Learn Spanish advice

Spanish learning vacations


what does this trip entail?

Timetable


Most trips include around four Spanish lessons a day, of 45 minutes to an hour each. These tend to be in the morning, followed by a nice, late Spanish lunch – and then there is plenty of time in the afternoon to take part in other activities, from guided mountain walks or yoga sessions, to flamenco and tango lessons or Andalucian tile painting. On walking trips, these tend to take place every day (though there’s no obligation to join all the walks) – while other activities may only take place a couple of times a week. This leaves you plenty of time for sightseeing, siesta-ing or simply strolling round the city or village and practising your new language skills in local cafes, bars and markets. Occasionally this is swapped around – with other activities in the morning, and Spanish lessons in the afternoon.

Lessons


Your trip may begin with a level test to check your ability, and assign you to the correct class, although some schools will send you a level test to complete in advance. There’s plenty of classroom based study and grammar – but, particularly in the smaller towns, you’ll also have the opportunity during class time to walk around and chat to local people, an essential piece of real world learning that stops the Spanish language from being an academic subject, and instead uses it to communicate – its true purpose. You’ll also remember words and phrases far better if you’ve used them in real life!

There are intensive options available for those who need to get up to speed fast; these can combine group classes with private lessons to help tailor your studies and give you plenty of chance to work on your one-to-one conversation skills.

Accommodation


Some smaller schools might have all students living under the same roof; other trips offer a choice of accommodation. Sometimes you can choose between local hotels or guesthouses to suit your budget, other courses may offer homestays with Spanish families (with breakfast and sometimes dinner cooked for you), flat shares with Spanish people (self catering), shared apartments with other students, or occasionally the chance to share your teacher’s home. These will all depend on the duration of your stay (a Spanish flat share generally requires a longer commitment), your Spanish level and how confident you are using it, and how quickly you want to learn; jumping in at the deep end will be scary, but you’ll pick up the language incredibly fast!

Full, half board, B&B and self catering options may be available – again, depending on budget, and also giving you the option to sample local food and practice your Spanish in the bars and restaurants.

Your vacation company will be able to advise on the most convenient airport (especially as many trips are away from main tourist destinations). Airport transfers are usually available on request.

Things to do in between lessons


Spanish learning vacation activities

Language learning is pretty intense, and the companies we work with are aware that this is often your annual vacation, and it needs to be enjoyable and relaxing at the same time as giving you new skills. So you won’t be sat in a classroom for eight hours a day, studying verb tables or swotting up late at night with superpowered Spanish coffee. Instead, you’ll be combining language lessons with other interests, with trips focusing on walking, dancing, wellness or cooking.

Walking


Our most popular Spanish learning vacations combine morning lessons with afternoon guided walks through stunning scenery. The Picos de Europa are a favourite choice for these types of trip – an epic, jagged mountain range just 20km from Spain’s northern coast, and a world away from the all day breakfasts and booze binges of the costas. The region also links up with the Camino de Santiago, segments of which you can walk during your vacation. Or try Granada – gateway to the Sierra Nevada and the Alpujarras, dotted with pretty Pueblos Blancos – or the Spanish Pyrenees, where after school walks take you to gorges and canyons where vultures fly overhead.

For a walking vacation with real wow factor, how about spending five days learning Spanish in Cuzco – followed by four days trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?

Learn to dance


Maybe speaking Spanish gives you a good sense of rhythm, or perhaps Latinos just have the confidence to ignore their two left feet – but these countries seem to have come up with an awful lot of popular dances. Head to Granada to learn Strictly staples salsa and tango so that next time someone asks you if you want to bailar, the answer will be a resounding ! Or for the full Latin dance experience, study tango in its birthplace – Buenos Aires – where nightly milongas are a wonderful place to put both steps and speech into practice, if not the sequins.

If tango’s not quite pouty enough for you, sign up for a Spanish and flamenco vacation in Granada, where you’ll be clip-clopping and clapping in the afternoons, as you learn the secrets of this powerful and passionate gypsy dance. Polka dots optional. Ole…

Learn Adalucian cooking


Granada is famed for its tapas; these mini dishes are served up each time you buy a beer, meaning you’ll have plenty of opportunities to sample plenty of them during your time in this city. But you can take your understanding of Andalucian cuisine to the next level by adding cooking lessons on to your Spanish course. Granada was the last Islamic stronghold in Spain, and Moorish influences are still seen in its food today – and you can learn about the spices, ingredients and cooking techniques used alongside a professional Spanish chef.

Yoga


Stretch your body as well as your mind with a Spanish and yoga vacation, in the ancient city of Granada or the fresh mountain air of the Picos de Europa. Choose between two or four yoga sessions in the afternoons following your Spanish class, and see how the meditative atmosphere of the class helps to focus your mind on your studies. There is plenty of time built in to relax after the classes too, with refreshments and glorious scenery to revive your mind.

Other activities


The Spanish courses take place in some of the prettiest parts of Spain – and many courses will include guided city tours, day trips to nearby towns and villages (a sneaky way to get you to consolidate your new vocab without even realising it!) and trips out to sample local food and drink. Other workshops you can book include traditional Andalucian tile painting, rock climbing, photography or horse riding – and for families with children over the age of 11, there are activity trips which include adventures such as canoeing, canyoning and caving each day after class.

Advice for Spanish learning vacations


ADVICE FROM OUR SPANISH-SPEAKING FRIENDS


Ana Rodríguez García, from our leading supplier of Spanish learning vacations, Peak Me Languages, shares her top tips for making the most of a Spanish course overseas:

Getting the most out of your trip


“Be prepared to engage in a challenging experience, as it will be genuinely rewarding. Our classes are designed to be enjoyable, with lots of audiovisual materials and games, you'll struggle not to have a bit of a laugh, while learning and getting to know about Spanish culture too. Learning and practising a language is the ultimate adventure – make sure you have a great time while you learn, it should always feel like a vacation, albeit one where you use your brain!”

Course levels


“Courses are suitable for all levels of ability and everyone can enjoy the course whether an absolute beginner or advanced student. In fact, most of our students have never studied Spanish before and haven't been in a classroom for a while – and go back home really happy! Learning a new language is an invigorating experience. Don't worry about brushing up on your Spanish before traveling.”

Tips on where to study


“I would recommend northern Spain as a great place to take a Spanish course, because you won't find places full of English speakers; because you'll get to practice a lot, as hardly any English is spoken by local people; and because you will discover a totally different side of Spain hidden to the “costas” traveler. Spring and autumn are great times to visit this region (June and September, the best months!). The weather is mild and the days long enough to enjoy your trip to the full, while avoiding any sort of touristy atmosphere even in the most popular spots.”

TIPS FOR LEARNING SPANISH FROM OUR TRAVELLERS


RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THOSE WHO HAVE STUDIED ABROAD

At Responsible Travel, we think the best people to advise our travelers are often... other travelers. They always return from our tours with packing tips, weather reports, ideas about what to do - and opinions about what not to.

We have selected some of the most useful Spanish learning vacations tips that our guests have provided over the years to help you make the very most of your vacation - and the space inside your suitcase.
“Come prepared for walking – and do walk when you get there. You'll be fit after two days, but make sure you bring walking poles… I am 70 and none of the walks was too difficult for me. The scenery was amazing and we walked a small part of the Northern coastal Camino walk. It has certainly whet my appetite to visit that area again.” – Gabriel Fuller

“This is not an area where you will encounter many non Spanish tourists... If you are traveling alone and, as yet, have no Spanish, your arrival may be a little daunting. This also applies to the locals when they meet you for the first time. Do not be put off! Your eagerness to learn a new language is appreciated and by the end of your vacation even if your communication level is still difficult, your enthusiasm for learning the language will have been given a real shot in the arm!” – Graham Care

“The walks can be adapted to your wishes and abilities, as can the Spanish of course. Take a travel kettle if you need cups of tea!” – Rebecca T

“One particularly unusual feature of the language teaching was that the conversation classes sometimes involved going out and talking to the locals – Panes is a very small town so the teacher knows everyone there. The local cider was also memorable.” – Andrew Robinson

“Being a vegetarian in Northern Spain is not easy!” – Eileen Boyle

“I was doing a beginner's course but you will have more fun and get more out of your stay if you learn a few of the basics before you go. It's not essential but it's nice to chat in the shops and cafes. I brought trekking poles for the first time on a walk and found them useful when we climbed one of the Picos. They were invaluable when we climbed La Ruta del Careas.” – Helen Kearney

“The most memorable part? Finding out I was not too old to learn new tricks – beginning to learn a new language at 61 was very encouraging to continue the course as soon as I have available time.” – Maureen Perkins
Photo credits: [Timetable: Iria Flavia Spanish Courses] [Accommodation: William Warby] [Activities intro: Erik Brockdorff] [Learn to dance: Pablo Dodda] [Yoga: Hanna Norlin] [Helpdesk: Pablo Dodda] [Getting the most out of your trip: MaximeF] [Tips on where to study: Gabriel González] [Tip1: Christian Van Der Henst S. ] [Tip2: Nick Kenrick]
Written by Vicki Brown
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