How to learn Spanish in Malaga - How and where to learn Spanish outside classes?
When it comes to learning Spanish abroad, Malaga is probably one of the best places in the world. Why? Because the people in this sunny Mediterranean city are welcoming, open and love to chat – so you will quickly benefit from “outside the classroom” exposure to Spanish language. Here are some ideas and tips for practicing your Spanish language skills in Malaga city.
On the street
Spanish people are expressive, and the malagueños are even more so! You’ll soon pick up lots of vocabulary by simply keeping your ears open. You will hear people holler greetings at each other on the street; drivers stopping their cars or mopeds to have a chat with a friend in the traffic lights – and conversations held in cafés and restaurants are almost always lively and loud. In fact, you will continuously hear many typical Spanish words and phrases shouted out in Malaga’s hustle and bustle. Calling out to your friends with a ¡Venga! or a ¿Qué pasa? will soon become second nature for you too.
Twitter is great for learning Spanish, because you can read the language in small doses. Try subscribing to Twitter feeds from local Malaga attractions and organisations that you like. For example, Malaga’s official tourism site is on @turismodemalaga, and @vivecostadelsol will give you up to date news on things happening on the wider Southern Spanish coast. Or how about subscribing to the Picasso Museum feed @mPICASSOm to find out about latest exhibitions? And find out about the latest plays, ballets and concerts at Malaga’s Cervantes Theatre @TeatroCervantes. (For more of these, visit any of the website links in the Attractions section.)
Talking about food – in particular when eating out – is a great route to learning new Spanish quickly. And since you’ll need to eat every day, you’ll get lots of repetition practice. Whether you get your breakfast at a café or a supermarket, reading menus and food labels is a great way to start familiarizing yourself with Spanish food vocabulary. Ordering food in a restaurant or buying it at the market is an excellent way to practice forming sentences and adding new vocabulary every day. Furthermore, buying food will get you to grips with counting money and saying numbers out loud, which is an important skill.
On public transport
Public transport gets you thinking about directions and times, as well as asking questions. Malaga is easy to navigate on buses, trains and city bikes, but you’ll need to interact with drivers and ticket sales machines, work out which way you need to be going and counting your ticket fare before you reach your destination. You might also get a chatty local next to you on the bus! In Malaga it’s not uncommon for total strangers to talk to you and if this happens, take the opportunity and get into conversation – even if you don’t understand everything that’s being said.
At the market
Malaga centre has a great market. It is worth a visit in its own right, but more importantly, it provides an “interactive shopping experience”, during which you have to talk with the vendors and listen carefully to what is being said. For instance, when buying fruit at the market, you’ll have to tell the vendor what you want and how many items you need. If you do not know the right words, you can point and describe things by their colour or shape. You also have to listen to understand how much the goods cost. This kind of shopping will teach you more Spanish than selecting your own fruit in a supermarket.
Many locals in Malaga want to learn foreign languages. This puts you in an ideal situation for language exchange. A language exchange partner is someone who sits with you for about an hour and each of you gets an opportunity to practice conversation in the other person’s language. Ask your teachers if there is a current language exchange program with local students that you can take part in. If not, you can put up a notice or look for an exchange partner online – just Google “Spanish language exchange Malaga” and join one of the many language exchange sites available. Obviously, be sensible! If meeting a stranger for the first time, tell a friend where you’re going and whom you are meeting. It’s good to be cautious and arrange a meeting in a public place, like a busy café, or with a friend present.
Watching Spanish films is one of the most fun and relaxing ways to learn Spanish. Malaga has a few cinemas (see the Attractions section for more information) and you’ll find daily listings of films in newspapers like the Diario Sur. You need to be aware that in Spain all foreign language films are dubbed over into Spanish. Some big cinemas may have one or two of the most popular foreign films on in version original (original language version), but otherwise you can expect Spanish dubbing only. This is beneficial in the sense that you’ll definitely have to immerse yourself in Spanish when you go to the cinema. However, you’ll be wisest to choose films that are originally in Spanish, and not the dubbed over American ones. Why? Because in original Spanish films the actors’ lip movements coincide with what is being said, which in turn will help you to listen and learn the language.
Always have a good pocket dictionary or a phrase book with you, or download a good Spanish language app onto your phone. This will help you in situations where your vocabulary doesn’t stretch far enough. It’s natural that you will not know everything and the local accent and speed at which the natives speak can seem overwhelming at first. Having a dictionary or a phrase app will encourage you to look up new words, rather than resorting to another language like English… or bottling out with shyness.
Make it interesting!
Whatever you choose to do during your immersion stay in Malaga, you will meet Spanish people absolutely everywhere. But to get the maximum out of your stay and learn as much Spanish as possible, make sure the extracurricular activities you take part in are interesting to you. For example, if you like dancing, find a free salsa class in one of the many bars in Malaga that offer them – you’ll soon learn lots of vocabulary pertaining to movement and direction and get to socialize with locals while having fun. If museums get you going, how about getting a guided tour or an audio-guide in Spanish? Maybe you enjoy politics or debates? See if there is a student debate club at the University or perhaps you can set one up.
The more you engage with your favourite activities outside the classroom, the more Spanish you will learn.