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What Spanish should you choose?

Many people want to learn to speak Spanish but there are some things they have to consider first. Not all spanish (latin and castilian) is the same and definitely does not sound the same. In Spain the biggest difference in Castilian Spanish might be the pronunciation of the C and some words have diferent meanings, like they might say "Estáis despierto" (You are awake) while in America people would say "Estás despierto", other words like "teneis" (American: "tienes"), etc. .

Note: When my students ask me which spanish should they learn? I tell them, if you´re going to live/work in Europe, you should learn Castilian Spanish.

But in Latin American or South American Spanish, there´s a lot to consider. In Argentina one of the biggest differences is the pronunciation of the Y and LL which they pronounce like "Sh". Like "Playa" (Beach) they pronounce it "Plasha". The confusion comes when students see these words are written different than they´re pronounced. People from Argentina pronounce and write "comé" (eat), "mirá" (see/look/watch), "subí" (go upstairs) while other latin americans pronounce and write different such as "come", "mira","sube", etc.

Same thing is for places like Puerto Rico, Cuba, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, etc. For instance in Cuba and Puerto Rico, in many words, the written R is pronounced like L and the written T is pronounced like C. They also omit the S in many words, specially at the end or in between sentences. Examples: "Trabajar" (to work) cubans pronunce Tlabajal. Or "Vamo´a tlabajal" instead of saying "Vamos a trabajar" (Let´s go to work). "Un momentico" (it´s kind of "just a moment"), they pronounce C instead of T which should be "Un momentito". The correct word is "Un momento" but latins tend to modify these words ending with "ito". A cuban student once told me that in some regions they pronounce words as they write and that it also depends on the level of education. In my experience, I´ve never heard a cuban pronounce this words as they are written. Colombians, Cubans and Venezuelans pronounce in many words, the S (in the middle of sentences) as J (or the H in english) "Ejque ejtá haciendo calor" (It´s hot -weather-) instead of saying "Es que está haciendo calor".

In some Mexican cities near these South American countries many people also make the last mispronunciation of the S (in the middle of sentences) as J (or the H in english) but the majority of Mexican cities use the correct pronunciation. Spanish from Mexico is more neutral, it´s why is the most recommended spanish to learn in Latin America because the words are written as they are pronounced. Letters are not changed in pronunciation. There is Mexican slang which is different.

I hope this information helps a little on what kind of Spanish you want to choose. 

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rickycom profile picture rickycomJanuary 2020

Well, the differences in pronounciation between European Spanish and the various Latin American dialects are not a barrier for mutual understanding: it's a bit like "London english" vs Canadian and the different varieties of American English. As a European, I speak Castillian, but can easily understand my Latin American customers. In upper class speech, for example, the typical "Puelto Rico" or "impoltante" is not that common.

One more thing: what you call "Castillian Spanish", is really the upper-class Spanish of central and Northern Spain: the dialects of southern Spain (Andalusia, Murcia and Extremadura),  are much closer to the Latin american ones: this is because the majority of the first Spanish settlers in the Americas came from that areas.

Actually, there is no "Latin American accent" (what US people label "Latin Spanish" is strongly based on Mexican Spanish): aside from some common features (like yéismo and seseo), there are a lot of differences between the various Latin American dialects: As an example, Chilean Spanish is much closer to Andalusian than to Mexican spanish.

So, in my opinion, you should not really ask yourself "what kind of spanish should I learn", because you just need to be aware of the subtleties of the different dialects, which are not a barrier per se.

YoBlackBlack profile picture YoBlackBlackDecember 2019
Aloha. = = ¡Hola!

I am an American. = Soy estadounidense ; Soy americano.

Nice to meet you too. = Mucho gusto de conocerte tambien.

There are an array of different Spanish dialects in different geographical regions throughout the world. I am studying and learning the Mexico dialect language. I know a little of the Spanish language. = Yo se un poco de Español. I do not know many Spanish words. = Yo no conozco muchas palabras en espanol. = Yo no conozco muchas palabras en español. I speak a little of the Spanish language. = Yo hablo español pero un poquito.

Mahalo a nui loa. = Muchas gracias.
vincent profile picture vincentNovember 2019
Hi Alecoiba, very interesting article thanks !
  • alecoiba profile picture alecoibaDecember 2019
    I updated the article with some information I forgot to add when I wrote it.
28ma2008 profile picture 28ma2008December 2019
Very interesting I from South America and I think everything you say is true.
Amnelbis profile picture AmnelbisDecember 2019