got any questions or suggestions of your own, please comment below!
(Image by sgrunden on Pixabay.)