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Old May 01, 2011, 12:01 PM
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Where to learn Spanish in Spain?

Hi everyone,

I'm planning to spend a couple of weeks learning Spanish in Spain, but wondered where would be the best place to do this? I'm at a basic/intermediate level and would like to study in a city that would give me the best exposure to Castilian Spanish rather than one with a distinct, regional accent. I am planning an intensive study course of a minimum 8 hours per day...

Also, when would be the best time for me to go? I was thinking towards the end of October...

Thanks,

Matt
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  #2  
Old May 01, 2011, 01:41 PM
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Honestly, If you're only going to be there for a few weeks, it's probably not going to matter which variety you're exposed to. You'll still have your foreign accent which will frankly mask any regional accent you may pick up. What's more important is just to practice speaking and listening. Actually, although it is a marked accent, Andalusian Spanish is probably the most neutral accent to learn, as it is in between more northerly dialects and Latin American Spanish dialects, as they are all based mostly on early Andalucian Spanish.
A better criterion for picking a city to go to, is not whether they have a regional accent, but rather whether they are likely to switch to English when speaking to a foreigner, as some people have had the experience of going to a foreign country, only to find very few people with which to practice the language. And remember, there is no neutral variety of Spanish, the dialect spoken in north and central Spain really is just as marked as other varieties--more so in some cases. And remember, you can always recalibrate your accent if you spend a few hours when you get back home, to whichever accent you like best. What's most important is just speaking to native speakers as much as possible, whichever accent they may have. It won't corrupt you, don't worry. The most salient differences are the seseo/distinción/ceceo (pronouncing c, z, and s as "s"; pronouncing c and z as th; or pronouncing c, z, and s as th). You can use the spelling to help you out figure that out. Since you'll be there for such a short time, you won't really pick up on the intonation, so you should practice this on your own.
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Last edited by Caballero; May 01, 2011 at 01:50 PM.
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Old May 02, 2011, 08:46 AM
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Thanks Caballero, it's not so much my accent that I'm worried about, it's picking up the most correct way to speak the language through listening to it being spoken properly. With this in mind and your mentioning Andalusia, I was thinking of Granada (although I understand this to be quite a tricky accent) or Valencia, where although a variant of Catalan is spoken, Castillian Spanish is widely used and the accent is quite easy to understand - I've been told that both cities offer great language schools but also a great cultural experience... I have also been told that Madrid is a good place to learn...
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Old May 02, 2011, 10:03 AM
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Go for it!

Before you go, you should practice speaking to as many Spanish speakers in Spanish as you can in your own country. This will help improve your Spanish, and also help build confidence in being able to speak to someone in a different language. Reading things in Spanish will also help quite a bit.

Quote:
it's not so much my accent that I'm worried about, it's picking up the most correct way to speak the language through listening to it being spoken properly
Native speakers of a language, by definition, speak it correctly. Perhaps you mean speaking it in the most prestigious way? Listen to recordings of the King of Spain, and try to imitate that. Or the most formal, prescribed grammatically correct way? If so, you should spend a lot of time learning via reading historical literature for that.
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Old May 02, 2011, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caballero View Post

Native speakers of a language, by definition, speak it correctly. Perhaps you mean speaking it in the most prestigious way? Listen to recordings of the King of Spain, and try to imitate that. Or the most formal, prescribed grammatically correct way? If so, you should spend a lot of time learning via reading historical literature for that.
That's not quite what I meant - by wanting to hear it spoken properly, I meant the closest to Castillian Spanish without regional variations such as the dropping of words and letters that may make it slightly more confusing for me to understand, and therefore harder for me to pick up and use if it is contradicted by Spanish learning literature that I will revert to when back home. For example, listening to people from the Home Counties in the UK is a pretty good way of picking up 'standard' English, whereas if you were to try and learn English from Newcastle or Liverpool, whilst it is obviously English, the accents and the regional dialects could make it a harder learning experience.
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Old May 02, 2011, 11:07 AM
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You should listen to internet recordings from several regions, and decide which accents are the easiest for you to understand. One of the most important differences that make it hard to understand at first is the s-aspirating regions. At first when I listened to someone that changed most of their s's into aspiration, I was confused, but after 5 minutes time I got used to it, and simply automatically added an s when I heard breathy voice. (e.g. vocalihhhta-> vocalista). It's really not as hard as you might expect. But honestly, based on my experiences traveling, what is more important than which (slightly different) accent the locals have, is how willing the locals are to speak Spanish to you, and not just switch to English, when they detect that you have a foreign accent. Otherwise, you will find that you don't get quite as much practice as you would have hoped. Although, if this happens to you, you should at least try to speak Spanish back to them, even if they answer in English, and try to convince them not to speak English to you.
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Last edited by Caballero; May 02, 2011 at 11:11 AM.
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Old May 02, 2011, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caballero View Post
But honestly, based on my experiences traveling, what is more important than which (slightly different) accent the locals have, is how willing the locals are to speak Spanish to you, and not just switch to English, when they detect that you have a foreign accent.
Very true. In my experience, Valencia is quite good from this point of view (and Galicia is quite bad).
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Old May 02, 2011, 12:26 PM
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This subject has come up before at Tomísimo. Spaniards in the forum at the time stated Valladolid and Salamanca are famous for good clear speakers of Castillian. Salamanca is famous for its university.
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Old May 02, 2011, 03:45 PM
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You need more than a few weeks in the country for can assimilate the foreign the language although you practice all the days, I think you need to control yourself in your learning, I mean if you have enough time for study more in internet or forums inclusive with your Spanish books, I consider that could to help you.

Now if you have the possibility to keep more time in Spain, you have to develop all the short time you have.

Regards.
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Old May 02, 2011, 10:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattmc1 View Post
Hi everyone,

I'm planning to spend a couple of weeks learning Spanish in Spain, but wondered where would be the best place to do this? I'm at a basic/intermediate level and would like to study in a city that would give me the best exposure to Castilian Spanish rather than one with a distinct, regional accent. I am planning an intensive study course of a minimum 8 hours per day...

Also, when would be the best time for me to go? I was thinking towards the end of October...

Thanks,

Matt
Matt:

Where are you from?
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