As I begin my second year in Spain, I often find myself reflecting on everything I love about this country. One year ago, I had no idea how well my time here would turn out. I had no idea how many wonderful people I would meet and how much Spanish I would speak on a daily basis.
If you are wanting to learn Spanish or better the Spanish that you already speak, I would recommend living in Spain if you can. Of course I’m sure many parts of South America would also be wonderful places to learn as well. However except for Nicaragua, I have not traveled in South America. One day I hope to get to Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica and basically everywhere else in that part of the world. However right now I’m in Spain and I love it here.
Here are a few reasons why Spain is great for learning Spanish.
1. Instruction with native speakers
They always say that learning a language with a native speaker is the best. Well in Spain, virtually all Spanish teachers will be from Spain. Whether you choose to enroll in a class at a language school or meet with a one-on-one tutor, your teachers will be native.
If you’re at more of an intermediate level, this can be especially beneficial. Simply ask your teacher to conduct the entire lesson in Spanish. It may sound crazy, but that hour or two of total immersion will be better for you in the long run.
If you have just arrived in Spain and are looking for a tutor, check out tusclasesparticulares.com. Spanish all over the country use this website to find private tutors for all sorts of things. You can look for “español para extranjeros” for whatever part of Spain you’re in and likely find a whole list of people. Also if you want to make some money while in Spain, you can set up your own profile there for teaching English. I personally use this site to find English students.
2. You can live with native speakers
There is no better way to improve your language skills than being forced to speak daily. In Spain, it is common for 3-5 and sometimes even 7 or 8 people to share a flat. Both this year and last, I have chosen to live with Spaniards. In fact my first year, I was so serious about it that I didn’t even consider any flats with English speakers. I of course had nothing against them. I just knew if I lived with English speakers, we would speak in English at home.
In Granada, we have a Facebook page called “Pisos en Granada.” Here people are listing rooms they have for rent in their piso. You can also use websites like Milanuncious, Easypiso and Idealista. My first year, I made an ad on Milanuncios in Spanish saying that I was looking for Spanish roommates. I had people contacting me, which was awesome!
This year, I have one awesome Spanish roommate. She’s super nice and we connect really well. I love that she has a genuine interest in learning about where I come from as well. We can learn about each other’s cultures and I can better my Spanish, which is great.
3. Most Spaniards have attempted English
The part of Spain I live in has the perfect mix. Most of the Spaniards I interact with have learned English in school and can speak enough to maintain a basic conversation. However most get embarrassed to speak and prefer Spanish if you can speak it.
This is great for several reasons. First, they understand if you struggle or say something incorrectly. They have likely been there with their English and know exactly how those moments feel. In my experience, they have been very nice and helpful with my Spanish. I’ve never had anyone be rude to me or be annoyed that they have to repeat something. I love this.
The second reason that this is great is that you’ll use your Spanish a lot. I don’t know how many times Spanish people have told me “I’m sure your Spanish is better than my English.” In general, I find that many just get shy about speaking it, giving you many opportunities to speak Spanish.
4. Making friends is easy
I prefer to practice my Spanish with friends. In Spain, you have the opportunity to befriend native speakers. How cool is that? Because I speak a second language, I can befriend people I wouldn’t otherwise be able to talk to. Before coming to Spain, I knew that I didn’t want to waste that opportunity.
Like moving to any big city, you do have to find opportunities to socialize and meet new people. No one will just walk up to you like “I saw you’re new. Want to be friends?” You will need to go places and do things where you would interact with Spanish people. A friend of mine taught in a different part of Spain several years back and joined a soccer team. He became really close with those guys and still talks to them today even though he’s back in the United States.
I have used language exchanges to meet new people and make friends. There’s a Facebook page where you can find people looking to practice English. There are also these things called intercambios practically everyday of the week in Granada. It’s basically an event at a bar or cafe where you practice languages. You could literally go to a different one every single day or the week. I personally do not have the time for that, but it’s an option that is there if you want to improve quickly.
5. The culture of socializing
Spanish people are all about spending hours over coffee or tapas with friends. I find that while Americans like to socialize as well, people in the United States can be stuck to a schedule. Here in Spain, I’ll spend all day Saturday just hanging out with friends.
This past Saturday, I met several friends around 3 p.m. for tapas. After eating, we went for coffee with another friend. This whole thing ended around 8 or 8:30 p.m. This was a solid five hours of speaking Spanish for me.
Overall, Spain has been a wonderful place to live. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to live here. If you’re curious about how I made my move over here, you have got to check out my free e-book! Click the image below to download it!
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