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

What to Consider When Moving to Medellin

What to Consider When Moving to Medellin

While Medellin was long excluded from the list of popular tourist and expat destinations, Colombia’s second city has today become something of a mecca for a wide variety of foreign visitors from language students, retirees and digital nomads.

It is an attractive place to call home. The weather is great, locals friendly, nightlife lively and the prices still fairly cheap. Decent internet, infrastructure and healthcare are all also available, making living here feasible option for a diverse bunch of groups.

Moving to anywhere new – whether it be just for a couple of months or on a permanent basis – means working out a whole load of aspects related to life in your new city. Having first moved here in 2007, I wanted to share a few thoughts with anyone else also looking to make the transition.

A guide for language students and others relocating to Colombia's second city to study or live

Some of what...

Slang explained

¡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 is most definitely the case for the phrase “¡qué oso!” in Bogota. Talk to residents of Colombia's capital and not more than a couple of minutes will go by before you hear it.

The...

study aids

Online Spanish Courses and Learning Apps: Which One is Right for You?

Online Spanish Courses and Learning Apps: Which One is Right for You?

When I first started learning Spanish, way back when in 2007, the tools and materials at a student's disposal were limited. To pick up another language you had to go to class or simply work your way through a physical textbook (and audio accompaniment, if you were feeling fancy). Nowadays, of course, the learning environment is much changed. In addition, to these traditional methods you can also make use of any one of an expanding number of...

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...

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...

Slang explained

How Do Colombians Rate Your Spanish?

How Do Colombians Rate Your Spanish?

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.

I've always found Colombians to be very tolerant of those...

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

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 for the fact that the Colombian accent (in most of the country) is...