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How to learn Spanish and Catalan on a shoestring budget

Written by Jamie

Learning any language always takes time and effort and often involves paying through the nose. However, this needn’t be the case, there are ways of learning Spanish or Catalan in Barcelona which are either relatively inexpensive or completely free. So if you are keen to learn but don’t have a large budget to spend on classes, here are a few ways you can do so…



A typical and popular way of improving your linguistic ability through conversation which is completely free. An intercambio involves meeting up with another person who speaks the language you want to learn (Spanish or Catalan) and wants to learn your language (English). You speak for half the time in your language and the other half in their language. The beauty of this is that it is completely free and enjoyable if you find someone who you get on well with. It works particularly well in tandem with studying, you can learn the grammar and vocabulary and then ingrain it into your memory by using it in actual conversation.

Almost free classes

There are a number of places where you can find these which we’ll address individually:

Escola Oficial d’Idomas (EOI)

They have a number of schools in and around Barcelona and run language course in a variety of languages including Spanish and Catalan as well as Russian and Chinese. The courses are subsidised by the government and are therefore only a fraction of the cost. There is a ballot for places there as the courses are so popular so a place is not guaranteed but once you get lucky you have a spot there indefinitely so long as your attendance is good and you pass their exams.

International House

Although their classes are normally fairly expensive they need guinea pigs for their trainee Spanish teachers to practise on. For a small fee of €40 you can do a two-week intensive course and you even get that back if you go to every class. The classes are generally well-organised tough the teachers may be a little nervous as they are being observed and assessed by their mentor. For classes that are effectively free, they are amazing.

Consorci per a la Normalització Linguistica

learning 1The Catalan Government are keen to protect and promote the Catalan language and therefore invest in teaching foreigners living in Catalonia how to speak it. You can, therefore, complete a course for next to nothing, the first level for beginners is completely free and includes 45 hours of lessons. As you move up the levels you have to pay a little bit more – but at €13.27 for the 45-hour intermediate course it is hardly crippling!

Centres Civics

Each neighbourhood of Barcelona has one and each one runs a whole host of courses, not just language courses but dance, yoga and cooking classes to name just a few. At these centres it is possible to find relatively cheap Spanish and Catalan classes and you should be able to find one close to your home.

Immerse yourself and don’t be shy!

After all, you are living in Spain and there are infinite opportunities to practise speaking Spanish and Catalan. Whether you are out in a bar or on the street do not be scared of making mistakes as this is the best way to learn. One good way is to throw yourself into an activity in the language you want to learn – this could be a cooking, yoga or martial art course where you will have to communicate in the language and are likely to meet lots of people to practise speaking with while doing something fun. Living with locals is also a great way to improve quickly as you will have to converse on a daily basis in their language.

About the author


Jamie is a freelance writer living in Barcelona.


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