Forget the phrase No hablo español and take advantage of the opportunity to study Spanish or Catalan in Spain’s most visited destination. Barcelona is the beating heart and party animal of Catalonia, located in Northeastern Spain. In Barcelona, you’ll have access to Europe’s most intriguing festivals and events, including El Grec (theatre), Primavera Sound (music), and La Calçotada (food). Barcelona is also home to over 10 universities, which means lots of opportunities for language and cultural exchange. During any language program in Barcelona you’ll be surrounded by new friends, food, and fun in the city that never sleeps!
Language Programs in Barcelona
Language schools in Barcelona have capitalized on its fame among travelers by opening up on just about every corner of town. You’ll have no shortage of options for language study in Barcelona, but quality, inclusions, and prices do vary greatly from program to program.
Intensive Language Programs. There are many traditional language study abroad programs in Barcelona that offer language courses at local universities. The Universidad de Barcelona (UB) and Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB) are two quality institutions that partner with many study abroad program providers. University-based language courses in Barcelona are typically part of all inclusive, intensive language programs offered during the summer months. Students should expect four to six weeks of 20 hour/week classes with some excursions on the weekends in these programs. Language learners who choose this option will receive a transcript for language classes with academic credit that will easily transfer back to their home university.
Language Schools. If you’re looking for language programs in Barcelona without the credit or cost of an intensive study abroad program at a university, then courses at a language school in Barcelona may be what you’re looking for. Spanish language schools in Barcelona are plentiful and class sizes range from three to 12 people. Language school students should expect to be in class 20 hours per week for intensive classes, which are available year round; however, summer is the busiest time of year for languages in Barcelona. For students who want a quieter learning environment with more immersion opportunities, it is best to enroll in language courses between September and April. There are also Catalan language schools located in Barcelona, but these are less common. If you are very interested in learning the beloved language of this region, the Catalonia government also offers free classes quarterly.
The Spanish have plenty of national holidays and Catalonia has some more regional holidays added on to the nation’s already vacation-packed calendar. It is not unusual to have a Monday or Friday off of school here or there in addition to traditional Catholic holiday weeks, like Easter and Christmas. Most Spaniards also have the month of August off work, so some language schools in Barcelona may not offer classes during this time period.
Life in Barcelona
Barcelona is a big city that’s surprisingly easy to get around; you can easily take a train, bus, or bike, or just opt to walk around the city to get to know its fun and diverse neighborhoods. If you are not a fan of walking, a monthly public transportation pass for the metro is affordable and will work for the train and bus system.
Explore your bohemian side in the Gracia neighborhood, where craft shops, theaters, and street art are abundant. Two of the most up and coming barrios that you’ve got to check out are El Raval and Poble Sec. In Raval, you’ll find the Contemporary Art Museum, plenty of vegetarian restaurants, and many shops with Middle Eastern and Latin American influences. Poble Sec is your go-to place for affordable small plates. If you walk down the pedestrian only street Calle Blai and hop from tapa to tapa, you’ll be saying, “delicioso” in no time! For a look at some incredible architecture, walk through the tiny streets of the Gothic Quarter. Finally, if you just want to relax on the beach or try some fish at a chiringuito, head to Barceloneta.
The local government does a great job of advertising upcoming events in the city and what’s free in Barcelona each week. There are also plenty of free magazines, like Time Out, which can keep you up-to-date on BCN happenings.
Accommodation & Visas
Spanish and Catalan language programs in Barcelona offer just about every accommodation option under the Iberian sun. As long as you are located in Barcelona proper, you’ll be very close to a metro stop; you’ll have easy access to the rest of the city day and night.
The most recommended housing option for the most immersive language learning experience in Barcelona is undoubtedly a homestay. Come in with an open mind because not all homestays are created equal; most students are placed with a señora and it is less common to be placed with a family with young children. Regardless of your family structure, you’ll have the chance to improve your skills daily outside of your language classes in Barcelona, you’ll eat some delicious home cooked meals, and you’ll have insider tips about the local culture and events.
If a homestay isn’t for you, shared apartment and dorm options are also plentiful. Apartments will be the most affordable option if you’re keeping a close eye on your wallet. Remember that Spanish accommodation (think kitchen, bathroom, bedroom) tends to be much smaller than you might be used to. Think of it as an excuse to get out, speak the language, and enjoy the city!
Visitors are not typically required to have a visa for stays under 90 days. Your language program provider or school will provide at least some assistance for you in regards to your individual requirements. To learn more about visa information, visit GoAbroad’s Spanish Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Barcelona is a melting pot of Spanish, Catalan, and international flare, so you’ll get two very strong and proud cultures in one city. The Catalan culture and their independence movement is fascinating and also extremely controversial. If you are at all interested in politics, living in Barcelona will be a huge learning experience for you. Many local people insist that they are not Spanish at all, but proud Catalans, who have their own unique language. While this is true for many, you can still learn Spanish in Barcelona. As a cosmopolitan and touristic city, Barcelona residents speak Spanish just about everywhere, so don’t be apprehensive about your ability to learn Spanish in Barcelona!
If you are used to a highly structured environment, you will have to adjust to Spanish time. The people of Spain tend to go with the flow a bit more than their European counterparts, and it may take some getting used to. Don’t stress when someone is late to a meeting, it will happen all the time. Bring snacks if you get hungry often, wait times at restaurants are much longer than you may be accustomed to. Be patient and enjoy the time you have to wait by talking to a local and practicing your newly acquired language skills!
Once you step foot in Barcelona, you’re going to want to go back for the people, sounds, history, food, architecture, fútbol, and culture. Take your first step today by signing up for a language program in Barcelona!