Home to beautiful beaches, mouth-watering tapas, stunning architecture, and exciting local festivals. Oh…and not to mention…it’s the motherland of the second most spoken language on earth. However, what most people fail to realize is that there are many accents within the Spanish language and even separate regional languages that can sound quite different from Spanish. It can be a tough decision when trying to choose the best place to learn Spanish as there are so many factors to consider. In this article we are going to give you our top picks for where to learn Spanish in Spain so that you can decide for yourself where you would like to pick up your second language.
Let’s take a look at five different cities where you can get the best start on your language learning adventure.
Spain’s bustling capital (3rd largest in the EU) is an ideal location for city dwellers looking to take their Spanish to the next level. With a population of roughly 3.2 million inhabitants, Madrid is essentially a fusion of the country’s 17 autonomous communities–meaning you will get a taste of each region of Spain. Being the nation’s capital, you will find the best museums and collections of Spanish art, and there will always be countless cultural activities to attend throughout your stay. As found in most capital cities, the local accent is more standard and therefore quite easy to follow and imitate. Madrileños also tend to be more open than other parts of Spain, which only makes it more convenient to meet locals and practice your Spanish conversational skills. Known as the European city that never sleeps, Madrid has the best nightlife in the country and its variety of barrios makes it easy to find your scene.
For the avant-garde or architecture lovers, Barcelona will be a great fit. Spain’s second largest city and rival of the capital, Barcelona has a diverse population of 1.6 million inhabitants and is consequently the most cosmopolitan of Spanish cities. With the jaw-dropping works of Antoni Gaudí and the city’s pedestrian friendly ramblas, Barcelona has a charm that you can’t find anywhere else in Spain. One difference about Barcelona to take into account is that its local residents not only speak Spanish, but also communicate to each other in their own local language: Catalan. This does not necessarily mean that it isn’t an appropriate place to study Spanish, as in most cases the locals will have no problem speaking to you completely in Spanish. However it won’t hurt to learn a few words or expressions in Catalan to impress the natives of this enchanting city!
Home of the passionate dances of flamenco and sevillanas, this city screams traditional Spain (or at least from the eyes of a foreigner). Although it’s the fourth largest city in Spain, one of the nice things about Seville is that you don’t get the stress that you may experience in Madrid or Barcelona. Rather you get more of a barrio vibe when walking through the narrow cobblestone streets of Seville. People in the south of Spain tend to be very friendly and welcoming in general. And even though many Andalusians drop the s at the end of words, with a little more effort and close attention to this local accent, you will be able to understand and be understood. Spring tends to be the best time to study Spanish in Seville. At this time people from all over the country flock to the city to see the famous processions during Semana Santa (Holy Week) or to celebrate la Feria de Abril–one of the biggest festivals in Spain.
This charming little city was once dominated by the Moors–and they sure left a beautiful mark here! Granada’s most beautiful barrio, el Albaicín, is by far one of Spain’s best preserved Arab establishments. One of the unique things about Granada is that you can learn about how certain Arabic words and expressions were introduced into the Spanish language. Many Spanish words, such as aceite, ojalá, or almohada, have an Arabic origin and were mostly brought into the Spanish language through Moorish colonies in Andalusia. Furthermore, Granada is a university town which makes it a very suitable location for foreign students to learn Spanish. It’s a very affordable city for university students and one of the coolest things about Granada is that the tapas are nearly free! With each drink that you order at a bar or restaurant, the waiters will give you a complimentary tapa…and the portion gets more generous with each round!
If you’re hoping to study in the Spanish city with the purest accent, you will find that Spaniards from Salamanca speak the clearest out of all the regions in Spain. Like Granada, it’s a university town and has a relatively cheap nightlife to back it up. There are loads of other students from other parts of Spain or Europe, so it is likely you will be in the same boat when you first start out in the city. Most of all, Salamanca is a great city to get a base for your Spanish if you’re starting from zero. You can learn the basics of Spanish and once you reach a certain level, you’ll be ready to try out another city to advance your skills.
With all of these factors in mind, only YOU will be able to determine the best location to learn Spanish in Spain. There are so many exciting things to experience while picking up a second language in such an extraordinary country like Spain, so it is nearly impossible to get disappointed. Deciding on one Spanish city over another involves some assessment, but in the end it is up to you to make the most of your time and learn as much of the language as possible–wherever in Spain it may be!