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Immerse Yourself in Spanish Language and Culture

By Steve Dolan

Learn Spanish By Studying Abroad

Spanish is one of the most common languages throughout the world. The most efficient way to gain knowledge in Spanish is to stay for some time in one of the 21 countries around the world that uses Spanish as its native language. Even though conventional Spanish classes are adequate, to fully immerse oneself in the language and pronunciation of Spanish, a long vacation to Latin America or Spain is best. This is called the "complete immersion" technique of learning a language. Not only will you attend classes, but you will also be required to use Spanish on a daily basis.

Learning Spanish abroad is the easiest way to learn because the student is forced to use their knowledge on an everyday basis and constantly trying to improve their fluency to make their visit more pleasant. Instead of merely learning basic verbs and grammar, which can be quite dreary, you can see how the language is used in conversation, which will help you communicate with Spanish-speakers. Some people have trouble understanding native Spanish-speakers after they learn the language from a classroom because of the slang and speed at which native speakers talk with. The best part of immersing yourself in the language is that you will speak the same as a native from day one because that is the language you are constantly hearing. Learning Spanish abroad is, additionally, a way to become aware of more about the culture and the people of a country, especially if you travel to a number of places in the country.

Introduction to Immersion Schools

There are any number of people who hope to learn Spanish abroad by simply visiting Mexico with an English-Spanish dictionary and assuming that they will pick up the language, but this can be an awkward method of learning. Staying in the country and attending formal Spanish classes is perhaps the best way to learn, especially if you avoid the temptation to visit tourist areas where English is predominantly spoken.

There are many schools that arrange for people to travel to parts of Spain and Latin America in order to learn the language. There are Spanish immersion schools in nearly every Spanish-speaking country. These schools often organize accommodation as well as daily Spanish classes. Most schools offer the choice of staying with a local host family. This way you can learn Spanish abroad and have a vacation at the same time. If you have time to spare and wish to attend classes abroad to learn Spanish, then immersion could be the right choice for you.

Staying in Another Country

There are some preparations you must make for a long trip to another country. If you are going to visit a country for more than a few weeks to learn Spanish, you may be obligated to obtain a student visa. Student visas can be hard to get. Check with the country's consulate to see how long you can stay in the country without a visa, and to find how to go about applying for a student visa. There are different rules for citizens of each country. If you are required to get a student visa, the school you pick should be able to help you.

Spanish Around the World

Before deciding what Spanish-speaking country you want to travel to, think of what type of Spanish you want or need to learn and what type of place you would like to visit. There are different variations of Spanish slang and accents in different regions. Most notable is the difference between the Spanish spoken in Latin America and the Spanish spoken in Spain. While traveling, do you want a metropolitan experience, warm beaches, or mountain peaks? What part of the world would you like to visit? Learn Spanish in the country that suits your tastes.

Study Spanish in Spain

There are many different regions and cultures in Spain. One of the easiest places to go to learn Spanish is Andalusia, which is in the region Granada. The fascinating, ancient, and appealing city of Andalusia is tucked into the densely populated area in the southern-most nook of Spain. Since Roman times, people have enjoyed its climate and culture. Its alcazar, ancient quarter, mosque and other sites draw thousands of tourists every year. The city has been the subject of painting, opera, and literature. There are a lot of Spanish immersion schools, so you must pick a program tailored to your needs and schedule. Are you an advanced Spanish student looking for a long immersion experience? Are you more of a tourist who wants to learn about the language and culture of a place? Figure out how long you can spend in Granada and how many hours per day and days per week you want to study. If you need to learn Spanish very quickly, there are intensive programs, some of which hold classes for eight hours a day then send students to live in Spanish-speaking families. If your interest is more of a hobby or personal interest, you might enjoy something more leisurely that leaves time to explore Andalusia.

The greatest thing about learning Spanish in Granada, however, is that most schools offer field trips. Small group excursions go to sights around Andalusia and the rest of Spain. With a few students and a teacher going to a village bullfight, an olive farm or a winery, the experience is much better than anything a tour company could provide. These field trips are usually optional and cost extra. Be sure to ask when you are shopping for a school.

There are also "traveling" Spanish schools based in Granada and other parts of the country that combine an extended bus or train tour with Spanish lessons. These programs are usually geared more toward culture and sightseeing rather than the rigorous study of Spanish. Depending on what your requirements in learning Spanish are, a traveling school may or may not be what you need.

Study Spanish in Mexico

For people living in the United States, going to Mexico to learn Spanish is the most convenient and cheapest choice. Since Mexico is a completely Spanish-speaking region, you will be constantly exposed to the phonetics of the language. It is very simple to pick up a language when you hear it every day.

There are many places in Mexico to learn Spanish. If you are a student, your university may already have an exchange program with another school. Otherwise, the internet will be the most ideal place to find a school in Mexico to study Spanish. First, look at American university web pages and where they send students in their intensive Spanish programs. Some American universities send their students to certain language institutes, not necessarily a Mexican university. A partnership with an American university is a smart way to find a Mexican school.

You can, as well, do a simple internet search for Spanish schools in Mexico. You will get many hits, so narrow your search with words like "recommended" or "testimonials," to get schools that have endorsements. Be sure to actually check out the recommendations and send emails to former students listed as references. At a reputable school, all this information should be on the web site or accessible via email. Make a list of schools in the area of Mexico you would like to visit.

Study Spanish in South America

There are many countries in South America to study in. This article focuses on two: Argentina and Peru.

Learning Spanish in Argentina will prove to be exciting and cultural as well. Argentina is situated in South America with Buenos Aries as its capital, which has a cosmopolitan, European feel. However, though Spanish is the national language, due to the fact that Argentina has a huge number of visitors year round, almost every native speaks English, which is why learning Spanish in Argentina is easy and enjoyable.

Peru is a lovely country in South America with beaches and the high Andes mountain range. In a country like Peru, there are usually classes that teach the local language. The courses are more effective than they are in the United States because of the full experience. A student can learn Spanish in Peru in a classroom and out on the town by interacting with the local people. Every waking hour will be spent among people who speak Spanish. Everything that you want to accomplish will take knowledge of Spanish. A student who wants to study Spanish in Peru will master it very quickly.

Whichever country you pick to learn Spanish, or if you decide to spend time in more than one country, learning Spanish by using the complete immersion technique lets you live the language rather than just study it.

Steve Dolan is a European who has travelled extensively across Europe and understands the value of languages. Find out how to learn Spanish quickly and easily at Learn Spanish and for other languages try Foreign Languages.

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