With 488 million native speakers and almost 600 million total speakers in the world, Spanish is the second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese and the fourth-most spoken language globally, known for its great cultural richness and the remarkable diversity of the dialects it encompasses.
It’s the language of Cervantes, Pablo Neruda, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and many other prominent figures who have left their mark on world literature and culture.
Learning a language as popular as Spanish can open many doors for you, both as a professional and as a globetrotter.
So, if you’re a self-declared logophile with a penchant for Spanish and you’re seeking to expand your linguistic horizons, you can turn your travel adventures into educational experiences and boost your Spanish-speaking skills while you’re out exploring the world.
Essential Travel Resources
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What are language trips?
Learning a new language is a complex process that requires time, commitment, perseverance and hard work. Fortunately, those who are passionate about foreign languages and want to enjoy the perks of multilingualism have a variety of tools and resources at their disposal to make their learning journey smoother. One can take dedicated courses, make use of language apps, consume foreign media, and so on.
However, engaging in conversations with native speakers and practicing the language in real-life situations are by far the best ways to learn a foreign language, and that’s exactly what language trips are all about. These memorable experiences combine the joy of traveling with language learning and deep cultural immersion.
This means that traveling to Spanish-speaking countries will teach you a lot more than any course or language book ever will. You’ll have the opportunity to go beyond stereotypical learning settings where it’s just you and the study materials you’re using and learn the language directly from the people who speak it every day.
Being constantly surrounded by Spanish speakers will not only speed up the learning process, but also make the entire process a lot more entertaining as you’ll also get a taste of the local life, make new friends, and grow as a person.
The best Spanish-speaking countries to travel to
Spanish is the official language in 21 countries and even though their residents can understand each other perfectly, there are obvious linguistic differences in terms of vocabulary, accent and even grammar.
So, which Spanish-speaking country should you travel to if you want to practice and improve your language skills? Well, each destination comes with its own pros and cons, but if you have a limited travel budget and would like to narrow down your options, visiting any of these countries can be a good idea.
When you want to learn a foreign language, it makes perfect sense to go straight to the source. So, as the birthplace of the Spanish language, Spain is the most obvious choice in this respect.
If you’re used to the Spanish spoken in TV soap operas, you might have a bit of shock at first since Spaniards speak a very distinct flavor of Spanish characterized by distinción (referring to the distinct pronunciation of the letters s, soft c and z), seseo (words that contain z, s or soft c are pronounced as “s”) and ceceo (the letters s, z and c are pronounced as “th”).
It’s important to note that Spanish accents vary widely across the country, which might be a bit confusing for Spanish novices. Spain is also a very popular tourist destination so chances are you’ll come across plenty of foreigners who can get in the way of your immersive experience.
Mexico is without a doubt one of the most colorful Spanish-speaking countries in terms of culture, customs and visual impact, but it’s also the nation with the largest number of Spanish speakers and that’s a great reason to add it to your travel bucket list.
Mexican Spanish is generally considered more neutral and therefore easier to understand. The pronunciation tends to be softer and the speaking pace is slower than in other countries, which also facilitates the learning process.
However, in many regions, Mexican Spanish is permeated by indigenous languages, and let’s not forget about the famous Mexican slang which can complicate things further.
Colombians, and especially residents of the country’s capital Bogota, pride themselves on speaking the purest form of Spanish with an almost neutral accent.
Although there’s no consensus in this respect and we wouldn’t want to start a language-driven war either, most foreigners agree that the Colombian Spanish is indeed clearly spoken and pleasant sounding.
This has also given rise to a large number of Spanish courses across the country that learners of all levels can take advantage of, so if you happen to spend a bit more time in Colombia, you have plenty of opportunities to improve your Spanish.
But keep in mind that tuition fees can be quite expensive so you might want to factor that into your travel budget.
Guatemala is a relatively small country but it packs a punch when it comes to culture, landscapes, outdoor adventures, sites, food and everything that can steal a traveler’s heart.
And to add to it all, local Spanish is spoken in a clear, slow and almost melodic manner, and that’s something all Spanish learners can appreciate.
The Spanish courses here are also very affordable and there are plenty of schools that provide great services, so you can learn the language in a more formal setting and at the same time practice your Spanish with the locals.
The only shortcoming you may stumble across if traveling to Guatemala to learn Spanish is the high cost of living in bigger cities like Antigua which might leave a dent in your finances.
📖 Recommended Reading: If you’re looking for more useful information, check out Is Guatemala a good place to learn Spanish?op 33 Tips for Traveling in Central America.
Learning Spanish is a journey in itself but you can make your linguistic experience infinitely more pleasant and exhilarating by combining it with some real travel.
Each Spanish-speaking country has its own perks and unique appeal, so keep that in mind before you pack your bags and get ready for your Spanish-fueled adventure.