If you are looking to start learning Spanish, trying to achieve fluency in Spanish, or considering travelling abroad to learn Spanish, you may be asking yourself which type of Spanish is best: the Spanish spoken in Spain or the Spanish spoken in Latin America? As you may already know, there are some differences between the two. Although neither is better than the other, we will examine the differences in this article to help you decide which is the right choice for you.
What are the differences?
Just as English is broken up into American English, British English, and Australian English, Spanish, too, has its own varieties. The two most widely used are “Iberian” Spanish (the language spoken in Spain) and Latin American Spanish. Latin American Spanish can then be broken into many dialects, including Mexican Spanish, Caribbean Spanish, Central American Spanish, and South American Spanish.
Spanish differs depending on the country or region-often even individual cities have slightly different dialects, and people from different socioeconomic backgrounds have their own too. The biggest differences are found on a regional level, though: Europe and the Americas. The language changed in Latin America as it was influenced by the indigenous peoples there, and over time, the language developed into new dialects.
Some words in Iberian Spanish have different meanings than the same words in Latin American Spanish. For example, in Spain, people call computers ordenadores, while people in Latin America call them computadoras. Also, in Latin America, they call their language español (Spanish) because it was the language brought to them by the Spaniards, but in Spain, it’s called castellano (Castilian), after the province where it is said to have originated. Spaniards consider other languages spoken in their country, such as Galician and Basque, to be “Spanish” languages too.
Sometimes different words in the two dialects have the same meaning. In Latin American countries, juice is jugo, but in Spain, zumo means juice, while jugo means the liquid that comes from meat.
There are changes in pronunciation and grammar, too. People from Spain tend to have a lisp, causing words with S or Z to have a TH sound instead. One example of this is zapato, which often sounds like thapato in Spain.
Luckily, Spanish grammar is generally consistent, with exceptions such as vosotros and ustedes. Vosotros, a word used in Spain to address people informally, is one of the most commonly recognized differences between the languages. In Latin America, ustedes is used to address people formally, and it is used less in Spain.
Despite these differences, however, Spanish is Spanish anywhere you go. Like English, the differences are not enough to greatly limit the understanding between two speakers. Americans and Australians, for instance, can understand each other without a problem. Likewise, Castilian Spanish and Latin American Spanish are about 95% the same.
So why is it important to explore these differences? Why could it change your decision?
It depends on where you are, what you expect to do with the language, and your current level of fluency.
If you live in Europe, you are most likely to use the Spanish used in Spain (Spanish people call the language Castilian). Similarly, if you live in the United States, you are more likely to use Latin American Spanish.
If you intend to travel abroad, you should try to study the dialect specific to that country. Although you will be fine no matter which version you study, you will experience less difficulties this way.
If you are a beginner, perhaps Spanish from Spain is not right for you, but if you are studying on a purely academic basis, it is the best one to learn.
You may also want to consider the possibility of exposing yourself to many different Spanish dialects. This will not only make it easier for you to communicate with anyone wherever you go, but it will help you to understand and appreciate the differences between them.
Are you travelling abroad to learn Spanish?
If you are looking at these differences to help you decide where to study, there are other things you need to consider, such as your budget, the time of the year, and what kinds of things you want to do while you are there.
Spain is a relatively inexpensive place to live in comparison with other European countries. Latin America, too, is inexpensive, though it varies from place to place. Flights to Spain and back are generally less affordable than those to and from Latin American countries. Really do your research to find what is the best for you.
Although maybe not as important as other considerations, when you decide to go may also be important to you. The best times to visit Spain are in the spring and autumn. The best time to go to Central America is around January, February, and March. South America is said to be best in the summer months.
Another factor in your decision is your interests. If you love food, both Spain and Mexico should be high on your list. If you are interested in volunteering, there are many opportunities in Latin America.
Your decision on where to study Spanish should be made based on where you want to be and how you intend to use the language.
Opportunities to Study Abroad
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