My Travels Around Spain and How it has helped teaching my Spanish Students by Catherine Kilbane - Profesora de inglés - Madrid

Catherine Kilbane

Profesora de inglés


My Travels Around Spain and How it has helped teaching my Spanish Students

The Different Accents Around the Country

My parents have had a family home in southern Spain in Granada for over 15 years, in the mountains just out of a small town called Loja. It is quite remote and surrounded by local Spanish farmers – a great way to meet people and practice my limited Spanish! Having a base here has been great and given me the inspiration to explore more of the lovely country over the years.

I first went to Spain as a toddler on a big family holiday and have countless amazing memories of coming here on holiday ever since. I have spent most of my time in the south of Spain in Andalucía, where the accent and pronunciation of words is totally different to how Spanish is spoken in the north. When I went to college, I spent 2 summers in Santander as part of my course. The Spanish spoken in the north is very pure and clear, and in line with the language we were taught at college. However, in Andalucía the accent is very different, just like the different accents around the UK, and sometimes it can feel like trying to learn and understand a new language!

Hearing and understanding the different variations of Spanish spoken across Spain has helped me to understand the struggles students can face when speaking with English teachers, and the importance of trying to have a neutral accent when teaching.


My Travels Around Andalucía

I have travelled around a lot of Andalucía; including Granada, Sevilla, Malaga, Cordoba and Antequera, including some of the smaller towns and villages as well. I love all the different food and culture each town brings, and each town has its own speciality, whether its food, drink, or festival to explore. One of my favourite small towns is Priego de Cordoba where they have an area called Barrio de la Villa – where houses and patios are decorated full of bright flowers. It looks stunning, the bright colours against the whitewashed walled streets, and the gorgeous views across the valley and mountains. It is definitely a place worth visiting. Even though it’s a small town, as with everywhere in Spain, the locals are really friendly and welcoming, and even if you aren’t fluent in Spanish, locals really appreciate tourists making the effort to try and communicate in the local dialect.

When visiting Granada, which is another favourite city of mine, no trip is complete without visiting the Alhambra. A UNESCO World Heritage site, its one of Spain’s most famous attractions. The views from the palace rooftop are stunning. You can see for miles, including the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This is a great place for those interested in history and culture and you can spend hours learning about the Nasrid dynasty and the Moorish monarchs who lived here.

I could talk for days about my love of all things Spanish – people, culture, food, way of life! I love the history too, it’s funny how when you’re young it’s the last thing you want to hear about or learn, but growing up and with travelling and exploring more, it’s really interesting to spend time learning about the Spanish history.

Exploring the Rest of Spain

As well as exploring Andalucía, I have also spent time in Madrid, Valencia, Santander, and Alicante. After my time in Madrid, it turned into one of my favourite capital cities. The chilled atmosphere and vast green spaces make it a great city to explore and to make the most of being outdoors. I also discovered my new favourite treat there...churros! I now go hunting out churrerias across Spain to find the best ones! As well as trying all the amazing food Madrid has to offer, I would highly recommend the parks. They are so vast, so much to explore and see - lakes, cable cars, cafes, crystal palaces! You could come to Madrid and just visit the parks alone; let alone all the tourist attractions and hidden side streets the city has to offer.

Another go to city which I really enjoyed was Valencia. Again, so much to see and such a varied city. From the parks, the coastline, the city centre, the Bio Parc and of course the flamenco! There is a lot of contrast within the city too, from the historic buildings to the modern museums and aquarium at the City of Arts and Sciences.

One of the main differences here in Valencia compared to the many other Spanish cities I have visited is the language. The main language spoken here is Valencian, although Spanish is widely spoken too. It is quite different from the standard Spanish, so this was something I struggled with when exploring the city.

Travelling around Spain is a great experience and I love exploring every city or town to find hidden gems, as well as some of the favourite hotspots. It’s a great way to practice my Spanish, but also helps me to understand from a teacher perspective, the struggles students may face in the classroom when learning English.  
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