Which variety of Spanish should I focus on? | General discussion | Forum

Which variety of Spanish should I focus on? | General discussion | Forum

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Which variety of Spanish should I focus on?
November 15, 2012
07:52
L237SB
United States of America

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Can anyone perhaps provide any guidance on choosing a variety of Spanish to learn? 
 
Here in the US, we have many varieties of Spanish (Mexican, Colombian, Puerto Rican, Peninsular Spanish, et al.) , including accents and colloquial speech, slang expressions, etc..
 
I have studied what you may call Standard Latin American Spanish in school, have traveled to Spain once years ago and now study on my own. 
 
Having been exposed to multiple varieties of Spanish and since I am looking to achieve fluency and regain my skills in the language, I'd like to know the consenus on what variety of Spanish is best for an American to learn?
 
One might say right away, Latin American, as we have many speakers of Mexican Spanish here (also Puerto Rican, of which there is a significant population in the US, especially in New York). However, I am also drawn to Peninsular Spanish, "Castellano" and the culture of Spain. The European flavor of Spanish from Spain does appeal to me and we do have Spaniards here as well. 
 
I have studied with a teacher who spoke Castellano but taught Standard Latin American Spanish (that certainly made our classes interesting), as well as teachers who spoke and taught Standard Latin American Spanish.
 
As a result, I am now torn between Mexican Spanish / Latin American Spanish and Peninsular Spanish. 
 
Which variety of Spanish should I focus my studies on? 
November 15, 2012
09:23
Kevinpost
Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.

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Study which ever your heart choses. Why should you care what kind of Spanish I or anyone else wants you to learn? I prefer Colombian Spanish because most Colombian Spanish is very clear and most likely to be understood throughout Latin America but I also have a bias because I lived there for years and my wife is Colombian (podcast about Colombian Spanish here: http://www.theworld.org/2010/07/spanish-pure-and-otherwise/).

Follow your heart! Although I learned most of my Spanish in Colombia that doesn't mean I can't understand or interact with Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Argentinians, Spaniards or Mexicans (which I do on a daily basis here in Florida). 

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November 15, 2012
18:52
L237SB
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Thank you for your reply. I was simply interested in knowing if anyone wanted to weigh in on reasons of practicality and personal taste regarding varieties of spoken Spanish here in the U.S. Practically speaking, most of the Spanish spoken in the United States is Latin American, so I suppose would probably run into less problems using slang and colloquial expressions, although as I mentioned in my previous post, I also have an affinity for the style of Peninsular Spanish and Spanish culture, despite it being spoken in smaller numbers here in America. 

 

Do you find that you run into problems with colloquial and slang speech when speaking with someone who speaks a different variety of Spanish? I am just curious how often that actually happens. 

November 15, 2012
19:45
Marusha
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I am from México and I do not have any problem with the spanish of other countries in Latin America, but sometimes I find hard to understand some slang words from Spain. :s   

November 15, 2012
20:24
L237SB
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Ok, good to know. Thanks!

November 16, 2012
18:55
Kevinpost
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Based off of your posts I say Iberian Spanish it is!smile

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November 16, 2012
19:00
L237SB
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Thank you Kevin, I do appreciate your input. Thanks to both of you who responded. 

November 20, 2012
16:00
CWright81
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I agree with the others, go with your heart.

I'm personally learning Castilian Spanish because I plan on visiting Spain and it's more interesting to me at present.
Once I have a good handle on the language I figure it will be easy to pickup other dialects, slang etc. and living in California will have plenty of opportunity to do so.

Native: English (U.S.) | Learning: Españiol (Spain) | Next up to Learn: Japanese, Gaeilge
January 1, 2013
14:47
L237SB
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UPDATE: I have been studying Spanish diligently lately, as I am going to be taking two online courses, one with UCLA and one with Cal State Long Beach. I am guessing that both will concentrate on Latin American Spanish so I have been focusing on that (to be better prepared for the course content), while still keeping an eye on Iberian Spanish ;)  

 

Since my original post, I have also read more on the differences between Latin American varieties of Spanish and Iberian Spanish and some of the social "faux pas" that can occur between the different varieties. Have you ever had a linguistic snafu with Spanish and how often have you had that happen to you? 

January 2, 2013
03:50
Kevinpost
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I wouldn't say I've had too many snafus (I actually had to look that word up) with Spaniards I've met but only because they know that they are speaking with someone who uses a Colombian variation of the language and are unlikely to drop a lot of slang on me. Overall I am not too accustomed to hearing Iberian Spanish dialects and have to pay close attention when watching a movie dubbed in Iberian Spanish (que error!) or listening to several Spaniards speaking amongst themselves.

I have encountered some problems in the past when studying for the DELE (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera) because a lot of the vocabulary presented in the exams is taken from Iberian Spanish but that can be solved with a few hours of vocabulary study; nothing you can't handle wink

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January 7, 2013
23:57
Raphacam
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I myself focus on the Iberian variation, because it's the most different (and conservative) major variant of all, but still learning Rioplatense, since it's nearer from home. So I second Kevinpost, study the one you like the most but keep an eye on Iberian.

However, the Spanish dialects (with some exceptions like Andalusian and Chilean) are not that different one from another, so you can focus on a dialect to keep some ground but study the language in its different forms.

Have a nice learning.

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