IWTYAL 023: Which Spanish dialect should I learn?

itunesButtonGreg asks: “There are so many varieties of Spanish. Which dialect should I focus on?”

In this episode:

  • How I learnt Spanish
  • About different varieties of Spanish
  • Why going “narrow and deep” is better
  • How this applies to learning varieties of Spanish

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Olly's Top Resources For Learning:
  • Nina

    Thank you for the Bliu Bliu recommendation! I will check it out now. I’ve wanted for a long time to improve my advanced level of English, but I faced the same problem like Davide.

  • Moses

    I think http://www.podcastfromspain.com is a good resource to listening castilian accent divided by levels.

  • Laderon Ashkenazie

    This time I totally disagree with you. In terms of learning, yes you need to stick to just one particular accent, but you need to get exposed to different varieties of it gradually, just like with English. You can learn American way of speaking, but you will be listening to tons of the British English materials, as well. And the difference between the Spanishes is not That huge, just a bit confusing at times. If you’ve learnt the Iberian Spanish and don’t understand the Colombians, I would doubt whether you’ve actually learnt enough. The only exception to that would be the Spanish from Chile.

    • Why do you need to get exposed to different varieties if you’re only operating in one particular community? Of course it doesn’t do any harm, and can be interesting and fun, but the normal situation for anyone learning any language is that they learn only the dialect that surrounds them. You could quite happily go your whole life hearing only one dialect of Spanish, but here’s the key thing – if you get to a good level, you will quickly and easily be able to adapt to a new variety if and when you come across it. By contrast, if you focus on different dialects as you learn, you’ll spread your attention and learn slower.

      • Laderon Ashkenazie

        yes, agreed on focusing. By exposure I mean, you need to get you ear be accustomed to different types of the language, because you won’t live in a bobble, if you speak Spanish you will inevitably run into guys from different countries, will it be a shock? – no, if you are aware of some varieties. Why not just one, well let’s imagine you are learning English, now try to watch, let’s say Graham Norton show on the British TV – you’ll see what I am talking about.
        In my situation I used to listen to different resources in different Spanish accents, without actually treating them as standard/non- standard ones, because in real life you never know who you are going to speak with, it could be someone from Madrid, from Andalusia, the Canary Island or someone from the Latin America.

        PS. I hope I am not sounding angry here. Cheers, thanks for your great work

        • OK, actually I think we are agreeing here! 🙂 What I don’t think is a good idea, is to actively study different kinds of Spanish. Sounds crazy, but actually lots of people think they need to do that. So in that sense, I think we’re in agreement!

          P.S. You don’t sound angry at all! I like disagreement – it’s more fun! 🙂

  • Edú Calambur

    Hi, Olly. Recently, i´ve started to listen episodes of your podcast. They are great. I´m from Perú, so spanish is my mother language. But i´m studying english very hard this days. Anyway, i listened this episode about spanish for curiosity, And almost at the end i listened your recommendation about a podcast call “Radio Ambulante”. I agree with your advice. I usually listen this podcast (which is host by a peruvian-usa writer) and is wonderful, many interesting life stories from latin american people.