England has had a love-affair with Spain since the Seventies – even before that. Take a trip to Benidorm or La Manga, and you will see the iconic towers of accommodation for sale or rent.
One of the effects of that particular boom time in history was the number of Spanish evening classes that appeared on the curriculum at local colleges and at community centres and church halls throughout the UK
As mobile devices and internet access has become more prevalent, more ways to learn Spanish have become popular. I for example, chose an audio book. It gives you the chance to hear and repeat phrases, and often puts them in context.
I chose this method, specifically European Spanish spoken by a Spaniard because I felt that getting the pronunciation right is important and that is the way you will hear it. So you need to be familiar with the sounds. I have a friend who speaks Spanish with a Yorkshire accent which is a bit difficult to follow but does make me smile!
Choosing Spain for the Love of everything Spanish
Often you hear future residents talking about how they want to integrate with the Spanish and not be part of a separate mini ex-pat community. If this is you then you need to be living working and socialising in a Spanish Town. A town like like Garrucha. Or a more typical Spanish inland village such as Los Lobos.
The reason I say this is because, how ever much you learn and study there is nothing better to prepare you for speaking Spanish naturally than having to communicate in Spanish. When you can do this (and I am not there yet!) then you will know you have mastered it.
In truth, if you don’t have the opportunity to have this kind of conversation every day – then your language skills will quickly become rusty!
Destination Spain – Sunny Days – 340 days a Year.
It starts with a holiday, then becomes two or three trips a year – particularly over the Winter – then you might realise that you much prefer being in Spain when it is cold, dark and wet back in your home country. At this point, you may start to consider being a part-time resident: when it suits you.
If this is you and your family, perhaps the most important thing for you is the weather, and the effect it has on your mind and body – even your zest for life? For you guys, Spanish is a ‘nice to have’, but you could easily function with little or no Spanish at all; particularly as most smart phones and tablets have Google Translate!
Towns like Mojacar have been flourishing since 1969, as its an ex-pat community of all nationalities. Here being an ex-pat is not frowned upon. You will find bars and restaurants owned and frequented by Belgians, Dutch, English, French, Germans, Irish and many more nationalities.
There is always something to do in these areas because you have like-minded/cultured people living here for the Autumn and Winter. There is even a gig circuit in the off-season where bands all sorts of music followed by dancing. This happens every Sunday from October to April in one bar or another. Sometimes the performances are in English, sometimes there are traditional Spanish or fusion bands.
The Middle Ground.
For me, I wanted to learn Spanish, so I could live here and cope with situations like a boiler breaking down!
During my first four months, I found I could get by with the ‘holiday’ Spanish I had learned from the Audio book. I came here for a change of pace in lifestyle. I have slowly been migrating from working in London to living an outdoor lifestyle in rural Ireland. And now I live in semi-retirement in Southern Spain. It’s a lot like Ireland but with more festivals and warmer weather!
I worked briefly in a bar/restaurant as a cook. The customers were mostly English or English speaking so were all the staff. I had no need to learn more Spanish. Even the Mojacar Walking Group is predominantly English speaking so my free time was spent in this English-speaking world.
In November/December 2017 I took private Spanish lessons and joined Jova Sports Centre. I treated myself to personal training sessions with Javi who speaks excellent English.
This was the start of my integration into the local community. If I trained in the daytime, I would be surrounded by ex-pats – in their 60s and 70s. When I went to spinning or TRX classes in the evening, the tutors – and all my class-mates – were speaking Spanish.
I would go along to all the social events and being on my own meant having to communicate in Spanish. This really was the best way to be accepted into the local community. Ironically, my Spanish friends all want to practice their English skills on me; but when we go out, I listen to the conversations and my understanding improves.I wonder how well I will be speaking Spanish next year!