When you are living in a foreign country, one can effortlessly fall into the expat bubble, it is easier to make friends in your own language and you are all usually there for similar reasons. I must admit that I have, despite my preaching, inadvertently fallen in this trap too. You really do have to be determined to speak the language you are learning and speak as much as you can on a weekly basis in order to burst it. Multicultural cities such as Barcelona, where I am currently based, are fantastic for their diversity, however it does mean that you may occasionally hear more English than Spanish, let alone Catalán.
There are many ways to get one on one speaking time, a £20 an hour speaking class or a once a week language exchange, both good options but neither cut the mustard. Done properly and the benefits can be incredible, however I find that once a week is simply not enough. You can of course live with native speakers, which is by far the best option if you want true immersion in the language and culture. You will pick up the language in a much more natural way and you will be speaking 24/7.
I am here to shine a light on a new language learning method, I call it BlaBlaCar Immersion (admittedly the name needs some work) If you are planning on taking any trips, this is the way to do it. You not only meet some great people on the way to your destination, but you speak in the target language for the entire journey. Last week I went on a spontaneous road trip to San Sebastian from Barcelona and booked a BlaBlaCar for the journey there.
I was slightly nervous about the trip, having never used BlaBlaCar before and the fact that it was a six hour drive with complete strangers. However two hours in I understood all the hype around it.
Myself, Victor and Sara listened to Rock.fm, talked about travel, film, music, discussed Alan Watts and I finally found out how and when to use the word “gilipollas”. Six hours of Spanish immersion and my confidence rose to a level I hadn’t experienced since spending a year living and working in Argentina. Add in the incredible views of the Pyrenees and the fact that I have now made two more Spanish friends here in Barcelona, I could not think of a better way to improve your language skills. My return journey was much the same, with two Spaniards and an Italian, it was non-stop Spanish and listening to the likes of Manu Chao (you can’t go wrong with Manu Chao). A road trip with strangers made to feel as though we had been friends for years. Immerse yourself in language with BlaBlaCar.
Thank you BlaBlaCar!