Without doubt, one of the most frequently discussed topics amongst new students of Spanish is whether to choose to study Spanish in Spain or in Latin America. Firstly, it is important to clarify that the differences between Peninsular and Latin American Spanish are not so marked as to inhibit understanding. Yes, pronunciation varies, as does vocabulary, but all Spanish-speakers can understand one another.
It is also worth mentioning that there is no single ‘Latin American’ dialect- each Latin country has its own (or in many cases more than one) variety of Spanish. Of course, we at UniSpain may be biased, but here are the main differences between the two, as well as our top reasons as to why we genuinely think that studying Spanish in Spain is a better option.
Vosotros: Spain conserves the ‘vosotros’ form (informal second person plural), whereas Latin America simply uses ‘ustedes’ for both second person plurals.
Lisp: although this is not technically a lisp, the vast majority of Spain (save for a few parts of Andalusia) will pronounce the letter z and the soft c as the ‘th’ sound in English. In Latin America, both are pronounced as ‘s’, which is known as ‘seseo’.
The birthplace of Spanish
Spain is the birthplace of the Spanish language and home to the Real Academia Española, the regulating body of the Spanish language, which is located in Madrid. Studying Spanish in Spain will allow you to learn and implement the ‘vosotros’ form, which is often not even taught in Latin American Spanish schools.
When opting for a course with UniSpain, you could choose to go to Salamanca- widely considered to have one of the ‘purest’ Spanish accents in the world. Many cities in the North of the country, especially the capital Madrid, also have clear accents. In general, the distinction that the Spanish ‘lisp’ creates helps beginners- for example in Latin America, words such as ‘casa’ and ‘caza’ are pronounced in exactly the same way, which could cause confusion. Of course, there are some exceptions- the Andalusian accent is said to be one of the hardest Spanish dialects to understand.
Statistically speaking, Spain is the safest Spanish-speaking country in the world. According to the Global Peace Index 2014, Spain ranks at number 26 out of a possible 162 countries. This is not to say that all of Latin America is dangerous (it most certainly is not) and that you do not need to exercise caution when living in Spain, but from the facts it is evident that Spain is a safer destination.