You made it to Barcelona and you do not understand the people sitting next to you on the subway. Apparently four years of high school Spanish was a waste of time. Relax, your teachers have not completely failed you. You are probably listening to the beautiful language of Catalan.
What is Catalan?
Catalan is one of the two official languages in Barcelona. It evolved from Vulgar Latin around Eastern Pyrenees in the 9th century. 9 million people across Spain (and some parts of France and Italy) speak Catalan. It is a language spoken in three specific regions of Spain: Catalunya, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. It is also the official language of Andorra. Catalan is a language that has survived many odds. Today the people of Catalunya continue to keep the language alive through education and active promotion.
Why is it so important to learn Catalan?
If you plan on living in Barcelona for some time you may want to consider learning Catalan. It proves that you have taken the time and made the effort to embrace the local cultural beliefs. Many people from Catalunya respect those who have shown this effort. Also, you will find many announcements around the city are written in Catalan. Knowing Catalan will help you with finding more things to do around the city.
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Where can I learn Catalan?
There are many options to learn Catalan in the beautiful city of Barcelona. Below you will find a few:
If you are a do-it-yourself type of person, the Catalan government offers free online courses. You can learn the material at your own pace, on your own time, and in the comfort of your own home.
If you would rather learn with a teacher, the Catalan government also offers one-on-one tutored courses. They are 90 euros per course. It is highly recommended.
If you are looking to learn in a classroom style environment, the Catalan government offers free classes to those who would like to learn. For more detailed information visit their website.
The University of Barcelona also assists in connecting you with a Catalan Intercambio. As the saying goes, “practice makes perfect.”