Tapas shmapas, you want to learn Spanish in the heart of Hispanophone-landia (official term). You’re trading in lithps and cured ham for crisp pronunciation and even crispier tacos. The great news is you never have to sacrifice a love of churros!
Spanish is the official language of 20 countries, with 400 million people rolling their r’s worldwide. So, it’s probably a good idea that you start brushing up! But, with so many countries to choose from, and so many hispanophones worldwide, where should you go? We’ve already ruled out Spain (lo siento), so that leaves Latin America & the Caribbean. For argument’s sake, let’s narrow it down to just Latin America.
Which is the best Spanish speaking country in Latin America to learn Spanish? We’re glad you asked! This handy dandy infographic is here to help. Check it out!
Here’s our take on the best Spanish speaking country in Latin America to learn Spanish and take language classes
These are just a few of the many places across Latin America to practice rolling your r’s in. Whether you’re looking to spend mornings chowing down on menudo, or afternoons on the beach with a refreshing agua pipa, you’ll find there’s no better way to learn Spanish than by immersing yourself fully in one of these five countries.
Some may disagree, but I don’t have to be impartial: Mexico is the best Latin American country to learn Spanish. If you’re looking to learn the purest Spanish, Mexico is the place to go. It has all the grammar conventions from the Spaniards, but with the clear enunciation of indigenous languages.
Whether you’re in Mexico City, Monterrey, Oaxaca, or any of the wonderful cities and towns across the country, you’ll find an experience unique to each city and region, each with its own traditions and slang. Accent your u’s and ~ your n’s, and get ready for a truly immersive experience learning Spanish in Mexico.
DO: Use the second person informal “tu” when appropriate. Emphasis on when appropriate. Don’t run around talking to your host-abuelita that way or you might find yourself on the wrong end of a chancla.
Eat everything. That’s a definite “do” for any country, but in Mexico it is especially true. Menudo. Tacos al pastor. Tamales. Mole. Eat it all! Every taco stand on the street is a must-try.
DON'T: Use vosotros...ever. It’s not a thing when speaking Mexican Spanish. Stick to ustedes, kids!
First of all, know the difference between tequila and mezcal. Tequila: no gusano (worm). Mezcal: has a lil’ gusano in the bottle. Now, chill OUT. Be a responsible drinker. Yes, some people believe eating the gusano will give you special powers (and possibly cause you to hallucinate), but there’s no need to drink a whole bottle just to find out.
- Intensive Spanish & Volunteering with International Programs—Read program reviews | Visit their site
- Spanish Immersion with SPI Study Abroad—Read program reviews | Visit their site
[Browse all Spanish language programs in Mexico]
You’re sick of just *hearing* about pura vida—you’re ready to experience it first hand! Learning a new language kind of feels like being in the jungle anyway, right? So learning Spanish in Costa Rica is going to really be an immersive experience, especially if you practice your pronunciations the true Tico way. Costa Rica is the best Spanish speaking country for combo language study and outdoor adventure. You can spend your mornings surfing, or tapping into your inner environmentalist, and your afternoons practicing conversations with classmates and instructors.
You’ll definitely know the way to San Jose after attending language school in Costa Rica—even if you end up in Monteverde or Tamarindo instead.
Do: Pronounce y’s and ll’s with a soft j, or “jze” sound to really be Tico. That’s the beauty of learning different dialects, they each have their little quirks and pronunciations. Keep reading for a “don’t” you never thought you’d see.
Drink all the agua de pipa. Honestly, if you have access to coconuts and you’re not drinking from them constantly, you might be a monster. Coconut water (agua de pipa) in Costa Rica is LIFE. Savor it!
DON'T: Roll your rr’s. I know—I KNOW. It’s like the cardinal rule of Spanish to roll them! But, if you’re not blessed with the natural ability to do so, you might want to head to Costa Rica, because Costa Rican Spanish doesn’t really include rolled r’s.
Be rude. Duh. That’s a given no matter where you go, but know that if you’re in a social setting (say, your host family has friends over), you need to greet everyone with at least a handshake, or a besito and hug, and before you leave, you need to say goodbye to everyone as well!
- Native Spanish Program from Maximo Nivel—Read program reviews | Visit their site
- One-to-One Instruction with ILISA Instituto Idomas—Read program reviews | Visit their site
[Browse all Spanish language programs in Costa Rica]
Beaten path shmeaten path. You’re looking to learn Spanish old-school and Guatemala is the best Spanish speaking country to do so. We’re talkin’ MAYAN Spanish, tinged with indigenous slang and accompanied by fresh-roasted coffee. You might think Guatemalan Spanish is a little Antigua-ted, but that exact history and deep root in indigenous languages is what makes learning Spanish in Guatemala so special. Whether you’re based in traveler-tried and true Antigua or taking the road less-traveled to more rural Guatemala for homestay programs and one-on-one tutoring, you’ll find a warm welcome.
DO: Abbreviate, porfa! Guatemalans aren’t here to waste anyone’s time. They keep it short and sweet, so get used to abbreviating words and phrases.
While you’re at it, why not try to learn a few indigenous words and phrases? With so much Mayan culture and history around you, you might as well take advantage of it.
DON'T: Mix up your regular ol’ Spanish vocab. This is where you really need to do your homework! Vocabulary you learned in high school doesn’t necessarily have the same meaning in Guatemalan Spanish. Example: coche. You might think this means “car,” but in Guatemala it means pig!
You may be in Guatemala to practice your Spanish, but don’t expect everyone you encounter to speak it! Guatemala has a large indigenous community with their own languages and dialects. The farther you travel from the main hubs, the more likely it is you’ll hear less Spanish and more indigenous languages. Keep that in mind as you’re traveling!
- Medical Spanish in Guatemala with ELI Abroad—Read program reviews | Visit their site
- Spanish Immersion with InterExchange—Read program reviews | Visit their site
[Browse all Spanish language programs in Guatemala]
Learning Spanish in the Land of Eternal Spring, means a temperate climate year-round, affordable cost of living, and an all-around immersive experience brushing up on your language skills. Bear Grylls of the bunch will love exploring Ecuador’s mountains and wildlife—hola Galapagos! That mountain of Spanish homework will accompany that mountain over there quite nicely. Start climbing! I know you (i)guana.
Ecuador easily makes our list of best countries to learn Spanish in South America. As an up-and-coming locale in travel and tourism (despite being a very well established hotspot), you won’t find much English being tossed around in Ecuador, allowing you to really dig deep and stretch those Spanish speaking muscles.
DO: Use diminutives. Ecuador is cute as hell, and it knows it. Adding -is, -ito, -ita, to the end of words is pretty common, so get used to being a little cutesie!
Suck it up and try some cuy. Yes, it’s guinea pig. Yes, you can’t stop thinking about your friend’s guinea pig from when you were kids. No, you don’t have to like it. But, you should still try it! It’s part of the experience.
DON'T: Forget the importance of titles like Señor or Señora. Just because you’re being cutesie, doesn’t mean you can be disrespectful. Until your new friends and host family tell you otherwise, remember these titles and use them!
Business, money, politics, religion. Nana told you not to bring them to the dinner table and she was right. This social rule still applies in Ecuador. Don’t talk business at social gatherings unless explicitly prompted. It’s just polite!
- Spanish Immersion in Quito with Languages Abroad—Read program reviews | Visit their site
- Study Spanish in Cuenca with NRSCA—Read more about this program | Visit their site
[Browse all Spanish language programs in Ecuador]
Tied with Mexico for the purest Spanish in Latin America, Colombia is an obvious choice for the best Spanish speaking country for language study. Plus, it’s home to Shakira and her hips don’t lie. You’ll get a little bit of everything you love about Latin America all wrapped up nicely—cobblestones, Spanish colonial architecture, archaeological ruins, a little jungle, a whole lot of beach.
Whether you’re looking for the hustle of Bogota or Medellin, or (slightly) smaller town feel of Cartagena, the crisp, neutral accent of Colombian Spanish will make picking up the language and building off your first two semesters back home easy as pie.
DO: Add diminutives to everything! Like Ecuador, Colombian Spanish is hella cute. Adding -ito, -ita, and even -ico or -ica (for fun) to almost any word is pretty common. If you want to sound like a local, this is how.
First of all, you gotta drink coffee. Second of all, you’ve got to drink your coffee tinto—black, but with plenty of sugar to sweeten it up. It’ll give you just the lift you need for an afternoon of Spanish classes.
DON'T: Use second person informal “tu.” It’s just not a thing in Colombian Spanish. “Te” is fair game though. Feel free to toss that around!
Listen, unless you want pigeons following you around and climbing all over you, do. Not. Feed. Them. Just don’t, okay? Trust us.
- Spanish courses in Colombia with Red Tree Study—Read program reviews | Visit their site
- Study Spanish in Barranquilla with ISA—Read program reviews | Visit their site
[Browse all Spanish language programs in Colombia]
Next steps to learn Spanish in Latin America
Now that we’ve got you properly pumped to learn Spanish in Latin America, here are the resources to help make it easy-peasy-limon-squeezy.
- Struggling to make a choice? One of our Online Advisors will match you with programs
- Compare countries and programs side-by-side with MyGoAbroad to guarantee that you choose the best Latin American country to learn Spanish
- How Long Does it Take to Learn a Language? But, Actually…
- Best Intensive Spanish Immersion Programs
- Top 5 Cities to Study Spanish in Latin America
- Learning Spanish in Spain vs. Latin America
You’ve got all the facts, now the choice is yours!
¡Si se puede!
Yes you can! You can become fluent in Spanish, especially if you fully immerse yourself in intensive language classes abroad. Ultimately, where you choose to learn Spanish is up to you. It’s up to you to choose the best Spanish speaking country for YOU. Where do you want to go? What do you want to do? What rad slang do you want to start slangin’ around? We can’t do EVERYTHING for you.
Just know that wherever you choose, you’ll have the time of your life, and come back with much more than a killer accent and new vocab up your sleeve. You’ll have a renewed sense of self, confidence, and amazing friends (and familia) across the globe. So, what are you waiting for? Andale!