After arriving in Spain in 2010 to finally learn Spanish, I was surprised to learn that there are a lot more languages spoken in Spain than just Spanish. This can be an important thing to know if you are planning to go to Spain to learn the language, because if people are speaking a language other than Spanish, it may make learning Spanish a little more difficult. I believe this is the case especially in a city like Barcelona, where the two official languages – Catalan and Spanish – are both commonly spoken. Then again, maybe you can decide to learn two languages instead of one!
Spain’s Other Languages
Of the several co-official and recognized languages commonly spoken in Spain, a few of the most prominent are:
- Catalan (co-official): Spoken in the eastern part of Spain, especially in Barcelona and surrounding areas. It is often described as a mix between French and Spanish.
- Basque (co-official): Unlike the other languages spoken throughout Spain, Basque, or “Euskara” in the native tongue, is not a romance language. Its origins are much older and even still somewhat unknown. It’s spoken in Bilbao along with Spanish, but is very common in the smaller villages throughout the Basque Country.
- Galician (co-official): Referred to as “galego” (the “l” sounding like “y” as in “/guy-ay-go/”) by native speakers, it is spoken by the people of Galicia in the Northwestern corner of Spain. The language has many similarities with Portuguese, which is not surprising given its close proximity to Portugal.
- Asturian (regcognized): A romance language spoken in the Asturias region of Spain and also sharing similarities with Portuguese.
Map created based on information from: Iberian Romance Languages Wikipedia
So if you are thinking of traveling or moving to Spain to practice your Spanish, keep your ears open, because you just may hear something other than Spanish as you travel through the country!