Learning a language abroad is the ultimate way to feed your wanderlust as well as your mind. No wonder it’s a bucket list favourite and a career break bestseller.
Delving deep into another culture, getting your head around the grammar and discovering a different way of life is something quite unforgettable. Wherever you stay, you’ll become a local for a magical little window of time. There’s nothing quite like it.
Given that there are more Spanish speakers in the world than English speakers, learning Spanish is a very shrewd option. Sure, you could take a short hop to Spain, but why not whisk yourself off to whole new continent and head to South America instead? Not only will you be broadening your horizons, you’ll be broadening your mind. The world is your classroom! You’ll come home relaxed, sun-kissed and, with any luck, speaking like a local. And you’ll be even more employable. What could be better?
Purists will tell you that Colombia is the undisputed winner when it comes to learning Spanish in South America. The Colombians are famous for their clean, crystalline Spanish, with rich melodic tones and a neutral accent. If you’re serious about learning Spanish, Colombia comes second to none. On top of this, Colombia is a country filled with colourful, crumbly towns, coffee plantations, sun-drenched coastlines and huge-hearted people.
Cartagena, a city thick with history and heady with Latino atmosphere, sits on Colombia’s Caribbean coast. A maze of tiny cobbled streets, rainbow-coloured houses, tumbling bougainvillea and shady courtyards, it’s up there with the world’s most beautiful cities. Sipping on a Margarita in a sunny plaza, you’ll be transported straight into Romancing the Stone. After a daily bout of brainwork in the classroom, you can grab your bikini and hit the beach. It’s the perfect place to work hard and play harder.
Other great places to learn Spanish in Colombia: Bogota, Medellin
Cusco in Peru was the beating heart of the Inca Empire, making it a legendary spot to learn a language. Nestled in the foothills of the Andes and surrounded by snowy peaks and a city that is well known for stealing hearts. Cusco is a colourful patchwork of contradictions, where Inca temples rub shoulders with grand cathedrals and 21st century fast food chains. Living costs are fairly low, there’s a ridiculously high concentration of carnivals and the local people love a good knees-up.
Like Colombians, Peruvians speak Spanish with a neutral accent. This makes it prime learning territory. Cusco’s location is also brilliantly strategic, so you can spend your weekends hiking in the Andes, rafting down the Amazon or soaking up the scenery of the Sacred Valley. You can even mosey up to Machu Picchu for a morning to really remember. With so much to do on the doorstep, Cusco is a killer choice for a language school stint.
Other great places to learn Spanish in Peru: Lima
Learn Spanish like a surfer dude in Montanita, Ecuador where the breaks are great, the drinks are cheap and the weather is sizzling. If you’re a diehard beach bunny looking for a language break, Montanita is the perfect place for you. Here, you can hit the books, ride the waves and repeat the process on a daily basis. It’s a laid back language-learning paradise.
While surfing is Montanita’s mainstay, it has plenty more activities up its sleeve. Learn salsa, try kite-surfing, go snorkelling and wake yourself up every day with an early morning dip. If you’re an active person with a lust for adventure and a love of the ocean, you’ll be in seventh heaven on these sands. Just beware that Montanita is difficult to leave, with backpackers washing up on these shores for days that turn into weeks that turn into months.
Other great places to learn Spanish in Ecuador: Quito, Cuenca, Manta, Banos
Admittedly, Argentina isn’t the easiest place to learn a pure form of Spanish. Its habitants speak in a gaucho-style dialect all of their own, with all kinds of idiosyncrasies and lilts. However, this definitely doesn’t rule Argentina out when it comes to learning spots in South America. The Argentine dialect is something a little bit sexy all on its own, and Argentina’s jaw-dropping natural beauty makes it worth the added linguistic challenge.
Mendoza is wine country (out of classroom hours, of course). More laid back than Buenos Aires, it’s a buzzy city with lively nightlife and a cosmopolitan, youthful vibe. If you’re after some good old-fashioned fun during your South America sojourn, Mendoza will be right up your street. Here, you can learn to tango, trek in the Andes, spend afternoons people-watching from a plaza cafe, wander through vineyards and munch through world-class steaks.
Other great places to learn Spanish in Argentina: Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Ushuaia
Bolivia has the lowest living costs in South America. If you’re on a tight budget, this could be the place for you. What’s more, the Bolivians speak Spanish very precisely, which will help you get your grammar off the ground.
Sucre is easily Bolivia’s most beautiful city. With ancient university buildings dating back to the 1600s, majestic plazas and a large indigenous population, Sucre will have you hooked in no time.
Today, Sucre is a thriving university city filled with Bolivian bright young things. This gives it a youthful optimism and an anything-is-possible atmosphere that never fails to inspire. Tucked away in a valley ringed by small mountains, getting into the Great Outdoors is very simple. It’s a seriously lovely pocket of the planet and the perfect spot to set about some heavy duty learning. Even better, it’s as easy on the wallet as it is on the eye.
Other great places to learn Spanish in Bolivia: La Paz, Santa Cruz
If you’re interested in visiting South America and broadening your horizons, I can help arrange everything. From personal experience, I can organise flights across the continent, transfers, accommodation, trips in each country or tours to suit your style and budget.
For more information and to start planning your trip – contact Bryony directly.