11 oct. 2018

Madrid - Using the city as a resource to learn Spanish!

If you are studying Spanish then you’re in the right place! One of the great things about Madrid is that it’s still a very Spanish city. It hasn’t given over its soul to mass tourism, and although an increasing number of people can speak English here, what you hear in the bars, the shops and in the street is mainly Spanish, meaning that there infinite opportunities to practice. The AIL Madrid Guide to the city is designed as a learning resource to help your practice become as effective as possible! Here are some of our top tips to help you fully immerse yourself into the Spanish culture:

Los mercados (the markets)

Buying food is a necessity. Doing your regular shopping in a traditional market instead of a supermarket will not only get you fresher produce, but it will force you to interact with a real person… in Spanish! It’s a great way to consolidate basic vocabulary, to practice requests as well of course numbers.


In the last few years a lot of great gastro markets have appeared throughout the city. However, we recommend you try one of the many traditional ones. There’s one in every neighborhood. Here are three of our favorites.
  1. Mercado de Maravillas. Calle Bravo Murillo 122. Dating back to 1942 it’s Madrid’s largest market and, strangely, the second largest fish market in the world after Tokyo! It’s a great place to improve your fish, fruit and vegetable related vocabulary!
  2. Mercado de San Antón. Calle de Augusto Figueroa 24. A classic working class Madrid market in the central barrio of Lavapiés. Just listen to people talking and absorb the language!
  3. Mercado de La Paz. Calle Ayala 28. Built in 1879 in the heart of the swanky Salamanca District, this combines tradition and style, and is a beautiful setting to hone in on your Spanish shopping skills.
La Filmoteca

Calle Santa Isabel 3. There are few better ways of developing listening comprehension skills than following a movie and focusing on the dialogue. Even if it’s a challenge, listening out for set phrases is great for your auditory comprehension. The fantastically good value Cine Doré, known as the Filmoteca, has regular cycles of Spanish cinema and is a beautiful setting for the Spanish cinema experience.

Instituto Cervantes

Calle Alcalá 49. The Instituto Cervantes not only oversees the accreditation system which guarantees quality control at Spanish language schools, but also exists to promote Spanish Language and Culture. Its emblematic HQ on Calle Alcalá holds regular exhibitions, a must for any serious student of Spanish.

La música

Listening to music in Spanish is as pleasant a way as any to tune your ear to the rhythms of Spanish speech. There are a number of bars which specialize in Spanish cantautores (singer/songwriters), often completely free or for less than 10 euros.
  1. La Fídula. Calle Huertas 57, great area, great live music.
  2. Libertad 8. Calle Libertad 8, a historic venue for cantautores in the heart of Chueca.
  3. The Dog & Roll. Avenida de Brasil 17, a variety of Spanish artists from folk to rock n roll.
El microteatro

Spanish theatre in small spaces! This is up and coming in Madrid. Great for improving listening skills and is often interactive, meaning that you can put your Spanish into practice!
  1. Microteatro Por Dinero. Calle Loreto Prado y Enrique Chicote, 9. Located in hipster territory in a former brothel in Malasaña!
  2. Esconditeatro. Calle Estu¬dios 2. An intimate experience in La Latina.
  3. La Infinito Café Libros. Calle Tres Peces 22. In multi cultural Lavapiés, a bar upstairs, and micro-theatre downstairs!
  4. La Escalera de Jacob. Calle Lavapiés 9. Also in Lavapiés. Micro-theatre every Wednesday with 3 pieces for just 9 euros.
There are also a number of things you can do to make speaking Spanish a part of your daily life in Madrid.


  • Football in bars! Even if you’re not a fan, watching a game of La Liga in a crowded bar full of Spaniards is as good a way as any to strike up a conversation, and you’ll be anything but bored!
  • Kiosks. The city is full of them. If you can’t handle a full novel then try buying the odd magazine, or better still books of crosswords and word games.
  • Social media. Change your phone settings and social media apps to Spanish now! If you’re looking for Spanish company, and a chance to converse check out www.uolala.com or www.singlesmadrid.es
It’s a great city. Once you start to relate to it in Spanish it becomes even greater! Enjoy!

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