Translate Me!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Learn Catalan for Free...Mostly

Do you find yourself struggling to understand conversations or signs when out and about?

Don't worry! There are tons of great resources for learning Catalan while you are in Barcelona.

How Ironic...
Even though Castilian and Catalan are co-official languages in Barcelona, government paperwork and websites, menus, and even posters for upcoming events are in Catalan.

I already knew I wanted to learn Catalan and started studying it before we arrived. I am so glad I did. Most people will be happy to speak to you in Castilian, but it's great to be culturally competent too. Also, it doesn't hurt to know that you can still order your strawberry frappuccino at one of the many Starbucks, as long as you know maduixa means strawberry in Catalan. Yes, I translated that while waiting in line as I had no clue what that word meant.

Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks learning Catalan is important (be proud, you Catalans!) because I have had quite a few requests to share information on Catalan learning resources.

(On a side note, if you are more concerned about translating English-Spanish and vice versa, as well as several other languages on the fly. You should check out the WordReference application from Wordreference It's great! I have been using their website for years. For translating Catalan and many other languages on the go, Google Translate has a nice application too.)

The following are very helpful websites for learning Catalan online by self study or available classes:

1. Linguistic Normalization Consortium:
- You may want to translate this web page by the "traductor" link in gray and black at the very top. This is the website for the Catalan classes provided by the government. I will be starting mine shortly, but I had to apply in July to get classes for September. They fill up fast! You can register online or go in person to any of the locations to sign up with a human being. I did the latter because I had some questions; the class I wanted said that it lasted for a year and for a month, so I was quite confused.

COST: Lower level classes are free, books start at 12 euros
*To buy the book by taking a piece of paper with their information to a Santander bank and paying the money for it 12 euros for B1, directly to their account. Then you return with the receipt and get the book.

WHERE: Throughout Barcelona!
Most neighborhoods will have a center in which you can study, but not all neighborhoods have classes at all times.

CLASSES AVAILABLE: Several levels of Catalan and some Spanish
There are many levels of Catalan classes available and even some combined classes (like B1+B2). Some classes last one month (intensives) and some several months. There are also some centers that provide Spanish courses. If you go to one of these offices, you will find small books for many of the neighborhoods in different colors. Grab the book for your neighborhood and you will see a listing of places all over your area for Spanish as well.

OTHER: They offer additional resources.
I will explain some of these resources below, but here is a full listing of their Catalan resources.

2. Interc@t
   This site will explain more of their resources, Speakc@t ("online survival course") and are just the two that I have used, as well as even more resources for learning Catalan and getting certifications of your levels.
        a. Speakc@t is like a crash course in Catalan. You can do it online and free from home. is a free self-study site as well, but you can have a tutor (which is a paid service). The levels included are: Basic, Elementary, Intermediate & Competence. You can read more about it here.

3. Universitat Pompeu Fabra
This is my university! They offer Spanish as well as Catalan (and several others), and I have linked you to their fall program. You must register by September 14th to participate. Classes meet two nights per week from September to December. The price depends on how many hours you want (if you want just Catalan or Catalan and Spanish, etc). But the beginner Catalan course is 30 hours and would cost between 250-278 euros, depending if you are in the UPF community or not. You also can get discounts for taking multiple courses. The online training/review site from the university can be found here.

4. University of Barcelona
This university also offers courses for Catalan (and others). Beginning courses are 30 hours and are 60 euros for current students and 160 euros for others. Online courses are available for current students only. Here are more resources from UB.

There are so many resources for learning Catalan, more than I could list. There are other schools and universities too. There are language intercambios all over the internet and within those entities mentioned above. Hopefully this blog will help get you started on your search for Catalan classes. If you have any questions, feel free to leave them as comments on the blog and I will be happy to answer them.


  1. I would like to learn Catalan but as I don´t intend to live here forever, Spanish takes first place... I nominated you for an award on my blog, by the way...


  2. I agree sallyrose45. Most of the people who have been asking are other master's students who already know Spanish. There are tons of good resources for Spanish too, probably more. Thanks for the nomination, I absolutely love your blog. I visited Federal because of it. :)


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