How to Take Your Spanish From Mal to Mejor: Spanish Immersion in Spain

Forget about the traditional Spanish courses. Take your Spanish from mal to mejor with Spanish immersion in Spain with Pueblo Español! |

Disclosure: Pueblo Español hosted me as a student on the immersion program. As always, all opinions are my own.

Am I actually going to do this? 8 days of no English? 8 days of 12+ hour days entirely in Spanish?
I can do this.
No, I can’t.
I’m doing it.

That was pretty much my exact thought process the night before I started Pueblo Español. I was packing my bag at 1 AM (an annoying habit that I can’t seem to shake) mentally ricocheting between excitement and worry. I’d done Spanish classes in the past, but this was a whole new level of language learning. The immersion methodology is precisely why I wanted to do it.


What is Pueblo Español?

I’d first heard of Pueblo Español after volunteering for their counterpart, Pueblo Ingles. Essentially, Pueblo Español is an incredibly intense 8-day language “camp” for adults. Students are immersed in an all-Spanish environment with native volunteers for 8 days, 12 hours a day. No English allowed – just lots of conversations, activities, and more conversations. The program is meant to improve confidence and fluidity in Spanish without the classroom.

Forget about the traditional Spanish courses. Take your Spanish from mal to mejor with Spanish immersion in Spain with Pueblo Español! |


How does it work?

Although the program is officially from Friday to Friday, the fun began the Thursday before, when I met the other students and the tour leader for lunch. The next day at the train station, each student was paired with a native Spanish volunteer and spoke Spanish for the entire ride to the venue (~4 hours). The rest of the week was a jam-packed schedule of activities, meals, and one-to-ones….all in Spanish.


The volunteers:

Pueblo Español does an excellent job of sourcing a diverse group of volunteers from various parts of Spain, ensuring maximum exposure to different accents. The volunteers came from a variety of ages and backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common: they wanted us to improve our Spanish!

Forget about the traditional Spanish courses. Take your Spanish from mal to mejor with Spanish immersion in Spain with Pueblo Español! |
Me, Ali (student), and Jennifer (Volunteer)


The activities:

One of the best parts about Pueblo Español is the diversity of events. Rather than sitting in a classroom and learning grammar all day, we participated in a ton of different cultural activities. I’ve included an overview of some of the major aspects of the schedule below.

  •  Tú a tú: This was one of my favorite activities because I prefer speaking to people one to one. Students typically do anywhere from 3 to 6 one to one’s per day. Not only was this an excellent way to get to know people, but it was also a low-pressure way to really focus on comprehension. I felt incredibly comfortable asking people to slow down or explain a word or concept. Plus, it took the pressure off of meeting people in a large group. Win, win!
  • Meals: Not going to lie, meals were definitely the most challenging part of the day. We were purposefully seated student-volunteer so nobody would be tempted to speak in English…or rapid-fire Spanish either. This worked for the most part, although there were definitely a few moments where it felt like I was concentrating on a game of ping-pong! Between the eating and multiple people talking, mealtime is definitely when I had to fully concentrate.
  • Theater and presentations: Every day we had a variety of theatrical skits and presentations by both the volunteers and the students. I don’t voluntarily do theater in English, but somehow ended up doing it in Spanish. At the end of the week, all of the students also had to give presentations on a topic of their choosing, something which would intimidate me in English. When Pueblo Español promised I’d improve my confidence, they weren’t kidding!
  • Group discussions and projects: As a break from one to ones, we were oftentimes grouped together in small discussion groups. The topics were really entertaining and creative: everything from creating a marketing campaign for a city to deciding how we would rebuild the world after an apocalypse. Not only did I learn a ton of new vocabulary, but I also gained insight on cultural values as well…everyone has a different idea of what makes a city great, for example.
  • Cultural Activities and Social hour(s): What good is immersion if you aren’t interacting with locals from the city itself? Pueblo Español arranged for us to do several fun excursions outside of our “classroom” (aka the hotel) throughout the week. I was at the Úbeda venue in Jaén when I did the program, so our excursions included a city tour, olive oil tasting, and local artisan visits. We also visited the nearby towns of Baeza and Cazorla, and even went on a hike in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. Learning about Spanish history in Spanish definitely did a number on my head, although it was fascinating to visit these small towns I would have never visited otherwise! In the evenings, we oftentimes had cool (mostly optional) events scheduled after dinner such as a game night, a Galician Quemada, and a tapas night. The fun (and learning) never stopped!


Where is it?

The 8-day Pueblo Español program currently takes place in two locations: Úbeda in Andalusia and La Alberca in Salamanca. I’ve been to both places and they’re both incredibly comfortable and charming. The venue in Úbeda is a traditional hotel whereas the venue in La Alberca consists of bungalows with two rooms each: one for a volunteer and one for a student. The food is better at the Úbeda location…just saying.


When is it?

Pueblo Español for adults is currently offered every month between March and November, with the exception of August. They also offer several high school and university student programs throughout the summer. You can see the full calendar here.


What’s included?

The program includes transport to and from the program, full room and board for 7 nights, excursions, and travel insurance. The students have to cover travel costs and accommodation to and from Madrid plus any additional purchases made during the program (snacks, souvenirs, etc.). The cost is €1950 per person, but Pueblo Español does offer discounts for early booking. Send them an email with any questions or concerns.

Forget about the traditional Spanish courses. Take your Spanish from mal to mejor with Spanish immersion in Spain with Pueblo Español! |


My review of the experience:

My brain was hurting by the end of the week but in a good way. I never dreamed that I’d be able to stand up in front of an audience and give a presentation, act in a theatrical skit, or do a conference call, all in Spanish. By the end, I was no longer hesitant or worried about my Spanish abilities and felt confident enough to brave language exchanges and social events without breaking a sweat (for the most part).

Forget about the traditional Spanish courses. Take your Spanish from mal to mejor with Spanish immersion in Spain with Pueblo Español! |
Doing theater in Spanish…no words

While I thoroughly enjoyed the week, I have a few suggestions for improvement:

  • Choosing meals was initially a bit of a challenge due to the fact that several of us had dietary restrictions. The kitchen allowed us to create our own meals but I do wish we had more non-pork options on the menu.
  • The wifi at the hotel wasn’t great, making it difficult for me to work during my free time. I understand that most people don’t need to work, but it’s important to me.
  • While I loved the excursions, there was a couple that I felt were a bit long. I believe that time would have been better spent speaking one-to-one (maybe that was just me).


Does the program “work?”

If your goal is to improve your fluidity and confidence in speaking Spanish, then this is the program for you. My brain did a total 180 during the week, to the point where I was thinking and dreaming in Spanish. Forget about translating or conjugating verbs in your head – by the end of the week, the words will flow naturally.


Who should do it?

Firstly, in order to do this program, you have to schedule a level assessment with the Pueblo Español team. In order to get the most out of this program, you need to be at least intermediate in Spanish.

Given the intensity and cost of the program, I recommend it to people who are currently living (or plan to live) in Spain, doing business or studies in Spanish, or planning extensive travel in Spanish-speaking countries.

Pueblo Español offers two packages: the 8-day full immersion program or the program plus 4 days of intensive Spanish classes beforehand. I chose the latter option and found that the first day was much less difficult since I’d already warmed up in Spanish.

I’ve tried my fair share of Spanish classes in the past: everything from traditional schools to language apps to meet-ups. I can honestly say that this was by far the most helpful program in taking my Spanish fluidity and confidence to the next level. If you’re eager to take your Spanish from mal to major, Pueblo Español is the way to do it!


Tell me: Have you ever done a language course in another country? What was your experience like? 


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32 thoughts on “How to Take Your Spanish From Mal to Mejor: Spanish Immersion in Spain

  1. Thelittlelai: Beyond limits says:

    Wow, 8 days of language camp must be really an awesome experience and I know the challenge of learning the language that you haven’t been using it. I truly love learning how Spanish speaks and experience how the camp done. This is truly interesting and If given a chance I’ll surely immerse myself and would love to learn as well. Thank you so much for sharing!

    LaiAriel R. Samangka

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      It was an amazing experience indeed! If you’re considering learning Spanish at all, then I really recommend this course for when you’re an intermedia level – it really forces you to speak!

  2. TalesOfABackpacker says:

    This sounds like a totally hardcore way of getting fluent! The best way to improve a language though is to be forced to speak it! I’m glad I spoke Spanish before I came to South America, it helped me a lot, and is really useful for travelling here!

    • Sally E says:

      It was! I feel like actually speaking is the hardest part of learning a language so I liked how I was forced to do so in a less scary environment – I really feel like my Spanish upped a level!

  3. megan_claire says:

    Overall it sounds like a great program, especially if you have to learn Spanish quickly – definitely throwing you into the deep end! But I’ve found that I haven’t picked up a language as quickly when I’m not forced to. Ie if whether or not you eat depends on your ability to speak, you usually have a pretty good incentive to learn!!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Haha yes I know what you mean! I feel like I’ve been really lazy about practicing because I’m not forced to. This definitely kicked my butt into gear – and I needed it! Now I’m confident enough to tackle travel in any Spanish speaking country 🙂

  4. MakeTimeToSeeTheWorld says:

    Wow! What an incredible experience. I’ve always struggles with languages, but if I was going to try and learn again, it would be in an immersive environment like this. If I had the success you had, I’m not sure how I’d feel about dreaming in Spanish!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      It was truly amazing! I feel like I’ve been haphazardly learning Spanish forever, but this really kicked it up a notch! I highly recommend it if you’re looking to improve your language skills 🙂

  5. Shane Prather says:

    I took 5 years of Spanish in school but still can’t speak a lick. Can understand it decently. This sounds like the perfect experience for me. Such a useful language around the world!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      This program would be perfect for you! I feel like speaking is always the hardest part so i loved that this program focused on this aspect. It’s definitely helpful for travel since so many countries speak it too!

  6. Vibeke-TheVikingAbroad says:

    This sound like a great way of learning Spanish. So important to throw yourself out there. Not sure if I could do it In Spain, but Latin America is better for me as I am more used to Latin American Spanish 😀 I think it is so hard to understand Spain-Spanish haha. Good luck 😀

    • Sally E says:

      Hahah yeah I initially learned Latin American Spanish, so this has been an interesting transition. Now I feel like my Spanish is this big mix BUT at least I can communicate confidently! THat’s what counts, right? Even if I’m not using the correct colloquial word :p

  7. aparnakris says:

    It’s definitely something I want to do – everytime I travel to a Spanish speaking country, I make up my mind that I’ll do it! Sometime soon, hopefully. What a great experience!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      You should! It’s actually a really fun language to learn and I love being able to communicate with locals! Thanks for reading 🙂

  8. Stella says:

    This sounds like a great way to learn Spanish! I actually learned French by doing French immersion programs when I was in high school and it seriously improved my confidence. Plus you get to do all these fun activities in Spain and eat Spanish food. I’m glad it boosted your confidence too.

    • Sally E says:

      oh interesting! Immersion is seriously the way to go when learning ANY language. Haha yeah and the activities and food definitely made it that much more fun!

  9. Travel Textbook says:

    I have always wanted to learn Spanish (and have tried a couple of times unsuccessfully) — this definitely sounds like the best way. What a marvelous experience 🙂

    Lucy x

    • Sally E says:

      Speaking is definitely the hardest part and what took me the longest to master. If you attempt again and get to the intermediate level, I really recommend this program! It will kick your butt (in a good way) but your Spanish will improve rapidly!

  10. Helen On Her Holidays says:

    This sounds awesome, I did a French exchange programme when I was at school but this sounds like so much fun!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      I feel like immersion is TOTALLY the way to go no matter which language you’re learning! I bet exchange was super fun as well 🙂

  11. Sarah K says:

    Wow this program seems amazing! The best part is that no English is allowed, and I love that everyone is a volunteer! I’ll have to check it out.

    • Sally E says:

      Yeah! They’re always looking for English speaking volunteers for their English immersion programs too if you’re interested :). This program was really good for improving my Spanish though!

  12. Michaela 1001VG says:

    wow, this sounds as an amazing program! I will need to improve a little still before trying out such a way, but it really seems tempting for me. I never did anything similar yet, neither in English or French. Thanks for sharing your experience!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      You should definitely consider it! It really ups your language level because you’re exposed for a ton of hours and are forced to speak and listen (the hardest parts in a language in my opinion).

  13. Trudy says:

    This sounds great! I wish that I could find something as wonderful for French! I need to brush up on both languages.

    • Sally E says:

      I’d be surprised if there isn’t a french program out there! This was an awesome experience – really kicked up my Spanish level a notch!

  14. Michelle says:

    Sounds like a really wonderful and life-changing experience! I did two weeks of intensive Spanish classes in Ecuador (4 hours of private individual lessons and 2-4 hours of cultural activities) and I really did improve and gain quite a bit of confidence, but what you are describing sounds way more intense and – to be honest – fun! If I had 2000 euros to spare I’d definitely be up for it!!

    • Sally E says:

      It was SO amazing! I’m glad to hear you got to experience that in Ecuador as well – there’s really something to be said for learning languages at the source! I actually hear their version of Spanish is much easier to understand too. Was that the case for you?
      The program is definitely pricey but totally worth it – especially for people who want something super intense before living in a country or traveling in the Spanish speaking world extensively!

      • Michelle says:

        Yep the conventional wisdom is that Latin American Spanish is more uniform across the region and therefore easier to understand, and that’s probably true, but imo it still varies very widely depending on where you are. E.g. in coastal Ecuador they speak much faster than in the mountains. And Venezuelans speak super fast, often dropping the last syllables and their ‘s’! But since you had so much exposure to speakers from different parts of Spain, you probably have a better ear for it than I do 🙂
        Trouble with languages is that you need practice, practice, practice! If you’re not constantly exposed to it, you’ll start to forget it 🙁

        • Sally E says:

          TOTALLY! I initially took classes in Argentina and Chile and can definitely vouch for the fact that there are tons of variations, especially in colloquial Spanish. I think my ear for Spain Spanish is really good now (granted, I lived there for about 6 months over the past couple of years) but yes I don’t want to lose it so I definitely want to practice! Even now, I feel like my Spanish is slowly getting rusty again haha. It takes a lot to maintain it forsure.

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