https://www.duolingo.com/katy.odell

Learning Latin American or European Spanish gets a bit tricky...

I am in the UK. I am more likely to encounter Spaniards than Latin Americans and much more likely to visit Spain than Latin America. Spain is a very popular holiday destination for Brits, in fact. Cheap and easy to get there.

However, I have noticed that the majority of resources for learning Spanish online, particularly English -> Spanish, teach Latin American Spanish. Leaving aside the variations of usage within Latin America, itself, there are some obvious differences. One I have just run across is the difference in conjugating plural verbs for plural "you" - totally different word ending. I no longer have it in front of me now, so I can't post it here. I hope it's enough just to say that there is a significant difference.

I am pretty sure that a Mexican visiting Spain will get on just fine, and vice versa. They could, when necessary, make adjustments and are probably familiar with the differences from media and be prepared to adjust.

But when you're a foreigner at a beginner or intermediate level, it really adds an extra burden to everything. It may make you harder to understand as you compound errors in accent and basic grammar with unfamiliar regional usage. It means having to learn two different ways of saying things - providing you are even aware there is another way.

If I spend my time watching Mexican telenovelas to improve listening comprehension and manner of speech, I may be picking up confusing bits and pieces that will work against me in Spain. If I make an effort to listen to stuff from all over the Spanish-speaking world, it may take me a while to pick up on differences and I may become unconsciously confused.

How have others dealt with this? For now I'm just working my way through DuoLingo and Memrise, watching Destino, and using flashcards. I'm trying to not worry yet about these issues. Perhaps by the time I'm conversational enough for them to matter I'll be able to handle it.

3 years ago

28 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
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I grew up learning Latin American Spanish, and then switched over to European Spanish when I decided to pick it up again, so I can say it's really less of an issue than it seems. "Errors" in accent don't really matter - mine is some weird hybrid but nobody has ever had trouble with it. I do sometimes run into trouble because occasionally the only way I know how to say something is with Castilian colloquialisms, but it's not really that big a deal.

I would suggest watching Spanish television instead of Mexican, though, since the Spanish accents are very different. RTVE and Antena3 have a lot of great series.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/writchie4
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"Errors" in accent don't really matter - mine is some weird hybrid but nobody has ever had trouble with it.

This is encouraging, as someone who has learned from about a million different sources and put zero effort into developing a consistent accent. Good to know my frankenvoice won't be much of a problem. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
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Yeah... it's pretty hard to develop a consistent one. I adopted up a bit of an Andalucian J sound for my Y's in high school, and when I try to even it out to a more neutral Y sound, I end up with something almost Argentinian. I've since picked up the Castilian Z/C, but the rest of my accent is kind of neutral (Latin) American.

I've toyed with the idea of trying to get the accent more purely Castilian, but it's probably not worth the effort. As long as people can understand our crazy accents, fully mastering the language is worth more energy than trying to sound as much like a native as possible. And there's nothing wrong with sounding exotic!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/writchie4
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Haha, yes. Let's go with "exotic".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/katy.odell

I have sometimes heard people talk about the importance of speaking French with a "perfect accent." I mean, I got the impression that this was vital in order to be considered fluent. Then I realised that I have met many French people who were fluent in English, and they all had a French accent. The only people who don't speak English with a foreign accent are those who spent significant time in the English-speaking country in their youth.

In England, I sometimes meet people who obviously learned English in America. They have a French/Chinese/whatever accent, but somehow an American one, too.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
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I think people also conflate correct pronunciation and having an authentic accent. You can speak the language properly and still have your own accent - that's obviously more of an issue for French because correct pronunciation there is pretty tricky, but I've definitely heard the difference in various languages between people who have the pronunciation down, accent notwithstanding, and those who don't.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
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I had the same concerns. I live in the USA and we are taught Latin American Spanish. When I found out about "vosotros" I was worried I wouldn't understand peninsular Spanish.

I've chatted online with folks from Spain, and watched Spanish movies that use Spanish from Spain. It's a non-issue. You will very quickly recognize that odd "vosotros" ending and know exactly what they are saying. You can also stick to your familiar Latin American Spanish and they won't mind a bit that you don't use vosotros.

Think of it like this: if you, as an English speaker, were to visit a country where they still use the words thee, thine, and thou, would you have any trouble understanding them? Would they have any trouble understanding you?

It really is that little of a deal.

If it is of great concern to you, you can search for outside resources to learn the vosotros verb forms.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ChrisWM4

Not to worry. (a) A Spanish guy I work with says I shouldn't sweat this issue, as "they'll know you're a foreigner anyway". He has a very valid point. After more than 17 years in the UK, he has a distinct Spanish accent. (b) The vocabulary and accent in the Canaries is much more Latin American than Castilian, for example. (c) In Latin America, Colombian and Mexican in best for 2nd language learners, and those from the Dominican Republic at the opposite end of the spectrum. (All tips have come from Spanish speakers on both continents).

So - accept there will be differences; focus on Castilian or Latin American as much as possible rather the consciously trying to learn both; and ENJOY!

The more I've embraced the journey, the more I've enjoyed it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jcragun

I think people worry WAY too much about this. As someone who has traveled to Spain, it took literally no effort to adjust. First, keep in mind that the informal plural is something you won't bump into a ton as a tourist, and it is very easy to recognize once you hear it once or twice.

There are vocabulary differences between all Spanish-speaking countries, just like there are between all English speaking countries, and regional differences just like in the English speaking world. I think its part of the fun of learning a language.

Relax, keep learning, and have fun!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Xpioti

I studied Spanish in enough depth that my accent is untraceable, so I'm constantly asked where I'm from. (Massachusetts.) The second question is if I speak Spanish at home. (Nah, but my children respond better when I yell at them in Spanish.) In my experience in the States and Mexico, native speakers are more interested in being able to communicate than in what your accent and vocabulary are like. You might want to find a primer on "what Not to say in Spain", if you're worried, but in general? No worries, have fun, and keep a friendly smile handy. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/herausforderun

Hi katy the main difference is based on the vocabulary, spain and Latin American have various substantive to the same object, but grammar should be the same, this link is very helpfull www.rae.es/

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/KevinJacks20

I wouldn't worry about it. It's like the differences between UK and USA English. Mostly insignificant. And when you visit Spain, they'll know you're English by your accent anyway. Just like when you meet someone from Pakistan with an accent, it doesn't matter really where he learned his English.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jenna_swiss
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Hi, Katy! As someone who has traveled a bit and spent a LOT of time studying linguistics and the use of language by different groups of speakers, here is what I have learned: Do what you can with what you have, and let the rest come naturally! Here's my real-life example: When I traveled to Costa Rica to study Spanish, I realized that even though the country itself is in Latin America, I had to "re-learn" a lot because of regional differences in vocabulary and tone of address, and I had to adapt to speaking in scholarly and colloquial settings. My pride may have suffered a bit when I first realized all of the adaptations I had to make, but I came out with a richer, fuller understanding of the broadness of the capabilities of the Spanish language. You can do (and are already doing) the same!

Oh, and people EXPECT people from other regions and native speakers of other languages to make mistakes or use language differently than they do, and most times are more than gracious in offering assistance and corrections. When I made a friend from Spain in the US we had lively conversations about differences between the Spanish she knew and the Spanish I had learned. She was a native speaker of Catalán, which made the conversation all the more interesting! As you adapt to the information you are taking in and the settings you are using that information in, your usage will almost auto-adapt accordingly, and people will be there to help you along the way.

Keep up the great work!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/J.R.Nogal
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Vosotros is just (according to the spaniards) the informal way for ustedes (and this is a plural you). Just a few changes and voila!

Ustedes aman --- Vosotros amais -- All you love
Ustedes comen---Vosotros comeis--All you eat
Ustedes viven-- Vosotros vivis--All you live

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/katy.odell

Well, yes - it's a basic thing to simply conjugate the verb differently and the conjugation is as basic and logical as the other form. I am just worried about learning conflicting ways of doing things while I am still new. Like, if I spend a lot of time on Yablar listening to videos, I don't know if I should select Spain-spanish or LA-spanish videos. But I figure I'll just listen to and read and study everything and eventually I'll pick up both ways of doing it and then do what the people around me are doing or whatever pops into my head in the moment.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/davloose
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I understand and sympathize... the great thing about Spanish is that soooo many people speak it, which also means there are many dialects! Truth is, if you speak Duo-Spanish well, you'll be perfectly well understood by people around the world, as they all encounter dialects just as we do with English.

I started with a native Spanish speaker on Skype a year ago, and it was very easy and natural to add "ice" :) to the end of the occasional verb when I wanted to say you-all. If I use ustedes instead, it's no big deal at all.

People that want to understand you will, people that don't won't!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Hilbre

Have you tried News in Slow Spanish http://newsinslowspanish.com/ It gives you a choice of Spanish from Spain or South America, plus the material is interesting and updated every week. I have been using it since completing my tree and it challenges me without being too hard.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Zuquita

I've been studying and speaking Latin American Spanish for many years, decades actually. We learned the vosotros form in uni, but I certainly don't use it or remember it well. I've traveled extensively in Latin America and went to Spain for the first time just last year. I got tons of compliments on my Spanish, much to my surprise. No one commented on my accent, and vosotros never even came up. I did have a few problems with different words being used in Spain that everyone seems to know in LA, or at least in Mexico, but no big deal.

As others have said, don't worry. Unless you are a diplomat or looking for work as a translator or something like that, no one is going to care or notice if your Spanish a little off. For someone who speaks the language at a basic level, communication is only going to be at a basic level. (Pardon me if you are not basic level. That was my impression from your post.) They'll be happy just that you have made an effort to learn Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ExSquaredOver2
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I don't like it how Duolingo NEVER makes the sentences with "vos" correct when you need to "mark all correct translations". How will we ever learn to conjugate or talk with the "vos"? This is what Argentina uses instead of "tu". I am from New Zealand, and we have strong partnership with Argentina and Latin America.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/katy.odell

Does DuoLingo actually offer a "vos" option that is otherwise correct and then tell you that you are wrong? If so, that's crazy.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/davloose
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Ha, no the "vos" option is always incorrect. Of course, once you spot "vos" you don't have to figure what else is wrong!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ExSquaredOver2
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Any other EN -> ES translation, you can chuck "vos" in there if you know the conjugations. But Duo doesn't teach us this!!!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ashrai1

You should check out http://www.lightspeedspanish.co.uk/. They also have podcasts and a youtube channel. It is run by an english gentleman called Gordon and what seems to be his girlfriend Cynthia from Madrid. It has helped me a lot. Gordon also speaks spanish very well and brings an 'outsider perspective'.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/davloose
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Great advice... I love their podcasts! De verdad, están casados, y tienen un niño juntos. Si mirarás bastante, verás!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JamerHerrera

Do not learn Spanish in Spain ..... that they speak Spanish the Latino people hardly understand them better ..... studying Latin American Spanish as there are many job opportunities in Latin America .... besides SpanishThey use many words that do not know Latin ....... and life is very cheap throughout Latin America

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ArvindPradhan

I do not have enough of a lisp to speak European Spanish well. Am going to stick to Latin American Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/katy.odell

From what I've read on another forum, Spaniards get really upset if you call it a lisp! A lisp is a speech impediment, and the Spanish "Z" is a deliberate phenome. However, I know this because I Googled something about Spanish vs LA pronunciation, and ran across discussions on this. There's is a myth about an inbred king who lisped and everyone copied him. It's true there was an inbred king, not true that it's the origin of the sound.

However, I agree that I find Mexicans easier to listen to and mimic.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ArvindPradhan

Conozco el problema con el ceceo por experiencia. Un profesor mío me botó porque mí ceceo no fui suficiente con th. No es necesario a decir qué el profesor fue de España. Después estoy aprendiendo de una profesora Cubana. ¡Además, los latinos son muy amicales!

3 years ago
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