What’s the second-most widely spoken native language in the world (after Mandarin Chinese)?Spanish! This romantic romance language is the lingua franca for over 400 million native speakers, with official status in a staggering 21 countries, across the Americas, Africa and of course, Spain!
No time like the present to master this language and be able to communicate freely from Medellin to Madrid to Malabo! If you’ve struggled with high school Spanish and haven’t had success with Rosetta Stone, I can personally recommend one foolproof way to learn: immersive language learning i.e. full-time classes in the country an environment dominated by this language.
Based on my own travels and insights from friends who’ve traveled the path, here’s my take on the best places to learn Spanish along with some accommodation and Spanish school courses.
Colombia is reputed to have one of the best Spanish accents in the region- clear, easy to understand yet suave at the same time. As the country has improved its security, tourism has surged, especially in its beautiful beachfront and colonial capitals. Yet the country is still lagging behind neighbors in terms of GDP so living costs also lag behind similar big cities in the region. This means that you can do immersion for a relative bargain! While soaking up culture in one of the region’s most vibrant and culturally rich countries.
GNI per capita: 7,130
Like Colombia, Costa Rica also boasts a super clear, accessible Spanish accent. Even better, the country has a legacy of safety and peace, that have earned its title of “Switzerland of Latin America.” IN addition, the country is home to the most lush rainforests and dazzling marine life to thrill wildlife enthusiasts, divers, beachgoers and Instagrammers. The cost of living is moderate but not a bargain. Because it is an island, many items are imported, further increasing costs.
Still, the ”pura vida” approach in CR is sure to capture a piece of your heart, while improving your español.
GNI per capita: 10,210
Peru’s Spanish is relatively clear and moderate. More importantly, the cost of living is thrillingly low. For example, it’s not uncommon to find a delicious three-course lunch at a decent restaurant in Lima for $3 USD. This means a lot given that the country is considered the culinary capital of the Americas! The food is beyond outstanding and ridiculously cheap, and this low cost of living enables a very good quality of life. Combine that with the glorious beaches of Mancora, the historical essence of Cusco and the Amazonian mysteries of Iquitos and it’s pretty undeniable that Peru will give a great learning environment, with plenty of memories.
GNI per capita: 6,200
Many people like learning Spanish in Argentina because they can have a European experience in Latin America. Buenos Aires is not a steal, compared to the other Latin American countries, but there are scholarships available. Also…. You can learn tango! Buyer beware: the Argentinean accent is clear but the people use a weird “vos” pronoun that no one else seems to use. Also, their accent is a bit Italianized so be prepared.
GNI per capita; 14,510
Its’ the USA’s favorite neighbor, they have the most amazing food and cultural patrimonies and the flights are cheap! Plus, its quick return flight to the US . Moreover, their Spanish is relatively slow and clear, plus it’s the most common Spanish dialect in the USA!
GNI per capita: 9,71
Antigua, Guatemala is a charming town located 1500 meters above sea level in the central region. The former cultural, economic, religious, political and educational center for the entire region it maintains its 16th-century layout. Set in a valley, the cobblestone roads and friendly locals make it a welcoming location to immerse yourself in a Spanish learning excursion. There are several schools in the area all of which offer students a homestay option.
You will note that Cuba and the Dominican Republic are not included on this list, even though that’s where the author became fluent in Spanish. Although both countries are lovely, their rich Caribbean accent is harder to understand off the bat.
You will also note that Spain is not included on this list. That’s because more countries today speak Latin American Spanish than European Spanish, also because the cost of living in Europe will significantly increase cost of study abroad.
Buen viaje…. y suerte!