Studying Spanish in Spain is one of best ways to learn Spanish whether you are considering studying abroad for an entire year, semester, or just a week or two there is no better way to learn Spanish than through Spanish Courses in Spain. I have done a semester abroad in Seville and returned after college to study on my own for several weeks. Here are some of my tips for finding a good place to study.
Find a School that is Multicultural
My study abroad experience in Spain was a blast! We partied, traveled, made friends and had a good time. The thing I didn’t do was learn Spanish. Don’t get me wrong I learned some Spanish but I had classes in English, hung out with Americans, and my Spanish family spoke English so I did not learn as much as I could.
Multicultural Spanish Courses
Find a school that is not designated for your home country. Find one that will have students from all over the world. My second study abroad to Spain was on my own to a private institution in Seville, CLIC. I easily learned more Spanish in 5 weeks at CLIC than I did in 5 months with my college’s study abroad program. The biggest difference, I hung out with Germans, Swiss, French, Italians, Belgium, and Spanish. The only language we all had in common was Spanish. Under these circumstances I felt it rude insisting on my foreign friends to speak English and thus we spoke Spanish most of the time. Another benefit to studying with others that don’t speak your language is no one cares that your Spanish is terrible. It is the only form of communication you have in common in and out of the classroom.
Find an Intercambio
Along with your Spanish courses find a study buddy or an intercambio. An intercambio is a Spanish student trying to learn English. This will really accelerate your speaking ability by learning the everyday lingo and slang spoken by Spaniards. I also recommend that you use your school to find an intercambio. My first school was all Americans so we had no Spanish students to study with. We were forced to find intercambios ourselves. In my case I put posters up in the University of Seville. I got lots of phone calls from Spanish male students who hung up when they found out I too was male. My second go at an intercambio was arranged by my school which taught a variety of languages. Finding an intercambio is vital to learning and experiencing Spain. My intercambio introduced me to her friends, I introduced her to mine, and we all had a good time.
Stay with a Spanish Family
Stay with a family while attending your Spanish Courses. Hands down the best thing that came out of my experience in Spain was the family I lived with while in Spain. I was fortunate to stay with a host family that was incredible welcoming. They took me to family functions, to friends in the country, to Isla Mágica, to country clubs…it was like I was their long lost cousin. To this day, 10 years later, we still talk and visit each other. My experience may not be guaranteed but it is worth it to stay with a Spanish family.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Do your very best to not hang out with people who speak your language. I would even suggest not taking Spanish courses with a close friend because it will always be too easy to revert to your native language.
Do your very best to make Spanish friends, put yourself out there, try finding an intercambio, make friends with your host families friends, whatever it takes. Making friends with Spaniards will be the quickest way to learning Spanish and having a good time.
As for picking a school if you have a choice pick one that is multicultural, make sure it is legitimate, and find one that fits your personality. Many schools include trips but maybe you don’t care about that, many do a better job about total immersion than others. In the end I think how much Spanish you learn and how much fun you have is up to you. If you have the right attitude you will have fun no matter what. If you have the desire to learn Spanish and put yourself out there you will succeed. The schools only give you a foundation to work from the rest is up to you.
Adam’s last piece of advice…is do it. It was one of the best experiences of my life and I believe it could be yours too!
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