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What Latin American Spanish Dialect Should You Learn?

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

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Spanish is one of the most spoken languages in the world. In fact, it is spoken by over 400 million people all around the world, there are more than 20 countries that speak Spanish as their official language. Keeping that in mind, it isn’t surprising to have many Spanish dialects and accents.

What is a Dialect?

According to Merriam-Webster, a dialect is a regional variety of language distinguished by features of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation from other regional varieties and constituting together with them a single language.

Latin American Dialects

Here are the main ones:

  • Amazonian - they’re spoken in the Amazon regions of Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, and Venezuela.

  • Andean - spoken in The Andes region of South America, Andean is distinctive in how it clearly emphasizes the final letters of a word, and how it differentiates ‘j’ and ‘ll’ much more than most of the other Spanish dialects. It can be heard in the Andes region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Argentina, and Chile.

  • Equatorial - can be found in parts of the coast of Ecuador and Colombia.

  • Mexican

  • Caribbean - this is the exclusive dialect spoken in the Caribbean islands. Speakers frequently drop the final ‘s’ from words.This dialect is spoken famously fast!

  • Central American - a fusion of the Caribbean and Andalusian dialects, this can be heard in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and parts of southwest Mexico.

  • Paraguayan

  • Chilean

  • Rioplatense - this dialect can be heard in parts of Argentina and Uruguay: its name derives from the Rio de la Plata river that runs through sections of these two countries.

  • Ribereño - this dialect is spoken in the coastal regions of Peru.

This is a conversation that I have with my students at some point in our Spanish classes. The question always presents itself, which Latin American dialect would be the most useful to learn as part of their studies.That’s mainly going to depend on your reason for learning a new language and your personal preferences.

In general, being bilingual English-Spanish is a significant skill to acquire for your career and your social life. You may want to become proficient in Spanish and gain confidence in using a Latin American dialect because you want to travel to parts of the world where this dialect is spoken; in this case, choosing which to focus on will be easy.You will probably find that, as you advance and become more fluent in Spanish, your ability to understand regional dialects will improve, and, in reality, you’ll naturally pick up various dialects as you go.

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