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Learning to speak Spanish for Beginners

The 5 Best Places to Learn Spanish AbroadIf trying to pick up random words by hanging around your local Central American market doesn't seem to be working fast enough, then it's time to take charge and learn Spanish abroad. The first language of 20 countries and more than 400 million people around the world, Spanish has the world's second-highest number of native speakers and is becoming increasingly important in many job markets - not to mention speaking it opens up a whole new world of friends to be made!

Immersion is pretty universally accepted as the best way to learn a new language, so your best strategy is to study in a Spanish-speaking country. Luckily for you, there are hundreds of options out there for eager future Spanish speakers, even if you're starting with a base of nothing more than "hola" and "gracias."

If trying to pick up random words by hanging around your local Central American market doesn't seem to be working fast enough, then it's time to take charge and learn Spanish abroad.

So where's the best spot to go, you ask? While there isn't one perfect place to learn Spanish, there are major differences between all of the countries, and depending on your priorities, some may be a better choice for you than others.Learn Spanish in Colombia To help you decide, we've listed out the best places to learn Spanish abroad, and some details on who they're "best" for.

1. Best Accent: Colombia

  • Who it's great for: beginner Spanish speakers.
  • Best alternative destination: Ecuador or Costa Rica. Residents of tiny Ecuador have a clear northern Andean accent and the pretty capital city of Quito alone contains nearly 100 Spanish schools, while the laid-back ticos of Costa Rica speak at a pace that won't be too intimidating for gringo newbies.

Learn Spanish in GuatemalaRolos (residents of the capital city of Bogotá) are quick to inform foreigners that they speak the best Spanish in all of Latin America. While this title is up for debate (coastal Colombians, for one, probably wouldn't agree), it's true that Spanish speakers in central Colombia have a minimal accent and talk relatively slowly, making their Spanish among the continent's clearest and easiest to understand.

Though it's taken a while, local folks have finally gotten wise to the huge language advantage they have to offer, and Spanish schools are popping up in the major cities faster than you can say "arepa con queso." The government has even sponsored an initiative to market Spanish language schools as part of the country's new branding campaign.

Though there are benefits to all of Colombia's cities, if you're just here for the verbs you'll probably be better off sticking with either sprawling Bogotá or cosmopolitan Medellín, as the accent on the Caribbean coast can be challenging for newbies.

2. Best Bang for Your Buck: Guatemala

  • Who it's great for: Spanish learners who want a good budget destination.
  • Best alternative destination: Landlocked and mountainous Bolivia has South America's lowest cost of living, and you might even pick up one of the country's 36 indigenous languages from the majority-indigenous population while you're there.

One of Latin America's most affordable countries, stunning Guatemala is an often-overlooked treasure of Central America, with most visitors passing through on a backpacking trip and relatively few choosing to stay. Despite its small size, the country has plenty to offer in terms of culture, outdoor adventures and, oh yeah, a few classes.

The lovely colonial city of Antigua is a particularly popular spot for estudiantes. Though it runs a little on the touristy side, there's a huge range of Spanish schools catering to visitors and you can find plenty to do during your time off.

Learn Spanish in Argentina Learn Spanish in Costa Rica

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