Learn Spanish in Spain
A progressive European nation that's proud of its history and traditions. A society that thrives on its rich social life, gourmet cuisine and top-notch holiday destinations. Colorful, warm, open. There really is no place like Spain to study Spanish. Keep reading for more!
Mother knows best
The decision to study Spanish in Spain is a smart one! The language's motherland has emerged as one of Europe's most progressive and exciting countries, leading the way on a number of fronts. Here's why mother knows best:
- Biggest – Spain's La Florida solar power plant is the largest of its kind in the world. In 2010, the country overtook the USA as the world's biggest solar-power generator, producing as much solar power as nuclear.
- Most – A powerhouse when it comes to UNESCO World Heritage sites, Spain is second only to Italy when it comes to listings, with 44 to Italy's 45, and has more cities on the list than any other country. Castles, churches, Gaudí artwork, caves and monuments. You name it, Spain's got it!
- Largest – Known the globe over for its world-class wine, Spain has the largest area on earth dedicated to wine production. Not far behind its competitors, it's the world's third largest producer, so if you like a nice glass of tinto choose to study Spanish in Spain today!
- First – Spanish society ranks first in the world for acceptance of homosexuality, according to the Pew Research Center. With gay Meccas like Barcelona and Madrid, the once staunchly-Catholic country was the third in the world to pass gay marriage legislation in 2005.
And how does Ailola Madrid stack up in all of this? You can find out what we're best at right here!
A land of sunshine and diversity
Spain is a nation as diverse as they come in history-rich Europe. Composed of 17 fascinating autonomous communities and two curious autonomous cities, it almost seems like there's too much to choose from.
- Madrid – You'll study Spanish in Spain's remarkable capital, Madrid. But that's not all – Madrid, an autonomous community of its own, is home to some of the country's top tourist sites. In less than an hour, you'll find the majestic Guadarrama mountain range, fauna-rich natural parks and castles. Oh, so many castles! And just beyond the Madrid border, day trips to Toledo and Segovia are a must-do.
- Catalonia – When it comes to regional pride, Catalonia is next to none. And it's not hard to see why! With a capital city as unique as beachside Barcelona and landscapes like the Pedraforca mountain in the Pyrenees, Catolonia packs a mighty big punch when it comes to tourist appeal. When in Catalonia, the cities Girona and Tarragona can't be overlooked.
- Andalusia – Second only to Castile and León in size, Andalusia is one of Spain's most jaw-dropping regions. Whether it's the university city of Granada, home to the Alhambra castle, or the historic hub of Seville, Andalusia knows no bounds when it comes to stimulation. Ski in winter, swim in summer, and don't forget to work on that tricky Andalusian accent!
- Valencia – If food is your thing, you can't go past Valencia, the home of the world-renowned paella. With a pumping port and a convenient location between Madrid and Barcelona, Valencia is a community rich in history and diversity. It even has its own regional language, which is similar to the Catalan you'll hear in Barcelona. Just don't call it catalan!
- Galicia – A cultural crossroads, Galicia is one of Spain's most unique regions. Named after a tribe that once inhabited the region, Galicia boasts strong ties to its Celtic relatives in modern-day Britain. The community is also home to the world famous Santiago de Compostela cathedral. Churches, lush hills, friendly faces and loads of history, Galicia is worth the trip north!
Over 45 million people, a handful of languages, succulent seafood, stunning architecture and history to die for (and some have!). What else could you want? Here's what you need to know when you study Spanish in Spain:
- Viva la vida – Whether it's during a hot summer's night or a chilly winter day, one thing in Spain never changes: the nation's rich social life. Spaniards know how to eat, drink and talk your ear off, as one of Europe's friendliest peoples. You'll especially notice this in the capital Madrid, which is much unlike other bustling metropoles when it comes to people's hospitality and warmth. Don't hesitate – get chatting!
- Identity – From your first day at our Spanish school in Spain, you'll quickly see that Spaniards are a proud people. But be careful! Unlike the people you'll meet in Madrid, not everybody in Spain identifies as "Spanish". There are the Aragonese, Asturians, and don't forget the Basque. On the Mediterranean, you'll find Catalonians, to the north Galicians and the far northeast, the Occitan people.
- Religion – Despite being a bastion of Roman Catholicism, Spain has slowly begun turning its back on the Vatican. But not in favor of other religions – today, close to 30 percent of Spaniards claim no religion at all. Tradition sticks, though. And the majority of Spain still recognizes the Roman Catholic Church as its own, with the country's major holidays and tourist attractions in some way related to the world's largest faith.
- Food – Spain is a pescetarian's paradise! With the classic paella as a starting point, the country's 5,000 kilometre coastline offers seafood galore. Local dishes depend on local customs and with so much cultural variety in Spain, the choices are endless. Vegans will have a harder time in Spain, since there's so escaping seafood and pork in this country!
Speak like a local
Wanting more reasons to study Spanish is Spain? Learning the language with the locals means you'll be as close as possible to the original form of the language otherwise known as Castilian or castellano. Here's what you need to know:
- Unlike the rest – If you're used to the clarity of some Latin American accents of Spanish, often with their simplified grammatical rules, then Spanish in Spain is bound to surprise you! Fast, thick and full of idiomatic phrases, the more original form of the language can be divided into northern and southern varieties, with Andalusian Spanish considered the most challenging to understand. But don't fret – the catchy accents you'll hear when you learn Spanish in Spain don't take long to stick!
- Vosotros – An important difference between mainland Spanish and its Latin American spin-offs, is the use of the informal second-person plural pronoun vosotros. Out of breath? Confused? Like the English word 'you', vosotros is used when referring to a group of people. Unlike Ustedes which you would use when referring to a group of elder people, for example, vosotros is informal and used among friends or people of the same age group as you. And one more thing: there's the feminine vosotras for groups of women!
- /Θ/ – You might think this little symbol were a mistake. That the fool who wrote this text got their typing fingers in a strange knot. No, no, no. You'll want to know all about this little symbol when you learn Spanish in Spain, so keep reading. /Θ/ refers to the phonetical peculiarity that exists in Castilian Spanish. It means a word like cinco (five) is pronounced 'thinco'. Unlike Spanish in other parts of the world, Spaniards pronounce the letters 'z' (before all vowels) and 'c' (before only 'i' and 'e') like the English sound 'th'.
- ¡Vale, tío! – When it comes to local vocabulary, Spain is no different in that there are a number of words you won't hear anywhere else on earth. So, while in Latin America it's bien, in Spain you'll hear vale. When it comes to friend, a dude's a tío and his female counterpart's a tía. Yes, uncle and aunt! Car ain't a carro like it is in Mexico but a coche. And finally, for the street-smart crowd wanting to study Spanish in Spain, jot down words like chulo and guay meaning cool, and you're bound to fit in!
For more tips on how best to learn Spanish in Spain click here!