‘Catalan? Where do they speak that?’ is by far and away the most parroted sentence when I tell people that I’m learning this lesser-known, yet pretty robustly spoken Romance language. Some people just assume they misheard me completely. Others know that it’s spoken in Catalonia (although you can also find Catalan enclaves in France, Italy and other regions of Spain) and so their inevitable follow up is ‘but why are you learning it here?’ It’s a question I’ve asked myself, so here are some thoughts on learning Catalan in Mexico.
Apart from having got qualifications in Catalan and having studied it already, Catalan is a massively useful (although it may not seem it) language to have. It’s the widest spoken language in Europe that still isn’t one of the official languages of the EU and they’re crying out for translators who speak Catalan. Even though I don’t want to be a translator necessarily, it’s a pretty good language to have under your belt for emergencies.
What’s more, it’s always been my dream to live in Barcelona some day and I figured that having a decent, conversational or professional level in the language of the region would be pretty useful. Or at least an interesting talking point. And what with the Brexiters having had us chucked unceremoniously out of Europe, I’m possibly going to need some tricks up my sleeve if I want to get a visa or work on the continent in the future.
Why Catalan in Mexico?
The reasons I decided to continue learning Catalan while in Mexico are twofold; I wanted to make friends, and thought joining a club or class of some kind would be the best way to do it (I was wrong, literally nobody takes Catalan classes in Mexico). Secondly, as mentioned before, I’d studied it for two years at university with the best teacher and thought there was no point losing the skills I’d picked up, or wasting the Ramon Llull certificates I’d already acquired. Plus, it seemed like a good way to get out of the house when you spend most of your day holed up in a dim bedroom with only the warming glow of your laptop screen for company.
Is it worth it?
For me, learning any new language is worth it, whether it’s going to be particularly relevant in the country you’re currently living in or not. My teacher is great, flexible and always willing to help go over tricky points (looking at you pronoms febles i relatius), I’ve met some interesting people and I’ve got myself out of the house on a Saturday morning for class, which is an achievement in itself. Plus, they sell AMAZING tamales down the road from the Orfeó, which is reason enough to get yourself enrolled.
Where do I sign up?!
Anyway, if I’ve talked you in to learning Catalan in Mexico City and you’re convinced you want to pick up a ‘minority’ language in the country where it’s not even spoken, then here are the details you’ll need:
- They offer three different levels; Basic, Intermedi and Avançat, which correspond to the levels A2, B1 and B2 of the Institut Ramon Llull.
- The price (MXN$3600) is very reasonable for the length of the course (40+ hours).
- They have three teachers currently. Eva is mine and she’s the one in charge of the place, so it’s her you should ask for if you want more information.
- As mentioned, they sell the best tamales in the world just down the street from the Orfeó (get the tamales oaxaqueños con salsa verde).