When you’re moving to Spain there are countless things to organize for your new life in the sun: finding good real estate agents on the Costa del Sol, arranging a mortgage, organizing all your belongings to name but a few of the items on the checklist.
Perhaps the last thing on your mind will be to give a thought to learning the local language. But once you’re settled in to your new Spanish home – possibly one of Europrestige’s villas for sale on the Costa del Sol – and are enjoying the comforts of the warm weather and the laid-back lifestyle, you might find that some knowledge and practice of Spanish will bring some valuable benefits to your new expat life.
Do we need to learn Spanish?
We all know that English native speakers enjoy the ease of speaking their language in many parts of the world. There are more second language English speakers than any other language in the world and it is generally accepted as being the world’s international language.
Not only this, but there are also many English-speaking expats and communities in Spain, especially in areas such as the Costa del Sol, and as a result of this many of the Spanish people in these areas speak good English. So what reasons are there for foreign residents to learn Spanish? A question that real estate agents on the Costa Del Sol have to also confront themselves with before moving to Spain.
Local language skills are invaluable to expats interested in making friends and integrating into their new area. Even if it is just a few lines of dialogue shared with the owner of the local shop, any efforts made to ‘blend in’ will always be appreciated. Those who reach an elevated level of Spanish may enjoy a more varied social life and will be able to learn more about the local culture.
Apart from the social reasons, a basic proficiency in Spanish will also be useful on visits to more rural or less international parts of Spain, or even on trips to South America.
The different types of Spanish
After deciding to learn Spanish the next question is – which Spanish? Unfortunately there are many different dialects and ‘co-official’ languages spoken in the country’s different regions making the process of learning Spanish more complicated. The co-official variations of Spanish include Basque, Galician, Catalan (similar to Valencian) and Aragonese.
For beginners – and future real estate agents on the Costa Del Sol alike – it’s best to start with the official Spanish (Castilian), which is understood in all parts of Spain, but it may also be useful to learn some local phrases when making friends in the neighbourhood.
In the Andalucian dialect some features of the language make it more similar to South American Spanish. For example, Andalucian Spanish speakers tend to pronounce more ‘s’ sounds, rather than the ‘th’ sounds common to Castilian Spanish.
How to get started
While in the past the options for learning languages were more limited, with nowadays internet there are a range of choices to suit different learning styles.
For those, who are happy to put in some hours at home to help with understanding the basic principles, self-study may be the best place to start. There are various online resources available, some which are more structured and organized programmes such as Rosetta Stone, Lingoda or Babbel. These products come at a fee, but are usually well-regarded for the quality and user-friendly nature of their website’s tutorial software.
For learners who are more comfortable working with text books, there is a range of text books for learning Spanish through English (or other languages) available in bookshops or online.
However, many people are less inclined to sit down and study and prefer studying languages through conversation as a fun way of spending time with friends while learning something at the same time.
Many Spanish Universities offer intensive and ongoing courses for all levels of Spanish language abilities, from beginner to advanced. For expat residents living in Andalucia, the Spanish courses at Malaga University could offer a good way of starting or re-starting Spanish studies. Some universities also run courses in colloquial Spanish specific to particular regions.
As well as universities, there are also a number of Spanish language institutes, such as the Instituto Cervantes, which is a non-profit culture and language organization with centres all around the world. Cervantes is well-regarded as a Spanish school and centres can be found throughout Spain on their website.
For those who don’t want to spend too much money on Spanish classes, local governments now provide Spanish lessons for foreigners at a low cost, as well as a range of other courses and events. This is from a department of town halls in towns and villages known as ‘Casa de Cultura’.
A yet even cheaper way of learning Spanish and making friends at the same time could be to start a language exchange, a phenomena that has become more popular in recent years due to the ease of connecting with others via the internet.
Language exchanges can be made either by finding and connecting with a suitable partner on a website such as mylanguageexchange.com and teaching one another the respective language – while chatting about villas for sale on the Costa del Sol – or by attending a language exchange group event arranged by meetup.com (or a similar social event website), in which groups of people meet in a cafe or bar and exchange their language abilities.
Often these events become more social and less about studying, but useful connections can be made and they can be good fun, too!
Fortunately, one place where you can speak English with ease is at your real estate agency. Europrestige will show you a selection of Spanish properties in prime locations, and you won’t need to speak a word of Spanish when talking about villas for sale on the Costa del Sol.