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Best country(ies) in South America to learn Spanish

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    Hi guys,

    Considering taking a couple of months out next summer to visit South America, and try and learn some basic/intermediate Spanish (total beginner). I know Brazil speaks Portuguese, so that's out of the question. Does anyone have any experience of learning Spanish abroad, particularly in this region?

    Thanks!
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    I studied Spanish in Spain (not from scratch). General consensus seems to be that anywhere in South America/Latin America is good for learning Spanish with the obvious exceptions of places where it is not the official language (Brazil etc.) Some areas have stronger local accents but that shouldn't put you off entirely- just be aware that Chilean, Caribbean Colombian, Dominican Spanish etc. are quite noticeably different from other varieties with different vocabulary- and Argentine and Uruguayan Spanish have slightly different grammar in some ways. But again, that shouldn't put you off.

    I found in Guatemala (where Spanish is very much a second language for many indigenous people), many people couldn't speak Spanish completely fluently, the result being that they spoke quite slowly. In general I found Guatemalan Spanish very easy to understand.

    Certain places (Antigua Guatemala, Cusco etc) are hotspots for learning Spanish due to cheap and generally good tuition- but they are also full of gringos so getting an immersive experience will be much harder.
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    Not Chile, since they have a tricky accent apparently.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-F2mk...eature=related
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    guatamala is meant to be the best, though it is central.

    Don't think it really matters tbh.
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    I lived in Chile for a year and yeah, they pride themselves on speaking the most corrupt Spanish on the planet. :lol: The advantage to this is that I can now understand most other Spanish speakers with relative ease, but then on the other hand some of them (especially the Spanish themselves) find it hard to understand me.

    Any country has its advantages and disadvantages, like cost of living, safety, places of interest, etc. so maybe you could buy a guidebook to Latin America and have a read through it, to see what appeals to you most. Personally I had a fantastic time in Chile - the capital, Santiago, isn't much to look at, although I made some great friends living there, but the rest of the country is really diverse and totally fascinating. You've got deserts, volcanoes, different types of rainforest, parts of Patagonia, all kinds of places to go travelling in (and believe me you'll want to set aside a bit of time to go travelling in - the countryside's amazing, and long-distance buses can be dirt cheap).
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    (Original post by superwolf)
    I lived in Chile for a year and yeah, they pride themselves on speaking the most corrupt Spanish on the planet. :lol: The advantage to this is that I can now understand most other Spanish speakers with relative ease, but then on the other hand some of them (especially the Spanish themselves) find it hard to understand me.

    Any country has its advantages and disadvantages, like cost of living, safety, places of interest, etc. so maybe you could buy a guidebook to Latin America and have a read through it, to see what appeals to you most. Personally I had a fantastic time in Chile - the capital, Santiago, isn't much to look at, although I made some great friends living there, but the rest of the country is really diverse and totally fascinating. You've got deserts, volcanoes, different types of rainforest, parts of Patagonia, all kinds of places to go travelling in (and believe me you'll want to set aside a bit of time to go travelling in - the countryside's amazing, and long-distance buses can be dirt cheap).
    Were staying with a host family in Chile? I would really like to go somewhere like that in South America this summer and learn some Spanish and just generally have a good time!
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    (Original post by 1platinum)
    Were staying with a host family in Chile? I would really like to go somewhere like that in South America this summer and learn some Spanish and just generally have a good time!
    Yeah I was - I was working as a teaching assistant in a school, and staying with a fellow teacher and her family. If you're wanting to pick up some Spanish and generally enjoy yourself then I'd definitely recommend finding yourself a host family - over there people socialise a lot more with their families compared with over here where it's more focussed on friends, so it's definitely useful to have a shoe in with some people. Also some of the cooking they do over there is just :coma: gorgeous. I could kill right now for a good cazuela (kind of meat and pumpkin stew). And of course if you're staying with people who primarily just speak Spanish (of course some will speak English/various other languages too, or indigenous languages in addition to Spanish).


    General minor tip to anyone going to Latin America to learn Spanish: they tend not to like it if you refer to Spanish as Español - they prefer the more neutral Castellano instead (this is in Chile at least, and I believe other countries).
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    (Original post by gee_shakedown)
    Hi guys,

    Considering taking a couple of months out next summer to visit South America, and try and learn some basic/intermediate Spanish (total beginner). I know Brazil speaks Portuguese, so that's out of the question. Does anyone have any experience of learning Spanish abroad, particularly in this region?

    Thanks!
    Argentina; Buenos Aires is fabulous and great food and you can learn to Tango too!

    Also it's not quite South America but Cuba would be a fascinating experience with it still be stuck in communism and those classic 50s cars zipping around the streets o Havana.
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    (Original post by superwolf)
    General minor tip to anyone going to Latin America to learn Spanish: they tend not to like it if you refer to Spanish as Español - they prefer the more neutral Castellano instead (this is in Chile at least, and I believe other countries).
    In Spain the government calls Spanish, Castellano, as they say thay all languages in Spain: Catalan, Basque, Galician (Which is actually a dialect of Portuguese!)etc are 'Spanish'

    To the OP, sorry know nothing about Latin America, but im sure you will have a great experience
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    (Original post by Sun!)
    In Spain the government calls Spanish, Castellano, as they say thay all languages in Spain: Catalan, Basque, Galician (Which is actually a dialect of Portuguese!)etc are 'Spanish'

    To the OP, sorry know nothing about Latin America, but im sure you will have a great experience
    Not quite true. I know where you are coming from, and there is obviously disagreement about the status of the language, but nobody argues that Galician is a dialect of Portuguese, but rather that they might be two dialects of the same language. Then of course the Spanish and Galician governments take the view it is a seperate but related language.
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    I recently spent three months in South America and spent the first three weeks in Quito (ecuador) learning spanish. I also spent a lot of time in Peru and Bolivia, both of which are spanish speaking countries. I think it really depends what kind of experience you are looking for there are plenty of language schools/tutors where you can learn spanish as a foreign language but if you want to immerse yourself in the culture/language then living with a host family or working with spanish speakers may be a good idea. I would suggest that you try and learn some basic spanish before heading to South America, as it will make it easier/quicker to learn the language once your in South America. It is also worth taking into consideration that Latin American Spanish is not the same as spanish spoken in spain - it is similar but if you went to spain after learning spanish in south america it might take a little while to adapt.
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    I've heard good things about Argentina aswell.
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    Guatemala is dirt cheap and amazing - lots of language schools too. Plus opportunities to travel deeper into Central America and into Mexico, where they speak the best variety of Spanish of them all!
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    I live in Andalucia, no SA, but just come here ;0

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Updated: June 14, 2012
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