Let’s play a little game. For every English phrase you may use while traveling abroad, can you think of the Spanish equivalent? Ready?
- Where can I catch a taxi?
- That was delicious!
- How are you feeling?
- It’s cold today.
- It’s hot today.
- How much is that?
- I’m from .
Was that easy for you? Or perhaps, like the writer of this post, you were at a loss! Don't despair. This blog post will explain how you can immerse yourself in Spanish and give back as a volunteer at the same time. You’ll come to understand why knowing the basics is important. We’ll also give you the answers to the questions at the end of the post so keep reading!
Pick up the local lingo by volunteering in Spanish speaking countries
Do you have a world globe on your desk? As you spin the orb on its tilting axis, you watch excitedly as country names whizz past. Or above your bed, you’ve got a world map marked with pins showing where you’d like to travel one day.
If you’re a travel-dreamer, travel-guru, or travel-hopeful, why not add volunteering in a Spanish speaking country to your expanding travel list? If you decide to take up the challenge, consider volunteering and learning Spanish at the same time. Why?
- People appreciate when you try to learn a few words or phrases in their native tongue. It shows an interest in the culture and an openness to new experiences. You’ll become a responsible and ethical traveller rather than a typical tourist.
- Children love it when you try to speak their home language and it builds a rapport with your students on a Teaching Project
- Expect to work closely with locals in busy and oftentimes professional environments on an internship abroad. For example, learning medical Spanish while abroad gives you an advantage. Ask nurses simple questions in Spanish, help patients quicker during outreaches, or chat with the team during your break.
"The opportunity to work at Serrana FM enabled me to not only learn about media and journalism but, more significantly, my level of Spanish greatly improved - albeit with an Argentinian accent!" - Journalism in Argentina by Louise S
Learn Spanish while fully immersed in a Spanish-speaking country
According to the World Economic Forum, Spanish was the second most spoken language in the world in 2018. English came in third! Make this the year that you get better at your Spanish skills by traveling the world and fully immersing yourself in the daily flow of life abroad. With us, you can:
You’ll either learn Spanish in a private one-to-one setting with a tutor or join a group of students. We arrange for local professional tutors to work on your listening, writing and reading skills.
After your lessons, practice the language as you make your way home. Buy vegetables from a vendor, ask for directions from a store-owner, or ask your host mother what’s for dinner. Learning a new language while fully immersed in a Spanish speaking country will only benefit your learning skills!
“Living with native people is an invaluable way of practicing the language. My Spanish improved massively just from day-to-day language with the [host] family. They would take me out for pizzas in the main plaza in Urubamba, they cared for me when I was unwell and took me to typical Peruvian festivals that I wouldn’t have seen without them. If I hadn’t stayed with a host family, my journey through Peru would not have been as enriching, rewarding and enjoyable as it was.” - Childcare in Peru by Emma S
“Todos los caminos llevan a Roma” - “All roads lead to Rome”
There are many roads or ways of getting to a destination or to a goal. If that goal is to learn Spanish abroad, you just need to decide how you’re going to get there. It may be unorthodox, but you’ll get there eventually!
After your volunteer trip comes to an end, don’t let your learning stop. Here are ten ways to fully immerse yourself in the Spanish language when you’re back in your home country:
- Learn Spanish as a family: watch movies in Spanish, or find a Spanish podcast that discusses a topic of interest to you. You can also volunteer and learn Spanish as a family in another country. Get in touch with us to find out more!
- Change your phone settings to Spanish. Just remember how to change them back to English!
- Order things from Spanish websites.
- Give your host family a call and try to talk to them only in Spanish.
- Download your favorite recipe in Spanish and make it for your family and friends.
- When you hear a Spanish-speaking person struggling with something as simple as buying groceries, remember your own struggles and, in turn, help them! It’s a great way to meet new people while spreading kindness.
- Write a letter or postcard to the Projects Abroad staff who supervised you at your volunteer or intern placement.
- Stick vocabulary notes on items all over your home: as you sit at the table, you’ll see the word “mesa” and associate it with “table”.
- Change the settings on your GPS to Spanish - soon you’ll be navigating old and new streets without the use of English. If you get lost, it’s best to have a quick backup plan!
- Find language lessons in your area to continue your formal education.
Spanish immersion for high school students
Take your Spanish learning to the next level by traveling and volunteering during your summer break. On one of our Spanish projects for high school students, you’ll:
- Work with teenagers your age on projects that include Childcare, Conservation, and Law & Human Rights.
- Take part in organized social activities and a weekend trip.
- Have 24/7 support from our team of supervisors.
- Take part in Spanish lessons as part of your trip abroad.
You can choose from these programs that include a Spanish course:
- Medicine Internships in Argentina for Teenagers
- Human Rights Internship in Argentina for Teenagers
- Conservation Volunteer Work in Mexico for Teenagers
“Equipped with a basic knowledge of Spanish grammar, I began putting myself out there and reaching out more. For instance, I would ask the very kind, caring, and helpful kinesiologists all about "moco" (mucus) and the many respiratory issues present in most babies. In response to my bombardment of questions, the nurses kindly answered each and every one of them at a level of Spanish that I was able to comprehend..” - Medicine & Spanish High School Special in Argentina by Owen M
Basic Spanish Phrases to Get You Started
As promised, here are a few basic Spanish phrases to get you started with your immersion volunteer project or internship:
- Where can I catch a taxi? / “¿Dónde puedo tomar un taxi?”
- That was delicious! / “¡Eso estuvo delicioso!”
- How are you feeling? / “¿Cómo te sientes?”
- It’s cold today. / “Hace frío hoy.”
- It’s hot today. / “Hace calor hoy.”
- How much is that? / “¿Cuánto cuesta esto?”
- I’m from the United Kingdom. / “Soy de Reino Unido.
Get in touch with us if you have any specific questions about our Spanish Immersion Courses!