Spaniards are very proud of their heritage, and Spain is not looking to dilute their culture or language when allowing people to become citizens.
To make sure that new citizens are on their way to becoming ingrained in their new homeland, applicants must pass a Spanish culture & civics exam (CCSE) as well as a language proficiency exam (DELE 2A) through the Cervantes Institute which is endorsed by the Spanish government.
Growing up in Sandy Springs, Georgia in the 70s and 80s, each elementary school was assigned a language to teach. My school, Woodland Elementary, taught us French, and I continued with French throughout high school to fulfill my foreign language requirement. I am comfortable with French and I understand the language, even if my vocabulary is pretty rusty. I was under the impression that Spanish was similar to French, but it's not close enough that I've got it under control.
I've been taking lessons via Verbling for several months, and I've definitely learned a bit. My teacher, Lucia, is great. Of course, learning with a Spaniard rather than a Latin American means that I am learning the "lispy" pronunciation that Spain is known for. My sons roll their eyes every time I say "gra-thee-uth", but that's a big reason why I chose a Spain-based teacher.
However, I'm in no way ready to take the DELE 2A language test any time soon. So that I can truly get things moving and finish these 2 tests, which are my final requirements for citizenship, C and I have planned for me to study at AIP in Valencia for 5 weeks at the beginning of next year. I will complete the program in 4 weeks and take the exam and then my Mom will join me for the last week and we will learn more about Valencia, look at several schools for the boys, and figure out where we should focus our apartment search when we get there in the summer.