Learning Spanish While Traveling In Latin America

Pimsleur Approach • SpanishComments (2)

South America
One of the best ways to learn a new language is to travel through a country where it is widely spoken. When you forgo your own language and make an effort to speak the local lingo, you may find you learn far quicker and make real use of the things you do pick up! This is particularly true in Latin America.

Given that most people under the age of thirty here do not speak a word of English, arriving unable to speak a word of Spanish besides “Hola” and “Gracias” may not be the most sensible thing to do. Miming and pointing will get you so far, but in the end you will probably want to communicate a little more.

So here’s our advice. Head to a bar in South America, chink some glasses and shout “salute” – and you will instantly win a round of cheers, smiles and even “un abrazo” – a hug! Then, feeling good that you’ve made a first linguistic connection with the locals, try these three longer-lasting language learning tips.

Group of students outside

1. Take a language course

If you are serious about learning a language while traveling, get started in the first month of your trip. Not only will you learn the basics quickly, but staying in one place will also help you become acclimated to Latino customs, food and weather. Most major cities have language schools where you share your language learning experience with travelers from other parts of the world and converse in Spanish for the greater part of the lesson. It’s a great starting point; an invaluable first step on the road to fluency.

2. Live with a host family

If you’re serious about learning Spanish, you should also consider living with a host family. As a whole, South Americans are extremely friendly and welcoming hosts, and regardless of the country, they will be proud to invite foreign guests into their homes to indulge you in their culture and cuisine. Most host families will take a deep and genuine interest in you, your family and your culture, and the long stream of questions will only help you pick up the language! You’ll be chatting with them over dinner in no time.


3. Avoid English speakers

You can’t learn a language while traveling if you don’t practice every day. In hostels throughout South America you will meet many Americans, Australians and Brits, and while of course you can also practice your Spanish with them, it is all too easy to slip back into your natural language for a more stimulating conversation. You don’t learn anything this way and you’re missing opportunities you could be having elsewhere. While surrounding yourself with people you struggle to communicate with can be a lonely experience at times, and brief escapes to English-speaking comfort are beneficial for recharging your batteries, don’t be tempted to stay around fellow tourists for too long – it’ll just make learning longer!

So remember, although it is possible to muddle your way through day-to-day situations in Latin America without being able to speak the native language, taking time to really learn Spanish (or Portuguese, if you are traveling extensively in Brazil) will be much more rewarding, beneficial and, ultimately, fun.

2 Responses to “ Learning Spanish While Traveling In Latin America ”

  1. Seewalee Thero says:

    Dear Sir,
    Please send me more detail of your Spanish courses in your country.

    Thanks -Seewalee

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