Latinamerican v Castilian Spanish

First, hello and thanks for this really interesting take on learning a language. This is my third foreign language and I have noticed that since I can express myself in 3 languages already, it drives me MAD that I can’t speak about politics or the latest movie I saw in Spanish :-)))) and so many previous attempts failed because I get discouraged before I reach higher levels.
This course will not let me talk about politics (not that I really mean to do that all the time, just an example), but did definitely allow me to build a lot of useful sentences and do it spontaneously. And I do a lot of listening while driving!

However, my first issue is the fact that it has not been even explained that you’re doing Latinamerican Spanish - my Spanish friends keep correcting some words as they wouldn’t use them in Spain. Your lectors are from Latin America as well, and their pronunciation differs from Castilian (especially the Argentinian? guy).
I quickly realised myself that you only use 3rd person singular in the formal form, which is unnatural for Iberian Spanish speakers in informal circumstances. You cannot sit with your friends on the beach beside a chirringuito in Malaga sipping sangría and calling them “sir” or “lady” (kind of an equivalent to “usted”).

One of the main claims of this course is that you don’t need to learn grammar - children don’t and they acquire language naturally as they grow. That is very true when it comes to kids, though it takes them a few years! It is also probably more true for somebody learning English OR from the perspective of an English speaker. “do” only has 4 forms (do, does, did, done) and is considered irregular! I wouldn’t even try to count the different forms of “hacer” and little mistake here can make a significant difference in meaning.
All I’m saying is that after I listen to the challenges, I sit with a grammar book/website and try to learn different forms of verbs, etc. It puts everything in context and helps me build more sentences on my own.

Nevertheless, I do enjoy the course and find it very helpful!!!

Hello and welcome to the SSi forum Piotr. It’s great to hear that you are finding the course very helpful! As you progress in Course 1 you’ll surely be able to gain more and more fluency in the language and will surprise your friends even more.

During the course of Course 2 (coming soon!) you’ll notice that we start using “Tu” instead of “Usted” as the 2nd person singular. We decided to use “Usted” at the beginning as it is usually the form that you’ll use /hear on the first encounter with someone that you don’t know, especially if you have to ask for directions, go to a restaurant / hotel, etc.

As for the Castillan vs Latin American Spanish yes, I am from Argentina and Rosa is from Central America but we have people from Spain and other parts of the world in our team as well, to ensure we provide the best possible combination of dialect forms of Spanish to our learners. The more you use the course, the more you’ll be able to use and understand a broader range of dialects and accents as you can find in Spain and Latin America these days.

Good luck with your studies!


1 Like

This is rather interesting to me, having just returned from a trip to Cuba.

I had done Spanish before in more or less conventional ways (although I did start with Michel Thomas), but for the last several years, my Spanish had lain completely dormant.

Having done SSiW for a few years now, I had always meant to revive my Spanish via SSiS, but in the event, really left it rather too late for my trip to Cuba. I did manage to get through a fair amount of Level 1, and that was extremely helpful. It would have been even more helpful if I’d started at least a month sooner!

I had guessed that the male speaker on the course was Latin American, but (incorrectly) assumed that perhaps the female speaker was Spanish, and that you were demonstrating Peninsular vs Latin American Spanish in parallel, as it were.

I had been to Latin American once before (Peru) and got to know some of the differences, but could not really remember details. It was interesting that working through the course plus being in a Spanish speaking country did combine to help me dig up quite a bit of my original Spanish knowledge, and words started appearing “out of nowhere” sometimes.

I would say that Cuba is quite a good place to practice Spanish “in the wild” because it seems that English is not really widely spoken there (yet - I’m sure this will change). Even some of the people in the tourist industry that we encountered only knew some basic phrases, and we had plenty of linguistic confusion “fun” :slight_smile:

Maybe I will write about some other aspects of Cuba in another thread … it’s certainly an interesting place, but…not without its challenges, shall we say.

Anyway, thank you Gaby and Rosa (as I now know you to be :slight_smile: ) for a great course, I and I look forward to continuing with it over the coming months.

I look forward to hearing your comments about Cuba, Mike. I spent quite some time there about 15 years ago, but I haven’t been back for 10 years now, though I keep in touch to some extent via emigre friends in Manchester. But I did find it a good place to practice Spanish ‘in the wild’, as you say, and I’m glad to hear it still is (even though that may reflect a rather slow pace of change). By the time I left, I didn’t feel there were that many differences from Peninsular Spanish, which I originally trained in, but there were one or two very startling vocabulary discrepancies. In particular, I remember my landlady telling me to put something in the ‘escaparate’, by which she meant the wardrobe, but since I’d previously only come across the Peninsular version of the word, I couldn’t understand why she’d want me to put it in a shop window.


Hi Piotr. I share the impulse to reach for the grammar book. After all, how else do you get to make a whole range of sentences after just half an hour of study? But I think these Saysomethingin courses take you far enough into the language quickly enough and offer you (quite early on) a confident intuitive command of the spoken language which you can’t get from the study of grammar. Yes, maybe a bit of grammar to back up the speaking and listening may add something, but it may equally actually interfere with the development of an intuitive command. I have to admit that up to now I haven’t learnt a language purely by this method, but I do know that using the Saysomething in Welsh courses has given me something that other more overtly grammar-based Welsh courses and self-learning haven’t, and as the suite of SaySomething courses expands, I look forward to having a go at an entirely new language purely by that method. Anyway, we’re all different, and we all learn in different ways, don’t we? Perhaps some more efficiently that others.

As for the Latin/Peninsular divide in Spanish, I think the Spaniards have a touch of the linguistic intolerance that we ex-imperial Brits have vis-a-vis the ‘colonial’ dialects, though the North American version of English is so much more dominant than the Latin American version of Spanish. Obviously you have to respond to what you find on the beach in (or presumably a few miles from) Malaga town. In any case I assume it won’t be long before SSiS offers a whole range of regional variants, perhaps including a Castilian and an Andalusian one.

1 Like