A number of native languages are spoken in Spain and all of them, with the exception of Basque, are descended from Latin. The most widely spoken is Castilian and this is the language which is usually referred to as "Spanish". There are, however, wide-ranging regional differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. It was exported from Spain into much of Latin America, making the Spanish language one of the top three languages in the world in terms of native speakers - the others being Mandarin Chinese and English.
Geography, climate and culture
Before deciding where (or whether) to live and work in Spain a little background knowledge of the country is necessary.
Many British people have a very distorted vision of Spain, having an opinion based on short package holiday visits to tourist hotspots. The country is, in fact, remarkably diverse in its geography, its climate and its cultures. Consequently, when compared to the UK, its geography and climate are far more varied and it probably boasts a greater variety of native cultures as well and these factors make generalising about Spain somewhat difficult.
Spain is a very mountainous county. In terms of average height it is the second highest country in Europe after Switzerland, and it is also a lot bigger.
The Cantabrian mountains stretch along the northern coast; the Pyrenees extend this line and form the natural border with France; and the centre of the country is dominated by the vast central plateau, or "Meseta".
The climate is influenced by the mountains, the latitude and the distance from the sea, be it the Atlantic (to the north, northwest and southwest) or the Mediterranean (east).
The areas along the northern coast (green Spain) have a maritime climate with relatively cool summers, mild winters and frequent rain. The climate and scenery is not wildly different from that of the United Kingdom though it is generally about five degrees warmer then the south of England.
The "Meseta" has a continental climate with boiling summers and freezing winters. The summer heat can be suffocating and Madrid, the capital, turns into a ghost town in August when its citizens flee to the coast. In the winter heavy snowfalls are common and it is not unusual for villages to be temporally cut off and for even major roads to be closed.
The Mediterranean coast
Not surprisingly, the Mediterranean coast enjoys a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and relatively mild winters.
Apart from these main climate areas, Spain also has smaller areas with more distinct climates. For instance, the south east, Almería, boasts the only deserts in Europe (where the spaghetti westerns were shot), and the highest parts of the Meseta and the Pyrenees have an alpine climate.
- An Overview on Teaching English in Spain
- Barcelona TEFL Teachers Association
- Reflections of A World Citizen, TEFL Jobs in Spain: An Investigation, 12 August 2007. An account of the problems of working illegally in Spain.
- TESOL Spain TESOL Spain is an organisation for English teachers in Spain.
- An alphabetic guide to food in Spain. Useful for both teachers and ex-pats.
- Some information on working in Spain - mostly for teachers.