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Should You Learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish?

If you're embarking on a Spanish language adventure, you might be wondering whether to learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish. Fear not, I'm here to help you make an informed choice! 🌟🌎

Castilian Spanish, also known as European Spanish, has been spoken in Spain ever since it originated about 1,200 years ago. Its accent is characterized by the "th" sound, which adds a touch of elegance to the day-to-day speech.


Castilian Spanish is understood throughout the Spanish-speaking world and is often considered more formal in certain contexts.


On the other hand, Latin American Spanish boasts its own captivating charm, enriched by the diverse cultures and traditions of the Americas.


mexican girls having fun

The accents can vary greatly between countries, offering a vibrant and melodic twist to the language. While the pronunciation might differ from region to region, they are (almost) all understood across Latin America.

Whichever path you choose, rest assured that learning either of them opens doors to a world of connections, cultural appreciation, and exciting opportunities.


So, get ready to spice up your language journey with either the classic elegance of Castilian Spanish or the vibrant diversity of Latin American Spanish. Are you ready to find out which is best for you!?


¡Vamos! (Let's go!) 🌟


graphic with a spanish flag and latino american flags and it says "Castilian VS Latin American Spanish"

Summary: Learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish?

When choosing whether you should learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish, there are two main things that you need to figure out: What are your goals - and which do you prefer to listen to?


This means that you need to write down and gather your thoughts and what you might want to use your Spanish for, and you must listen to both accents/dialects to see which you prefer.


In this article, we go over a ton of the benefits of each choice, but to summarize:


The benefits of learning Latin American Spanish are:

  • You can travel to 20 countries and communicate effectively with the majority of Spanish speakers

  • You can choose from 20 dialects with tons of different cultures, expressions, vocabulary, and accents

  • You can communicate effectively with Spanish speakers in the US

  • You can do business in the ever-growing markets of Latin American countries


The benefits of learning Castilian Spanish are:

  • You can travel to expensive/high-class destinations with fancy restaurants & hotels in Spain

  • You can connect easier with Spaniards if you choose to go there

  • You’ll be speaking the oldest and “purest form” of Spanish

  • You’ll be well-understood by almost all Spanish speakers


Without any further ado, let's dive into all the things that should be considered when choosing to learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish.


What Are Your Goals?🤔

I think there are two main factors in making this decision, what are your goals, and which one do you prefer. Below you will find many things that you might want to do, with the corresponding answer to “Which should you choose" to accomplish that goal.

  • You want to retire/live in a cheaper country - Latin American Spanish

  • You want to travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, Central & South America - Latin American Spanish

  • You want super high-class vacations/food/hotels - Castilian Spanish

  • You want to communicate with Spanish speakers in the USA - Latin American Spanish

  • Connect with the most people possible - Latin American Spanish

  • Invest in foreign markets - Latin American Spanish


cartoon girl saying "write down what you would dream of doing with your spanish, and find out whether latinam or castilian sounds better to your ears!"


Benefits of Speaking Latin American Spanish🙌

First things first, Latino-American Spanish has a massive amount of speakers. We're talking over 460 million people worldwide! From Mexico to Argentina, you'll find this spicy Spanish variant spoken across 20 vibrant countries in Latin America.

Now, let's talk moolah. Latin America is BOOMING economically, my amigos. For example, Panama’s GDP last year grew by over 15% - compared to the USA with less than 6%.


So, if you're dreaming of smashing it in the business world, speaking Latino-American Spanish can open doors to some fantastic opportunities in this ever-growing region.

But it's not just about the dinero!


Each Latin American country adds its own flavor to the language with unique words, expressions, and accents. It's a linguistic fiesta, and within those 20 countries, there is a perfect dialect and culture for everyone!


And guess what? If you're in the USA, Latino-American Spanish is all the rage!


It's the second most spoken language in the USA, and Ps - if you live in the USA you’re in the second biggest Spanish-speaking country in the world.


Oh, and let's not forget about the fun stuff – the media and entertainment scene! Telenovelas, music, movies – Latin America churns out some seriously awesome stuff, all in Latino-American Spanish!


And when you're itching to explore, speaking Latino-American Spanish is a game-changer for traveling through the enchanting lands of Latin America.


To summarize: The Benefits Of Speaking Latin American Spanish Are:

  • Ability to communicate and connect easily with the vast majority of Spanish speakers

  • Ability to connect with Latin American businesses and tap into a country's strong economic growth

  • Many dialects and accents to choose from - all with their own particular beauty

  • A ton more movies, musicians, and series that you can watch to enjoy and improve your accent

  • Tons of countries to travel to where you’ll be able to talk without weirding out the locals


cartoon girl going over the summary for the benefits of learning latin american spanish


Benefits of Speaking Castilian Spanish 🙌

Let me spill the frijoles on why speaking Castilian Spanish is pretty cool… First off, Castilian Spanish is like the OG of Spanish. It's the classic version spoken in Spain, where it all began.


When you speak Castilian Spanish, you're tapping into centuries of rich history and culture, dating back to the years 500-900 when it formed.


Now, let's talk accents. Castilian Spanish has this smooth and elegant accent that makes you sound very sophisticado. Whereas Latin American Spanish has flow, and style, and is fun. Castilian has a sort of European elegance/2 spoons & 2 forks type-vibe, if you know what I mean.


But here's the real kicker - Castilian Spanish is understood all over the Spanish-speaking world! Yep, you heard that right. Unfortunately, you might have a problem understanding some Latino Americans if you only study Castilian, but they’ll sure as heck understand you!

Let's talk travel perks. Spain is a top-notch tourist destination, attracting millions of visitors every year. When you speak Castilian Spanish, you'll connect with the locals on a whole new level.


Imagine strolling through the charming streets of Barcelona, ordering tapas like a pro, and making friends along the way.


Oh, and let's not forget about literature and arts! Some of the greatest Spanish writers and artists hail from Spain, like Miguel de Cervantes, Pablo Picasso, and Salvador Dalí.


By speaking Castilian Spanish, you get to savor their works in their original, unaltered form.

And guess what? Castilian Spanish has its own official institution dedicated to preserving and promoting the language – the Real Academia Española (RAE). They've been the guardians of Castilian Spanish since 1713, making sure it stays classy and timeless.


In a nutshell, speaking Castilian Spanish is like being part of an exclusive club with a rich history, elegant accents, and worldwide recognition.


So, whether you're dreaming of exploring Spain, delving into literary masterpieces, or conversing with Spanish speakers from all corners of the globe, Castilian Spanish is your passport to an exciting world of language and culture.


To summarize: The Benefits Of Speaking Castilian Spanish Are:

  • Castilian Spanish is the original & most standard Spanish

  • You’ll sound elegant and super European, like the French version of Spanish

  • Latino Americans will be able to understand you too!

  • You’ll fit right-in in Spain, one of the most desirable and culturally rich tourist destinations

  • Ability to read classics from the many literary geniuses of Spain


cartoon girl going over the benefits of learning castilian spanish


Can Latin Americans Understand Castilian Spanish? 🧏‍♂️

Yes! As somebody who has lived in Latin America for 4 months, I can tell you two insights about this:

  • Even though they don’t always use the same vocabulary, Latin Americans understand the Castilian words.

  • There are a lot of Latin Americans that are grossed out by the Th sound made by the C & Z in Castilian Spanish, and there is a certain prejudice about Spanish people that they are racist and hate Latino-Americans.

Why is this relevant? Because if you speak like a Spaniard, you might be treated a bit differently by SOME Latino Americans - but obviously most will treat you normally.


Can Castilians Understand Latin American Spanish? 😬

Oof, now the answer will be yes and no. Can they communicate? Yes. Can they communicate efficiently ALWAYS? Nope. So hear me out, I’m writing this from Panama City, Panama right now.


Here there are jokes about Chileans not speaking Spanish. If the Chilean accent is so different that other Latin Americans don’t understand it - how do you think it is for Spaniards? 🤣


This also applies to Caribbean dialects such as that of The Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Cuba. Furthermore, there are many words that Latino Americans all use that aren’t in Spain.


So as a Castilian Spanish speaker, you’ll definitely struggle with SOME people that speak SOME dialects.


What’s The Difference Between Spanish In Latin America & Spain? 🤷‍♂️

In Latin America, you'll hear a relaxed and melodious accent, while Spain boasts an elegant and rich accent. Another big difference is found in our vocabulary.


Latin American dialects have been heavily affected by indigenous languages, whereas Castilian Spanish - not so much. There is also a tiny difference in conjugations, in Spain, they say “vosotros” for “you-plural”, whereas in Latin America we say “ustedes”.


Vosotros comes with its very own conjugations, whereas Ustedes just uses the same conjugations that we all use to refer to “they/them”.


Let’s go deeper into what all of this means below!


cartoon girl answering the question "whats the difference between castilian & latin american spanish?"


Accents In Latin America vs Spain 🗣

The Castilian accents in general are extremely neutral. After learning Latin American Spanish, I hear Castilian accents like a Texan does a Californian accent. It’s like the difference between a spicy chimichanga and a steak dinner.


If you want to flow and be more expressive when you speak, Latin American accents in general are for you. If you want an elegant, high-class, queen-like way of speaking, go with the Castilian accent!


Pronunciation In Latin America vs Spain 📺

In general, the Spaniards pronounce every letter well, whereas we in Latino America are having a bit too much fun to care (Laughing face). For example, read these two sentences to see common differences:


Castilian Pronunciation:

Yo he estado esperándote por tres horas


Latino American Pronunciation (Ghost-Ss / Ds):

Yo he eta’o e’perándote por tre’ hora’

Latino American Pronunciation (Aspirated Ss / Soft Ds):

Yo he ehtatho ehperándote por treh orah


**Table Of Common Pronunciation Differences**

Letter(s)

Castilian Pronunciation

LatinAm Pronunciation

Z & C (Before I & E)

TH) Hacer (Ha-ther)

S) Hacer (Ha-ser)

R (At End Of A Word)

R) Escribir (Es-cri-bir)

R/L) Escribir (Es-cri-bi/l/r)

S (In Some Cases)

S) Estar (Es-tar)

S/H Estar (Eh/tar)

D (In Some Cases)

D) Lado (La-do)

D/Not Read) Lado (La-o)

G/J

KH) [Throat] Genio (Khe-nio)

H) Genio (He-nio)


Vocabulary Differences: Latin America vs Spain 📄

There is a ton of vocabulary differences between Latin America and Spain. In this section, I’ll give you a list so that you can have an idea of these distinctions. Remember, many times Latino Americans can understand Castilian words, but it doesn’t always work the other way around.

Meaning

Castilian Spanish Word

Latin American Word

Car

coche

carro/auto

Computer

ordenador

computadora

Bus

autobús

bús/guagua

Potato

patata

papa

Cell phone

móvil

celular/teléfono

Truck

camión

camioneta/troca

Elevator

ascensor

elevador

Sneakers

zapatillas

tenis/zapatillas

Juice

zuma

jugo

Pen

bolígrafo

pluma

Glasses

gafas

lentes


The Most Important Thing - What’s Your Favorite? 😻

At the end of the day, if you don’t 100% need to learn Spanish - then you need to have some reasons to keep you studying. One of these reasons should be that you love the language.


For me, the idea of speaking like an Argentine kept me going, I loved (and still do) their classy European style of speaking, mixed with the spice of Latin American culture and Italian rhythm.


So I am going to leave 2 videos below, one of a standard Latin American accent, and one of a standard Castilian accent. Choose for yourself which you enjoy hearing more.


Side note, if you choose Latin American Spanish, there will be a ton of more specific and diverse accents to choose from.


**This is a video that demonstrates really well the Standard Castilian accents you will run into**

**This is a Colombian Spanish teacher speaking - a good representation of Standard LatinAm Spanish**



Conclusion: Learn Castilian Or Latin American Spanish?

In conclusion, the decision to learn Castilian or Latin American Spanish just boils down to your personal goals and preferences. Consider what you want to achieve with the language and which accent appeals to you the most.


Latin American Spanish offers a wealth of benefits, from connecting with over 440 million speakers worldwide to tapping into the thriving economies of Latin American countries.

On the other hand, Castilian Spanish, the OG of the language, holds its allure with an elegant and timeless accent. It opens doors to high-class destinations in Spain, offers a connection to literary masterpieces, and is widely understood across the Spanish-speaking world.


High class luxury hotel with pool

Ultimately, the choice is yours! Listen to both accents, explore the unique vocabulary, and envision how each variant aligns with your language journey.


Whether you opt for the melodic rhythms of Latin American Spanish or the sophisticated charm of Castilian Spanish - surely your commitment to learning this beautiful language will undoubtedly lead to a world of opportunities, cultural appreciation, and meaningful connections.


So let’s go discover the wonders of Spanish and savor the joy of communicating with millions of Spanish speakers around the globe!


Interested in learning more about dialects?

Here in the Dialect Breakdown Category we have reviews of every Spanish dialect - including Castilian & all those of all Latino American countries.


¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!) 🌟🌎

- Ben


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