The Spanish language, as you probably know, is hugely popular. It’s spoken by over 500 million speakers in 23 different countries! It’s also a language that has speakers in Central and Southern America as well as in Spain. Spanish is also a romance language, with a rich history that’s rooted in culture and art.
As you might also know, the Spanish that’s spoken in Central and Southern America is markedly different from what’s spoken in Spain. There are a few key differences that set the two apart and we’ll touch on a couple in this blog. But to help you along in our 28-day Street Smart Challenge, we’ve gathered a few useful Spanish learning tips for English speakers that you can get your teeth into!
Spanish language: Learning the differences
Before you learn Spanish, get ready for a super speedy history lesson about the differences between Mexican and Castilian Spanish: In 1492 Castilian Spanish became the Official Language of Spain. In the years following, Spanish explorers headed to the Americas and the Spanish language quickly became prevalent there, and evolved with the influence of the language spoken by natives in Latin America.
Although the differences between Castilian and Latin American Spanish can seem minor, you can listen out for little things that make it obvious. Read on for more info!
Words are pronounced how they’re spelt
Unlike with many French words, all of the letters in most words in both Castilian Spanish and Mexican Spanish should be pronounced. Having said this, notice the difference in pronunciation between Mexican Spanish and Castilian spanish! The easiest way to tell the difference is by pronunciation. In Castilian Spanish, the letter “C” is pronounced with the “th” sound when it comes before the letters “e” or “i”. So for example, if you take the word “ciudad” (city), Castilian Spanish speakers would pronounce it “thi-you-dad” and Latin American Speakers would pronounce it “see-you-dad” The letter Z is also pronounced with the “th” sound. Zapatos (shoes) is pronounced “sa-pa-tos” in Latin American Spanish and “tha-pa-tos” in Castilian.
A nice easy activity, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in Mexican Spanish culture, as well as exposing you to the accents, intonations and pronunciations of words. Telenovelas also help you to diversify your knowledge of Spanish vocab, by introducing you to slang and colloquial expressions that’ll help you express yourself, no matter the scenario. Not only that, keeping up with the outlandish storylines will help with memory and repetition, and the fast-paced nature of those shows will get you used to listening to rapidly spoken Spanish in no time!
Our recommendations include: Diablero (on Netflix), La Mexicana y El Güero and Imperio de mentiras.
Hit up our selection of Cinco de Mayo playlists for another look into Mexican Spanish culture
Music more your thing? English speakers can advance their learning of Spanish by listening to music! It might seem like you won’t learn much, as it can come across as ‘passive’ learning… But that’s exactly what we like about it! You can do your daily chores with the songs playing in the background, and you’re still immersing yourself in the culture and absorbing the nuances of the language!
Putting on a playlist helps you to subconsciously absorb words and phrases, get used to how a new language sounds and broadens your musical horizons. What’s not to love?! It’s a low effort way of learning with loads of benefits.
Check our playlists:
Mexican Pop & Rock
Take notice of ‘borrowed’ words
Mexican Spanish features quite a few English words, also known as ‘loanwords’. For example, in Mexico, what you do in your spare time isn’t a pasatiempo but actually a hobby (pronounced with the English “h” sound!). A reality TV show is also just known as a “reality”. If you’re trying out a new style, you might be asked about your nuevo look… and the list goes on. This phenomenon is due in large part to Mexico’s proximity to the United States and the historic movement of citizens between the two countries.
Other differences between Mexican Spanish and Castilian Spanish include tenses, formal/informal sentence structures, idioms and slang.
Whichever you choose to learn, you’ll be sure to enrich your world by learning some conversational Spanish vocabulary. If you found this useful, find out more about learning Spanish (or Mexican Spanish) now!