Learn Spanish in Latin America: the ins and outs
Thursday September 15, 2022 - Posted by admin
Learning Spanish in Latin America is a good match, because Spanish is spoken in almost all countries of South and Central America! Although Spain is a beautiful and attractive destination for a Spanish language course, Latin America is generally a bit adventurous and – last but not least – considerably cheaper to learn Spanish. Besides beautiful beaches, South America offers tropical jungles, adventure, trendy cities, lots of culture and history, and friendly people, with whom you can speak a lot of Spanish to practice your Spanish.
What is the best country to learn Spanish?
Read more about our favorite destinations to learn Spanish in South America.
You can take a Spanish language course in many major cities in Latin America. Think of Buenos Aires, Lima, Santiago, Medellín, or Quito. You can also opt for a medium-sized city; these are also often popular destinations for a Spanish language course, such as e.g. Cartagena, Sucre and Cusco. In all these cities there are many fun activities to do, one city is even more beautiful than the other.
Of course, you can also combine multiple destinations while traveling through Latin America. For example, you can first travel to Buenos Aires, and from there travel up – whether or not via Santiago in Chile – to Lima or Cusco, and from there via Quito to Medellin or Cartagena. There are also smaller villages, usually in idyllic locations: how about a Spanish language course on the beach, e.g. Montañita (Ecuador), Bocas (Panama), Puerto Viejo (Costa Rica), or in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas? Or the Peruvian rainforest?
Read more: why learn Spanish in Latin America
Spanish Language course: group or private?
The best way to really learn Spanish in South America is to take a Spanish language course. Traveling through the country and talking to the locals is really not the same; and usually you end up speaking mainly English with the fellow travelers. However, it is often possible to improve your Spanish skills while traveling around (without lessons if necessary), if you already have a good foundation. But if you are a beginner in Spanish, a language course is really the best way to kick-start your Spanish, whether or not in combination with DuoLingo. Spanish language courses in Latin America are offered at all levels. You can join from a week to a few weeks to get some “survival Spanish” for travelers, but you can also do a semi-advanced course or an advanced Spanish course for a longer period of time. All students take a placement test to determine the level, so you are always in a group with students at your level.
All schools in Latin America offer group and private lessons. The advantage of group lessons is the dynamics between the different students. You also often learn from the other students and you easily get to know a lot of new people. Another option is private lessons. Individual Spanish lessons are relatively inexpensive in Latin America and of course all the teacher’s attention is yours alone; some students feel that they learn Spanish faster because the teacher can guide you personally.
There are even ‘travelling language courses’, also known as traveling classrooms. These are Spanish language courses where you don’t get Spanish lessons in one place, but learn Spanish while you travel with a group and a teacher to different places and do great tours. Popular destinations for these traveling classrooms are Costa Rica & Panama, Ecuador and Peru.
How long does it take before you learn Spanish?
How long you want to do the language course is entirely up to you, everything is possible. Depending on your available time, your budget, and how serious you are about Spanish, you can choose to enroll for 1 week or 20 weeks (or longer). The average student takes between 2 – 6 weeks of lessons (but shorter is certainly possible), and some stay for several months to learn really good Spanish. A week is short (but possible); in two weeks you can acquire some nice basic skills, and get a good idea of pronunciation, sentence structure, simple sentences and basic Spanish vocabulary, which will come in handy during your travels through Latin America.
Accommodation during your Spanish Course
Most schools offer several options for accommodation during your Spanish course: for example, you can stay with a host family, in a (shared) apartment, or in a student residence (with or without meals). The offer differs per school, so you can only find out properly if you know where you are going to do the Spanish language course.
Staying with a host family is a very nice opportunity to really ‘live and live’ in the country and to have contact with the local population. The food in Latin America is generally very tasty, and you will of course speak a lot of Spanish. In a student housing or apartment you often have more contact with fellow students, which is also super fun of course. Sometimes breakfast is included, but sometimes you have to take care of all meals yourself. That is usually not a problem, because eating out in South America is not very expensive, and you can often eat tasty and cheap. Otherwise, shopping at a local market and occasionally cooking with your fellow residents is not a punishment either.
How much does a Spanish course cost?
The price of a Spanish language course in South America – and especially accommodation – varies by country. Bolivia, Guatemala and Peru are known as the cheaper options, while Chile, Argentine, and some schools of Costa Rica and Mexico (not all) are among the more expensive options. In between are the prices of Ecuador, Colombia, and Panama, to name a few. It is best to ask for a quote. There is often a discount if you study for a longer period of time; some schools offer this discount from two weeks, others from four. Sometimes there are temporary discounts, and at some schools you don’t have to pay a registration fee during certain months.
Which country speaks the best Spanish?
The Spanish of South America sounds a bit different than the Spanish of Spain. Compare it with the different varieties of being English; American English, British, Canadian English, Australian English etc. The differences are mainly in the pronunciation and in certain vocabulary, and expressions. But don’t worry, with South American you will make it 100% in Spain, and in countries other than where you studied. Just a few days to get used to the pronunciation, that’s often all. Also read: Learn Spanish from Latin America: Peruvian slang
In some countries it is discussed a bit faster or ‘more difficult’. Argentina and Uruguay are known for their ‘own typical accent’, and in Chile, for example, the letter ‘s’ is rather swallowed. Some Central American countries have their own ‘melody’ and intonation… but it’s not all that different so you can always make yourself understood.
The countries where Spanish is most clearly spoken are actually Peru and Colombia.
All Spanish schools offer a social and activity program with (almost) daily (cultural) activities and trips, free or at cost. Think of salsa dancing, cooking classes, trips, visits to places of interest, wine tasting, trying local delicacies, games, or other sporting activities. In general, there is a lot to do near every language school and you can do nice tours and trips during the weekend. When making your choice where you will study Spanish, you can of course already take into account what you like to do and where you would like to go!
Do you like surfing or diving? Then choose a Spanish school nearby the beach.
Do you like adventure, hiking, mountain biking etc.? The environment of some language schools lends itself to that a little better than others, so choose best outdoor locations to learn Spanish! Do you like Inca Ruins, or have you always wanted to go to Machu Picchu? Then of course you have to be in Cusco! And if you love the vibrant and colorful Festivals of Latin America, you should check out this article.
Would you like to discuss the best destination for a Spanish language course in Latin America?
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