January 30, 2022 by Faustina Mulnik Hispanic Culture 0 comments
Are you asking yourself, “should I learn Latin American Spanish or Spain Spanish?”
This informative guide breaks down the subtle differences between the two styles to help you choose the right one!
If you’re a new Spanish learner, Latin American Spanish is by far the best dialect to study. With its clear accents and slower pronunciation, Latin American Spanish is ideal for beginners.
That said, certain Latin American countries break this norm and speak quickly, while others have a more difficult dialect.
Read on to discover the five Latin American countries with the easiest Spanish to learn and the ones with the hardest dialects that you should avoid. And stay tuned for excellent tips and tricks for achieving fluency!
Latin American Spanish vs Spain Spanish
With over 20 Spanish-speaking countries, there are many Spanish styles to choose from! If you’re trying to decide which Spanish dialect to learn, with a bit of research, the right choice becomes clear!
The Spanish language breaks down into two main groups: Latin American Spanish vs Spain Spanish. If you’re a beginner, Central and South American Spanish is generally easier to learn than Spain Spanish (also known as Castellano).
Let’s explore three reasons for this.
Not all Spanish sounds the same. Just like with the English language, Spanish accents vary by country and region. Generally, Central American Spanish speakers have a more neutral accent, making their Spanish easier to understand for beginners.
Here are the top five Latin American countries with the clearest accents:
- Colombia: the most neutral Spanish accent
- Costa Rica
Notice that Spain didn’t make the list. Spain is still, of course, a great place to learn Spanish. However, Spaniards tend to speak fast and their pronunciation, specifically in southern Spain, is difficult to understand.
Here are the four Spanish-speaking countries with the most difficult dialects:
- Chile: the hardest dialect to understand
- Spain (specifically in the Andalucia region)
- Dominican Republic
A major difference between Spain Spanish and Latin American Spanish is their pronunciation of the letters c and z.
In Latin America, the Spanish c is pronounced like the English “s.” A good example of this is the word gracias. Latin Americans pronounce it “graa-see-uhs.”
In Spain, the Spanish c changes to a “th” sound. Spaniards pronounce this same word as “graa-thi-uhs.”
This pronunciation difference is the same with the letter z. The Latin American z sounds like an “s” while the Spanish c sounds like the “th” sound.
Spain’s unique pronunciation of c and z comes across as a lisp to speakers outside of the country. In contrast, Latin American Spanish is more clear and distinct.
Moreover, the Latin American pronunciation is much more common. There are around 20 Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, while Spain is the only Spanish-speaking country in Europe. In consequence, 10 times the number of Spanish speakers live outside of Spain compared to the number of residents of Spain!
It’s likely that your Spanish teacher told you not to worry about the second-person personal pronoun, vosotros. Spain is the only Spanish-speaking country that uses vosotros and, as a result, many U.S. language instructors do not teach it.
Vosotros is the plural and informal “you” in Spanish. In English, there is no exact equivalent. Instead, English speakers created phrases like “you guys” or “y’all” to achieve the same result.
Clearly, these forms are informal and you would not use them in a professional setting. The Spanish personal pronoun vosotros is no different! Instead, you would use the formal plural “you” form, ustedes.
Latin American countries do not use vosotros. This makes their Spanish easier to learn since there is one less personal pronoun and verb conjugation for you to memorize!
Mexican Spanish vs Spain Spanish
Are you wondering, “Should I learn Mexican Spanish or Spain Spanish?”.
When it comes to deciding between learning European Spanish vs Mexican Spanish, the key is to choose the one that is most beneficial for your personal and professional needs.
If you live in the United States, then Mexican Spanish is the clear choice. There are millions of Spanish speakers in the U.S., many of whom are from Mexico. This is especially true in the southern states.
Due to its close proximity to Mexico, Spanish in the U.S. is heavily influenced by Mexican Spanish. You hear the same slang, accent, and grammar in the U.S. that you would south of the border!
Additionally, Mexican Spanish borrows many words from English. For example, parquear (to park) and rentar (to rent) come from English.
This crossover between languages makes Mexican Spanish easier to use in the U.S. than Spain Spanish.
Word Differences Between Spain and Mexico
Even though Mexico and Spain speak the same language, there are a plethora of differences between the two versions of Spanish!
Sometimes, it can almost feel like Spain Spanish and Mexican Spanish are completely different languages! Here are a few common word differences that confuse language learners when they cross between these two dialects.
- Spain – el piso
- Mexico – el apartamento
- Spain – el coche
- Mexico – el carro, el auto
- Spain – el bolígrafo
- Mexico – la pluma
- Spain – la patata
- Mexico – la papa
- Spain – la pajilla
- Mexico – el popote
- Spain – conducir
- Mexico – manejar
Spanish Learning Tips and Tricks
It’s time to start practicing! Check out these four tips and tricks to make your Latin American Spanish flourish!
Keep a Dictionary
No one wants to carry a heavy dictionary around a foreign country. Instead, use an online dictionary that brings thousands of words to your fingertips.
I highly recommend WordReference. This online dictionary helps you find definitions, conjugate verbs, and even learn slang!
Listen to Podcasts
Bring Spanish with you wherever you go!
Podcasts enable you to easily practice your Spanish listening skills while going for a walk, doing chores, or driving. Become a multitasking master and start listening to Spanish podcasts today!
Here are some Spanish podcasts to help get you started:
- 5 Spanish Podcasts for Beginners
- Spanish Podcasts! Learn Intermediate Español on Your Way to Work
- 5 Top Spanish Podcasts
Drop the Online Translator
Translators can be a detriment to language learning. When translating English to Spanish, these devices often misinterpret phrases, translate slang incorrectly, and sound unnatural.
Throw out the translator and use your online dictionary instead. This will also help you build better writing and reading skills.
Visit Multiple Spanish-Speaking Countries
There are over 20 Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America and each one has its own cultural slang and personal mannerisms. Luckily, all of these countries are located close together so you can easily travel through multiple nations on a single trip.
The more you visit, the more fluent your Spanish will become! Plus, speaking helps you learn a language faster.
Because exposure to a variety of native dialects influences listeners’ perception of foreign accents, your ear will be better trained to hear Spanish if you have exposure to multiple dialects.
For more tips and tricks, take a look at our detailed guides below:
- 11 Resources to Start Studying Spanish Today
- Learn Spanish for Free: 45+ Resources Proven to Promote Fluency
The Best Way to Learn Spanish Is With Online Classes
There are loads of benefits to learning Latin American Spanish!
From great cognition and decision-making abilities to increased pay, bilingual opportunities are endless. One of the best aspects of knowing a second language is being able to talk with more people. With more than 41 million Spanish speakers in the U.S. and 20 Spanish-speaking countries abroad, there is no shortage of opportunity!
The best way to learn another language is by taking lessons with a native Spanish-speaking teacher! That’s why all of Homeschool Spanish Academy’s certified teachers come straight from Guatemala. Guatemalan Spanish is one of the easiest dialects to understand, thanks to its clear accent and slow pace. This makes Guatemalans the perfect instructors for new students!
Are you ready to learn Latin American Spanish? Sign up for a free trial class at Homeschool Spanish Academy! Check out our flexible programs and affordable prices.
Join one of the 40,000 classes that we teach each month and you can experience results like these
– Maple, Parent of 3
“It’s great being able to interact with native speaking people and having a conversation with them not just doing all the work on paper. It’s also an amazing opportunity to speak with native Spanish-speaking people without having to travel to a native Spanish-speaking country.”
“Getting to know wonderful teachers who care about me and my growth in language and education. Evelyn Gomez and Erick Cacao are two of the most extraordinary people I have ever met, and talking with them in Spanish at the beginning of classes is always so fulfilling and greatly contributes to my happiness, joy, and wellbeing.”
“It’s a great way to learn Spanish, from native Spanish speakers in a 1-on-1 environment. It’s been fairly easy to schedule classes around my daughter’s other classes. The best value for us has been ordering multiple classes at a time. All the instructors have been great!”
– Cindy D, Parent of 3
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Freelance Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy
As a native English speaker, I’ve spent over 6 years perfecting my Spanish. My studies have led me to major in Spanish, translate documents at a local museum, and communicate with people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to know. I’ve studied abroad in Spain, lived in Yellowstone National Park for a summer, and volunteered in Costa Rica. I’m a passionate travel enthusiast seeking to share my love for all things Latin America.
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