The Top 5 Cities to Practice Spanish

Alexis Fishbaugh, Kids’ Club Spanish School, Spain
16  August 2020
When learning Spanish, it is important to practice as much as you can. What better way to practice Spanish than traveling to countries and visiting cities where Spanish is the local language? Actual conversation with people who use Spanish in their everyday lives, fully interiorizes the language in your mind and your brain cements this knowledge on a much deeper level.
You can immerse yourself in the language all day long from sunrise to sunset. You can learn a new word and put it to use right away or put to use all the vocabulary and grammar you learned in class. You will no longer be parroting “Hola, yo me llamo…” after a teacher but you will actually be communicating with native speakers in an immersive learning environment, which is the whole goal of language. You won’t need to know how to ask for directions because it might appear on a future quiz, but you will need to know this in order to return to your hotel!
Garto Kids' Club Spanish School

“To speak a language is is to take on a world, a culture.

– Frantz Fanon

In this article we are going to speak about the 5 cities in the world that we believe are the best to visit when you want to practice Spanish.

Here are the 5 best cities (in our opinion) to practice your Spanish!

Number 5: Madrid

Madrid is recognized quickly by the statue “El Oso y Madroño”, located in the Puerta del Sol in the city. This statue is of a bear reaching up to eat fruit of the Arbutus, or Strawberry Tree. This symbol of Madrid is as old as the city.

Madrid is a great place to practice Spanish since the Spanish language originated in Spain, and Madrid is the capital city of the country. It is a vibrant multi-cultural city. It was chosen as the capital city since it is located in the center of the Iberian Peninsula. It is no more than 8 hours from any other city in Spain, giving easy access to a Spanish student to visit any other Spanish city.

Madrid offers many opportunities for you to practice Spanish, as it is the one and only official language of the city and they welcome many foreigners every year. No one will look at you funny for mispronouncing a word since there are many people in the same boat learning Spanish. There are many local pubs that host “exchange night” where foreign students meet up with locals to exchange 30 minutes of practicing Spanish with 30 minutes of the local practicing their English. More than 20,000 students come to Madrid to practice their Spanish, so you won’t be alone.

The “Real Academia Española” defines the Spanish spoken in Madrid as “Castillian Spanish”, which is considered as the “standard” Spanish. It is the closest to the original Spanish that exists today. Many students learning Spanish as a foreign language consider this version of Spanish to be the easiest to learn. This “standard” Spanish is considered the most understood in the world.

Number 4: Mexico D.F.

Mexico City’s symbol is the “Angel de la Independencia”. A tall column, located in the roundabout of the Paseo de la Reforma,  that commemorates the centennial of the war of Independence.

Mexico City is a wonderful place to practice your Spanish. Although the Spanish in Mexico City is spoken quite quickly the people here are known to be very polite and patient with foreigners learning the language.  Spanish here is quite different from the Spanish spoken in Spain because it is influenced by five centuries of contact with native American languages, most notably for Mexico City, coming from Nahuatl, which is the language spoken by the Aztecs and the most spoken native language, besides Spanish, in Mexico. The Spanish, specifically spoken in Mexico City is has quite a marked and stressed accent, and the speakers use varying pitches and timbres of their voices, going from grave to acute as if in different waves. People claim that Spanish speakers from Mexico city have a “cantadito” accent which means it sounds, many times as if they are singing, this is due mainly to that fact that final vowels of sentences, especially in regards to forming a question, are especially prolonged while the voice pitches higher.

If you are from the United States, learning this version of the language can be quite useful. After the territory of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming were ceded to the United States from Mexico, descendants of former Mexico, who remained in the territory, continue to speak Spanish today. In addition, in the 19th- and 20th-century migration from Mexico to the United States has come in various large waves and have contributed greatly to making Mexican Spanish the most widely spoken variety of Spanish in the United States. If you are from the US, studying Spanish in Mexico could be of great benefit.

Going specifically to Mexico City to practice your Spanish is a good idea because it is the largest Spanish speaking city in the world, boasting 9 million enthusiastic locals to practice Spanish with! Mexico City was the political, administrative, and financial center of the Spanish colonial empire and continues to be a very important and influential city in the world.

It’s closeness and historical context with the US, along with its worldwide importance as a city and in the Hispanic world, makes it a great place to Practice Spanish.

The 19th- and 20th-century migration from Mexico to the United States has come in various large waves and have contributed greatly to making Mexican Spanish the most widely spoken variety of Spanish in the United States.
Number 3: Buenos Aires

Commemorating the quadricentennial of the foundation of the city, the “Obelisco de Buenos Aires” is a national historic monument and symbol of Buenos Aires. It is located in the Plaza de la República in the country’s capital.

Buenos Aires is a wonderful place to practice Spanish, especially if you already have a base in Spanish. Their accent is very distinct from other accents, a very beautiful, melodical and sing-songy Spanish. Many people say it sounds almost Italian due to many Italians emigrating, to this area in the 19th and 20th century, leaving their mark on their “second language”. The clear, soft and musical way those from Buenos Aires, and other Argentinians speak, should not be missed by one studying the language. Due to their unique way of speaking it enriches the learner with interesting nuances.

Buenos Aires is a large, culturally rich city. Music and cultural activities are plentiful giving many opportunities for the learner to practice the language with locals. This city is often called the “Paris of South America”, and you can almost hear the same passion the Parisians embody in the way the people in Buenos Aires speak their Spanish. The native Buenos Aires citizen is considered to be very social and talkative, making finding opportunities to practice Spanish easier for the learner. You won’t have trouble creating conversation with the locals since they love to talk. Paying a bill at a restaurant will probably end up having you telling the waiter all about where you are from and what your goals are during your stay in Buenos Aires.

Number 2: La Habana

Almendrones”or Antique cars, have become the symbol of La Habana, Cuba. These cars roaming the city are like museums on wheels. They are a testimony to the ingenuity and improvisation of Cuban people in the face of the US embargo on the exportation of cars and car parts to Cuba. They could also be seen as a symbol to Cubans tenacity and strength to survive and thrive. Practicing your Spanish on the Caribbean’s largest island is a great idea!

The La Havana version of Spanish is characterized by the weak pronunciation of consonants, such as the “s” at the end of sentences or beginning of syllables, and the deletion of the “d” in many words. Their Slang is derived and influenced from the street, Afro-Cuban religions and even English, (a bicycle, for example, is known as a ‘faster’). Pairing all of this with the speed and accent with which Cubans speak, can confuse even those who speak Spanish well. However, Cubans are extraordinarily generous with their knowledge and time so they have no issues about speaking slower when asked, explaining phrases, and repeating if needed. If you venture to try new vocabulary and no need to be nervous about mistakes, a friendly Cuban will always be willing to help correct pronunciation or the choice of a word. The Cubans are considered the most outgoing people on the planet and their warmth and hospitality is immediately apparent, making a new learner of the Spanish language feel incredibly comfortable practicing Spanish.

La Havana, as a city, is a great backdrop to learning. With beautiful architecture, museums and antiquities, this city is dedicated to knowledge which means it offers access to great teachers and learning materials like no other.

The Cubans are considered the most outgoing people on the planet and their warmth and hospitality is immediately apparent, making a new learner of the Spanish language feel incredibly comfortable practicing Spanish.
Number 1: Brooklyn, New York City

Our number 1 place for practicing your Spanish in Brooklyn, New York. This city is immediately recognizable by its hybrid cable- suspension bridge, reaching across the East River to Manhattan.

There are over 70,000 Spanish speakers, which make up over half of the neighborhood. The Brooklyn neighborhood, Bushwick is the most populous Hispanic-American community within Brooklyn, with 70% of its population speaking only Spanish in their homes. These Spanish speakers are mostly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, but it also has quite a large population from other South American nations.  

This means that you can experience many different varieties and accents of Spanish in this areas all at once! Exposure to these distinct variations will allow students to not have a handicap when meeting many different Spanish speakers from all over the world. The Spanish language is the official language to around 20 countries, meaning there are many varieties, accents, dialects and just different ways to speak Spanish. One should not just limit themselves to learning one specific type, but be a well-rounded Spanish speaker by practicing Spanish with many different Spanish speakers with different backgrounds and becoming aware of the different ways to pronounce words, grammar structures, vocabulary and slang. This way the student avoids obstacles when coming into contact with someone with a different accent than what you are used to.

So travel to this very diverse area, which allows you to practice Spanish in a unique way, with many different types of people and culture.

There is no better way for your brain to learn Spanish than to use the language in a real life setting with native speakers. Traveling to these cities will allow you to practice Spanish using all of your senses, while tasting and smelling delicious food, seeing beautiful sites, hearing the rustle in the streets. These 5 cities are our top choice for practicing Spanish in a real life setting.

Kids’ Club Spanish School also provides children with many chances to practice Spanish, with native Spanish speaking teachers from all over the world! Sign your child up for a free trial class to help them begin their polyglot journey.

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