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Moving out of an immersion environment - Scotland/Edinburgh

Posted: Mon May 16, 2016 12:46 pm
by anamsc
Hi everyone! I hope this question is appropriate for this forum. Basically, I’m trying to decide whether to move to Edinburgh.

I have been living in countries where my target languages are spoken for the past few years. I really enjoy this and feel that I learn best in immersion environments, and normally I wouldn’t even consider moving to an English-speaking country. However, this is a good opportunity for me.

Most people I know don’t understand how the fact that the country is English-speaking could be a disadvantage, so I would like some opinions from fellow language lovers! For example, whether any of you have moved out of immersion environments and regretted it, or on the other hand found success integrating into local expat communities that speak your target languages. Or if any of you have specific experience with Edinburgh and think it would be possible to do so. I have heard that there are a lot of Spanish- and Catalan-speakers there, but I don’t know how easy it is to actually speak the languages as I imagine most people will want to practice their English.

Thank you for your help!

Re: Moving out of an immersion environment - Scotland/Edinburgh

Posted: Mon May 16, 2016 5:59 pm
by garyb
I live in Edinburgh!

There's certainly a huge Spanish community here: tens of thousands. And a large proportion are Catalan: I'd say almost half of the ones I've met have been from Barcelona or thereabouts. They tend to stick together a lot, and if you make friends with one you might well soon end up meeting their friends and going to parties where almost everybody is Spanish. This happened with me a few years ago, and this is before I had any interest in learning Spanish!

My Spanish isn't very advanced yet, and since I did start learning I've not socialised with Spaniards much (my social life isn't quite what it once was!) so I can't say for sure. But what I have seen is that many of them like to stick together and speak Spanish, and aren't too interested in learning English beyond knowing enough to get by. In group conversations, they'll often stick to Spanish even if not everybody understands it. These points might be seen as negative, but for somebody who wants to learn/practise Spanish, they're a godsend!

There are a few weekly language exchange / meetup events for Spanish speakers and learners, which could be a good way to start meeting some. Unlike meetups for other languages, native speakers usually outnumber learners. As you probably already know, native speakers are generally very positive and supportive towards learners.

Even from my limited experience, I'd say it's a great city for a Spanish learner. If you wanted, you could probably have most of your social life in Spanish, and have a sort of semi-immersion. Of course it's not the same thing as living in Spain, but it's probably a decent compromise if you have better opportunities in Scotland for career or whatever.

As for your other languages: I studied French for years and I've found it quite hard to meet French people. They tend to only be here for short periods (work placements, Erasmus, etc.) unlike the Spanish who generally have longer-term intentions, plus they're often a bit closed and not too positive towards learners. I don't know much about German, but there are certainly German-speakers here if you seek them out.

One comment I'd make about Edinburgh in general, and not specific to languages, is that it can be hard to connect with people here (unless you're a student). Many people are only here temporarily, and the atmosphere is less friendly and open than somewhere like Glasgow. Still, the opportunities are there, especially if you look for people with common interests (not just interest in each other's languages).

Re: Moving out of an immersion environment - Scotland/Edinburgh

Posted: Tue May 17, 2016 4:41 pm
by anamsc
What a helpful answer! Thank you very much :D

Re: Moving out of an immersion environment - Scotland/Edinburgh

Posted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 8:44 am
by Cainntear
When people ask me how I learned Spanish, I tell them I lived for years in the best city in the world for learning Spanish... Edinburgh. Whe I started learning, most Spanish folk were there to learn English, and any English speaker who wanted to soen time with them was made very welcome. While nights would start out with a lot of English, you'd get plenty of chances to speak Spanish, and more and more as the night went on.Since the economic crisis, there have been loads of Spanish people in Edinburgh whose primar motivation is work. There is now such a large Spanish community that there are loads of events in Spanish, where no-one expects to speak English. Brilliant place.