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Best Ways to Learn Spanish as an Adult in Barcelona

It's never too late to learn Spanish as an adult. In fact, you might be missing out on a ton of benefits if you don't. And when you can do it in a special Spanish school for adults in Barcelona, there's no excuse not to get started!

Audrey Smith
Audrey Smith
Best Ways to Learn Spanish as an Adult in Barcelona

For adults who are interested in learning Spanish in Spain, the thought of taking some time off from work, and leaving your home behind to study another language abroad might seem extreme. However, here at Expanish, we welcome many adult Spanish learners and have yet to meet one who has regretted their decision. In fact, this is partly what inspired us to open the first Spanish language school exclusively for adult students (30+) in Barcelona in 2022 (more on that later).

Is it possible to learn Spanish as an adult?

Absolutely! It is never too late to learn Spanish as an adult. While research suggests that children may have some advantages in adopting a second language as though they were native speakers, adults can still achieve high proficiency in a new language. In fact, as an adult you likely have a wider vocabulary in your native language, more real-life experience, and a greater understanding of your own interests and preferred learning methods. All of this can actually give adults who learn Spanish a head start.

Moreover, there are several reasons why you really should consider learning a new language like Spanish as an adult, no matter what your age is: 

  • Improve brain function & health: There are lots of studies indicating that being bilingual or multilingual enhances cognitive functions at all ages. From improved memory to stronger problem-solving skills and sharper concentration, language learning is shown to significantly boost your brain power. In addition, there is evidence suggesting that speaking another language may delay or slow the onset of cognitive decline associated with diseases like dementia.

  • Turbo-charge your career:  It’s no secret that having more than one language will likely boost your pedigree as a candidate for jobs in a wide number of sectors.  According to a report by the New American Economy Research Fund, demand for bilingual workers in the United States has more than doubled in recent years. And with Spanish now recognised as the second most spoken language in the world, gaining some proficiency will clearly be an asset in the job market.

  • Expand your cultural horizons: By learning Spanish you will obtain a deeper awareness and understanding of Spanish-speaking society and culture. This will contribute to your personal growth and enrich your experience when traveling or interacting with Spanish-speaking locals. Learning a second language can also improve our ability to empathize with others and better appreciate different perspectives. 

  • Make new friends: We all know that as we get older it can sometimes get a bit harder to meet new people outside of work and family etc. Learning a new language is a great way to change that! If you enroll in a Spanish group course you will have plenty of opportunities to interact with other adult students from different parts of the world. And of course, if you study Spanish in Spain, you’ll be able to meet locals and practice your Spanish on a daily basis.

So, there really is no excuse not to learn Spanish as an adult. The good news is that most Spanish language schools accept adults of all ages and have a range of Spanish courses to suit all different needs and goals. At Expanish, we’ve taken things a step further by opening a Barcelona 30+ school that offers Spanish classes exclusively for students aged 30 and over. This gives adults the opportunity to feel more comfortable learning Spanish alongside other people with similar life experiences and mindset.

Read more about why we think Barcelona is a great place to learn Spanish as an adult here.

Spanish school for adults in Barcelona
Common Area in Expanish Barcelona 30+ Spanish School

What is considered “fluent” in Spanish?

Fluency in a language is a subjective term - it can mean something different to different people depending on their own circumstances and goals. It’s also relative to your proficiency in the language: if you have zero understanding of Spanish, someone who can put a few sentences together may sound “fluent”, even if they’re not making much sense to a more advanced Spanish-speaker.

Broadly speaking, fluency in Spanish could be described as the ability to express yourself on a range of topics and communicate effectively with others. Ultimately, we believe that most adults who want to learn Spanish aim to be able to use the language effectively in real-life situations and feel comfortable in various linguistic contexts. Fluency is not an all-or-nothing achievement but rather a spectrum that allows for ongoing improvement of language skills.

For more objective benchmarks on Spanish proficiency, we can use the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of References (CEFR) for Languages. These group language learners into six levels of ability (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), with A1 the basic level for beginners and C2 implying “master of proficiency”. These levels are internationally recognised and officially accredited Spanish language schools like Expanish will use them to design effective teaching methods for students at all levels.

How long does it take for the average adult to learn Spanish?

The time it takes for an adult to learn Spanish can vary widely depending on several factors. These include the individual's language learning aptitude and level of motivation, the amount of hours allocated to learning Spanish, the method and process used, and the degree of immersion in the language. Of course, the more time you are able to dedicate to learning Spanish as an adult, the faster you are likely to make progress.

The chart below shows how a typical Spanish language student may advance through all the recognized levels of proficiency, from A1 to C2. The chart shows the suggested number of weeks that an average student will need to progress to each subsequent level. However, it is important to remember that everyone learns at a different pace and it is normal to experience plateaus and periods of slower progress on your language journey. The main thing is to persevere, be consistent and stay positive.

Spanish progress chart
Spanish progress chart

How to start to learn Spanish as an adult?

Everyone is different and will find their own methods for how to best learn Spanish as an adult. However, here are some tips for getting started:

  1. Set out your personal goals. Think about why you want learn Spanish and set yourself achievable goals. Whether you want to communicate while traveling, connect with Spanish-speaking friends, or enhance your career prospects, having clear goals will keep you focused and motivated.

  2. Find a Spanish course abroad: There are many online language apps and tools out there, but there really is no better or faster way to learn Spanish than by studying the language in a Spanish-speaking country. It makes sense: you can learn grammar and vocabulary anytime and anywhere, but you only get to practice using the language in different real-life situations if you're surrounded by Spanish speakers. Not only will you become proficient more quickly, but you'll do so while enjoying a new cultural and social experience abroad. Win-win! Here are some of the best places to learn Spanish!

  3. Fully immerse yourself: If you're taking some time off work to study Spanish abroad as an adult then take full advantage of the situation. Switch on the local radio, watch some local television, read newspapers and books, listen to the people around you talking Spanish. A fully immersive experience is the best way to absorb all of the Spanish that's around you. That's why we always recommend that our students stay with a local host family to maximize the exposure to Spanish and make positive local connections in your new language.

  4. Use your Spanish (even if you don't feel ready): Learning the building blocks of a language is crucial, but don't hide in your textbook. Fear of making mistakes is one of the biggest obstacles to language learning - some anxiety is natural, but the truth is that you don't need to speak with 100% accuracy to make yourself understood, and that's ultimately what you're aiming for in most casual conversations. Using your Spanish in practical and spontaneous ways - and yes, making mistakes - is the best way to improve.

  5. Keep a positive mindset: Learning a new language is challenging, especially when you're first starting out. But as we've discussed, the benefits are numerous so stick with it, be patient with yourself and remain confident that you will make progress over time. Don't forget to enjoy those satisfying moments when you achieve something in Spanish.

Adults in Spanish school
Learning Spanish as an adult is possible and rewarding

Which Spanish is hardest to learn?

There are more-than 20 Spanish-speaking countries, so you will naturally expect to find variations in pronunciation, vocabulary and even grammar. Even within each country you might find a range of accents and dialects that can sound quite different at first. Deciding which is the “hardest” Spanish to learn is subjective, as it will depend on your prior experience, linguistic background and personal preferences. 

Though there are some differences between “Castilian” Spanish spoken in Spain and the variants of Latin American Spanish, these are not so significant that one is inherently harder to learn than the other. Regardless of the specific variant of Spanish you choose to learn, the most important factors to improve your level are consistency, practice, and immersion.

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