I think it’s no surprise to anyone right now that Spanish is one of the most popular second languages being learnt. But one of the biggest questions people have is do I learn European Spanish or Latin American Spanish?
Although I can understand why you’d want to pick, I think when you’re a beginner this shouldn’t be too much of a worry to you. You can start learning and change and most people when they start learning a foreign language keep their own accent at first rather than picking up the new accent.
But for those of you who do want to choose one type of Spanish and stick to it, I’ve broken down some of the differences between the different types of Spanish and why you might prefer certain types.
Let’s have a look at some of the differences:
What makes the languages different?
I want to start off by saying that although the languages are different, they can all understand each other. In my opinion it’s pretty similar to the differences between American English, Australian English or British English.
So yes this is kind of a choice you have to make but it’s really not that final or that big of a deal because you can still communicate with anyone.
European – Latin American
Verduras – vegetales
Coche – carro
Zumo – jugo
Móvil – cellular
Ordenador – computadora
In Latin America they don’t use vosotros, just ustedes. For some people this might be a reason to choose Latin American Spanish as you have one less verb conjugation to worry about but I’m personally a fan of vosotros.
The accents vary country to country and even region to region. You may want to pick a more neutral sounding accent in order to talk to more people.
Argentinian accents tend to be quite strong using a ‘sh sound rather than a ‘y’ sound for ‘ll’.
The Spanish lisp is a pretty big distinction and isn’t used in Latin America. This is a strong accent point to develop that might be harder to get rid of later.
Which Spanish should I choose?
Two important things to consider first when making the decision over what type of Spanish to learn is where are you based? and why are you learning?
Where are you based?
This could be a big factor for which Spanish you choose to learn. Are you biggest in the USA? In which case Latin American Spanish could be much more useful for you.
Or are you based in Europe, in which case I would probably choose European Spanish.
It you’re from further away, like Asia or Africa then think where are you most likely to visit or live? If you can’t ever see yourself going to South America but you know you want to visit Europe then learn European Spanish. It’s ok that your geography would influence this decision.
Why are you learning the language?
Why are you learning the Spanish? Is it to move to a specific country? Do you want to study abroad? Is your spouse Spanish? These could all influence your decision and I would recommend just learning the type of Spanish that corresponds to your answer to one of those questions.
If you want to move abroad but you haven’t decided where yet then it might be a good idea to decide that first. For example check what your job sector is like in each country before you decide, or look at costs of living.
If you’re just learning for the pure joy of learning a language then this is where things get interesting and you have a bit more choice!
Why European Spanish?
Amazing Netflix Original Shows:
- La Casa de Papel
- Las Chicas Del Cable
European Spanish is where the Spanish language was born. It’s appealing in the same way British English is appealing even though American English has a far greater cultural reach. There’s just something romantic about the original form of the language. Also because the language is s old, it’s dripping in history. The origin of the words, the idioms, the expressions can all be traced back to different rulers and influencers of Spain, be it the Moors or the Romans.
Why Latino Spanish?
Amazing Netflix Original Shows:
- Club de cuervos
- Casa de los flores
Duolingo is based on latino Spanish – so you have a ready made course to use!
Some Latin American accents are the easiest to understand. Out of all the Spanish’s, people tend to say that Mexican, Colombian and Ecuadorian Spanish are the easiest to understand. They’re clearer, they pronunciate well and they tend to speak a bit more slowly.
Spanish culture is becoming more and more popular and a big influence of this is the latino influence in the USA. Therefore a lot of the music being produced that people are listening to like ‘despacito’ are Latino songs. If this is the Spanish that is gaining popularity then it might make more sense to learn it due to the amount of resources that will be available to you.
What do you like?
Like I’ve said the different types of Spanish really aren’t as different as people make them out to be so think what do you like? Do you think Spanish from Madrid is sophisticated and the fast pace is challenging for you or do you think Colombian Spanish is really cool? If your preference is literally down to the sound or which you think is the coolest then that’s fine! It’s your language journey. Just pick the Spanish you like the most.
To me it doesn’t really matter which Spanish you learn. If you learn Spanish in Spain you’re still going to be able to communicate with someone in the Americas. I’d say you could possibly struggle with Argentinian because the accept is strong but to be honest, you’d probably struggle with it even if you learned Latino Spanish.
I would just learn one but expose myself to all types of Spanish. So I wouldn’t just watch the Madrid series on Netflix but Mexican series too and I’d try to listen to music from all over. Think about it like this. If someone was learning English they might learn the American words for things like trash or sidewalk but that doesn’t mean they can’t talk to British people and it doesn’t mean they can’t watch Sherlock Holmes either.
Based on this I would learn which one you prefer, then learn the word differences and apply them depending on who you’re talking to.