Travel Guide Learning Spanish in South America
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Many travellers to South America, especially those on longer trips, sooner or later want to know about the possibilities for learning Spanish. This article gives general information and links to country and city-specific articles where more information is to be found.
While most of Central and South America is Spanish-speaking, the national varieties of the language show considerable variation, compared to Castilian Spanish as well as among themselves. All are mutually intelligible, however, so don't be afraid that someone from country A will not understand your Spanish learnt in country B.
It is a widely recognised fact that the northern Spanish varieties (i.e., those spoken in Central America, Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador) are somewhat easier to learn than their southern relatives. This has to do with pronunciation, which is 'clearer' in the former case. Of the Spanishes of southern South America, especially the Santiago and Buenos Aires (el Lunfardo) varieties are quite difficult to understand, due to the strong influence of local dialects and, in the case of Lunfardo, other languages.
Most schools have no policy regarding formal qualifications of their teaching staff. As a general rule, those institutes that are affiliated to universities or that are otherwise government supported are more likely to select their staff based on diplomas. It may be useful to know that a Spanish-language equivalent to TEFL does not exist.
Many schools issue certificates to their students, but most of these only make nice mementos. If you need to train for formal qualifications, the only exam that is recognised internationally is DELE (Diplóma de Español como Lengua Extranjera), the Spanish equivalent to TOEFL. DELE certificates are awarded centrally by the Spanish ministry of Culture. Everybody whose native language is not Spanish and who pays the registration fee can take the exam. More information is found on the DELE website.
DELE also licenses institutions to offer a preparatory training programme. At present, the Instituto Don Quijote Guanajuato in Guanajuato, Mexico, is the only school in the Americas with such a license.
The travel guide contains information about Spanish courses for the following locations:
as well as lukalero (4%)
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