Creative Commons Image: Portada Online
In past travels I’ve took Spanish lessons in Argentina, Bolivia and Spain. I’ve also travelled extensively around Spain and South America, getting used to the various different accents and forms of Spanish that there are in the world (of which there are many!!) With that in mind I thought I’d list my top places to learn Spanish around the world! Hopefully, if you trying to decide the best location to learn Spanish, this list will help you decide!
According to my Spanish friends, I’ve always been told that the most pure Spanish is spoken is in Salamanca. It’s also a university city, which makes it ideal for learning. Additionally, it’s more affordable than Madrid and less touristy. For all of these reasons Salamanca finishes top of this list for places to learn Spanish!
If you want to learn Castellano, i.e. ordinary European Spanish, the Madrid accent is certainly one of the easiest to understand. You’ll also find cheap flights to Madrid from many European cities, a thriving nightlife, cosmopolitan culture and lots of things to do here. In terms of lifestyle, ease of understanding and an abundance of language schools and private tutors to choose from, it’s certainly one of the best places to learn. The only reason it didn’t make number one is because it’s slightly more expensive than Salamanca and it’s a bit easier to speak English here due to the international nature of the city (which is bad for learning as you really want to immerse yourself as much as possible in the language).
The cheapest place I’ve ever found a language school is in Sucre, Bolivia. For a mere $6 an hour you can get private lessons at Sucre Spanish School! For $4 an hour you can get shared lessons in a class type environment. The only reason I didn’t push Sucre to number 1 on the list is that I didn’t find the quality of lessons, i.e. the teachers, as good as some other schools I’ve studied at (such as in Cadiz, Spain or Buenos Aires, Argentina). If you just want some cheap casual learning though, it’s very hard to beat! I actually almost considered living here permanently because of how cheap the cost of living is too, but sadly the yearning for further travels pulled me onto my next destination at the time.
As far as idyllic locations go, Cadiz (a little down on the South coast of Spain) is particularly hard to beat. I lived in the heart of the old town, next to Cadiz’s biggest market, I ate locally caught fish everyday, studied at a fantastic language school in Clic Cadiz IH and spent my afternoons after school laying on the near-empty beach just a 2 minute’s walk away. I can’t recommend the town enough, and it’s yet another place I considered moving to permanently when I was travelling in Spain.
The Colombian accent is arguably the easiest of all Spanish accents to understand. Bogota is also a thriving city of culture and a cheap place to stay too. You’ll also be well connected here by air and bus to the rest of Colombia and most of South America / the world too. The weather is also a little cooler here than in the northern beach areas of Colombia which makes studying a little easier.
Mexico City, Mexico
If Colombia doesn’t have the easiest accent to understand in Spanish, then it’s Mexico! It’s also an easy place for my American readers to visit (geographically) if they’re looking for a city not too far away from home, with an easy accent to understand for learning.
Ecuadorians were by enlarge fairly easy to understand when I was travelling through the country. Baños in particular though I chose because it’s such a fun place to live while you’re learning too! There is a ton of adventure sports activities to do here and the cost of living here is duck cheap. It’s definitely a good place to base yourself if you want to spend at least a month learning!
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires almost didn’t make it onto this list because Argentinian Spanish is a little different and little harder to understand than Castellano, but once you get used to the different verb changes and sounds it’s probably the easiest place in Argentina to learn/understand the local lingo because of its international environment and accent. Additionally, there are lots of really fantastic language schools here, such as Expanish, the language school I went to for 4 weeks while I was here. It’s also just an easy city to live in, with a thriving nightlife and lots of things to do.
Where to avoid…
The hardest accents for me to understand when I was travelling were people from Sevilla (Spain), Mendoza (Argentina) and to be honest anyone from Chile (mostly just because of the speed the speak at). Catalonia and The Basque Country in Spain were also hard places to speak/improve my Spanish because the first language is not Spanish there, and although everyone speaks Spanish fluently there, a lot of people I found would rather speak to me in English than Spanish due to political reasons. That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit these places, they are some of my favourite places in the world!! I just wouldn’t choose them as my place of study for learning Spanish.