Learning Spanish in Spain
Speaking in Spanish while living in Madrid sounds as though it should be a given. However, I’ve had to actively work at using the language because it’s surprisingly easy to slip into English speaking habits. The expat population in Madrid is massive and many restaurants and stores have employees that know the basics. I could easily see myself 10 months down the road without having improved my second language at all. However, one of my main goals for this year was to get better at Spanish. So instead of waiting for the language to magically click, I’ve made several pointed efforts to improve.
If you’re serious about improving Spanish, taking classes is the way to go. It’s offered me structure in learning grammar and held me accountable for improving. There are several options. The Communidad de Madrid, which is through the government, has language schools all over the city. These start at the beginning of each semester and are intensive courses throughout the week. These cost about 270€. Another option is Eureka, which is located downtown by metro Opera and is accredited by Instituto Cervantes. Start times for these classes are more flexible because you can begin every two weeks. There two package deals: 100€ for 4 weeks or 280€ for 12 weeks, or you can pay per class. Another option is Tandem, which offers intensive and extensive courses for professionals and students. While there are other options in Madrid, these are three solid places to start researching classes.
Language exchanges take place all over the city all the time! There are endless options to checkout. I started with using the Meetup app to find out about intercambio events. I’ve also attended intercambios through CIEE and hearing about them from coworkers. Some of the bigger ones are around 100 people in a bar, which can be exciting and overwhelming. Others are structured one-on-one time with various people or organized into small groups with discussion questions. You can see there are all sorts of types depending on your personality and language goals!
Live with natives
The housing search can be extremely stressful. Some people say they want their apartment to be a place they want to relax and not feel ‘on’ to speak in Spanish. However, when you’re tired, it’s the best time to push yourself! Honestly, having the awkward roomie disagreement convos and discussing money has forced me to practice in ways I would’ve otherwise avoided. I mean, think about how difficult personal conversations can be in English, but now in Spanish!
If you’re wondering, yes, Tinder has been a great way to practice my Spanish. I typed it right into my little bio and BAM I’m practicing right and left. Now of course, I have to dodge weirdos, but after jumping a few hurdles here and there, you’re able to find reliable, non-creepy people to chat up.
Read, watch, and listen to Spanish. I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcer’s Stone in Spanish which was incredibly helpful since I already knew the story, I could fill in the gaps easily. Now I’m reading The Boy with the Striped Pajamas in Spanish because it isn’t super difficult or long. Netflix also has a good pick of shows in Spanish. Cable Girls and Velvet are good choices, amongst many others. And of course, Spanish music! I go to the Spain Top 40 because not only does it help me with Spanish, then I know the popular songs when I’m out on the town.
Buena suerte con vuestro español!