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Is it Easy to Learn Spanish in Barcelona?

With its iconic architecture, vibrant arts and culture, world-class cuisine and Mediterranean lifestyle, Barcelona ticks all the boxes when it comes to an immersive Spanish experience.

Audrey Smith
Audrey Smith
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Is it Easy to Learn Spanish in Barcelona?

We think the best way to learn Spanish is through an immersive experience in a Spanish-speaking city. That’s because nothing beats having constant exposure to the language in everyday situations when it comes to picking up vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.

As one of the most dynamic and exciting cities in Europe, Barcelona is an ideal place for your Spanish immersion. In such a diverse and lively city you’ll never be short of things to do and opportunities to use – and improve – your Spanish.

Moreover, learning a language is not just about grammar and vocabulary, but also discovering a new culture and way of life. And Barcelona's rich cultural heritage, vibrant street life, and diverse population combine for a unique experience that will take your Spanish to the next level.

Is Barcelona a good place to learn Spanish?

Absolutely! Barcelona is a city that has everything, from historic old neighborhoods to beautiful beaches, modern art centers to world class restaurants and top universities. Whatever your interests, you’ll be able to have a rewarding and memorable experience while studying in Barcelona. Here are four quick reasons that make Barcelona a good place to learn Spanish.

  • Rich in history and culture: With its array of architectural gems – especially the iconic works of Antoni Gaudí – charming Medieval neighborhoods and world-famous gastronomy, Barcelona provides the perfect backdrop for an immersive experience. You can learn Spanish while discovering all about this fascinating city. 

  • Good quality of life: As in most part of Spain, people in Barcelona know how to live well. With its unbeatable Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches, lively bars and restaurants and world-class arts scene, you’re bound to have an enjoyable time learning Spanish in Barcelona.

  • A multicultural community: Barcelona attracts people from all over the world, creating a diverse and interesting environment for. This multiculturalism provides ample opportunities for language exchange and to practice Spanish with speakers of different dialects and accents.

  • Top academic offering: Barcelona is home to some of the best universities in Spain as well as a wide range of other quality educational institutions. There are also many accredited Spanish language schools to choose from in the city. Here at Expanish we have two schools, including one exclusively for those who want to learn Spanish as an adult (aged 30 and over).

Students in front of the famous Sagrada Familia
Students in front of the famous Sagrada Familia

How much does it cost to learn Spanish in Barcelona?

Despite being a leading tourist destination, Barcelona remains relatively affordable compared to other major European cities like London or Paris. According to Mercer’s Cost of Living Ranking 2023, Barcelona is the 75th most expensive big city in the world for expats to live in, making it cheaper than Rome, Dublin and even the likes of Berlin and Prague.

While rental costs have risen in recent years, other basic living costs remain quite accessible. For example, Barcelona has an efficient public transportation system, including buses, metro, and trains, which makes getting around the city relatively affordable. Students can also benefit from discounts like the T-jove travel card for under 30s or a free library card (which gives further discounts for some educational and cultural activities in the city). The wide variety of bars and eateries in the city mean you'll always be able to find something suitable for your budget.

Read more about how to get set up when you arrive as a student in Barcelona.

Can I learn Spanish in 3 months in Spain?

Learning a new language isn’t an exact science, and every student will advance at their own pace. Generally speaking, the more time you are able to dedicate to studying with an intensive Spanish course, the faster you are likely to make progress. You will also improve more quickly if you immerse yourself in the language outside of school, conversing with locals wherever possible. This is why we usually encourage students to stay with a local host family while taking a Spanish course – it gives you the opportunity to practice your Spanish and take part in local customs, traditions, and habits. (Find out more about our homestay options in Barcelona here).  

As a general guide, the chart below shows how a typical student might advance through all the officially recognized levels of proficiency, from A1 to C2. It includes the suggested number of weeks that an average student will need to progress to each subsequent level. However, remember that everyone is different, and you will likely experience plateaus on your language journey. The main thing is to keep going, be consistent and stay positive.

Estimated timeframes for achieving higher Spanish proficiency
Estimated timeframes for achieving higher Spanish proficiency

Is it better to learn Spanish or Catalan in Barcelona?

Both Catalan and Spanish are official languages in Barcelona. While Catalan is the primary language of the region and holds significant cultural and historical importance, nearly all locals in Barcelona also speak and understand Spanish (which is also an official language). Moreover, Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city with a diverse population, including many people that consider Spanish to be their main language. As a result, Spanish is the common language that many people in the city use to communicate in.

Ultimately, you don’t need to learn Catalan to have a memorable study abroad experience in Barcelona. That said, if you plan to live and work long term in Barcelona or somewhere else in Catalonia then you might find it worthwhile having at least some understanding of Catalan. It can be beneficial in terms of professional opportunities, integrating with the local community and learning more about Catalan traditions and culture.

At Expanish Barcelona we organize regular Catalan workshops as part of our free social activities for students, helping you with the basic vocabulary and expressions that you are likely to come across in the city.

Do Catalan speakers understand Spanish?

Yes! The vast majority of locals in Barcelona are bilingual, having grown up using both Catalan and Spanish. It's common for Catalans to use Spanish in daily interactions, especially in major urban areas like Barcelona where there's always a significant number of tourists and non-Catalan speakers. So if you take a Spanish course in Barcelona you will be able to communicate with locals from day one.

Is Barcelona friendly to English speakers?

Barcelona is known for its diversity and multiculturism. It is home to a vibrant international community, including many people that consider English their primary language. A growing number of locals also speak and understand English, especially if they work in international business or tourist-facing sectors. As such it is a friendly city for English speakers. However, if you are staying in Barcelona for more than just a short tourist visit then we recommend learning Spanish (and if you want, some basic Catalan) as this will allow for a much more integrated and rewarding experience.

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