Study Aids Slang Explained Understand Colombia

Why Your Spanish Textbook is Failing You

Most language books teach you only a very formal – and overly correct – version of Spanish. Problem is that, in real life, nobody actually talks like that.

Stick with this “textbook Spanish” and you’ll always sound like a beginner. But you don't have to. After years of studying and speaking Spanish in Colombia, I’ve discovered hundreds of little language tricks that'll get you speaking much more naturally.

Find out what you’ve been missing

¿Mucha feria o qué?

¿Mucha feria o qué?

This time of year brings the famous “Feria de las Flores” (or “Flower Festival”) to the city of Medellin.

That name makes the thing sound extraordinarily dull, but don't be fooled. There's plenty of fun to be had over the following few days.

While you will find a couple of events which are rather flower-heavy, most are not. Instead, music, celebration and fun take centre stage, all washed down with a healthy serving of "guaro" (or "aguardiente"), the favoured local tipple.

You can find plenty of information on all the events involved at this year's feria on other sites, but I wanted to look quickly here at a curious linguistic phenomenon that also emerges briefly along with the festival.

A bizarre greeting that fleetingly appears around this time of year...

That is, the bizarre psuedo-greeting of “¿mucha feria o qué?” -- an expression that can be used in...

study aids

Finding Spanish Language Exchanges in Colombia

Finding Spanish Language Exchanges in Colombia

Becoming fluent in Spanish, as we all know, requires more than just hitting the books. You have to get out there and start having proper conversations with real live people.

Even in a country where locals are as friendly as Colombia, getting into lengthy chats to practice your Spanish can be a difficult business, especially in the early stages of learning. While you can easily find plenty of opportunities for fleeting interactions...

study aids Integrating

6 Great Ways to Practice Spanish in Envigado

6 Great Ways to Practice Spanish in Envigado

There’s no better way to practice Spanish than by interacting with the language in real-life situations. Envigado, a municipality just south of Medellín, is the perfect place to do just that -- as Avalon from the Colombia Immersion Spanish school reports in this guest post.

Here, at Colombia Immersion, we’ve made a list of the six best activities for practicing Spanish in Envigado. For each, we’ve made a downloadable cheat-sheet so...

Slang explained

Colombian Slang Basics #4: Parche

Colombian Slang Basics #4: Parche

Today’s slang word is “parche”; a term the dictionary would have you believe just means “patch”. In Colombia, it has an altogether more useful meaning too.

While no exact English translation exists for Colombians slang use of “parche”, it roughly...

Where to study Medellín

Moving to Medellin? Here's How to Do It

Moving to Medellin? Here's How to Do It

Medellin was long excluded from the list of popular tourist and expat destinations, but the city has today become something of a mecca for Spanish-language students, retirees, remote workers and digital nomads alike.

The main reason for this is that...

Slang explained Bogotá

¡Qué oso! – Slang from Bogota

¡Qué oso! – Slang from Bogota

As far as possible, on this blog I try to examine slang phrases which are used in the whole of Colombia. However, some expressions are so essential for anyone staying in a given city or area, that it'd be remiss of me not to explain these too.

This...

Slang explained Understand Colombia

19 Funny Sayings from Colombia

19 Funny Sayings from Colombia

Colombians do enjoy a good bit of exaggeration. Not seen a friend for a week or two? “I've not seen you in like a thousand years!” (“hace como mil años que no te veo”), a local will most probably decry.

Pick up a bargain in the sales, meanwhile, and...

Slang explained Speak Naturally

How to Speak Colombian Spanish

How to Speak Colombian Spanish

Latin America's friendliest inhabitants – the Colombians – have long claimed that theirs is the most 'neutral' Spanish on the planet. Ah, if only that were so.

Chat to the locals during your stay and you'll quick find that this beautiful sounding...

Slang explained

Colombian Slang Basics #2: The Meaning of “Vaina”

Colombian Slang Basics #2: The Meaning of “Vaina”

When it comes to Colombian slang, oftentimes there is no one definitive translation of a given term that will fit all situations and all contexts. Confusingly enough, the meaning of many of these words shifts about a lot depending on the situation in which...

Understand Colombia

What Does A 'Colombian Accent' Sound Like?

What Does A 'Colombian Accent' Sound Like?

In many ways, my choice of the name 'Colombian Spanish' for this blog was a bit silly. It’s difficult to talk about an entirely uniform sort of speech across the country when there are so many differences in language use between regions.

Nowhere is...

Slang explained

Describing Colombians: The “-ón” Crowd

Describing Colombians: The “-ón” Crowd

A classic area to study in Spanish class is how to describe people. The sad thing is that often the focus is very narrow. Rather than looking at interesting ways to talk of different character and personality traits, more often than not, tuition looks just...

Slang explained

The Many Meanings of “Berraco”

The Many Meanings of “Berraco”

Of all the many Colombian slang terms explained on this blog, one of the trickier terms to get your head round is “berraco” (sometimes also spelt “verraco”). It is extremely easy to get confused with this one.

Technically, a “berraco” is a sort of...

Speak Naturally

English Words That Colombians Love

English Words That Colombians Love

Speaking natural-sounding Spanish is all about learning how to use the exact same words that locals do, in the exact same contexts. Your teacher or textbook might tell you the correct way to speak, but on the streets of Bogota or Cali, many of these...