When in comes to learning Spanish and really getting to the root of the language, there is likely no better place on Earth to do it than Spain. This European country is, after all, the birthplace of Spanish itself— a language that now is the second-most spoken language on the planet with about 407 native speakers and 60 million nonnative Spanish speakers or hablantes. Interestingly, there are also about 20 million students of Spanish (studying it as a foreign language) in the world. You can be one of these students, and if you already are, perhaps you would like to really take things to the next level.
Just traveling to Spain to practice and learn Spanish is one thing, but to actually attend a Spanish language school in the country is quite another. These are schools designed specifically for foreigners who come to Spain either on vacation or academic purposes, or simply for other reasons— all that matters is that they have the serious desire and will to learn Spanish.
The key factor to these schools is that they are language immersion courses. Immersion is, after all, the best way to learn, and in Spain, there is no lack of Spanish immersion. Students basically live, study and breathe Spanish, and speaking any other language other than Spanish is actually discouraged at most (not out of disregard for other languages, but the staff are trying to teach Spanish after all!) Many schools even offer the opportunity for their students to live with local, Spanish-speaking families, which therefore makes the immersion experience more complete. Actually, there are a lot of people who agree that total immersion in a foreign language is the only way to master it.
Immersion Schools in Spain
But how do you find the Spanish immersion school (as they are often called) that is right for you? First and foremost, you should determine what kind of abroad experience you would like to have. For instance, do you want to be near or in a large city like Madrid or Barcelona, or would you rather be out in the country? Both certainly have their advantages and disadvantages, and it is generally up to your personal preferences.
Types of School Programs
Also going along with your personal preferences is the amount of time you want to commit to this. Some schools offer full-time classes, while others are more on a part-time bases that allow you to do a lot of exploring and participating in other activities during your time off. Some schools offer different types of programs, so be sure to inquire via email (and all legitimate schools will gladly respond to your questions).
Next you will need to figure out when exactly you wish to go. The good thing is that nearly all immersion schools are open 52 weeks per year, save for those that follow a university academic calendar. Because Spain does have religious roots, some of its immersion schools be closed around Christian (Catholic, mostly so specifically around Christmas and the week before Easter) holidays or run on a limited schedule. Most immersion schools tend to be busiest during the Northern Hemisphere's summer, and so reserving your spot as a student in advance will be necessary.
So by now you may be wondering, ‘how can I get started already?’ If you are a student in high school, go to your guidance counselor or course advisor, as they may have already helped other students find immersion schools abroad. If you are a college student, your search is already well ahead of most other people because your campus very likely has a study abroad office.
Even if you do not want to study specifically at a Spanish university (although you do have this option), your study abroad office probably has some connections with or information on Spanish immersion schools. On the other hand, if you are not a student, the best option for you is probably to go visit websites like ihspain.com, ailmadrid.com, thelanguagetravelcompany.com and spanishabroad.com (at the last two, you will need to specifically select Spain as your destination).
Some schools may give you the impression that you need to apply and hope to be accepted by them as a student in order to participate in their program. However, this is only the case (typically) if you are studying abroad at a University, and even then it is hard to be denied acceptance as long as your grades at your home university are above failing. The truth is that the majority of Spanish immersion schools, the legitimate ones anyway— be on the lookout for any that seem shady and ask for high applications fees, etc.— will accept just about anyone who is willing to learn.
In general, students of all skill levels can be taught. Just be sure to be honest about your experience and abilities when enrolling.