Spain, renowned for its flamenco beats and architectural marvels, is equally celebrated for the linguistic diversity that defines its various regions.
In addition to the familiar sound of Spanish, the presence of languages like Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian adds a unique and vibrant layer to the country's cultural fabric.
When moving to Spain, many want to integrate with the locals, and to do that learning the local language is a good start, but some language courses can be a bit on the pricey side.
Well, the good news is, that if you are moving to, or already live in, one of the autonomous regions that has its own co-official language, such as the Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, and Valencia, you will be able to sign up to one of many free courses that are available there. This is because regional governments in those regions are trying to promote their local dialect.
Bear in mind that certain conditions typically apply, including residency in the respective region, age restrictions, and specific class schedules when delving into these linguistic resources. It's essential to consider these caveats, as they may influence the accessibility and eligibility criteria for language learning opportunities.
This article aims to be a practical resource for individuals eager to embark on a linguistic exploration of these regional dialects, providing insights into free and readily available tools for learning. Whether through digital platforms or grassroots community initiatives, discover accessible pathways to fluency in Basque, Catalan, Galician, and Valencian without incurring any costs. Unravel the intricacies of these languages and delve into the richness of Spain's linguistic landscape, finding a deeper connection to its diverse cultural tapestry.
The Basque Government offers subsidies for Basque or Euskera classes to foreigners and Spanish speakers, with some courses even provided for free. However, specific conditions must be met to qualify for these benefits.
To be eligible, you must complete an entire level, which includes A1, A2, B1, B2, and C1. For C1, subsidies are exclusively available to individuals under 30 years of age who have successfully passed other official exams. Additionally, you are required to demonstrate attendance of at least 75 percent of the classes and pass the official Euskaltegi evaluation test.
Application for subsidies is conducted online through the HABE website. You can choose to either fill out the forms, print them, and submit them physically to the designated offices, or complete the entire process online.
The submission period for applications occurs annually, commencing from the beginning of September to the start of October. It's worth noting that while classes may be free or subsidised, in some cases, there might be associated costs for the official exams.
Both Spanish and non-Spanish speakers can learn Catalan for free in four different places according to the Catalan Government, they include Adult training centres, Catalan Universities, The Consortium for Linguistic Standardisation and Escoles Oficials d'Idiomes (EOI – Official Language Schools)
Adult Training Centres: These centres play a crucial role in facilitating the acquisition of Catalan language skills for adults in the region, enabling them to attain a baseline proficiency for effective communication (levels A1, A2, and B1). These centres are strategically positioned across various locales, ensuring accessibility for individuals seeking to embark on their Catalan language journey.
To explore the opportunities provided by these training centres, it is recommended that you reach out to your local ayuntamiento or town hall. They can provide valuable information about the nearest Adult Training Center, along with detailed insights into the specific courses and resources offered. This direct contact ensures that prospective learners can make informed decisions about the most suitable program tailored to their linguistic goals and availability.
Catalan Universities: Catalan universities' language service departments provide Catalan courses in various formats, including in-person, blended, and online options, covering all proficiency levels aligned with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. University students and alumni can benefit from exclusive rates.
Several universities in the region extend opportunities for brief and complementary courses in Catalan. However, uncovering the specifics of these offerings often requires a more individualised approach, as each university tends to have its unique set of programs, schedules, and registration processes.
For more information and a list of Universites take a look at https://web.gencat.cat/en/temes/llengua/vull-aprendre-catala/index.html
The Consortium for Linguistic Normalisation: These institutes offer accredited Catalan courses designed for adults at various proficiency levels, accessible through both online and in-person formats.You can find available classes in your locality at https://www.cpnl.cat/en/troba-el-teu-curs-de-catala-en/ along with detailed information on the starting dates for each course. Typically, introductory and foundational classes are offered free of charge, while a modest fee may be required for more advanced levels, ensuring a flexible and inclusive learning experience.
EOI-Official Language Schools: Escoles Oficials d'Idiomes (EOI – Official Language Schools) offer official courses for adults. A level certificate can be obtained both in the official exam session and in the open exam session.
Some language schools in Catalonia offer official government-sponsored Catalan courses for adults. Some of these are free, but others may charge, so do your research.
Every year the Galician Government, in collaboration with the General Directorate of Vocational Training, traditionally provides free Gallego lessons, announcing the sign-up period for those interested. These courses primarily serve as free preparatory programs for the Celga tests and are structured into four distinct levels.
Distributed across the four provinces of the region, both online and in-person courses are conducted in official language schools. To enrol in these courses and ascertain the upcoming schedule, you can register at https://www.xunta.gal/portada, accessing additional information and course details.
Commencing in September 2023 and concluding in May 2024, the language courses for the 2023/24 academic year are presently underway. Consequently, the subsequent courses are anticipated to commence in the autumn of 2024.
Additionally, the Xunta de Galicia has introduced a free online self-study course. Notably, the most recent course for Celga level three commenced in February of this year.
Valenciano, the co-official language of Valencia and similar to Catalan, is available to study at public training centres for adults under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and at Valencian public universities.
These centres offer complimentary A1-level training courses, each with a minimum duration of 60 hours. Additionally, the University of Valencia also offers free A1 and A2 courses in Valenciano, with each course spanning 40 hours. Further details can be found at https://www.uv.es/uvweb/servicio-politica-linguistica/es/cursos-1286002916099.html
There is also a program called 'Idiomes Joves' that is jointly organised by the Valencia City Council and the Department of Youth. The program offers young individuals in Valencia the chance to acquire language skills for free. Participants can immerse themselves in language learning through a combination of training and conversation courses. Course sessions are scheduled at different times throughout the year, requiring interested learners to explore and discover upcoming sessions in their local area.
Unfortunately, these free courses are not available in every region, so studying one of these regional or co-official languages could pose a greater challenge when seeking free lessons outside of the autonomous communities where they are commonly spoken or if they are available they may incur costs.
Data from the public registry of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, shows that 80 percent of the Official Language Schools (EOI) in Spain do not offer co-official languages such as Basque, Catalan, Galician, or Valencian.
For instance, if you are in Catalonia and aspire to learn Galician, locating classes at official language schools might prove difficult. Similarly, if you wish to study Catalan while residing in the Canary Islands, finding a class could be challenging, meaning you may have to consider hiring a private teacher instead.
In conclusion, while the availability of free lessons for regional or co-official languages varies across regions in Spain, the pursuit of linguistic enrichment remains a valuable endeavour. Understanding the limitations in accessing such courses in certain areas underscores the importance of exploring alternative avenues, including private tutoring or online resources.
As learning a language continues to play a pivotal role in fostering cultural understanding and communication, individuals are encouraged to navigate these challenges with determination and resourcefulness.
January 10, 2024
Updated: February 07, 2024 CET