Multiple studies show that when it comes to language acquisition, it is important to encounter the language frequently. This means learners need to be able to hear it being spoken by people with native competency, on a regular basis, and while TV shows, films, radio stations and music provide options, it isn’t always enough.
If you are a student learning Spanish, the best possible results will be achieved with true immersion, and it is for this reason that many people take the decision to learn Spanish in Spain. Doing so forces you out of your comfort zone, encourages you to use the language and helps you to understand how it is spoken authentically.
Here, we take a more detailed look at five of the best Spanish cities to travel to in order to learn the language.
Where to Learn Spanish
Located in the west of Spain, the city of Salamanca is an extremely popular choice for those seeking true immersion, for a number of reasons. Firstly, the people living in the city speak with great clarity and their classic Castilian Spanish accent is one of the most easily understood in the entire country.
Secondly, Salamanca is one of Spain’s most important university cities, attracting thousands of international students every year. This means that, in comparison to some other parts of the country, it is a young, tolerant, safe city, where language learners can find like-minded people who share the same goals and enjoy a whole range of both leisure and academic activities.
In fact, there are a disproportionately high number of Spanish language schools in the city, and it provides 16 percent of the country’s total market for teaching Spanish. It is also a cheaper place to live than some of the larger Spanish cities and enjoys hot summers, but there is less to do there than in places like Madrid or Barcelona.
For those hoping to travel to Spain and learn in a slightly more challenging environment, Granada is a popular choice. It is one of the most important cities in the Andalusian community of Spain and, as a result, the majority of people there speak Andalusian Spanish; a dialect with noticeable differences from Castilian Spanish.
Perhaps the most noteworthy feature of Andalusian Spanish is the dropping of the letter ‘s’ from many words, while many words are shortened as well. People also speak with a strong accent, which can be difficult to understand, even if you have a reasonable level of competency.
Due to high levels of emigration from Andalusia to Spanish colonies in Central and South America, the Spanish spoken in Granada resembles dialects in those parts of the world. While it may not be ideal for absolute beginners to the language, it is a great option for those who want to be able to understand all Spanish speakers.
3. Santiago de Compostela
The capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela is a unique destination for those who want to travel to Spain to learn Spanish, although many who have done so would claim it produces excellent results. Nevertheless, a challenge is presented by the fact that only 15 percent of the population always speak Spanish.
Indeed, the region has its own language, Galician, which is the only language spoken by 21 percent of the population. Fortunately, however, the majority speak both languages interchangeably, and it is by no means uncommon to hear Spanish in the streets. In addition, Spanish is heard on TV channels, on the radio and so on.
Once you get beyond the fact that two languages are spoken there, Santiago de Compostela is actually a very useful place to learn Spanish, because residents speak the language with quite a strong accent. This can make it tough to pick up at the start, but once you can understand Santiago residents, you can understand most Spanish speakers.
As the capital city of Spain, and one of the largest cities in the European Union, Madrid is an extremely popular choice for people who want to move to Spain. The vast majority of its population of 3.2 million people speak standard Castilian Spanish and the city has an abundance schools for students hoping to learn Spanish.
Much like with Salamanca, one of the major plus points of learning Spanish in Madrid is the purity of the accent, which makes it very easy to understand. However, there is one notable idiosyncrasy, heard in many of the central Spanish reasons, where Madrid inhabitants pronounce a ‘d’ at the end of a word like the English ‘th’.
The city is used to relatively high levels of immigration, meaning it is easy to find other international students. In terms of lifestyle, it is a busy city, with plenty to do and an abundance of tourist destinations. July is the hottest month of the year, with temperatures averaging 32 to 33°C during the day.
Finally, in terms of population, Barcelona is the second largest city in the country, which makes it a stand-out choice to many people considering where to learn Spanish. However, one of the key advantages of learning Spanish in Spain may be lost, as many Barcelona residents do not all speak Castilian Spanish as their first language.
In actual fact, roughly half of the city speaks Catalan, which is not a Spanish dialect, but a separate language entirely, derived from Latin. With that said, 98 percent of the country speaks Spanish as well, even if it is not their first language, and there are Spanish television channels, radio stations and street signs.
Despite the potential issues with two different languages being spoken there, students from all over the world travel to Barcelona to learn at one of the many Spanish language schools located there. Meanwhile, the city’s combination of a unique culture, abundance of things to do and pleasant weather also have their own appeal.
How Lingoda Can Help
Wherever you decide to travel to, your Spanish language studies can be assisted by enrolling in an online language course from Lingoda. All of our lessons are taught by fully qualified teachers with native speaking ability, and students are able to manage their own schedule, booking lessons as often as they like, to fit around their lifestyle.
Our courses have been designed to coincide with the CEFR, meaning our language certificates have international recognition, including from many academic institutions across the globe. Those who decide to learn Spanish in Spain may also find Lingoda extremely useful for communicating with people at the same level as them.