Spoken language in barcelona: The languages in Barcelona and Catalonia

What Language Do They Speak in Barcelona: Best Guide 2023

You’re going to Barcelona for a vacation. Ever wondered how many languages or what language do they speak in Barcelona? 

Learning about the different languages before you travel is a great way to get more out of your experience. Some locals may speak English with you when they find out you’re not Spanish, but more pride is attached to being fluent in one of the four recognized languages in Barcelona. 

A history lesson aside, you will find the locals are very friendly and can easily converse with foreign tourists. In this article, we’ll look at the evolution of the languages in Barcelona, the multiculturalism of Barcelona, and finally, some of the essential words to get by when you’re visiting. 

Use of Languages in Barcelona: Catalan and Spanish

Barcelona is a multilingual city with over 300 languages spoken along its streets, reflecting its diverse history and proximity to other countries. In total, there are two official languages in Barcelona. These include Catalan (català) and Spanish/Castilian (Castellano). The other two are Galician (gallego) and Basque (Vasco). 

Most of Barcelona’s people consider themselves bilingual, meaning they can easily transition from Catalan to Spanish, even if most of them prefer using Catalan more often than Spanish. And due to high education levels and the importance of tourism in the city, there are a lot of people who can also transition to English with no problem.


Catalan is an integral aspect of Catalan culture and one of the two most important languages in Barcelona, as it plays a significant role in the daily lives of Catalan citizens.

For example, many aspects of Catalan culture depend on knowing all the Catalan language’s subtleties and nuances. Many customs are shared among Catalonians that some of these words carry meaning only if they speak it in their native language. 

Catalan is the language used in schools, where Spanish and foreign languages, typically English, are taught as secondary languages. Catalan is also the official language of municipal government organizations and institutions. So if you plan on living here, you’d need to learn more about the Catalan language.


One of the most widely used native languages in the world and is extensively spoken in Barcelona. It is also worth noting that a sizable portion of Barcelona’s population are migrants from different parts of Spain who use Spanish as their first and daily language. If you know some basic Spanish words, you can chat with locals as soon as you arrive as it’s one of the most spoken languages in Barcelona.

To put it another way, knowing Catalan will simplify your visit to Catalonian society. This qualification can also open doors for you in terms of your professional, commercial, social, and personal life, as well as permitting you to take advantage of a large and diversified selection of recreational and cultural opportunities that represent the city’s 2000-year history.

What Language Do They Speak in Barcelona: The History

Catalan is spoken in and around Barcelona and in other parts of Spain such as Valencia, the Balearic Islands (including Majorca), and even Provence or eastern France. Since the 10th century, Catalan was first written down in the 11th century.

This was called “Llibre de les paraules” (Book of words). From here on, it evolved accordingly, though facing much persecution during Spanish rule. Today, Catalan is spoken by over 7 million people and is considered a minority language in Spain (Castilian is the majority). 

Catalan as the Official Language in Catalonia

Catalan was forbidden from 1939 until 1975, under Franco’s military rule. You’d even have to speak in Spanish when making a phone call back then.

Meanwhile, Montserrat’s monastery kept teaching the language and in 1979, the government recognized Catalan as an individual language and became the official language of Catalonia. In 1983, the Balearic Islands followed the movement, and by 1993, the state of Andorra also made Catalan their official language. Following 1983, Catalan became widely taught in schools and universities.

Today, there are about 10 Catalan daily newspapers.

Learning Catalan and Spanish

If you’re interested in learning Catalan and Spanish, keep in mind that they are both Romance languages, which means they are related languages. Suppose you already know a bit of French, Italian, or any other Latin-based language.

In that case, it will give you an edge when studying the official languages in Barcelona.

Greetings and Pleasantries

Even if you have a good command of the Spanish language, you’ll want to learn these Catalan phrases so that you can make a lasting impression when you visit Barcelona.

  • Hello – Bon dia (bon dee-ah)
  • Thank you – Merci (Mehr-see) 
  • You’re welcome – De res (deh res)
  • Goodbye – Adéu (ah-deh-ou) 
  • Please – Si us plau (see oos plow)

Learn Catalan with One Minute Languages!

At the Market 

  • What is this? – Que es això?
  • How much does this cost? – Quant costa això? (Kwant-kosta-Eashoh?)

Making Friends

  • Do you speak English? –  Parla anglès? (Pahr-luhs uhn-Glehs?)
  • Would you like a drink? – T’agradaria beure alguna cosa? (tah-grah-dah-ree-ah beh-ur al-goo-nah coh-sah)

Frequently Asked Question (FAQs)

  • What is Catalonia?
    • Catalonia is one of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities and is on the Mediterranean coast in the Iberian Peninsula. Spain is split into 17 separate independent communities or regions. Each of these territories is subject to Spanish political and administrative authority, and these regions form the Spanish nation. 
  • Where does Barcelona fit into all of this?
    • Barcelona is Catalonia’s capital city.
  • What is the “Catalan language”?
    • Catalan language is spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Outside of Spain, it is Andorra’s official language. Additionally, it is spoken in some regions in France and Italy.
  • Is Catalan some sort of Castilian Spanish?
    • No Catalan is not some sort of Castilian Spanish. Catalan is a language of its own. It is not derived from Spanish or even French, even though many people believe Catalan sounds like a combination of the two. Catalan developed from common Latin. This explains Catalan’s similarities to French, Spanish, and even Italian, as all of these languages are classified as Romance languages, which descended from Latin.
  • What language is more spoken in Barcelona – Catalan or Castilian Spanish?
    • Both. 98% of Barcelona’s population speaks Castilian Spanish. Catalan is spoken by around 50%-60% of Barcelona’s entire population. Certain Catalan speakers expressed Catalan as a first language and regarded Castilian Spanish as a “second language.” Some Catalans consider Spanish their first language, while they consider Catalan their second. Sometimes, Catalan speakers speak no other language, not even Spanish. 

Author’s Note

If you plan on visiting Barcelona, it’s beneficial to know about the language. Some of the most common languages in Barcelona are Catalan and Castilian Spanish.

These two languages are similar. And as you study them, you will grow your appreciation for the Spanish language, making you a better prospect for learning all Barcelona has to offer. 

Find out how to travel like a local with these useful guides to Barcelona:

  • Getting Around Barcelona
  • 8 of the Most Beautiful Towns Near Barcelona
  • Best Things to Buy in Barcelona That You Won’t Find Anywhere Else
  • Historical Sites in Barcelona

What Languages Are Spoken in Barcelona?

Posted at 08:29h
in Certified Translation
by Developer

(Last Updated On: August 1, 2022)

Barcelona Speaks

While everyone in Barcelona speaks Spanish, it may surprise you to learn that it’s not the only language spoken in the city. In fact, according to the most recent census figures, there are around three-quarters of a million people in Barcelona who speak Catalan as their first language. That figure takes into account both Catalan natives and people from other parts of Spain who have moved there and immigrants from countries such as Italy and France who have arrived more recently. Here are some facts about the languages spoken in Barcelona that you might find interesting!

The languages of Barcelona

Just like the rest of Spain, the official language of Barcelona is Spanish. However, Catalan is also widely spoken throughout the city. In addition, you’ll find that many locals also speak English, especially in tourist areas.

French, Italian, and German are also spoken by some residents. Catalan is a Romance language with strong similarities to both Spanish and French. It’s believed to have developed from Vulgar Latin in the Middle Ages, and it’s used as an administrative language across Catalonia, Valencia, Andorra, Southern France (especially Roussillon), the Balearic Islands, and the Valencian Community.

Spanish was introduced into Catalonia at the end of the 7th century AD when Christian rulers took over from Muslim rulers. Still, Catalan remained dominant for another 300 years or so before it began to recede with an increase in migration from other parts of Spain, which introduced Castilian as a new common language between Spaniards and Catalans during this period which became standardized as Castilian Spanish or what we know today as ‘Spanish.’

Origin and History

The official language of Barcelona is Catalan, a Romance language developed from Latin. However, Spanish is also widely spoken in the city. Catalan and Spanish share equal status as co-official languages in Barcelona. Other languages spoken in the city include Occitan, French, and Aranese. As for dialects, there are many regional dialects, but the most common among them are the barcelonés and Castellano.

Barcelonés is a variety of Catalan or Valencian, depending on who you ask. Castellano is another name for Spanish. It’s usually called Castilian because the Kingdom of Castile was at one point the more significant part of Spain, which eventually expanded to become what we know today as Spain. There is no distinction between these terms, and they can be used interchangeably. In this case, it refers to any form of the Spanish language.

What is Catalonia? What is the Catalan Language?

Catalonia is an autonomous community in Spain, located on the northeastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. It is bordered by France and Andorra to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the east, and Valencia and Aragon to the south.

The official language of Catalonia is Catalan, a Romance language closely related to Occitan and distinctly different from Spanish. However, Spanish is also widely spoken in Catalonia, as well as English and French. Many Catalans are bilingual or trilingual – speaking both Catalan and Spanish fluently.

Though not everyone speaks all three languages, those who do speak them often feel they have two extra tools at their disposal. One of the reasons for this close relationship between Spanish and Catalan is because they have been spoken side-by-side for so long.

When Ferdinand II inherited the Kingdom of Aragon from his mother (Queen Consort), he also inherited her subjects, including Catalonia’s population. A policy was put into place that ruled that all documents be written first in Castilian (the new name for what we now know as Spanish) before being translated into Catalan, which led to some documents being written in a mixture of both languages simultaneously!

Castilian vs. Catalan vs. Spanish

There are three main languages in Spain- Castilian, Catalan, and Spanish. While all three are technically considered Spanish, they each have their unique history, culture, and dialect. In terms of pure numbers, Castilian is the most widely spoken language in Spain, followed by Catalan, with Spanish coming in a distant third. However, Spanish is on the rise, particularly among younger generations, as it is the language of instruction in schools and the preferred language of business and government.

Castilian is the name given to the Spanish language as spoken in the region of Castile. It is the oldest and most traditional form of Spanish and was the language of Spain’s Golden Age of literature in the 16th and 17th centuries. While it is no longer the primary language spoken in Spain, it remains the language of government and education. It is used as a lingua franca between different Spanish-speaking regions.

Catalan is the name given to the Spanish language as spoken in the Catalonia region. It has its unique dialect and is also the official language of the autonomous community of Catalonia. Catalan culture is very proud and protective of their language, which is reflected in their strong commitment to maintaining its use. In recent years, there has been a push to make Catalan the primary language of instruction in schools, as well as to increase its use in government and business.

Spanish, also known as “Castilian Spanish” or “Peninsular Spanish,” is the name given to the Spanish language as spoken in Spain. It is the most widely spoken form of Spanish and is the official language of Spain. Spanish is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is used as a lingua franca in many different countries. While Spanish is not as widely spoken in Spain as Castilian or Catalan, it is the preferred language of business and government and is the language of instruction in schools.

Are Catalan and Spanish the same?

Catalan is a language spoken in the northeastern region of Spain and has many similarities to Spanish. However, there are also some significant differences between the two languages. In this essay, we will explore the similarities and differences between Catalan and Spanish and try to conclude whether or not they are the same.

One of the significant similarities between Catalan and Spanish is that they are both Romance languages. This means that they both descended from Latin and have many similarities in terms of grammar and vocabulary. However, there are also some significant differences between the two languages. For example, Catalan has more influence from French and Italian, while Spanish has more influence from Arabic.

Another similarity between Catalan and Spanish is that they are both spoken in Spain. However, Catalan is only spoken in northeastern Spain, while Spanish is spoken throughout the country. This means Catalan speakers are in the minority in Spain and often have to use Spanish to communicate with people from other parts of the country.

One of the significant differences between Catalan and Spanish is that Catalan is the official language of the autonomous community of Catalonia, while Spanish is the official language of Spain. This means Catalan has a higher status than Spanish in Catalonia and is used more often in official contexts. However, Spanish is still widely used in Catalonia and is the predominant language in many parts of the region.

What Spanish is Spoken in Barcelona?

Spanish is the official language of Spain and is spoken by a majority of the population in Barcelona. However, there are also many other languages spoken in the city, including Catalan, which is the co-official language in Catalonia. There are also significant numbers of speakers of English, French, and German.

The Spanish spoken in Barcelona is mostly Castilian Spanish, the standard form of the language. However, there are also regional variations, particularly in Catalan words and phrases. Many people in Barcelona are bilingual in Spanish and Catalan, and it is not uncommon to hear people switching between the two languages in conversation.

Catalan is a Romance language closely related to Spanish and is spoken by a majority of the population in Catalonia. It has distinctive grammar and vocabulary and is also used in media and education. Catalan is co-official with Spanish in Catalonia, and many people in Barcelona are bilingual in both native languages.

There are also significant numbers of Catalan speakers of other native languages in Barcelona, including English, French, and German. English is widely spoken as a second language and is the predominant language of tourism. French and German are also spoken by sizable communities, particularly in the business district.

Catalan Language

The Catalan language is a Romance language spoken in parts of Spain, Andorra, and France. It is also spoken in the city of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat in Catalonia, which is where it gets its name. Catalan is a unique language, and it has a lot of exciting features.

The Catalan language has a long and fascinating history. It is believed to have originated in the northeastern Iberian Peninsula. The first written record of the Catalan language dates back to the 9th century when it was used in a legal document.

Catalan continued to be used in legal documents throughout the Middle Ages. In the 14th century, the Catalan language was declared the official language of the Kingdom of Aragon. In the 16th century, Catalan was banned by the Spanish Inquisition.

However, the language continued to be spoken in private. In the 19th century, the Catalan language was revived, becoming an essential part of the Catalan nationalist movement. In the 20th century, the Catalan language was once again banned by the Spanish government. However, it was later revived and is now an official language of the autonomous community of Catalonia.

The Catalan language has several unique features. One of the most notable features of Catalan is its use of the double negative. In Catalan, a sentence can have two negative words, which changes the meaning of the sentence. For example, the sentence “No hi ha ningú” (there is nobody) would be translated as “No hi ha cap” (there isn’t anyone).

Another exciting feature of Catalan is its use of the gerund. In Catalan, the gerund is used as a noun, and it can be used to refer to an action or a state of being. For example, the sentence “Estic llegint” (I am reading) would be translated as “El meu estat és llegir” (My state is reading).

The Catalan language is an essential part of Catalan culture. It is used in various settings, including media, education, and everyday conversation. The Catalan language is also a necessary part of the economy.

In Catalonia, several businesses use Catalan as their primary language. These businesses include banks, insurance companies, and media outlets. The Catalan language is also used in several regional and national government institutions.

Catalan Culture

Catalan culture is a unique blend of Spanish language and French influences. This can be seen in the architecture, food, and foreign language of the region. The Catalan people are proud of their culture and are quick to defend it against any perceived threat. One of the most apparent ways Catalan culture differs from the rest of Spain is in its architecture. The region is home to many beautiful Gothic churches and castles. Catalan cities also have a distinct style of architecture, with narrow streets and tall, skinny buildings.

Another way in which Spanish culture is unique is in its food. The region is known for its delicious seafood dishes, as well as its traditional Catalan soup, which is made with a variety of vegetables and meats. Catalan cuisine also uses a lot of olive oil, which is produced in the region. The Catalan language is also unique, as it is a mix of Spanish language and French language. Many words in the Catalan language are similar to their counterparts in French but with different pronunciations. This can make it difficult for outsiders to understand.

Minority Languages Spoken in Barcelona

While Catalan and Spanish are the most widely spoken languages in Barcelona, there are also several minority languages represented. These include Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, and others. Some of these dominant languages are spoken by first-generation immigrants, while others have been passed down through families for generations. The presence of these minority languages adds to the city’s vibrant culture and makes it an even more exciting place to live. The four main ethnic groups that inhabit Barcelona are Catalans, Andalusians, Valencians, and Castilians. There is no official census data about population size, but estimates range from 1 million to 2 million inhabitants for the city proper.

So which is spoken in Barcelona – Catalan or Castilian Spanish?

With over 7 million people, Barcelona is the second-largest city in Spain. It is also the capital of the autonomous community of Catalonia. So which language is spoken in Barcelona – Catalan or Castilian Spanish?

Although Catalan is the first language of Catalonia, most people in Barcelona also speak Spanish. Catalan is only the first language for about 60% of the population in Catalonia. The rest of the population either speaks Spanish as their first language or is bilingual. Catalan is a Romance language that is closely related to Occitan and French.

It is also the co-official language in the Balearic Islands, along with Spanish. Catalan is also spoken in the Valencian Community, Andorra, and the Roussillon region of France.   Castilian Spanish, also known as European Spanish, is the official language of Spain. It is also the predominant language in Central and South America. Castilian Spanish is a Romance language that is derived from Latin.

Learning Languages in Barcelona

There are many reasons to learn a new language, but one of the best is to be able to travel and communicate with locals in their native tongue. Barcelona is an ideal city to learn a new language, as it is home to many different cultures and international languages. There are also many language schools and programs available to help you learn.

One of the best ways to learn a new language is to immerse yourself in it. Barcelona is the perfect place to do this, as it is home to many different cultures and languages. You can start by taking a Spanish class and then practice your new skills by speaking with locals. You can also visit various neighborhoods to experience different cultures and learn more about the city.

Another great way to learn a new language is to take advantage of the many language schools and programs available in Barcelona. There are many different options to choose from, so you can find a program that fits your needs and schedule. You can also use online resources and apps to help you learn.

Some Tips

If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona, it’s helpful to know what native languages are spoken there. While Spanish is the official language, Catalan is also widely spoken. English is also becoming more common, so you may not have trouble getting by. Here are a few tips to help you communicate while you’re in Barcelona. First, try and learn some basic phrases before your trip if possible.

You’ll be surprised how much this will come in handy when interacting with locals! Next, always try to speak slower than usual and avoid using slang or idioms that might not be understood by the person you’re speaking with. Finally, if you find yourself struggling to communicate, then give up and ask for help – Catalan-speaking people will appreciate your efforts!

Are Catalan and Spanish the same?

Catalan and Spanish are two Romance languages that are closely related. Although they are similar, they are not the same. Catalan is spoken in the northeastern region of Spain, known as Catalonia, as well as in the Balearic Islands. Spanish, on the other hand, is the official language of Spain and is spoken throughout the country. While Catalan and Spanish share many similarities, there are also some crucial differences.

Is Catalan a form of Spanish?

No, Catalan is not a form of Spanish. Catalan is spoken in the northeastern region of Spain, as well as in the southern region of France. It is also the official language of Andorra. Catalan has many similarities to both French and Spanish but also has unique features that make it distinct from both.

Is English spoken in Barcelona?

Despite being the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is officially a bilingual city, with Catalan and Spanish having equal status. However, Catalan is the predominant language spoken at home and on the streets. While English is not as widely spoken as Spanish, it is still possible to get by speaking English in Barcelona.

Can you live in Barcelona without speaking Spanish?

Whether you’re planning to live in Barcelona for a short period of time or permanently, it’s essential to know that you can get by without speaking Spanish. While it will undoubtedly make your life easier if you can at least communicate in basic Spanish, there are several ways to live in Barcelona without ever having to learn the language.

Contact us now for any questions

Arraigo Social | Catalan and Spanish courses

BCNLIP is a school where you can take a 45 hour Spanish or Catalan language course and get a valid certificate to request arraigo social.

Arraigo or rooting means to take root in a place that is not your country of origin; that is, to integrate in a foreign country. Thus, the report on social roots is a document certifying your social integration in Catalonia. For this reason, it is important to learn the local language and culture. It is important that you understand that the purpose of these courses is not to earn a certificate, but to increase interest and knowledge about the place where you are going to put down roots.

If you are a foreigner living in Catalonia and have not yet been able to communicate with Catalans in the way you would like, this course will help you feel more integrated. We are working on spoken Catalan/Spanish essential for everyday life so that you can eventually have a basic conversation. On the other hand, we help you understand the various social and cultural aspects of Catalan life. At the end of the course, we will issue you with a certificate of achievement, provided that you have attended all the classes and achieved the communication goal.

On the other hand, if you were born in a country where Spanish is not spoken and you are preparing a report for arraigo social, the Generalitat de Catalunya requires an official certificate of level A1 or higher issued by the Department of Education, another competent public authority. body or persons in agreement with the specified organizations. If you do not have any of these certificates, you can validate a minimum course of 45 hours through a certificate issued by the Department of Education or any other competent authority such as BCNLIP.

Any of our courses is eligible for a certificate, whether it be an extensive 4 hours per week or an intensive 10 or 20 hours per week.


  • Start Date: May 11
  • Tuition Type: School/Online
  • 024

  • Hours: 16.30-18.45
  • Duration : 4 weeks
  • Price: €240 This month’s special: 2 courses (Spanish + Catalan) for 399 euros.
  • Limited places


  • Start date: 022
  • Type of study: school/online
  • Days: Monday to Friday
  • Group 1: 9:00-11:00 ( Online only )
  • Group 2: 19:00-21:45
  • Duration: 4 weeks
  • Price: €240 This month’s special: 2 courses (Spanish + Catalan) for € €399
  • Limited places

certificate for my arraigo report. Must attend 45 hours of the course and complete a final oral interview.

Spanish courses in Barcelona. Learn Spanish at Camino Barcelona – Spanish in Spain

Skip to content

Camino Barcelona Spanish courses in Barcelona

Spanish language school
Camino Barcelona

  • 2 weeks from 318 euros
  • 1 year from 6000 euros

Spanish at Camino Barcelona