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(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 brain.

You have to work hard to get them there.

Undoubtedly, your progress will be more rapid if you stay a while in Colombia, or any other Spanish-speaking country, as you will be exposed to the language much more frequently than you would back home.

Techniques to fast track you from a Spanish novice to a Spanish master

But you still have to get out there and make a conscious effort to study, learn and practice. And, along the way, there...

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Learning ‘Social Spanish’ in Medellin: An Interview with Violeta

Learning ‘Social Spanish’ in Medellin: An Interview with Violeta

Rarely do Spanish teachers embrace the philosophy of teaching their students to speak like a real native, instead of simply getting them to converse like some kind of living textbook.

One of the few exceptions to this rule in Colombia is Violeta Bernal (also known as Violet Bloom), a Medellín-based instructor, who runs an independent teaching outfit called “Social Spanish”. The focus of her classes is on equipping students with the...

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 pig, but if you hear this word in Colombia, it is almost certainly not being used to refer to the animal. But it is not always an easy matter to figure out what the word is being used to...

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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...

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Useful Colombian Spanish Resources

Useful Colombian Spanish Resources

A great way to expose yourself to the Spanish spoken in Colombia is by watching, reading, listening to and generally enjoying the country's entertainment output.

The amazing thing about doing this is that it feels like much less effort than...

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

Understand Colombia

Spanish with a Touch of the Divine

Spanish with a Touch of the Divine

Hang around with Colombians for any length of time and you're sure to notice that religion continues to play a large part in their lives. In fact, faith is so strong, and religious belief so widespread, that many Colombians often take it as read that most...

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

‘Narcos’: A Guide to the Slang

‘Narcos’: A Guide to the Slang

Even accomplished Spanish speakers can be rather perplexed by some of the conversations between Pablo Esocbar (pictured) and friends in the popular Netflix series ‘Narcos’.

Based, as it is, mainly in the Colombian city of Medellin, many of the...

Integrating

Quick Tips for More Natural Spanish

Quick Tips for More Natural Spanish

We’ve all seen those language courses which guarantee that you'll be speaking “fluent Spanish in 60 days”. Sound great don't they?

Yet -- in common with 'get rich quick' schemes or 'effortless' weight loss programmes -- these courses, more often...