What Spanish should I learn? From Spain or Latin America

3 min read

¿Qué español debería aprender? De España o de Latinoamérica

The first thing you need to be aware of is how rich and varied Spanish is. Spanish is the second most spoken language by native speakers after Mandarin. That means you have millions of people speaking the same language and, of course, variations in how they speak.

Lo primero que debes tener en cuenta es lo rico y variado que es el español. El español es el segundo idioma con más hablantes nativos después del mandarín. Eso significa que hay millones de personas que hablan el mismo idioma y, por supuesto, variaciones en la forma en la que hablan.

In Espanovo we have five recommendations for you to deal with Spanish dialects.

En Espanovo tenemos cinco recomendaciones para que manejes los diferentes dialectos en español.

– Don’t forget Spanish is a homogeneous language, which means it can be easily understood by any speaker. Even if a native speaker wouldn’t understand a word used by another person from a different place, he/she could understand the conversation.

No olvides que el español es una lengua homogénea, lo que significa que puede ser comprendida fácilmente por cualquier hablante. Incluso si un hablante nativo no entendiera una palabra utilizada por otra persona de un lugar diferente, ella/él podría entender la conversación.

– You don’t need to make a hard choice between Spain and Latin America, you can learn International Spanish. It’s a balanced option and will be a useful way to dedicate your time. That means you can learn the structures, words, and pronunciation that are used for most Spanish speakers.

No necesitas hacer una elección difícil entre España y América Latina, puedes aprender español internacional. Es una opción equilibrada y será una forma útil de dedicar tu tiempo. Eso significa que puedes aprender las estructuras, palabras y pronunciación que se utilizan para la mayoría de los hispanohablantes.

– In terms of structures, for example, it’s not mandatory for you to learn the conjugations for “vosotros” (which refers to “you all” in an informal way). This word is only used by eight percent (Spain and Equatorial Guinea) of all Spanish speakers in the world. If you know how to use “ustedes” properly that could be enough. This word (and conjugations) is spread all along the Americas and even in Spain, they would understand it perfectly. Likewise, it’s not necessary for you to learn the conjugations for “vos” (which refers to “you” in an informal way) because this term is not used for all Spanish speakers, it is widely used in Argentina and Uruguay but even there, if you say “tú”, they will understand you mean “you” in a more informal way.

En términos de estructuras, por ejemplo, no es obligatorio que aprendas las conjugaciones de “vosotros” (que se refiere a “ustedes” de una manera informal) porque esta palabra solo es utilizada por el ocho por ciento de todos los hispanohablantes en el mundo. Si sabes cómo usar “ustedes” correctamente, eso podría ser suficiente porque esta palabra (y conjugaciones) se extiende a lo largo de  América e incluso en España se entenderían perfectamente. Del mismo modo, no es necesario que aprendas las conjugaciones de “vos” (que se refiere a “tú”, manera informal) porque este término no se usa para todos los hispanohablantes, se usa ampliamente en Argentina y en Uruguay, pero incluso allí, si dices “tú”, entenderán que te refieres a “tú” de una manera más informal.

– As for words, you will find many of them to refer to the same thing. The reason for this phenomenon is that Spanish has had many influences: French, Morish, African and Indigenous. However, there are words that are understood everywhere. You could focus on them at a beginner or intermediate level. Nevertheless, you should never forget that in order to improve your comprehension you need to have the sensibility to approach any person from any dialect. In your mother tongue, it could be similar, sometimes you don’t use or understand a word some other people use, but you can get what they say. Be patient and don’t worry about understanding every single word, effective communication is more important, and there are many strategies to overcome those difficulties.

En cuanto a las palabras, encontrarás muchas de ellas para referirte a lo mismo, la razón de este fenómeno es que el español ha tenido muchas influencias: francesas, moras, africanas e indígenas. Sin embargo, hay palabras que se entienden en todas partes. Podrías enfocarte en ellas en un nivel inicial o intermedio. Sin embargo, nunca debes olvidar que para mejorar tu comprensión necesitas tener sensibilidad para acercarte a cualquier persona de cualquier dialecto. En tu lengua materna podría ser similar, a veces puede que no entiendas una palabra que usan otras personas, pero puedes interpretar lo que dicen. Sé paciente y no te preocupes por entender cada palabra, la comunicación efectiva es más importante y hay muchas estrategias para superar esas dificultades.

– Regarding pronunciation, you can say “c” and “z” using this sound: /s/ as in “us” because the pronunciation /θ/ as in “think” is only used by eight percent of Spanish speakers. As for the sound of “ll” and “y” you can pronounce /ʝ/ (check sound here) because it’s the most common sound in modern dialects in the Spanish-speaking world.

Con respecto a la pronunciación, puedes decir “c” y “z” usando este sonido: / s / como en la palabra en inglés “us” porque la pronunciación / θ / como en “think” es usada por el ocho  porciento de hablantes del español. En cuanto al sonido de “ll” y “y”, puedes pronunciar / ʝ / (escucha el sonido aquí) porque es el sonido más común en los dialectos modernos en el mundo de habla española.

Finally, keep in mind that Spanish is a wonderful world to discover and you’ll be able to interact with many people. You only need to be open-minded to get to know more people, more cultures, dialects, and definitely more ways to see the world through language.

Finalmente, ten en cuenta que el español es un mundo maravilloso para descubrir, en el que podrás interactuar con muchas personas; solo necesitas tener una mente abierta para conocer a más personas, más culturas, dialectos y, definitivamente, más formas de ver el mundo a través del lenguaje.

Want to learn more?

¿Quieres saber más?

We want you to see the whole picture of dialects in Spanish: Spanish from Spain isn’t the only one. There are two main zones: Septentional and Meridional Spanish. These differences relate to levels such as pronunciation, vocabulary, and some grammar structures.

Queremos que veas el panorama general sobre los dialectos en español:  El español de España no es solo uno. Existen dos zonas principales: español septentrional y meridional. Estas diferencias se relacionan con niveles tales como pronunciación, vocabulario y algunas estructuras gramaticales.

Dialects of Spanish in Spain

As well as in Spain, Spanish from the Americas has some different dialects too:

Al igual que en España, el español de América también tiene algunos dialectos diferentes:

In the Americas, we can distinguish the following zones whose dialects seem similar according to speakers perceptions*: 1. Mexico and some countries in Central America. 2. The Spanish Caribbean. 3. The Andean region. 4. Chile. And 5. The Southern Cone. *Based on Pachecho (2014) (Check study here)

En  América podemos distinguir las siguientes zonas cuyos dialectos parecen similares según las percepciones de los hablantes*: 1. México y algunos países de América Central. 2. El caribe español. 3. La región andina. 4. Chile. Y 5. El Cono Sur. *Basado en Pacheco (2014) (lee el estudio aquí)

It seems overwhelming, but don’t worry! Little by little you’ll see that at the end of the day there are more similarities than differences.

Parece abrumador, pero no te preocupes! Poco a poco verás que a final de cuentas hay más similitudes que diferencias.

Good luck with your Spanish!

¡Buena suerte con tu español!

If you have any doubts or want to learn more, do not hesitate to contact us!

Si tienes dudas o deseas obtener más información, no dudes en ponerte en contacto con nosotros.

By Yenny Urrego – Espanovo Team

Top 5 best Spanish speaking authors… And their easy-to-read books

2 min read

5 de los mejores autores de habla hispana…

y sus libros más  fáciles de leer

In Espanovo we know how hard it can be to read literature in Spanish. That’s why we have carefully selected some literary works that will enable you to enjoy some of the most relevant authors, in the Spanish-speaking world, but with a friendly narrative. These texts have simple but rich writing so you will be able to understand the stories without looking up every single word (if you have a pre-intermediate Spanish level on.)

En Espanovo sabemos lo difícil que puede ser leer literatura en Español. Es por eso que hemos seleccionado cuidadosamente algunas obras literarias que te permitirán disfrutar de algunos de los autores más relevantes del mundo hispanohablante, pero con una narrativa amigable. Estos textos tienen una escritura simple pero rica, por lo que podrás comprender las historias sin buscar cada palabra (si tienes un nivel de español pre-intermedio en adelante).

Julio Cortázar: Historia de cronotopios y de famas

This wonderful Argentinian writer, whose literary work influenced Latin American literature, created this witty surrealist book. It has short texts inspired in fantasy and surrealism. It leads to the development of the imagination. You will enjoy a lot his literature by practicing useful structures that you will need in your everyday life.

Este maravilloso escritor argentino, cuya obra literaria influyó en la literatura latinoamericana, creó este ingenioso libro surrealista. Cuenta con textos cortos inspirados en la fantasía y el surrealismo. Conduce al desarrollo de la imaginación. Disfrutarás mucho de su literatura practicando estructuras útiles que necesitarás en tu vida diaria.

Gabriel García Márquez: Los funerales de la mamá grande

This book is composed of 8 short stories. If you would be interested in a satire of Latin American life and culture, this is the right book. This Colombian author is one of the most important representatives of magic realism. This style of fiction depicts a realistic view of the modern world while adding magical elements.

Este libro se compone de 8 cuentos. Si te interesara una sátira de la vida y la cultura latinoamericana, este es el libro correcto. Este autor colombiano es uno de los más importantes representantes del realismo mágico. Este estilo de ficción representa una visión realista del mundo moderno mientras que agrega elementos mágicos.

Pablo Neruda: Veinte poemas de amor y una canción desesperada 

If you’re in the mood for poems you will be enchanted by this Chilean author. He offers a deep and passionate narrative and a powerful rhythm in his poems. It has been the best-selling poetry book in the Spanish language ever, almost 100 years after its first publication. Its romanticism will inspire you.

Si tienes ganas de poemas, este autor chileno te encantará. Ofrece una narrativa profunda y apasionada y un ritmo poderoso en sus poemas. Ha sido el libro de poesía más vendido en la lengua española, casi 100 años después de su primera publicación. Su romanticismo te inspirará.

Rosa Montero: Instrucciones para salvar el mundo

This novel is one of those books that shakes your life around and makes it explicit how horrible our world is, but at the same time, it shows you the magnificent beauty you could find on earth. This Spanish author has an incredible talent to narrate in such a way that you can’t stop thinking about how life is worth living.

Esta novela es uno de esos libros que sacude tu vida y hace explícito lo horrible que es nuestro mundo, pero al mismo tiempo te muestra la belleza magnífica que puedes encontrar en la tierra. Esta autora española tiene un talento increíble para narrar de tal manera que no puedes dejar de pensar en lo mucho que la vida vale la pena.

Carlos Fuentes: Todos los gatos son pardos 

Maybe you haven’t thought about how useful and enjoyable it is to read plays. This kind of text will help you improve your Spanish comprehension and your speaking. When you read plays you can be directly connected to people’s voices, which will help you understand real-life interactions. This prominent Mexican author will take you to a fascinating story about Mexican history and its colonization. You’ll read the voices of the key players of this period of history.

Tal vez no hayas pensado en lo útil y divertido que es leer obras de teatro. Este tipo de texto te ayudará a mejorar tu comprensión del español y tu forma de hablar. Cuando lees obras de teatro, puedes estar directamente conectado a la voz de las personas, lo que lo ayudará a comprender las interacciones de la vida real. Este prominente autor mexicano te llevará a una historia fascinante sobre la historia de México y su colonización. Leerás las voces de los protagonistas de este período de la historia.

By Yenny Urrego – Espanovo Team

5 things you did not know about the Spanish-speaking world

2 min read

5 cosas que no sabías del mundo hispano

  1. Está presente en tres continentes. El español está establecido como idioma oficial en América, Europa y África.
    It is present on three continents. Spanish is established as an official language in America, Europe, and Africa.
  2. Varios países hispanohablantes tienen mercados emergentes significativos tales como Chile, Colombia, México, Perú, entre otros.
    Several Spanish-speaking countries have significant emerging markets such as Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, among others.
  3. Las expectativas para Latinoamérica son prometedoras a largo plazo. Según Forbes, dos atributos fantásticos de Latinoamérica son su significativo crecimiento demográfico y el incremento de la clase media con cada vez mayor poder adquisitivo.
    The expectations for Latin America in the long term are promising. According to Forbes, two fantastic attributes of Latin America are its significant demographic growth and the increase of the middle class and whose increasing purchasing power.
  4. La mayoría de los bancos latinoamericanos han tenido estrategias de crecimiento conservadoras y no han contado con financiamiento externo. Las perspectivas para la mayoría de los sistemas financieros latinoamericanos son estables y positivas.
    Most Latin American banks have had conservative growth strategies and have not relied on external funding. The outlook for most of the Latin American financial systems is stable and positive.
  5. De los 284 acuerdos de comercio actualmente en vigor en todo el mundo, 57 incluyen países sudamericanos y 38 incluyen naciones centroamericanas, lo cual ha tenido como resultado acuerdos comerciales con una cobertura de más del 80 % de todo el comercio en América Latina y el Caribe, según las cifras de la Organización Mundial de Comercio (OMC).

    From the 284 trade agreements currently in force around the world, 57 include South American countries and 38 include Central American nations, which has resulted in trade agreements with more than 80% coverage of all trade in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to figures from the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Imagen de: Gabbykawaii07 y Allice Hunter – Trabajo propio, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Countries speaking Spanish.

By Yenny Urrego – Espanovo Team

Don’t be too direct! Start your conversation with icebreakers

*All levels*

If you have spoken Spanish with Latin Americans before, you probably know they usually don’t go straight to the point immediately, they chat a bit first.

When you need to ask someone to do something, or you just need something, it’s very important to interact with the person a little bit before you ask. It could be rude for some people if you don’t have a small talk before. Let’s go to an example to see the whole picture.

This is the situation:   

You would like to start an alliance with another company, you have been in touch by email with the decision maker, and agreed to have a meeting.

If you just introduced yourself and started talking about the topic, it could be a little abrupt for your listener, and you might not have caused a great impression.

So, how can you have a successful meeting?

  • Start with friendly greetings:

Depending on the relationship you have built you could say:

¡Hola! ¡Buenas tardes! ¿Qué tal? ¿Cómo ha(s) estado? ¿Cómo le/te ha ido? ¿Qué tal todo? ¿Cómo van las cosas?  

  •  If you have some background of the person or the company, show genuine interest:

¿Mucho trabajo? ¿Qué tal la familia? ¿Qué tal el cambio de sede? ¿Cómo van los proyectos?

  • Don’t say vague and short answers. Try to say at least another sentence:

To the question: ¿Qué tal todo? Don’t say only: “bien.” Try to say something else, for example: “bien, con mucho trabajo”/ “emocionado con el proyecto”, or if you just don’t know what to say, the weather is always something to talk about. You can say: “bien, con frío/con calor/contento con el clima”.

  • Once you started the conversation, try to move it to the point you want to tackle:

If the person commented about working hard, for example, you can mention how convenient it is to have help and later on how your company could give a hand with an alliance, in a win-win strategy.

The core of the issue is to create a friendly and smooth conversation to build trust and confidence with your new stakeholder.

Of course, you shouldn’t take half an hour talking about personal issues and not covering the topic you want, it’s just about some comments that would make a great difference in order to create a fluent relationship.

By Yenny Urrego – Espanovo Team

 

How Can I Introduce myself properly in Spanish?

*Beginner*

Just by using simple tips, you could have a great first impression in Spanish

It’s very common to hear from Spanish learners sentences like: 

Soy 40 años* Soy un abogado* or soy interesado en … (subject)*

Find out why these phrases are not accurate and how expressing correctly what you meant will help you interact better in Spanish.

  1. In Spanish we have age, we are not a certain age

How come?

Yes, we know it sounds incredibly weird to say: I have 40 years* (tengo 40 años), but to master a foreign language we need to understand the world is conceived in different ways by different cultures.

In Spanish we can BE (ser) nice, polite, respectful, honest (amable, cortés, respetuoso, honesto), because it’s what it should be by nature or what is supposed to be or you can BE (estar) happy, annoyed, overwhelmed or crazy (contento, enojado, abrumado, loco), because it’s usually something temporary, emotions experienced at a certain situation.

However, when it comes to age, things are different. To help you understand this, you could think of old people saying they can’t believe time has passed so fast, they feel they ARE not that old. My grandmother, for example, used to say she didn’t feel she was an old woman, she felt as if time had passed but her BEING was still the same. So, age in Spanish is not permanent (SER), because it changes, nor temporary (ESTAR), because it accumulates… then you HAVE it, it’s a possession you have with time.

  1. Don’t include an indefinite article (un, una) when you express your occupation

When you say “soy un abogado*”, you’re not saying “I’m a lawyer”, it sounds as if you were saying “I’m any lawyer”,  one of many. So, in your first contact be careful and say: “Soy abogado” this is the message you want to convey. You can use indefinite articles when introducing yourself but in sentences like:

  • Trabajo para una compañía en el campo de … (I work for a company in the field of…)
  • Ofrecemos un producto/servicio … (We offer a product/service…)
  • Permítame presentarle a una compañera (Let me introduce you to my coworker)
  1. Be careful with ser

When you want to express you’re interested in a subject avoid using ser. As we mentioned above, ser is permanent, it’s usually used to express the essence of things, it’s nature… If a person’s nature is to be interested that person would like to benefit for himself  all the time, and that’s why we need to be careful, if you say: “soy interesado” that means you like to take advantage of others, benefit from others in any way. So, it has a bad connotation. If you have a friend who only calls you when he or she is in trouble, or need money and is not for you when you need him/her, then, you would say: “Él/ella es interesado.”

What you would probably mean was that there is a subject that calls your attention, in that case you would say “Estoy interesado en …(subject)”

By Yenny Urrego – Espanovo Team