Working it into daily life and leisure
Many people living in Andalucia and especially the Costa del Sol, say that they have little opportunity to practice their Spanish! This is due to the presence of so English speaking residents and visitors, as well as bars, restaurants and shops where no Spanish is needed to get through the day.
An excellent way to learn the language and save money at the same time is to live without the satellite dish, which gives you UK TV. Try watching Spanish television instead. Also, although admittedly there are many excellent local English speaking radio stations, it is a good idea to tune into one of the local or national Spanish stations for talk programmes. 'Radio 5 (Radio Nacional)' is an excellent news station to wake up to in the morning. Also 'Canal Sur' Radio keeps you informed of local events and has some lively chat shows, with a real Andaluz flavour. Listening a lot to Spanish Radio is the first step towards that ever-difficult situation of understanding Spanish over the phone.
To begin with, television will be easier to follow than radio, since the visual aspect helps you to understand more of what's going on. Initially, you will feel that the Spanish speak very fast, but I have it on good authority that when a Spaniard is learning English, he has the same problem keeping up with us! The trick is to attune your ear to begin with, simply getting used to the rhythm of the language, without trying to understand each word.
Take out a DVD of a film you know well and watch the Spanish version. Having a good idea of the story, means you will guess some of the vocabulary. This is a more relaxed way to learn words, on a subject you are already interested in.
It is also a good idea to join a club where you will mix with Spanish, rather than English speaking people. Whether its chess, yoga, tennis or aerobics, the fact that you will hear the rules and instructions repeated numerous times, means that you will inadvertently learn some Spanish while you are doing something you enjoy.
If you enjoy a night out at the theatre, why not check out the local Spanish paper and see what's on. The Cervantes theatre in Malaga city, for example, has an excellent programme of Opera, dance, classical music, modern music and drama. Whether you hear music or try understanding a play, you will hear all the Spanish voices around you and soak up the Andalucian atmosphere.
The opportunities for learning Spanish are endless, but the problem is that many English-speaking people who settle in Andalucia find it easier to stay within the confines of the British community. While it is understandable that visitors make the most of all the English information and assistance available in Andalucia and especially on the Costa del Sol, it is also good to learn Spanish if you are spending more time here. Although it may seem a bit frustrating at first, you will soon see the results of your hard work pay off and be glad you made the effort.