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 this clearly than when it comes to the subject of accents. As you'll soon discover, Colombians from one or other region of the country often pronounce the same words in sometimes very different ways.

The Spanish spoken by a resident of Bogota, for instance, varies significantly from the sort spoken up on the Caribbean coast. And this is different again from the pronunciation you'll hear in Medellin.

How to distinguish between the speech of costeños, paisas and rolos

Describing the differences just with words is nigh on impossible. Instead, we’re going to go on a short video tour of a few Colombian regions to see how they all...

study aids

(Colombian) Spanish: From Zero to Hero

(Colombian) Spanish: From Zero to Hero

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you’ve been told that by moving to a Spanish speaking country, you’ll “just pick up” the language, then you’ve been lied to.

Unless you’re below the age of about 12, there is nothing passive about learning a foreign language. Much as we might wish it were so, having daily contact with these alien words and expressions does not mean that they will magically and effortlessly seep into your...

Slang explained

Colombian Slang Essentials: The Meaning of "Parce"

Colombian Slang Essentials: The Meaning of "Parce"

One of the most famous Colombian slang words is “parce”, or “parcero/a”, which is roughly like “dude”, “bro” or “mate” in English (it’s not 100% equivalent though as “parce” can be used for both men and women).

It is a word which you’ll hear in near enough every informal conversation between young(ish) Colombians, and is especially popular among guys. Less commonly, you might come across “parcerito”; the diminutive version, which...

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...

Where to study

Is Colombian Spanish Really the World’s Best?

Is Colombian Spanish Really the World’s Best?

During my time in Colombia, I was frequently told by local friends and acquaintances that Colombian Spanish was the “best in the world”.

The way these statements were phrased – invariably expressed as: “yo no sé, pero dicen que el español...

Slang explained

Charting your Progress

Charting your Progress

The whole time you’re in Colombia -- studying, attending classes and practicing your Spanish out in the big wide world -- you should be constantly improving. At least, that's the hope.

But how best to sum up your ever-expanding linguistic prowess...

Slang explained

Top 10 Colombian Slang Terms

Top 10 Colombian Slang Terms

I’m never entirely sure of the source of this claim, but I’ve been told on many occasions that Colombian Spanish is the world’s most ‘neutral’ sort.

While I can certainly vouch that for the fact that the Colombian accent (in most of the country)...