Best and Worst Places in South America to Learn Spanish

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So you want to learn Spanish abroad? Congratulations, you are about to embark upon the hardest, yet most rewarding journey of your life. Language acquisition is challenging but if you can find the right country to immerse yourself in, the journey will be un ‘poco más suave’ (a little more smooth).

Taking into consideration all the factors that feed into an easier street to attaining the Spanish tongue such as accents, affordability and reputation-I have compiled what I consider to be the two best and worst countries in South America to learn Spanish.

Peru

When I meet people from Peru, I can tell right away. Their fluidity of style and deep pronunciation of the Spanish Language is unmistakable. Peruvians speak clear Spanish with a conscious cadence that is encouraging and motivating for someone who is just beginning to learn Spanish.  In terms of affordability, Peru offers immersion programs in popular cities such as Cusco and Lima for a reasonable fare: expect to pay around $150.00 USD for 20 hours if you choose a family stay, prices may go up. If you are looking for a cheaper price tag, you can try Arequipa, the second largest city of Peru that hasn’t been tarnished by the influx of modern day tourism.

Bolivia

Landlocked, Bolivia boasts a clear dialect of the Spanish language and is arguably one of the most affordable countries in South America. Aside from its affordability, it is also rich in culture and contains some of the top marvels in the entire world: think Lake Titicaca and the world’s largest salt flats. Bigger metropolis cities such as La Paz, Santa Cruz and Cochabamba all offer Spanish immersion programs at rock-bottom prices: in some places you can expect to pay as low as 3 to 4 USD per hour. If you are looking for a full immersion with lodging included, try, Sustainable Bolivia, located in Cochabamba, one of the most affordable cities in Bolivia.

Argentina

If you think your Spanish level is intermediate, travel to Argentina and you will revert to a beginner’s level. Argentine Spanish, filled with slang and idiosyncrasies, is one of the hardest Spanish dialects to comprehend. First drop everything you know about the “tú” form and switch to “Vos” . Don’t get me wrong, Buenos Aires is by far one of the coolest cities in South America, but if you are considering learning Spanish for the first time, I would start off in a gentler Spanish speaking country. If you are set on Argentina, give it a go and don’t be surprised if “Buena Onda” becomes your go-to phrase while your there.

Chile

Similar to Argentina, Chile has a Spanish dialect that is influenced by European and indigenous languages that form a hard-to-pin-down cadence that can be frustrating for first time Spanish speakers. ¿cachái? – Do you understand? Neither do I. If you have your heart set on Chile, check out the capital city, Santiago, where  Spanish lessons are offered on about every block of the city. What’s the advantage of learning Chilean Spanish? Afterwards you will be able to understand the mumbles and jumbles of any Spanish speaker from just about every niche of the world. 

Depending on where you travel through South America, it will help to carry a pocket dictionary or know some handy phrases. These three countries in South America require more of a knowledge of Spanish.

What do you think is the best South American country to learn Spanish? 

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About Author

Since a young age Jenna has always had an undeviating desire to explore the world and all its hidden niches. This desire has catapulted her willingly into some of the most memorable experiences of her life! Starting with delivering shoes to underserved villages in the Dominican Republic to bussing it down through Mexico and Central America, she currently lives and works in Cochabamba, Bolivia and believes experiencing first hand what foreign culture is really like, serves as her ultimate passion.

2 Comments

  1. Thanks so much for this post! I live in Texas and am wanting to learn Spanish but am not sure about learning in Mexico in that it seems there are more safety considerations to take into account as a female solo traveler there right now–especially with The Wall…as a result of your post, I’m going to seriously look into Peru. Here’s Q if you can answer one–wondering what your thoughts are currently as to Mexico and if you feel there are better cities to go in Mexico than others, which would you recommend?

    • Hi Beth! Mexico is a wonderful country and one of our favorites. We love cities like Guanajato, San Miguel de Allende, Playa del Carmen. Yes, you have to be smart and use common sense on your travels– but by and large we’ve found Mexico to be a lovely & accommodating country, full of lovely and friendly people. For more info on specific cities, do check out our Mexico guidebook. 😉

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