When Spanish words are pronounced by a native speaker, the language has a certain musicality that gives it a real charm. But, as foreigners, our efforts to replicate these sounds are often nothing short of a complete disaster. We butcher the accent and destroy what should be a quite beautiful tongue.
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.
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.
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, you can also make use of any one of an expanding number of online platforms, courses and apps to boost your linguistic skills.
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 effortlessly seep into your brain.
I often receive messages from readers of this blog, covering various aspects of studying Spanish in Colombia: from logistical questions about visas, costs and the availability of Spanish schools in the country; right through to queries about how to use specific bits of slang or idiomatic expressions. I’m publishing here a selection of a few recent questions I’ve received about learning and studying Spanish in Colombia.
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 consulting textbooks or studying in class. It is also fun and can be done for minimal cost, whether or not you’re physically located in Colombia.
Often has it been said that the best way to improve in a foreign tongue is to start dating a local. There is, it must be said, much truth to this. Even students who, in the classroom, can barely be bothered to string together a coherent sentence, suddenly have boundless enthusiasm for improving their language skills as soon as they chat to a guy or girl they like.