Hey fellow travelers! I am going to be studying abroad in Barcelona next fall but I am going to start my adventure in Spain by spending the summer polishing my Spanish. Since they speak primarily Catalonian in Barcelona, I want to spend the summer in a different region so that I can really focus on Castilian. I also plan on traveling a lot during the summer so it would have to be somewhere pretty accessible. I will be studying Spanish from late May to late July and then heading over to spend time at my friends house in Barcelona before we start school.
Does anyone have a suggestion for the best region in Spain to learn good Spanish?
I'd recommend going to Salamanca in Spain.
You will hear often if you visit, but it's one of the original locations Castilian Spanish or Castellano, which became the national language was formed. I lived and study there for a year during my degree and its the equivalent of learning the Queen's English while in London. There's no particular regional accent you pick up, and Salamanca is practically heaving with students, language schools and of course its famous university. During the summer there are loads of spanish language school courses, where people from all over the world come to improve their Spanish and it's a young, fun atmosphere too.
It's about 3 hours from Madrid airport and has well connected bus-routes and trains to almost everywhere else in Spain you need to be. If you're interesting in improving your language, I'd definitely recommend it because Salamanca is a town that is small enough to be filled with Spaniards that don't actually speak any English, so you'll have lots of opportunity to practice too! In the year I was there I visited loads of places in Portugal, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid, Vallodolid, Andalucia etc.. it was all very easy to organise, and often very last minute. The only time we had trouble was when we missed a flight back to Madrid from Barcelona.. but that was our fault, and all part of the fun!
I'd also say when you're in Barcelona, have a go at learning some Catalan. People in Barcelona are really proud of their cultural heritage, and they appreciate it when foreigners make an effort to learn what is their mother tongue.
Hope this helps!
I would say Madrid, probably. I'm currently studying abroad in Sevilla but flew into Madrid. Although I've adjusted to understanding the accent here, if you would like to practice with a more universally understood Spanish dialect, I would definitely go someplace central like Madrid. When I flew into Madrid, I understood the Spanish rather easily, whereas the accent in Sevilla definitely took some getting used to.
I see that you are interested in studying spanish in Spain.
Have you also thought about going to South America to study? It is a great continent with a wildy exciting culture and a really great way to see a different part of the world on a budget! When I was traveling there I found that the Peruvian accent is probably the easiest and clearest spanish accent to learn from. That is why I decided to study some Spanish while I was in Cusco at Amauta Spanish School. I had heard about them from a friend who had studied with them in Buenos Aires and said that they had a really fun time there. I did too and really recommend it!
Good luck with your school hunting!