Help me learn Spanish in Barcelona!
January 12, 2015 4:48 PM   Subscribe

I do not speak Spanish. I have the opportunity to go with my family to Barcelona for about 8 weeks, and plan to learn as much Spanish as possible. How?

I know Barcelona might not be the best place to learn Spanish (Catalan, maybe) but it's all I've got. It would be crazy helpful for me to work on Spanish for my job, but I have none at all now.

I will not be working on anything else other than learning Spanish, but I will have childcare duties. Still, I think I could probably do a LOT of lessons. Any schools you recommend? Language exchanges?

Also, any recommendations for practicing Spanish in the city? Bonus points if you can also tell me kid-friendly places to go/things to do there, and where I might find an occasional sitter.
posted by caoimhe to Travel & Transportation around Barcelona, Spain (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I did something similar, but only for one week. I wanted to get a foundation in Italian while I was in Venice, which is a city not exactly known for its textbook dialect or pure accent, but for a beginner doing a beginner course it was absolutely fine. I went with Apple Languages. They do an awful lot of language courses throughout the world, and should offer straight-up Spanish in Barcelona. My course was a while ago (2006), so I can't speak to the company nowadays, but I found them and their Venetian school to be excellent - good teachers, great fellow students, full immersion (obviously this is more effective if you do more than just 2 or 4 hours in class per day, but more hours = more money), and a great location right in the heart of the city. They also have a lot of cost options, so you can likely find something that would fit your budget.

Sounds like a great idea and a great time. Have fun!
posted by AthenaPolias at 7:25 PM on January 12, 2015

It's been a long time since I visited Barcelona but there was a nice, older amusement park on top of the hill above the harbor. Hard to miss as you can see it from just about anywhere. If the season is right, that'd be a good place to take youngsters.
posted by CincyBlues at 10:38 PM on January 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

The amusement park is called PortAventura. I've not been, but check the website for opening times, prices etc. From what I understand it's aging slightly.
Depending on the age of the kid/s, there are a ton of little parks spread throughout the city with slides, swings, etc. There's one in Parque Ciutadella where they bring out all kinds of activities for kids at 6pm everyday, drums and water and blocks and lots of things to play with.
I can't recommend any schools, sorry. I took a couple of classes years ago at International House, they had cheap classes taught by people who were studying to be spanish teachers. Might be worth checking out to see if they still do it. I also did a couple of intercambios, or language exchanges, but they don't seem to me to be a great way to learn the language. Seems to be used more as a pick-up kind of thing.
Private message me when you are coming, I might be able to suggest a sitter or two, depending on when it is. I've got a waitress who does that too, she's great.
Stop by my bars, Rubi and The Lime House, when I'm working and I'll buy a fellow mefite a drink.
posted by conifer at 2:30 AM on January 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

It's been a long time since I visited Barcelona but there was a nice, older amusement park on top of the hill above the harbor.

It's the Tibidabo and... yeah, it's a bit vintage. Port Aventura is a way bigger amusement park south from Tarragona (although it's a fun day trip if you like rollercoasters).
posted by sukeban at 2:45 AM on January 13, 2015

Definitely enroll yourself in classes, but no matter how many classes you take, nothing will help your Spanish like daily interaction with Spanish-speakers, ideally ones who don't know any English. Lucky for you, having kids is a great way to meet people! Find a playground close to where you are staying (or go to the one conifer mentioned) and chat people up while your kids play. When I lived in the center of Madrid the playgrounds near my house were full of grandparents around mid-morning, and they were always friendly and happy to talk to someone about their precious nietos. Embarrass yourself! Find someone friendly-looking and ask straight-up if you can practice your spanish. This is how I learned myself, when I first moved here. I found that if I had a notebook to note new words and phrases and generally was as earnest and friendly as could be, everyone from the butcher to the porter in my building was delighted to help me practice.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 3:56 AM on January 13, 2015

Oh, and assuming you have the money to pay for it, I would actually look into taking classes at an academy AND hiring a private tutor to come to your house/hotel. You would be able to better fill your day (since tutors are much more flexible than academies), you would have one-on-one time to go over anything you don't understand from the academy classes, the tutor could also tailor their classes to your job (if you work in a hospital, for example, you won't be getting medical vocabulary in an academy), and childcare would be less of an issue. Whatever academy you enroll in could help you find a private tutor, or check

Source: I'm a private English tutor in Madrid.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 4:05 AM on January 13, 2015

Catalans aren't very fond of speaking Spanish, and I believe nationalism is more exacerbated now than when I lived there.

I would suggest you spend the most time you can in Badalona or L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, where there's more people who immigrated from other (Spanish speaking) regions of Spain. They are so close to Barcelona that you can consider them neighborhoods, but administratively they are different cities. A bus, subway or train will take you there paying just the regular ticket.

The downside to L'Hospitalet is that it has a lot of recent latinamerican immigration, and the variety of accents may be too much for you.

Sorry I can't tell you about schools, Spanish is my mother tongue.

Parc Guell is another kid friendly place worthy of visiting and spending more than an afternoon.

As for a sitter, the local equivalent to craiglist (but safer/cleaner) is . If you MEmail me the dates you'll go I'll ask my cousin if she knows somebody for you.
posted by Promethea at 5:06 AM on January 13, 2015

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