Moving to Spain presents numerous challenges and learning Spanish (and/or Catalan) tops that list. Meeting and connecting with others, not to mention taking care of daily tasks and working, all become exponentially difficult as your ears struggle to capture every word and your brain desperately tries to translate as fast as it can. Google Translate only gets you so far; besides, who wants to spend every conversation looking at their phone and furiously typing to translate. Giving up in frustration comes easily, if only because there are enough locals who speak enough English to get through the day. But persevering in learning Spanish/Catalan (with help) results in the rich reward of having that relaxed conversation with the elderly (or attractive, or both!) neighbor who seems nice enough, but you could only smile at before.
Finding a language school that fits your learning style and goals is key to making the most out of your time and tuition money. Fortunately, Barcelona has many language schools for learning Spanish/Catalan and one is sure to fit the bill regardless of your level of proficiency.
Located on Carrer del Mallorca, Ole Languages, offers many courses, depending on your proficiency and need. Courses range from intensive to semi-intensive, to conversation and evening courses. Class sizes cap out at nine students, and private lessons and DELE exam courses are available. Ole Languages uses the immersive method of teaching, focusing on small groups in order to hone your skills in writing, listening, vocabulary and conversation. The school also plans many extracurricular activities for their students to practice their skills in real world scenarios.
Intensive courses run twice a day for four hours Monday-Friday for all levels for €145 for the first week. Semi-intensive courses for all levels also run twice a day Monday-Friday, but only meet for two hours a day. These courses start at €79 for the first week. If these time commitments don’t fit your busy schedule, Ole Languages also offers an evening course. Spanish learners who choose this course meet twice a week on Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday for two hours each night. This course runs on a four week interval and tuition starts at €126. All courses, however, offer discounts if you enroll for multiple weeks. Ole Languages does have an enrollment fee of €55, which includes the first textbook. Additional textbooks cost €18. Enrollment forms are available online or walk into their school to enroll in person.
Located in El Born, Dinamo Academy is a smaller school with a lot of charm and some of the most affordable rates in town. Dinamo offers both part-time and intensive courses. Part-time classes meet twice a week and cost €90 a month, while intensive classes meet for two hours Monday-Thursday and cost €200 a month. Dinamo does not charge an enrollment fee and there are no costs for books or materials. In order to enroll, make an appointment via email or phone to meet at the school and take a short verbal test to gauge the right placement for your level of proficiency.
Right in the heart of the city is LinguaSchools Barcelona on Pasaje Permanyer. LinguaSchools offers a variety of intensive and extensive courses, including a combination of intensive and private lessons where you meet one-on-one with an instructor before or after your group lessons. Because they offer many combinations of intensive courses, prices vary and start at €135 for the intensive ten class course, which is their shortest, and increase if you want more lessons per week. Discounts are offered when you sign up for multiple weeks. Classes are capped at ten students. LinguaSchools does not charge an enrollment fee or for course materials.
As one of the most popular Spanish schools (maybe because it sounds more like a bar than a school for learning Spanish), Speakeasy offers many different courses to fit the needs of their students. Located on Ronda de la Universitat, Speakeasy offers standard courses and long-term courses with most class sizes ranging from 3-12 students. The school’s intensive courses are meant to advance you an entire level in just two weeks, with classes meeting for four hours Monday-Friday and begin at €129 per week. Semi-intensive classes meet for two hours Monday-Friday and start at €68 a week. Students who are looking to really jump into their studies can enroll in Speakeasy’s super intensive course. This course meets for six hours per day, with two hours dedicated to conversation practice and starts at €189 a week. For all standard courses, there is a 5% discount if you sign up for four weeks, 10% discount for eight weeks and 15% discount for 12 weeks or more. Standard courses have a €40 enrollment fee and the first set of books cost €40. Beginner classes start every two weeks, while semi-intensive classes start every four weeks. But students who speak some Spanish are able to join classes on any Monday.
The Art of Language
Unlike other Spanish schools, the Art of Language focuses on a well-rounded process for learning Spanish. Courses run seasonally and include classes, art activities and Spanglish cafes where students reflect on the art activities with native speakers. Sophie Beraznik enrolled in the Art of Language because she wanted to improve her Spanish language skills and have a chance to explore and enjoy art in Barcelona. The American mother of two young daughters ended up experiencing so much more.
“We spent as much time in the class as in one on ones with native Spanish speakers looking to improve their Spanish. While these conversations with people you don’t know can sometimes be awkward, they weren’t [awkward] in this context because we were enjoying something together in the art world — museums, film, music and more.”
To enroll, visit The Art of Language website to take a Spanish level test.
Regardless of the school you choose, know that many beginner classes, especially during the summer months, have younger, college-age students on study abroad programs. Classes tend to be social, conversational, and even loosely structured at times. If you prefer a more organized approach to learning Spanish/Catalan, consider taking a course that prepares students for the DELE Spanish certification exam, even if certification is not your ultimate goal. DELE prep classes cover written, verbal, listening, and reading comprehension skills and the exam tests all four areas. The DELE is organized by the Instituto Cervantes, which offers the test multiple times during the year and at all proficiency levels, from A1 to C2. Be aware that slots for the level A2 certification exam fill up quickly because it’s required for Spanish citizenship. The actual certification is granted by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport.