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The Best Places to Learn Spanish Efficiently - for All Levels
Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world with 21 countries listing it as their official language, resulting in extremely different accents and slang which can be difficult to grasp. This is why the level of the student – beginner, intermediate, or advanced - is taken into account when considering the best countries to learn.
Beginner classes will range from the ‘absolute beginner’ who doesn’t know their hola from their gracias, to learners who can string basic sentences together using the present tense, and possibly a little bit of the simple past tense. Don’t be disheartened if you discover that you’re still at the beginner level after months of study, as making the step up to intermediate is a whole third of the way through to proficiency, so take your time.
Beginners will need to take into account the clarity of the local accent and ease of listening – sorry Chile and Argentina, that rules you two out – while students looking to hone their already developed second language skills should consider ways to branch out and practice conversing at a more challenging level.
Considering total costs, quality of the schools, local life and the local accent, below are the best countries to learn Spanish efficiently.
Bolivia – Beginner Levels
Bolivians are regarded as having the clearest Spanish accent, and at a time when you probably need to be flexible should your progress not be as fast as anticipated, it is also the cheapest country to live and study.
For those who like big city life, the capital La Paz offers just that with a fair bit of chaos thrown in for good measure, however the country’s second capital Sucre is the best option and offers cheap living – around $15 a day would get you accommodation and food – with all of the schools there offering small class sizes and quality instruction amongst the white washed buildings of one of the continent’s most beautiful and relaxing cities.
Peru – Beginner and Intermediate Levels
While all Spanish speaking countries have their own unique slang, Peruvians don’t use this half as much and speak more slowly than most other Spanish speaking countries. Tie this with a wealth of affordable options from the big city of Lima, the relaxing historic city of Cusco, or near the beach in Trujillo, and Peru certainly becomes one of the best options.
There is also the little prospect of visiting one of the Seven Wonders of the World, with hikes along the Inca Trail to the world famous Machu Picchu departing from Cusco.
Colombia – Intermediate and Advanced Levels
Emerging as a favourite for travelers in South America, Colombia also offers top quality language schools in Bogotá, Medellín and Cartagena at affordable prices. The accent is also one of the clearest you will find, giving you plenty of opportunities to mingle with the colourful and hospitable locals who are gaining a reputation as some of the world’s most friendliest people.
Argentina – Intermediate and Advanced Levels
Whilst the Argentine accent can prove tricky at first, it can be a joy converse in once the barriers are broken down. Argentines in and around Buenos Aires speak Spanish with an Italian accent, and the Spanish of this region is actually the closet accent to Neapolitan Italian than any other accent in the world.
A good reason to choose Buenos Aires in particular is the quality of the schools, the low cost of living, and the atmosphere of the great city that it has become known to be.
In all Argentina offers great teachers, good prices, world class steak and wine, and a plethora of options throughout the country make this a fantastic option for those with a good knowledge of Spanish already under their belt.
Spain – Intermediate and Advanced Levels
While many Latin Americans have a certain dislike for the dialect of Spain, it should be remembered that this is where the language comes from. While Spanish has evolved around the world – Spain is now one of only two countries along with Honduras that use Vosotros – the Iberian country is still an ideal place to perfect your Spanish, practice using that extra verb tense, and even discover the history of the language.
With beautiful weather, intriguing history, top class schools, and easy access to most of Europe, those looking to master the language should look no further than Spain.
About the Author
After growing up spending family holidays in Spain and being obsessed with the street signs, jangling of the locals, and my ability to over-enthusiastically shout 'graciaaas' at every shop keeper, I rediscovered my liking for the language in my early twenty's and initially took baby steps to improve. With hard studying, I practically taught myself the beginner steps at home using software, books, and watching only Spanish speaking movies.
After spending a year living in Cádiz in the south of Spain in 2009, I traveled across South America for four months in 2011 and improved on my conversation skills, before moving here in 2012 and taking classes in Medellín, Colombia.
I now live surrounded by the mountains in Santiago de Chile, and am currently at an advanced level of Spanish.