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Spanish in Tenerife

Study Spanish in Tenerife

The most populous island in Spain, Tenerife is an otherworldly place, located half-way out in the Atlantic Ocean, closer to the shores of Africa than to the European mainland. Boasting the highest point in the kingdom, the peak of its trademark volcano, the Teide, and the most recognisable of accents, Tenerife is the administrative centre of the faraway province that bears its name, formed by three main islands, Tenerife, El Hierro and La Gomera. Shared capital of the Canary Islands with Las Palmas in Gran Canaria, Santa Cruz is a relatively large city of over 200,000 people.

Tenerife

Volcanic in origin, all of the Canary Islands display a dramatic landscape with abrupt topographic accidents, curious rock formations and an altogether stunning coastline. Nowhere, however is this more evident than in the islands of el Hierro, which is in constant and continuous state of gestation, and Tenerife, where the effects of the volcanic activity were most dramatic. Throughout the year there is evidence on the top of the Teide of snowfall, so that the white peak overlooks the island all year round, despite fact that down below, in Santa Cruz and other settlements of the island, the temperatures can be well over 30 degrees.

Undoubtedly a destination most fit for nature lovers and those who feel at ease in a wild environment, the Canary Islands are immensely popular among British and German tourists who flock in large numbers on a yearly basis, constituting roughly 50% of the 12 million people who visit the islands every year. Beyond the allure of the warm climate and the sunny beaches, however, there is a lot more to be seen and to be done in Tenerife than just idle basking.

Plus Ultra

The Canaries lie well beyond the limits of the Ancient World. As such, they would have been closer to the Islands of the Blessed, the area of the world reserved to the righteous ones, who had accessed the Elysian Fields three times in three reincarnations, than to the populated world, which was said to end near Cadiz. Therefore, the islands were seen as the dwelling, not of the Gods, but of the next best thing, those souls who had completed their cycle of life successfully.

Somewhere in the course of history, the Canaries went from this blissful state, to being colonised by travelling seafarers from the Iberian coast, initially Aragonese and Portuguese, and later, during the XV century, by troops under the service of Castilian nobility. The aboriginal population, known as guanches, seemingly Berbers from African descent, was eventually subdued by the far more technologically advanced European. Roughly a century after their first arrival in the island, Castile had succeeded in absorbing the Canaries into their realm – it was 1496, right at the heart of the Age of Discoveries, and soon the boundaries of the known world (and with them the battle grounds) would be pushed to the other side of the Atlantic.

A World of Fun

Carnival

Despite the snowy peaks of the Teide and the sunny beaches of the shoreline, if there is one thing for which Tenerife is truly famous, it is its Carnival celebration, perhaps the most notorious in the world, outside that of Rio. Every year, during the week immediately prior to the start of Lent, the entire population of Tenerife, increased substantially through the addition of thousands upon thousands of visitors, dress-up as Barney the Dinosaur, Bat-Man or Dracula and head into town to create an environment where only those without a costume are outsiders.

Any Tenerife guide will tell you that it is a truly unique experience to spend the week of carnival in Tenerife. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the islands – all of them, but Tenerife in particular – are so special, so unfamiliar, so unpredictable, that you are guaranteed you fair share of adventure and fun, regardless of when you visit.

Having said that, however, it is advisable to bear in mind the conditions in which you will live in Tenerife, before deciding to embark on Spanish courses in Tenerife, because the first step to completing a successful language course is to be comfortable where you are: therefore, if you love the nightlife of the big cities and the freedom to take your car and drive non-stop for four hours, then Tenerife is not likely to be the place for you.