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One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to learn a new language is focusing on what they are seeing rather on what they are hearing.

That is why people find Spanish language pronunciation difficult. Even those who have good proficiency in the language struggle with this.

How can you improve your Colombian Spanish pronunciation?

Let’s think about the way a baby learns to speak.

Babies spend their first months and years listening and replicating the sounds they hear. Then, they start learning the vocabulary. And, only after that, they start making sentences.

This is exactly how we should learn a new language, no matter how old we are! But, the older we get, the more analytical we became.

This makes learning a language more difficult because we are constantly comparing words, rules and sounds to our mother tongue.

So, if you want to master this accent, pay attention to the following Spanish pronunciation tips:

1. Choose your favorite accent

When learning a new language it is important you pick the accent you want to adopt.

That is the accent you will keep for most of your life. So, choose your favorite accent wisely!

If you want to speak Colombian Spanish, then it is advisable to adopt its most neutral dialect, the dialect from Bogota. It is the easiest and clearest to understand.

2. Listen and repeat

It’s all about listening and tuning into the sounds. Then, let your mouth replicate those sounds.

In general, Colombian Spanish pronunciation is quite regular. We pronounce all the words from the way they are written.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?

Yet, this is a common mistake that non-native Spanish speakers make. They pronounce the words the way it is written but in their mother tongue, not the way it is written in Spanish.

So, make sure you learn first the Spanish pronunciation of all vowels and consonants.

Watch Youtube videos or movies, and listen to Colombian music. Pay attention to how they speak and pronounce all the words.

And then, repeat! That’s the best exercise.

3. Learn the sound of each vowel, and stick to it

The English language has around 19 vowel sounds depending on the country it is spoken in. In contrast, the Spanish language has five fixed vowel sounds.

Make sure you learn them and pronounce them always with the same sound:

 

A – Pronounced “ah”, like the “a” sound in the word “spa” or “father”

E – Pronounced “eh”, like the “e” sound in the word “let” or “shed”

I – Pronounced “ee”, like the “ee” sound in the word “see” or “bee”

O – Pronounced “oh”, like the “o” sound in the word “boring” or “orange”

U – Pronounced “oo”, like the “oo” sound in the word “boot” or “too”

These are always short and open vowel sounds; they never change. Not even when they are combined like au, eo, ia, et, etc.

For example:

  • To say Barbara – Say “Bar-ba-ra” with the “ah” sound instead of “Bar-ber-uh”
  • To say excelente – Say “ex-ce-len-te” with the “eh” sound instead of “ex-uh-len-tay”

Mastering the vowel sounds is a vital first step towards a better pronunciation. Vowels represent more than 50% of the word you’re trying to pronounce.

4. Get your Spanish consonants right

Even though English and Spanish have almost the same alphabet, the same letters do not always represent the same sound.

Many consonants in Spanish sound the same as the English consonants. Yet, there are important differences you should always remember:

D – The Spanish “d” is non-aspirated and it is always soft. The sound is a sort of a cross between the “t” and “d” in English.

H – The Spanish “h” is always silent.

J – In Colombian Spanish, we pronounce the “j” softer than they pronounce it in Spain. We pronounce it like the English “h” sound.

Ñ – The Spanish “ñ” sounds like “ny” in English. For instance, we pronounce “jalapeño” as “ha-la-PE-nyo”.

R – This is one of the most difficult ones for English speakers. It deserves a full section (see next tip No.6)

T – The Spanish “t” is a non-aspirated, soft sound. It sounds like the end of the American pronunciation of “wet” or “dart”.

LL, Y – In Colombian Spanish, we pronounce “ll” and “y” the same way. It is like the “y” sound from “you” in English.

For example, we pronounce “caballo” (horse) as “ca-ba-yo”.

C, S, Z – In Colombian Spanish, we pronounce “s”, “c” and “z” the same way. It is one of the main differences between the Spanish spoken in Spain.

Learn these rules, practice and stick to the sounds. Take your time to pronounce all the vowels and consonants. Don’t sacrifice proper pronunciation for speed.

5. “Rrrrr”, the non-native Spanish speaker’s nightmare

Is it also a nightmare for you?

Don’t worry, we are here to help you.

The consonant “r” in Spanish has special rules. Pay attention:

There is a soft sound (“r”) and a hard sound (“rr”).

  • When the word starts with “r”, it always has a hard sound.
    For example: “Raul”, “ratón” (mouse), “rosa” (rose).
  • When the “r” is in the middle -or at the end- of the word, it is always a soft sound.
    For example: “Colores” (colours), “ventilador” (fan), “armario” (closet)
  • When you find a double “r” (“rr”) in the middle of the word, it is always a hard sound.
    For example: “Carro” (car), “perro” (dog), “Correr” (To run)

It’s very important you remember these rules. Mispronouncing the “r” in the words could lead you to misunderstand. Some words mean something totally different if it’s written with one “r” or double “r”.

For example:

  • Caro (expensive) vs carro (car)
  • Pero (but) vs Perro (dog)
  • Coro (chorus) vs Corro (I run)

How to improve your “rrrr” sound? Roll your tongue, practice, practice, and practice.

Here some sentences taught to young children at school:

“Erre con Erre Cigarro” (“R with R” cigar)
“Erre con Erre Barril” (“R with R” barrel)
“Rápido ruedan los carros” (Quickly run the cars)
“Sobre los rieles del ferrocarril” (Over the rails of the railroad)

6. Stress the proper syllable

In Spanish, there are strict rules about how to stress syllables.

For all words ending in a vowel, the stress falls on the next-to-last syllable. For example:

  • “Ventana” (window) is pronounced “ven-TA-na”.
  • “Cerveza” (beer) is pronounced “cer-VE-za”.
  • “Cuaderno” (notebook) is pronounced “cua-DER-no”.

Words ending in a consonant (except “n” and “s”) stress the final syllable of the word. For example:

  • “Papel” (paper) is pronounced “pa-PEL”.
  • “Doctor” (doctor) is pronounced “doc-TOR”.
  • “Comedor” (Dining table) s pronounced “co-me-DOR”

Words that don’t follow these two rules have an accent mark above the stressed vowel to show you how to pronounce them. For example:

  • “Fútbol” (football) is pronounced “FUT-bol”.
  • “Miércoles” (Wednesday) is pronounced “MIER-co-les”.
  • “Lámpara” (lamp) is pronounced “LAM-pa-ra”.

7. Immerse yourself in the Colombian culture

There is no doubt that when immersing yourself in the culture, you will pick up easily the accent.

The most efficient way is, of course, to spend some time in Bogota studying the language and living in the city. Here you will interact with locals and your pronunciation will naturally improve.

We know that for the moment it is very difficult to travel to Bogota to study Spanish. COVID-19 has made the world stop for a while.

However, it is the perfect time to start learning Spanish at home! You can start learning the language online with us at LMTS.

As soon as the borders are open you can book your flight to Bogota. We guarantee you will have the best Spanish immersion experience.

Hope to see you soon in Bogota!

In the meantime don’t forget to follow our social media and to read our weekly blog.

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

In previous posts, we explained why Colombia is the best destination for learning Spanish. We also mentioned the different options for studying the language, at university courses or language schools.

In this post, we are going to talk about studying Spanish in Bogotá and why is one of the best cities in Colombia to learn and practice the language.

Bogota attracts people from non-Spanish speaking countries who are keen to immerse themselves into the Colombian culture.

Why?

Because Bogota is the country’s capital city. It offers a great variety of activities for you to learn the language and it gives you the opportunity to meet people from all regions of Colombia.

Living in Bogota will help you to get familiar with the different Colombian accents and dialects. Also, it will help you learn the most common Colombian slang and expressions.

If you are wondering how you can study Spanish in Bogota, this post is for you!

Note: If you are a German citizen, we have good news for you. Scroll down to the last section of this article.

Options for learning Spanish in Bogota

There are basically three options:

  1. Spanish for foreigners at Bogota’s Universities
  2. Spanish courses at Language schools
  3. Private tutors

There is no right or wrong choice. It all depends on how much time you would like to invest and how much time you have to stay in the city. Of course, it also depends on your budget and your preferences.

Here we have prepared a brief summary of the advantages and disadvantages of each option.

University Courses

Colombian language schools and Universities offer consistent standards and high-quality instruction. What are their pros and cons and how to choose one or the other?

Pros

  • Opportunity to enroll in regular university classes.
  • Enjoyment of the campus’ facilities.
  • Opportunity to meet other Colombians and to enjoy the student Colombian life.
  • You might get entitled to get transferable credits to your program back home.
  • It will look good in your CV.
  • You can apply for a student visa.

Cons

  • Classrooms with large groups of students.
  • The program could be a bit pricey.
  • You won’t have personalized classes.
    There won’t be many foreign students in case you want to share your challenges and/or frustrations.
  • Although you can do short courses, university courses are normally designed for long-term programs.

Universities offering Spanish courses in Bogota for foreigners

  • Universidad del Externado
  • Universidad del Rosario
  • Universidad Sergio Arboleda
  • Universidad de la Sabana
  • Universidad de la Salle

Spanish School courses

Pros

  • Programs are more flexible than University courses.
  • You choose between group classes and private classes.
  • Classrooms with small groups of students.
  • If you are interested in learning a specific skill you can plan the program with your teacher or tutor. For instance, D.E.L.E exam preparation, or Spanish for business.
  • Once you are back to your home country you can continue your classes online.
  • Language schools offer many social activities.

Cons

  • There are so many options but you should look for the one that suits your needs and expectations.
  • Some schools mentioned their teachers are native speakers but it doesn’t mean they are certified or have enough experience.
  • Not all Spanish schools give you a certificate of attendance.
  • Languages schools don’t have the same infrastructure, facilities, and services as universities.

Private Lessons

Pros

  • Classes are designed for you.
  • Learn at your own pace, no peer pressure.
  • Flexible classes. Learn anytime, anywhere.
  • You progress fast.

Cons

  • Private classes are much more pricey.
  • You won’t have fellow students to share time with.
  • You won’t enjoy any facilities or social activities
  • You won’t have a valid certificate
  • You can’t apply for a student visa.

Bildungsurlaub Accreditation

If you are a German citizen and you are interested in learning Spanish we have good news for you!

We proudly announce that Learn More Than Spanish has received the Bildungsurlaub accreditation.

Bildungsurlaub is an educational leave program for German employees. It allows employees by law to attend courses on special kinds of topics during their working time.

German employees who are interested in this program should submit their application to the employer by the employee. The employer has the final right to decide whether the applicant is exempted from the work or not.

The application must be handed in in written form and all documents should be enclosed showing that the selected course is recognized as BU in the respective federal state. In most federal states, the application should be submitted twelve weeks before the course starts.

If the application is accepted, the employee is entitled to 5 days of paid leave per year to study at a recognized institute.

After completing the course, the employee could use the certification as a proof for the new skill in German professional market.

If you want to know more about this program visit the Bildungsurlaub official website.

Don’t forget to follow our weekly blog here. We will keep you entertained with Colombian culture and Spanish language articles.

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

How would our life be without food?

How would traveling be without trying local dishes?

And, how would Colombia be without its flavors?

As Anthony Bourdain said:

“I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.”

The culture of a society is manifested in a variety of ways such as art, music and food. There is so much to learn by exploring the gastronomic richness of the countries.

Gastronomy (gastronomía in Spanish) is the study of the relationship between food and culture. It’s the art of preparing and serving rich or delicate and appetizing food. It’s the cooking styles of particular regions and the science of good eating.

If you love food and if you are interested in Colombian culture, then this post is for you!

What foods are popular in Colombia?

Colombia is a gastronomical paradise due to its natural and cultural diversity. Our food is a blend of different traditions. It is a blend of indigenous, Spanish, African and Arab flavors.

Each region has its own traditions and its own food. It would take some time -and many trips around the country- to try the flavors of each region.

But, if you want to have a taste of all Colombian regions in one place, then Bogota is your city!

Bogota is known as the gastronomic capital. It offers the opportunity to enjoy the flavors of Colombian, international and fusion cuisine. It’s not a surprise then that Bogota is one of Latin America’s major emerging culinary hotspots.

That’s why Netflix has included the city in the new series “Street Food Latin America”

What are the most popular Colombian dishes?

Colombian food is colorful, diverse and rich in flavor.

If you want to eat like a Colombian, make sure you try these 10 traditional dishes:

  • Ajiaco
  • Bandeja Paisa
  • Sancocho
  • Patacones
  • Arepas
  • Chocolate con queso
  • Aguadepanela
  • Salpicón
  • Tamal
  • Buñuelos

Also, make sure you go to the city’s local markets and try these 15 exotic fruits. You will understand why Colombia, and especially Bogota, is known as a gastronomical paradise.

How to learn Spanish through food?

What if we told you that you can learn Spanish through food?

Yes, it sounds amazing – and delicious-, isn’t it?

Trying new food is not only delicious but an opportunity to learn about new cultures and to learn new languages.

In Colombia, food connects people. When you come to visit Colombia you will have the opportunity to share time with locals while trying new dishes. You will be invited to join family and friends dinners, to visit local markets, and to try street food.

So, while you wait until it is possible to travel again you can learn Spanish online. It will not only keep you busy and motivated during COVID times, but it will prepare you for your next trip to Colombia.

Spanish food vocabulary

If you want to have a deep and meaningful experience, you should learn how to communicate with locals with regards to food.

Here we have prepared a short guide to help you learn the basics of Spanish food vocabulary:

Useful Vocabulary

  • To eat (Comer)
  • To drink (Beber or Tomar)
  • Breakfast (Desayuno)
  • To have breakfast (Desayunar)
  • Lunch (Almuerzo)
  • To have lunch (Almorzar)
  • Dinner (Cena)
  • To have dinner (Cenar)
  • Snack (Merienda)
  • To snack (Picar)

Fruits (Frutas)

  • Apple (Manzana)
  • Banana (Banano or Plátano)
  • Grapes (Uvas)
  • Lemon (Limón)
  • Lime (Lime)
  • Orange (Naranja)
  • Peach (Durazno)
  • Pear (Pera)
  • Pineapple (Piña)
  • Plum (Ciruela)
  • Raspberry (Frambuesa)
  • Strawberry (Fresa)
  • Watermelon (Sandía or Patilla)

Vegetables (Verduras o vegetales)

  • Asparagus (Espárragos)
  • Broccoli (Brócoli)
  • Carrot (Zanahoria)
  • Cucumber (Pepino or pepino cohombro)
  • Garlic (Ajo)
  • Lettuce (Lechuga)
  • Peas (Arvejas or Guisantes)
  • Pepper (Pimiento or Pimentón)
  • Potatoes (Papas)
  • Spinach (Espinaca)
  • Tomato (Tomate)
  • Onion (Cebolla)

Meats (Carnes)

  • Bacon (Tocineta)
  • Beef (Carne de vaca)
  • Chicken (Pollo)
  • Duck (Pato)
  • Ham (Jamón)
  • Lamb (Cordero)
  • Pork (Cerdo)
  • Sausage (Salchicha)
  • Steak (Bistec)
  • Turkey (Pavo)
  • Veal (Ternera)

Drinks (Bebidas)

  • Beer (Cerveza)
  • Coffee (Café or Tinto)
  • Juice (Jugo)
  • Milk (Leche)
  • Soda (Soda o Gaseosa)
  • Tea (Té)
  • Tap Water (Agua de la llave)
  • Mineral Water (Agua mineral)
  • Red Wine (Vino tinto)
  • White Wine (Vino blanco)

What does Sobremesa mean in Colombia?

Another important word is “Sobremesa”. This word doesn’t have a specific translation but it’s very important in Colombia.

Literal translation: “Over-table”
Slang meaning: In Colombia it refers to the drink that comes with the meal.

When you go to a restaurant, the waiter normally asks you:
2¿Qué desea tomar de sobremesa?”

What would you like to drink with your meal?)

While in Spain it refers to the action of spending time relaxing after a meal. It could be drinking coffee or just hanging out chatting at the table after eating.

If you want to know the main differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain read our post: “ Top 5 differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain

Useful sentences and expressions in Spanish related to food

  • I’m hungry (Tengo hambre)
  • I’m thirsty (Tengo sed)
  • May I have the menu, please? (Podría ver el menú, por favor?)
  • What do you recommend? (Qué me recomienda?)
  • I would like… (Quisiera…)
  • May I have some…? (Podría traerme…)
  • Nothing more, thanks (Nada más, gracias)
  • Without….. please (Sin…. por favor)
  • I’m vegetarian (Soy vegetariano/a)
  • Can I have the bill, please? (Me regala la cuenta, por favor)

We hope you have enjoyed the reading. If you want to learn and improve your Spanish language from home join our online classes. And, if you want to learn more about Colombian culture don’t forget to read our weekly blog.

There are 20 countries where Spanish is the official language. So, imagine how diverse the language gets!

Every country has its own accent and its own dialect. One of the most beautiful dialects is Colombian Spanish. People usually say they like the language because of the accent. They also say it’s clear and easy to understand.

Within the country, there are also different accents and dialects. When we talk about Colombian Spanish we refer to the dialect spoken in Bogota. If you want to learn more about Colombian different accents read our previous post, Colombian Spanish accents: what you need to know.

Getting to know the local slang and expressions might not be easy, but it’s vital since they are used in everyday life.

In today’s article, we will explain the meaning of 20 verbs we use in Colombian Spanish. Make sure you also read of the post “30 Colombian slangs and what they mean”, it will help you to understand better how Colombians speak.

1. Regalar (me regala)

Literal meaning: “to gift” or “to give as a gift”,

Slang meaning: To give

Colombian way: Buenas Vecina, ¿me regala una cerveza?
Good morning “neighbor”, could you give me a beer, please?

Colombian Spanish Slang: Me regala

This is one of the most used verbs in Colombia.

Many people, even native Spanish speakers from other countries, get confused when hearing:

me regala un café” or “me regalas una cerveza”.

Why?

In standard Spanish “regalar” means “to give something as a gift”.

In other Spanish speaking countries for ordering a coffee people would say:

“Me da un café, por favor”

But in Colombia, we would say:

“Me regala un café, por favor”

It’s just a polite way to ask for something, whether it’s food, drinks or even when asking someone for a moment to talk:

“Me regalas un minuto? Tengo que decirte algo”

Do you have a minute, I need to tell you something

The verb “regalar” is used as synonymous of the verb “dar” (to give) only in Colombia.

Don’t be surprised if you hear stories of Colombian people that ordered a coffee or beer in countries like Spain or Argentina and the waiter/waitress answer:

“No, lo siento. Acá no regalamos nada” (No, sorry. Here we don’t give things for free”

2. Arrunchar(se)

Literal meaning: None

Slang meaning: To cuddle

Colombian way: “Está lloviendo hoy, arrunchémonos a ver una peli”
It’s raining today, let’s stay in bed, cuddle and watch a movie

Colombian Spanish Slang: Arruncharse

Arruncharse is basically lie in bed and cuddle, watch a movie, sleep or whatever but it’s meant to be a very easy and lazy plan to do.

3. Dar una vuelta

Literal meaning: To give a turn

Slang meaning: To go for a walk/ride, to walk around, to hang out

Colombian way: “¿Qué haces? Estoy aburrida en casa. ¿Vamos a dar una vuelta?
What are you doing? I’m bored at home. Shall we go for a walk?

Colombian Spanish Slang: Dar una vuelta

4. Hacer una vuelta

Literal meaning: To do a loop, to do a turn

Slang meaning: To do a favor for somebody, to run errands, or to do any sort of obligation of your own.

Colombian way: “¿Nos vemos esta tarde? Dale, pero primero tengo que hacer unas vueltas. Veámonos al final de la tarde.
Shall we meet this afternoon? Sure, but first I have some things to do. Let’s meet late afternoon.

Colombian Spanish Slang: Hacer una vuelta

5. Hacer una vaca

Literal meaning: To make a cow

Slang meaning: To chip in

Colombian way: “Hagamos una vaca para comprar pizza”
Let’s chip in to buy a pizza.

Colombian Spanish Slang: Hacer vaca

6. Rumbear

Slang meaning: To party

Colombian way: “Este viernes es el cumple de Antonia. Vamos a rumbear!”
This Friday is Antonia’s birthday. Let’s party!

Watch out, if you hear the verb in its reflexive form, it doesn’t mean “to party” but “to kiss somebody”
“Nos rumbeamos anoche”
We kissed last night

Colombian Spanish Slang: Rumbear

7. Picar

Literal meaning: To chop

Slang meaning: To snack

Colombian way: “Tengo un poco de hambre. Pedimos algo para picar?”
I’m kind of hungry. Shall we order something for snacking?

Colombian Spanish Slang: Picar

8. Dar Papaya (No dar papaya)

Literal meaning: To give papaya (Don’t give papaya)

Slang meaning: It’s a common expression in Colombia. It’s difficult to translate but when people use it they mean:

Don’t expose yourself to danger and don’t make it easy for thieves. Don’t lower your guard, have common sense. Don’t put yourself in a position where you become vulnerable to be taken advantage of.

Colombian way: “No dejes tu teléfono sobre la mesa. No des papaya”
Don’t leave your phone on the table. “No des papaya” (somebody could steal it)

Colombian Spanish Slang: Dar papaya

9. Camellar (camello)

Literal meaning: To camel. It’s a verb made from the animal word “camel”

Slang meaning: To work. A job or a task that requires a lot of effort.

Colombian way: “Quieres ir a escalar este finde? – No, no puedo. Tengo que camellar todo el finde”
Do you want to go climbing this weekend? – No, I can’t. I’m working all weekend.

Colombian Spanish Slang: Camellar

10. Prestar (Me prestas)

Literal meaning: To lend something

Slang meaning: It’s also used when asking someone to lend you something. However, it’s also a polite way of asking to use the toilet.

Colombian way: “¿Me prestas el baño, por favor?
Could I use your bathroom, please?

Colombian Spanish Slang: Prestar

11. Poner los cachos

Literal meaning: To put on horns

Slang meaning: To cheat on the partner

Colombian way: “Juan le puso los cachos a Diana. Ella está súper triste por eso”
Juan cheated on Diana. She’s really down about it.

Colombian Spanish Slang: Poner los cachos

12. Estar Prendido/Prendida

Literal meaning: To be lit

Slang meaning: To be buzzed

Colombian way: “¡Me tomé dos tragos y ya estoy prendido!”
I’ve drunken two cocktails already. I’m buzzed!

Colombian Spanish Slang: Prendido

13. Caer

Literal meaning: To fall

Slang meaning: To hit on someone

Colombian way: “Mira, ese es el man que me está cayendo”
Look, that is the guy who is hitting on me

This verb has other meaning depending on the context

Slang meaning 2: to drop by at someone’s

Colombian way: “Llámame mañana y te caigo después del trabajo.”
Call me tomorrow and I’ll drop by after work.

Colombian Spanish Slang: Caer

14. Mamar Gallo

Literal meaning: Suck a rooster

Slang meaning: To make fun of someone, to tease, to pull someone’s leg

Colombian way: “¡Deje de mamarme gallo!
Stop pulling my leg!

¡No te enojes, sólo te estaba mamando gallo!
Don’t get mad, I was just teasing you!

Colombian Spanish Slang: Mamar gallo

15. Cuadrar

Literal meaning: To square up

Slang meaning: To arrange a meeting, to organize, schedule a date, to plan, to coordinate.

Colombian way: “Cuadremos algo para mañana.”
Let’s plan something for tomorrow

Colombian Spanish Slang: Cuadrar

16. Embarrar

Literal meaning: To smear

Slang meaning: To mess up, to ruin, to screw up

Colombian way:
“¡La embarré!”
I messed it up!

Colombian Spanish Slang: Embarrar

17. Parar bolas

Literal meaning: To stand balls

Slang meaning: To pay attention, to listen

Colombian way:
¡Párame bolas!
Listen to me!

“Pero, ¿me estás parando bolas?”
But, are you paying attention to me?

18. Meter la pata

Literal meaning: Put the foot in

Slang meaning: To screw up something

Colombian way: “Le dije a Juana que su hermana tenía un regalo para ella. Pero ¡Juana no sabía! ¡Metí la pata!”
I told Juana her sister had a present for her. But Juana didn’t know! I screw it up!

Colombian Spanish Slang: Meter la pata

19. Estar enguayabado

Guayabo is the noun, hangover, while “estar enguayabado” is the verb

Literal meaning: To be stuck in a guava tree

Slang meaning: To be hungover

Colombian way: “Ayer salimos con mis compañeros del trabajo. Estoy super enguayabado”
Yesterday we went out with my colleagues. I’m hungover

Colombian Spanish Slang: Guayabo

20 Dejar plantado / plantada

Literal meaning: To leave something/someone planted

Slang meaning: To leave someone waiting, don’t show up for a date

Colombian way: “Quedamos de salir ayer con Julio, pero me de plantada!”
I was planning to meet Julio yesterday, but he never showed up!

So there you have it, 20 Colombian slang phrases to use on your daily dialogue. Which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below if you think we’ve missed any!

After making the decision of studying Spanish come other questions such as:

What program should I enroll in? Which country or city should I go to? For how long should I take a Spanish course?

Actually, there is not a “right” answer; there is not “a better program.”

It all depends on the goal you have for learning Spanish and on your preferred method of learning.

In Colombia, the cities people normally visit more for studying Spanish are Bogota, Medellin and Cartagena. There are plenty of universities and Spanish schools in those cities. They offer a wide variety of Spanish courses.

We know you can be overwhelmed by the seemingly endless options that are out there. But we will help you make the decision that suits best for you.

One of the things people struggle more with is choosing between University and language schools.

So, let’s look at that.

Studying Spanish at Colombian Universities

What is it studying Spanish at Colombian universities like? What characteristics university programs have?

Well, it’s basically the same as when you are studying your undergraduate or master’s program. Courses at the university are very structured, the same program for everybody.

University courses can vary in length, from a couple of weeks to a full academic year. So, the first thing to keep in mind is the time you have to invest in learning the language.

People who choose university programs are usually young students or young professionals.

They have the time to travel to Colombia for at least one month. They aim to get a certificate of language proficiency to include it in their curriculums.

What are the advantages of studying Spanish at a Colombian university?

  • Spanish courses can usually be taken in addition to regular university course offerings. Thus, you will have the chance to meet other Colombians and enjoy the student Colombian life.
  • You can enjoy the university facilities. There, you can also make new friends and immerse yourself in the Colombian culture.
  • If you are currently doing a bachelor’s or master’s back home, you might get entitled to get transferable credits to your program.
  • It will look good in your CV.
  • If you planned to stay longer than six months in the country, it’s a good option to get a student visa.

What are the disadvantages of studying Spanish at a Colombian university?

  • You will be in classrooms with large groups of students.
  • Depending on the university you choose, the program could be a bit pricey.
  • If you are having a cultural shock, you won’t feel teachers and fellow students are that close to you to help you overcome it.
  • You won’t have personalized classes. So, if you’re struggling with a specific topic teachers won’t be able to focus on your learning process.

Studying Spanish at a language school

Language schools are getting more and more attention during the last years.

What are the advantages of studying Spanish in a language school?

  • They have a very structured program as well but are much more flexible. You choose between group classes and private classes
  • If you are interested in learning a specific skill you can plan the program with your teacher or tutor. For instance, D.E.L.E exam preparation, or Spanish for business.
  • Once you are back in your home country you can continue your classes online.
  • Language schools offer many social activities. Thus, you can get to know the Colombian culture better in a short time.

What are the disadvantages of studying Spanish in a language school?

  • You should do extra research while choosing the best Spanish school. There are so many options but you should look at the one that suits best your needs and expectation.
  • Teachers are also highly qualified. However, ask the teachers’ credentials first. Some schools mentioned their teachers are native speakers but it doesn’t mean they are certified or have enough experience.
  • Not all Spanish schools give you a certificate of attendance.
  • Languages schools don’t have the same infrastructure, facilities, and services as universities. However, it’s not totally a disadvantage since they organize many social and cultural activities around the city.

For those interested in language school we have prepared “Tips for choosing the best Spanish Course

Whatever option you choose the most important is that you immerse yourself in the local culture and enjoy the experience. Learning Spanish should be always fun!

If you want to learn more about the language and about Colombian culture read our weekly blog here. And, if you have any questions about our programs you can always contact us.

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

2020 has been a very strange year. Do we all agree on that, right?

The coronavirus pandemic took us by surprise. No one was prepared for it. We thought it was another “virus” but we didn’t expect it was going to spread out all around the world that fast.

Suddenly, we had a worldwide lockdown. International flights canceled and borders closed. Thousands of people got stranded away from home and all our plans changed.

Everyone is in a different situation but we are all experiencing the same feelings. We have passed through different emotional stages. We had been skeptical, worried, anxious, and frustrated.

But also, we have accepted the situation and have been resilient. We have been good at adapting to the situation, to the so-called “new normality”.

Here we are, five months since the worldwide lockdown

At first, we thought it was going to be a 2-weeks -or 1-month- lockdown until we “fix it out”. But here we are, five months since the worldwide lockdown. And we are yet not so sure how long this is going to last.

Before COVID we often heard -and even said- we wanted to have more time. We wished Sundays were longer. We wanted to have time to spend with our families, time to relax, time to watch movies, time to learn a new language, etc.

Now, we have the opportunity to have the “time” we wanted. But, since it is something we didn’t plan and something we can’t control, it freaks us out.

It’s totally normal, life didn’t come with a manual on “what to do during pandemic and lockdown”. But as the saying goes “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it”.

2020 has given us the opportunity to think, to appreciate things we normally took for granted, and to restructure our lives in many ways.

Online activities, the new normality

Everyone’s situation is different. Some people have had the opportunity to work from home, while others have lost their jobs. Some people have had the opportunity to spend more time home, while others couldn’t make it home. Some people have started their own business, while others have lost their businesses, and so on.

In that sense, everyone is spending their time differently. However, the common denominator is that people try to be more “productive” at home. They see this situation as an opportunity to take advantage of their time. Also, an opportunity to do those things they always have wanted but -that for any reason- they have never done.

The world has adapted progressively to the current situation as well. Online platforms like Zoom have allowed people to keep up with their routines. Online meetings have become part of the “new normality”.
Now, we have our work meetings, attend to any classes, and even celebrate birthdays online. We can do basically anything online. We didn’t know we could do it until we had to.

Are we being productive enough?

It’s true we have also overwhelmed ourselves during these months trying to “occupy” our time. We are having free time and many emotions; and we don’t know what to do with all that.

There has also been social pressure on “being productive”. There are high expectations on how we are spending our time. Are we being productive enough? Are we learning something new? Are we developing that idea we talked about before?

But one thing is pushing ourselves to be productive, another thing is taking advantage of the time we have now to do those things we always have wanted to do. Like learning a new language. That’s one of the things people normally want to do but due to the many obligations they have, they never do.

This is the best time to learn Spanish online

Staying at home in isolation may induce anxiety and boredom in some people, especially those who thrive on social connections.

If you are looking for an option that keeps you productive and entertained, and that levels up your skills for your future career or studies. Then, one of the best things you can do is to learn a new language. For example, Spanish!

Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world. It’s spoken for more than 500 million people, in more than 20 countries. Thus, it’s not a surprise that during COVID people have decided to learn this language or to improve their level.

10 reasons to learn Spanish online during COVID-19

  • It can boost your mental health, it focuses your attention on something productive.
  • If you are studying or working from home, it breaks up your daily routine with something fun.
  • It’s flexible. You can schedule lessons at times that work for you.
  • It levels up your language skills for later on.
  • You save money. Online classes are cheaper than private or group classes. And, you don’t spend money on transportation.
  • You can combine lessons with watching Netflix and reading books in Spanish.
  • Even if it’s online, you can keep social connections.
  • You can do it from home or from any location.
  • You can save some money for your next trip to Colombia when we are free to travel again.
  • Being bilingual looks good on your CV.

The digital sphere is here to stay. It will take some time until we are free to move freely around as we used to.

So, this is the moment to learn Spanish! And even better, it’s the moment to learn Colombian Spanish online with LMTS!

Reasons why learn Colombian Spanish Online with Learn More Than Spanish

Don’t forget to follow our weekly blog to learn about Colombian Spanish and about Colombian Culture!

Spanish is one of the most studied languages worldwide nowadays. There are so many options to start learning and for improving the language. It’s a matter of making the decision, have discipline and practice as much as possible.

You could use many of the Apps available, enroll in group classes in your city, or have a private tutor. Also, you could take some time off to travel and get the best language immersion experience.

In this post, we are talking about the last one, a language immersion experience.

What should you ask yourself before start looking for a Spanish course that suits your needs?

Before start looking for the best Spanish course ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your current level of Spanish?
  • What is your motivation for learning Spanish?
  • What level are you looking to achieve?
  • How much time are you willing to invest in learning the language?
  • Of course, how much money are you willing to invest?

After having these aspects clear you can focus on finding the best Spanish course for you.

You might learn Spanish for traveling and for talking to local people. Or, you might learn it for communicating better with your family’s relatives.

Spanish is also a language people earn for improving their career opportunities.

Whatever your goal is, make sure you analyze the following aspects:

Location

You might think the location doesn’t matter, but it is a crucial aspect.

People Learning Spanish are sometimes overwhelmed by the number of Spanish classes offered.

A good way to start narrowing down your selection is by choosing the location of your Spanish school.

This is important because that’s going to be the place where you are going to pick up your Spanish accent.

Also, it’s going to be the place where you will spend some time and certainly, immerse yourself in the culture.

ELE certified teachers

When exploring Spanish schools, check first the qualifications of the teachers.

You should ask if they are native speakers but also what certifications they have.

Being a native speaker is not enough. Certifications, experience, and attitude are crucial.

A great advantage if the teachers are also bilingual or have an understanding of your mother tongue. It would be much easier for you to communicate with them.

They know the country’s culture and customs very well. They will be able to translate expressions and colloquialisms and to explain those topics that drive most of the people crazy.

Our teachers are highly qualified native Spanish speakers, passionate about teaching. They provide an amazing classroom experience!

Duration of the program

New Spanish learners are not always clear on how much time they want to invest in learning the language.

That is why it’s important to ask yourself the questions listed above. It will give you clarity and will help you plan your immersion experience better.

Learning a new language it’s a process and it takes some time. You can start by choosing 1-3 weeks General Spanish program to get by while traveling.

Then, if you feel like deepening your knowledge of the language, you can try longer-term programs. For instance, D.E.L.E exam preparation, or Spanish for business.

Services the school has to offer

Learning Spanish must be fun!

People learn a new language to have social interactions and to get to know new cultures better.

Learning grammar and having strong foundations on the language is very important. But, keep in mind that when you are out there, talking and interacting with people, is when you are going to learn more.

Thus, you should also look for a Spanish school where you can put into practice what you learn in the classroom.

As we say it at LMTS “Learning Spanish at our school is not just about studying in a classroom”. Our students practice what they have learned during the week interacting with locals. All with the guidance of our teachers.

Some of the activities LMTS offers are Graffiti Tour, National University Tour, and Quinta de Bolivar visit. Sometimes we also do a botanical garden tour, city center tour, and coffee tasting.

Volunteering is another service LMTS offers to Spanish students. They can practice the language while making a difference in the lives of others.

Mixing classes with social activities makes the language immersion an excellent experience.

Flexible study options

Another important aspect to take into account is the flexibility of study options. It’s important to find a Spanish school that suits your needs and expectations.

One of the advantages of studying Spanish in Colombia is that we don’t have typical seasons as North American and European countries have.

Spanish courses are open all year round and start dates are pretty flexible.

With regards to classes, the Spanish school must offer you a private, group, and online classes.

Why?

Because you can combine them and get the most out of each option.

For example, when you are a beginner you could join group classes. You will get to know new people and you will learn the basics of grammar and pronunciation.

When signing up for group classes make sure the size of the class is not too big, not bigger than 10 people.

Smaller class sizes allow for more personalized attention for students. The teacher can tailor lessons more specifically to different students.

Then, if you feel like improving a specific skill, like speaking, you can opt for private classes. In this case, the teacher will be focused only on you and you will see your improvement in very fast.

And, when your immersion program is over you could keep up the language with online sessions.

Teaching methods

Asking the Spanish school for the teaching method is also important. It does not mean that one is better than the other, but that they are different. Perhaps some are more suited to your tastes than others.

First of all, define to yourself what is your preferred learning method.

Do you like more theoretical classes? or do you prefer more visual and experiential classes?

Are you one of those who learn easier by writing things down and reading?

Or, one of those who learn easier by talking and listening to other people?

Once you have this clear ask the Spanish schools about their teaching method, the materials they use, and the activities they do. Ask them also how often your teacher will change. This is important for you to get used to different people’s accents and styles.

In conclusion

Choosing a Spanish school is not always an easy process. A lot of different factors have to be taken into account: their location, small class numbers, flexibility, and study hours among others.

Choosing the right school carefully can help you maximize the experience both personally and academically and give you the best possible results.

If you have any questions about the different learning options at LMTS do not hesitate to contact us!

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

In our previous post, we talked about the different Colombian accents and dialects.

When you visit Colombia, you will meet people from different regions. They all have their own accent, dialect, and slang. So, it’s important you get familiar with the differences.

One of the activities at Our School is to recognize the different Colombian accents.

Listen to the following audios from an activity our LMTS teachers did.

They asked a Paisa, Caleño, Costeño and Chocoano to read the same text and to answer some questions.

Tune your ear!

Paisa accent

Transcript

“Hola amigo, qué vas a hacer esta noche?”
(Hey buddy, what are you doing tonight?)

Transcript

“Los colombianos somos chéveres, alegres, amables. Nos gusta rumbear y tomar café”
(Colombians are cool, happy and kind people. We like to party and to drink coffee)

Transcript

“ – Jueves y viernes santo, en Marzo y Abril. No se come carne y mucha gente viaja.
– Navidad, el 25 de Diciembre hacemos algo familiar.
– Y, año nuevo, el 1 de enero. Ese día todo está cerrado y hacemos paseo de olla”

( – Maundy Thursday and Holy Friday it’s in March and April. Those days we don’t eat meat, and many people go on holidays.
– Christmas it’s on the 25th December. On that day we stay with our family
– And, New Year ‘s on the 1st January. On that day everything is closed. We do “Paseo de olla”)

Costeño accent

Transcript

Cómo son los colombianos? -Los colombianos somos chéveres, alegres, amables y nos gusta rumbear y tomar café.
Qué fiestas colombianas conoces? – El Carnaval de Barranquilla, la Feria de las flores y el Carnaval de blancos y negros.
Menciona tres festivos en Colombia – Jueves y viernes santo en marzo y abril. No se come carne y mucha gente viaja. Navidad el 25 de Diciembre, hacemos algo en Familia. Y año nuevo, ese día todo está cerrado y hacemos paseos de olla.

What are Colombian people like? -Colombians are cool, happy and kind people. We like to party and to drink coffee.
What Colombian traditional festivities do you know? – Barranquilla Carnival, The Flowers Festival and Blacks and Whites’ Carnival.
Name three Colombian holidays?
Thursday and Holy Friday, it’s in March and April. Those days we don’t eat meat, and many people go on holidays.
Christmas, it’s on the 25th December. On that day we stay with our family
And, New Year it’s on the 1st January. On that day everything is closed. We do “Paseo de olla”)

Cultural Tip: “Paseo de olla”, it’s translated in English as “Pot gathering”. In a traditional paseo de olla, families and friends gather together in a nearby natural area -normally by the river-. They bring the ingredients and supplies necessary to cook traditional sancocho soup over a fire.

"Paseo de olla", it’s translated in English as "Pot gathering"

Sancocho de Gallina: Juliocesarat / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)

Chocoano accent

“Pues un viernes normalmente por la noche se parcha uno con los amigos en la esquina. Las esquinas son como las famosas tiendas de barrio entonces se sienta uno ahí a joder, a recochar, de todo. Y ya si más tarde la cosa se pone buena nos vamos para una barra o una discoteca. Pero eso es lo que normalmente hago en un viernes por la noche; obviamente no todos los viernes pero si uno que otro.”

(On a Friday night, we normally hang out with friends on the corner. The corners are those famous little local shops, we stay there to have fun joking, mess around, everything. Then, if later in the night we are up to do something we go to a bar or to a club. This is what I normally on a Friday night; I obviously don’t do it every weekend but just once in a while”

How about the other Colombian accents?

Now, let’s do another exercise. Let’s watch some videos with other Colombian accents but without English subtitles.

It’s also a good exercise to tune your ears!

Caleño accent

In this video, you can see a very good representation of the dialect spoken in Cali and Valle del Cauca region.

Rolo accent

This video is an old interview from a TV show called Yo Jose Gabriel to Jaime Garzón. He was a Rolo comedian, journalist, politician, and peace activist. He was popular on Colombian television during the 1990s for his political satire.

Opita accent

This is a street interview from a local Opita journalist to a street vendor of the region

Llanero accent

Interview from a young student to a typical llanero man

Pastuso accent

This video is about a local initiative from Nariño region. It aims to promote the dialect, accent and slang spoken in the region.

Insular accent

This is an interview from Carlos Vives to Elkin Robinson. They are famous Colombian artist. Carlos Vives is from Santa Marta (costeño) and Elkin Robinson is from Providencia.

Did you find the differences between the different accents and dialects? Is there any accent you like more?

If you want to learn more about the Spanish language read our weekly blog to learn more about Colombian culture!

Learn Spanish in Colombia: In-Class & Online Courses

Learning a new language can be challenging when it comes to understanding the different accents, dialects, slangs and expressions that each country and region has.

When you are learning a language -whether it is Spanish, English, French, or any other- you might face, at first, difficulties understanding people from a different region than the one you are learning in.

But when your proficiency in the language is good, you will be able to understand anyone who speaks it.

For instance, when you learn French you should be able to communicate with people from France, Belgium and Canada.

And, when you learn English you should be able to communicate with people from the United States, Canada, UK and Australia.

Likewise, when you learn Spanish, you should be able to interact with any native speaker.

However, as we have explained in previous posts, Spanish is the official language of 20 countries, and it’s growing rapidly as a second language.

This gives an extra challenge for all those Spanish language learners.

Why?

Because dialects not only vary from one country to another, but they also vary within the countries.

What are the different regions of Colombia?

Now, talking specifically about Colombian Spanish, it is true that there is a “Standard Spanish”, which is worldwide known as one of the easiest to learn and clearest to understand. That’s the dialect from Bogota.

However, since Colombia is such a big and culturally diverse country, it is normal that language-wise there is also a significant diversity.

Colombia is divided into six natural regions:  Andean, Caribbean, Pacific, Orinoco, Amazon and Insular Region, and 32 Departments (the equivalent to states or provinces).

The dialects spoken in the various regions of Colombia are quite diverse. People from the coastal areas tend to speak faster and tend to cut and put the words together, while people from the highland do not.

Colombia Natural Regions and Departmets Map

Left: Colombia Natural Regions Map. Right: Colombia Departments Map.

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia?

There is a discussion between linguists regarding this topic.

Some of them propose Colombian dialects should be grouped into four major regions; others propose they should be grouped into five, seven or even into eleven groups.

Let’s explore the 11 Colombian Spanish Dialects from the North to the South part:

Insular

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? San Andrés and Providence Map

Colombia San Andrés and Providence Map.

The insular dialect is spoken in the Islands of San Andrés, Providencia, and Santa Catalina.

The dialect is known for being a mixture of Caribbean Spanish (Costeño) with some features of (British) English.

Thus, words such as “verso” (verse) becomes [ˈbeɹso]; “invierno” (winter) becomes [imˈbjeɹno]; and “escarlata” (scarlet) becomes [ehkaɹˈlata].

This dialect is closer to the Nicaraguan dialect because of the proximity of the islands to this country.

It’s important to note that besides Spanish, in the Insular region other languages are spoken. English, due to the proximity of English Speaking Caribbean islands and the influence of the British colonization. And a type of Creole, which is a blend between English, Spanish, Kwa (from the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo) and Igbo (from Nigeria).

Costeño

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of the Caribbean Region

Colombia Caribbean Region Map.

The Costeño dialect is spoken in the Caribbean Region of Colombia.

Some of the most notable features of the costeño dialect are:

  • Word-final /n/ is realized as velar [ŋ] (velar it is the sound of ng in English sing).
  • One of the most defining characteristics of the region is the aspiration of the /s/ at the end of a syllable, which changes from an /s/ sound to a weak /h/. Thus, “costa” (coast) is pronounced [ˈkohta]; and “más o menos” (more or less) sounds more like “má[h] o meno[h]”
  • The “d” in words that end in “-ado” is generally skipped. For instance, you’ll hear “pesca’o” instead of “pescado” (fish) and “pela’o” instead of “pelado” (slang for boy or guy).
  • Some other letters may be omitted as well. For example, Cartagena would be pronounced “Ca’tagena” and “verdad” (truth) would be pronounced “ve’dá”.

Within the Costeño dialect, there are notable and distinguishable varieties of the dialect as well. The accents from Barranquilla, Cartagena, La Guajira and the interior coastal regions are all considered sub-dialects of the broader costeño classification.

Most of the people from outside the Caribbean region (including Colombians from the interior regions) might have a hard time picking them out.

For them, they all speak “costeño dialect” but for costeños people, the accent is pretty distinguished.

Santandereano

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of the Santander and Santander North

Left: Santander Department Right: Norte de Santander Department

Santandereano dialect is spoken in the northeastern part of the country in Santander and Norte de Santander Departments.

The most common feature of this dialect is the strong use of “ustedeo” in both informal and formal contexts.

In these regions you will rarely hear the pronoun “tú” (“you’ in its informal and singular form), as “usted” (“you” in its formal and singular form) dominates in almost all formal and informal situations.

For people from outside these regions, the use of “ustedeo” and their staccato speech makes the accent sound a little angry and rough.

Paisa

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Antioquia and Caldas Departments- Paisa

Left: Antioquia Department.
Right: Caldas Department

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Risaralda and Quindio Departments- Paisa

Left: Risarlada Department Right: Quindio Department

Paisa dialect is mainly spoken in the departments of Antioquia, Caldas, Risaralda and Quindío.

The way Paisas speak Spanish is distinctive both within and outside Colombia.

Paisas are said to speak Spanish fast and soft. They have many local and regional expressions that are opaque even for other Colombians.

Some of the most notable features of the paisa dialect are:

  • Voseo (using “vos” instead of ‘tú”). Paisas use “vos” as the second person singular informal pronoun (instead of tú) and “usted” for formal address. You will (almost) never hear “tú” but it is common to hear “usted” even with relatives and friends. Thus, instead of “¿Qué quieres comer?”, you might ask “¿Qué querés comer?” (what do you want to eat?)
  • One of its most distinctive features is the phrasal intonation. Some people call it a singsong accent that drags out the end of a sentence in a most peculiar tonal rise and fall.
  • The /s/ is pronounced slightly more like an /sh/, giving the accent an almost whisper-like feeling.

Chocoano

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Choco Department- Chocoano

Choco Department

The Chocoano dialect is spoken throughout the Pacific coast.

It is said to reflect African influence in terms of intonation and rhythm. Similar to the Costeño dialect, this dialect is known for omitting the syllable-final /s/ or debuccalize it and pronounce it as [h].

For example, you would hear “e’to señore” instead of “estos señores”.

This dialect is also spoken by Afro-Colombians living inland in the departments of Cauca and Valle del Cauca.

Cundiboyacense

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Cundinamarca and Boyaca Departments- Cundiboyacense Dialect

Left: Cundinamarca Department Right: Boyaca Department

The Cundiboyacense dialect is spoken in the departments of Cundinamarca and Boyacá, also known as “Altiplano Cundiboyacense” (Cundiboyacense High Plateau).

The main feature of this dialect is the use of the term “sumercé”, which is a shorter way of saying “su merced” (literally “your grace”).

This is an old term to treat someone with courtesy and respect back in the colonial times. After the Spanish Conquest, people used to say “vuestra merced”, now since in Colombia we don’t use “vosotros” this term has changed to “su merced”. (Read our post Top 5 differences between Spanish from Colombia and Spanish from Spain)

Although Bogota is located in the Cundinamarca department, the dialect spoken in the capital city is quite different and has its features.

Rolo

Rolo is the dialect spoken in Bogotá.

Some people also called it “cachaco”, however, there is a difference between Rolos and Cachacos.

Rolo dialect is known as being one of the easiest Spanish dialects to learn and to understand. Some of the most notable features of this dialect are:

  • The use of the pronoun “usted” even among family members and close friends.
  • Rolos are known for being very polite and its dialect proves it. In Bogota, you will normally hear people saying “Podría por favor abrir la ventana?”, which is similar to the polite British way of saying “would you please open the window?”
  • The pronunciation of all letters, including syllable-final /s/ and /d/ in the -ado endings.

When people talk about  “Colombian Spanish” they normally are referring to the Rolo dialect. It’s the most neutral dialect of the country and therefore it is used for formal speeches, National TV and radio.

Opita

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Tolima and Huila Departments- Opita Dialect

Left: Tolima Department Right: Huila Department

The Opita dialect is spoken in the departments of Tolima and Huila, mostly in the central and southern parts of the Magdalena River Valley.

This dialect is known for having a strong influence on indigenous languages and is noted for its slow tempo and unique intonation.

The dialect is also characterized by the use of the second-person pronoun “usted” with a variation of the word in some rural areas “vusted”

People from Tolima and Huila are known for speaking very slowly and for changing the common hiatuses to diphthongs. For instance, for the word “pelear” (to fight) you would hear “peliar” and for the word “peor” (worse) you would hear “pior”.

Llanero

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Meta and Casanare Departments- Chocoano

Left: Meta Department Right: Casanare Department

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Meta and Casanare Departments- Chocoano

Left: Arauca Department Right: Vichada Department

Llanero dialect is spoken in the eastern plains of the country. It is spoken throughout the Colombian plains in the Meta, Casanare, Arauca and Vichada departments.

Some of the most notable features of this dialect are:

  • Perhaps the most typical feature of this dialect is its Indigenous inheritance, there are many indigenous terms incorporated into this speech.
  • It suppresses or weakens the redundant /-s/ of the plural, making it sound like a soft /h/. For example a sentence like “Los perros cuatronarices” would sound like “lo[h] perro cuatronarice) (cuatronarices is a local snake species), or for a sentence like “ los padrinos” (the godfathers) you would hear “lo[h] padrino”
  • It also tends to make a composition of words. For instance “pativoltiao”, which is a combination of “pata” (leg) + “volteado” (flipped).

Caleño (Valluno)

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Valle del Cauca- Caleño

The Valluno dialect is spoken in the valley of the Cauca River between the Western and Central cordilleras. It is also known as Caleño (from the city of Cali).

Some of the most notable features of this dialect are:

  • Similar to the Paisa dialect, the Caleño dialect is known for the strong use of voseo.
    This dialect has many slang and phrases not used in the rest of the country.
  • Another of the most notable features of this dialect is the strong use of “jejeo”. This is the change of an /s/ sound in between vowels to a /h/ sound. For instance, you would hear “nehesitár” instead of “necesitar” (to need), or “lohombres” instead of “los hombres”.
    Also, the /n/ sound at the end of a sentence is often changed to an /m/ sound. For example “pan” (bread) becomes “pam” and “tren” (train) becomes “trem”.

Pastuso

Which dialects are spoken in Colombia? Map of Pasto - Pastuso Dialect

Nariño Department

Lastly, the Pastuso dialect is spoken in the southwest of the country in the Nariño department.

This dialect is closer to that spoken in Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia than to many of its Colombian counterparts.

Some of the most notable features of this dialect are:

  • Pastuso dialect also has strong indigenous influence, with many common words adopted from Quechua language, for example: “achachay” for cold, “cuiche” for rainbow and “guato” for small.
  • The /r/, like in Chile, is assibilated. It means that the sound is more like a hissing sound.
  • Vowels are also weakened to give more emphasis to the consonants, and like in the interior, the /s/ is never omitted or weakened.

In conclusion

As you can see, there is a huge world within the Colombian language and its dialects. There are some easier to understand than others.

So, don’t worry! Don’t get frustrated if you go to a different region or country and you are having issues to understand certain words or expressions. If it’s any consolation, even for us, native Spanish speakers, some dialects are more difficult to understand.

Just keep practicing and most importantly don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t understand the meaning of a word or expression. Colombian people are very friendly and they will be happy to explain to you and teach you new words.

Last but not least, don’t miss our next blog post. We know is difficult to get a proper idea of the accent by just reading the characteristics so we have prepared some audios that will help you to identify the features of each dialect here mentioned.

File Attributions and References:

  • Natural Regions of Colombia By MilenioscuroTrabajo propio  CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
  • Departments of Colombia By MilenioscuroTrabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
  • Colombia San Andres y Providencia Map By Milenioscuro / CC BY-SA
  • Colombia Caribbean Region Map By Milenioscuro / CC BY-SA
  • Santander Department Map By  TUBSOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Norte de Santander Department Map By TUBSOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Antioquia Department Map By TUBSOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Caldas Department Map By TUBSOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Risaralda Department Map By TUBSOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link
  • Risaralda Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366776
  • Quindio Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366776
  • Choco Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366568
  • Cundinamarca Department Map  By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366612
  • Boyaca Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366393
  • Tolima Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366873
  • Huila Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366662
  • Meta Department By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366718
  • Casanare Department By TUBS / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
  • Arauca Department Map By TUBS / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
  • Vichada Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366912
  • Valle del Cauca Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366891
  • Pasto Department Map By TUBS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17366727

 

There are many reasons why people decide to learn a new language.

Because it’s one of the most spoken languages of the world;

It’s very useful for traveling and doing business.

Or simply because they like how the language sounds.

Those who learn Spanish in Colombia might have chosen the country because they have fallen in love with a Colombian and they are interested in our culture.

Or, because they want to travel around the country and discover its beauty.

Whatever the reason is, the most important is making the learning process entertained.

That is why we have prepared a short guide on how to learn Spanish by watching Colombian Movies and Series.

How watching movies could help you improve your Spanish?

Although it is very important to have a teacher who helps you learn properly the language’s grammar, pronunciation, and structure; it is not advisable to get used to only one person’s accent and way of speaking.

It is very important to immerse yourself as much as possible in the language; to get yourself used to hearing different accents, talking speeds, and words.

There are many ways you can practice your Spanish outside your classes. A very nice and entertaining way is by watching movies. Yes, as simple as that!

It doesn’t matter which is your level of Spanish.

How is that?

By watching movies and series in Spanish you could:

  • Learn new vocabulary.
  • Get used to different accents and conversation speeds.
  • Learn slang and expressions.
  • Get to know the Colombian culture better.

To get the best out of the movies or series, watch them consciously. It’s important you are in the ”mood of learning”.

Here some tips that could help you!

Tips to improve your Spanish while watching movies and series

1. Keep always a notebook and a pen next to you

You might think you will remember the words you like during the movie for the next class with your teacher, but the truth is you won’t remember much.

So, enjoy the movie but keep a page of your notebook to add new vocabulary.

2. Watch English movies with Spanish subtitles

Start by putting Spanish subtitles to all movies, series, TV shows, and talks that you like.

It will help you to get familiar with the words, construction of the sentences, and expressions.

3. Watch Children movies in Spanish keeping Spanish subtitles.

Who doesn’t love children’s movies?

Well, this is an opportunity to remember your childhood. Watch movies like the Lion King, Aladdin, The Jungle Book, Tarzan, Bambi, and Toy Story in Spanish. You have seen these movies before, so you know what’s happening. Thus, you can focus more on the language than on the movie.

4. Watch Colombian, Latin American, and Spanish movies in the original language.

If your Spanish proficiency is not that good yet, keep the English subtitle, but always keep attention to conversations.

Try to grasp as many words and expressions as you can.

If you are confident enough with your Spanish language, then watch the movies in the original language with Spanish subtitles.

Reading the subtitles will help you to understand better in case you miss out on any words and will help you improve your spelling.

5. Focus on short segments and simple conversations

Start with baby steps.

Don’t get frustrated if you don’t understand much in the beginning.

There is no need to rush, just focus on short segments of the movie or series. Pay full attention to those conversations when just one or two people are talking.

6. Listen and repeat

This is a fun exercise. Choose a simple sentence or conversation and try to repeat what they are saying.

Pay particular attention to the intonation of the words and sentences, to the pronunciation, and the speed. This will help your tongue getting loose and thus having a better pronunciation.

7. Look up new words

As soon as you finish watching the movie or series, look up the words you wrote down and their meaning. It’s important you do it when your memory is still fresh.

Try to use the new words you learn in further conversation with your teacher or friends, this will help remember them easily afterward.

8. Watch the movie or series all over again

Who hasn’t repeated movies once, twice, three times or even more times?

Well, if you find a favorite Spanish language movie or series, watch it over and over again. Since you already know the story you can focus more on the language!

So, keep these tips in mind, get yourself some popcorn, and start practicing!

This is a list of 10 Colombian movies and series you should watch to improve your Spanish language. They could help you learn our most common slang and expressions as well as our culture.

Top 10 Colombian movies and series

Documentary – Colombia Wild Magic (Colombia Magia Salvaje)

“A wonderful country full of amazing creatures in America called Colombia, seen as never before, accompanied by incredible shots, make it a must-see place for adventurers and wildlife lovers this natural paradise”. (IMDb)

Movie – The Wind Journeys (Los Viajes del Viento)

“For most of his life, Ignacio Carrillo traveled the villages of northern Colombia, playing traditional songs on his accordion, a legendary instrument said to have once belonged to the devil. He eventually married and settled in a small town, leaving the nomadic life behind. But after the traumatic death of his wife, he vows to never play the accursed accordion again and embarks on one last journey to return the instrument to its rightful owner. On the way, Ignacio is followed by Fermá­n, a spirited teenager determined to become his apprentice. Tired of loneliness, Ignacio accepts the young man as his pupil and together they traverse the vast Colombian terrain, discovering the musical diversity of Caribbean culture”. (IMDb)

Movie – The Strategy of the Snail (La estrategia del Caracol)

“A lot of people live in an abandoned house; after many years of quiet living, the owner of the house wants them out. They try whatever they can to avoid being evicted, without success. But one of them thinks of a way of saving, at least, their dignity”. (IMDb)

Movie – The Colors of the Mountain (Los Colores de la Montaña)

“Manuel dreams of being a goalkeeper and ventures into a minefield to rescue his new ball”. (IMDb)

Movie – Maria Full of Grace (María Llena de Gracia)

“A pregnant Colombian teenager becomes a drug mule to make some desperately needed money for her family”. (IMDb)

Movie – Satan (Satanás)

“Based on the Mario Mendoza’s book and inspired by true events, tells three interconnected stories happening in the eve of the infamous Pozzetto Massacre”. (IMDb)

Netflix Series – Wild District (Distrito Salvaje)

“After surrendering to Bogotá police, an ex-guerrilla avoids prison by working undercover to investigate a ruthless enforcer of government corruption”. (IMDb)

Netflix Series – Always a Witch (Siempre Bruja)

“Time-traveling witch from the 17th century escapes death and finds herself in modern-day Cartagena”. (IMDb)

Netflix Series – Green Frontier (Frontera Verde)

“When a young Bogotá-based detective gets drawn into the jungle to investigate four femicides, she uncovers magic, an evil plot and her true origins”. (IMDb)

Netflix Series – Bolívar

“This dramatization depicts the life – and loves – of Venezuelan Gen. Simón Bolívar, who helped liberate several Latin American countries from Spain”. (IMDb)

Tips from our teachers

If you like movies, one of the Learn More Than Spanish teachers have recommended the following Apps:

RTVC Play

On this app, you will find all the audiovisual content of the Colombian public radio and television system. Here you will have access to free series, movies, radio stations, documentaries, children’s content, and many others for free, and with the possibility of connecting them to your SmartTV. You only need to open a user account with your email and you will be able to enjoy many movies, series, shorts, and documentaries in Spanish.

Cine ARPLAY

On this app, you will find hundreds of free Argentine movies, classified in different genres: drama, comedy, horror, action, and the best… they are free. You only need to open a user account with your email, and you will be able to enjoy many movies, series, short films, and documentaries in Spanish.

Happy Language Learning! Don’t forget to follow our social media and to read our weekly blog.