Learning Spanish

Language - do I need to learn Spanish?

If you are moving to Spain to live, you will find life far more enjoyable if you learn to speak even a little of the Spanish language.

Learning a new language is not always easy but if you are looking for a job in Spain, even in a bar, it is most helpful to have a basic knowledge. For employment in any serious position, a good understanding of Spanish is nigh on essential.

If on the other hand you are like me, retired, not wanting a job but wishing to integrate within your local Spanish community, then it is most rewarding to learn enough Spanish to be polite and pass the time of day. Your local Spanish neighbours will admire you for trying, despite all the gaffs you’ll make. The Spanish are extremely friendly and you will miss so much of their way of life if you can’t exchange a friendly remark with the check-out girl, ask for an item in the builders’ merchant, ask advice on wine at the bodega, order a meal in a restaurant or just comment on the weather with your new neighbours. Or, more importantly, tell a doctor your symptoms if you have a problem.

The Cost of living: this can be greatly reduced when shopping in the supermarket if you are able to read the Spanish equivalent of say, Corn Flour, Fabric Stain-Remover or Corn Flakes. Buying Spanish products will often save you as much as half the price of imported goods with no reduction of quality.
Example: Kellogg’s Corn Flakes €2.2, Spanish Copas de Maize €0.99 and they are every bit as good as the imported product.

Many long standing émigrés will tell you that Spanish is not needed. In the broad sense this is true, but that comment is usually made by those who prefer to live in an English enclave with little real contact or understanding of their Spanish neighbours or their culture, or they have been too disinterested to try.

Going back to school is a bit daunting but those who don’t try miss so much of this wonderful culture from lack of integration and communication with the Spanish people.

My advice is that all the family should start learning Spanish before they come to Spain. The younger they are, the easier. I’m 80 and my language learning curve is very poor and I excuse it by giving reasons such as age, time spent in answering the many emails I receive and the hours spent on research for expanding this website. The truth is that my wife has learnt well, she also reads and writes it and that makes me lazy. A bit stupid on my part because if she is not around I am left somewhat in limbo. Do have a try; I am going to start school this year. Your effort will pay dividends and the benefits are tremendous.

Language Schools (local councils)

Once you are in Spain there are many courses available, run by either the Local Authority or private organisations, although I have not been impressed by the Council programme in Gandia because classes start very large but decrease rapidly (due I think to the poor teaching method), the teachers do not speak or conduct the classes in English so it is almost imposible for a true beginner to ask questions or query a point.

Private Spanish Tuition

There are many private courses, some run by individuals (qualified and unqualified) but others run by well organised and professional companies. Some of the English clubs run courses. See your local newspaper or ask at the Information Office in your particular town.

My advice is to opt at first for a short trial period to ensure you have enrolled in a course of the right level and have empathy with the teacher and his/her methods of teaching.

If you are a pure beginner, you do need to have a teacher who understands English well enough to be able to answer your queries. Do also ask to join a class together with other real beginners. It is most disheartening to be in a class with a clever socks who has studied before and just wants to impress other pupils with his or her knowledge.

Gandia Private Tuition

I have no hesitation in recommending the APP Language School in Gandia for Practical Spanish Language courses.

My wife says that whilst this school of highly qualified teachers offers professional courses they have designed the learning process so that it is fun, taking the stress out of learning. The emphasis is on creating a relaxed, friendly, yet industrious atmosphere in which students immediately take part. Lessons are highly practical and communicative, giving students the confidence to get around the shops, market etc and start speaking (in the Spanish of today) from day one.

Class numbers are limited and great attention is paid to selecting at which level a student should start. Individual tuition is also available as are specially structured lessons and intensive courses for a company’s staff requirements. The school also provides translation services.

For more information about classes and the school give Lucy or Charlotte Giller a call on (00 34) 96 28 67 281, email appspain@yahoo.es or click here to contact practicalspain.com and request further information.

Other Valencia region schools and/or translation services

Robert Bedloe of Denia
Robert lives in Denia and offers one to one conversational Spanish lessons; he also is well qualified for legal interpretation of documents etc and is willing to travel within the Alicante/Valencian area for court appearances relating to commercial or other needs.
Tel: (00 34) 96 642 0866
Jill Pertegas Services of Marxuquera, Gandia
Holds a Masters Degree in Spanish. Jill is a registered professional Spanish teacher of many years experience. She offers both one to one and group lessons for beginners or advanced students at her home in Marxuquera or will come to you.
Jill also offers professional translation services.
Tel: (00 34) 678 235 026

Teach Yourself and Self Study Courses

There are many self study guides and courses, suited to different styles of learning. While the ideal is to use these in conjunction with conversational practice with native spanish speakers, used on their own they can still provide a valuable foundation upon which to build your skills later. I have heard good reports of the following:

Spanish with Michel ThomasSpanish with Michel Thomas
Complete Course 8 CD Set

An 8 hour audio course which gives a good basic understanding of the spoken language using a classroom theme.
Spanish Language BuilderMichael Thomas
Spanish Language Builder

Supplements the 8 hour course with 2 hours of additional material and a booklet. Faster paced than the original, this is a phrase list rather than a second course
Learn Spanish with Linguaphone allTalk audio course Linguaphone Spanish allTalk
Course on 16 CDs

or 16 cassettes
16 hour audio course from beginner to proficient. Good for the car etc, uses a soap-style story line
Learn Spanish with Linguaphone Spanish ProLinguaphone Spanish Pro
Course books, CDs & online

Complete multimedia course from beginner to degree level. Includes subscription to topical online course material

Instant Recall Spanish VocabularyInstant Recall Spanish Vocabulary:
Learn and Remember Spanish

Two 75 minute CDs which teach over 200 words by association - unusual but effective method of acquiring a basic vocabulary
Spanish by Association (Link Word)Spanish by Association (Link Word)
Michael M. Gruneberg

The companion text to the Instant Recall audiobook, includes an introduction to Spanish grammar

Reference Materials

Collins Spanish Dictionary plus GrammarCollins Spanish Dictionary
plus Grammar

80,000 references and 115,000 translations as well as a grammar section
Collins Spanish DictionaryCollins
Spanish Dictionary

Collins full size reference. If you intend to study Spanish to a higher standard, this is an essential addition to your bookshelf
501 Spanish Verbs501 Spanish Verbs
An essential reference
Spanish Verb TensesPractice Makes Perfect: Spanish Verb Tenses
Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions Complete Spanish GrammarPractice Makes Perfect: Complete Spanish Grammar
101 Spanish Proverbs 101 Spanish Proverbs
101 Spanish Idioms 101 Spanish Idioms
Street Spanish 1: The Best of Spanish Slang Street Spanish 1: The Best of Spanish Slang Street Spanish 2: The Best of Spanish Idioms Street Spanish 2: The Best of Spanish Idioms

Residential Courses

For those wishing to master the language quickly, try a Don Quijote residential course. While not cheap, you are totally immersed in the language and culture, and so the experience can be very rewarding. They offer a full daily curriculum to suite your needs of 4 or 6 hours per day over the number of weeks you choose. Accommodation in a Spanish home with B&B or half or full board can be arranged in seven major Spanish cities. For information, please follow the link to your city of interest:

As well as pure Spanish courses, they also offer special interest courses, which combine intensive Spanish with other activities, such as:

Over 50 course in Tenerife
You want to study spanish in a group of your age and get to know and enjoy the Spanish way of life? This is ideal, with Salsa and Merengue lessons, an insight into Canary and Spanish folklore, culture, art, fiestas, flora and fauna and excursions to support the seminars.
More Information...
Wine Tasting course in Salamanca
Perhaps one for the bon-viveur, learn Spanish while discovering the art of Spanish wine, its history, production, economic and social importance and, naturally, how to appreciate its finer points.
More Information
Scuba diving in Tenerife
Spanish special programme including an intensive language course and a scuba diving course. Two versions are offered to cater for beginners and those with a P.A.D.I. Certificate of Open Water Diving
More Information
Flamenco course in Sevilla
The chance to experience and learn both the practical skills of the Flamenco art and Spanish language
More Information
Golf course in Valencia
The golf course is situated in the Albufera Nature Park on the shores of the Mediterranean, just south of the city of Valencia. It has been classified among the top-ranking European courses, and it is listed as number 29 on the world level, apart from hosting a number of Spanish Opens.
More Information

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Introduction to Spanish taxes and where to get help
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