Spanish Language/Spanish


When you learn Spanish you will learn standard Spanish. Do most people even speak like that? What is your advice on learning Spanish?

Hi Hank,

Well, according to sociolinguistics, there is no such thing as "standard" or neutral Spanish; that's just an idea we have; people speak in all sorts of different ways depending on where they are, who they are speaking with, and why.  If you have native speakers of Spanish as instructors, or non-native speakers who have spent periods of time in various Spanish-speaking locations, you will surely be exposed to different varities of Spanish, although your intructors may attempt to "standardize" the language they use with you.  Textbooks generally present the language in an unusual and non-authentic way in their attempts to standardize; however, what we view as standard will vary according to where we are.  If you are in Europe, the "standard" may be presented as some formal register of Castillian Spanish.  

My advice on learning Spanish?  That will depend on why you are learning it and how you think you will be using it.  If you would like to use your Spanish to travel to various locations and speak with different kinds of people in different settings, then it's probably best to try to get exposure to different varieties of Spanish.  If you are preparing to use Spanish in one specific location, to go to a specific location to work, for example, then it might make sense to focus on Spanish spoken by people in just that place.

Some places you can visit to listen to Spanish:  
(This site has interviews with people from all over the world in different languages.  Recently I have had trouble reproducing the videos, but hopefully it will work for you.  Click on videos and then "search in testimonies" and then select "Spanish" as the language of contribution.) (Again, this is a monologue type format, but it may still help you train your ear and get a sense of different varities of Spanish)

Another thing to do is read the news in Spanish!  If you do a search for "noticias" and the names of different countries, you can find lots of online news sources.  You will notice how the language used to discuss events is somewhat different in different locations.  Here is a Spanish (from Spain) newssite that also has lots of videos:

Well, those are some ideas :)

Suerte en tus estudios,


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Brandee Strickland


I can answer questions about the Spanish language itself, as I studied Spanish academically and also spent a significant amount of time living in Chile (as a teacher of English). I can also help with issues of translation, and with interpreting slang or other cultural anecdotes. As an experienced teacher, of both EFL and Spanish, I can answer questions as well about teaching, classroom practice, and the use of technology.


I am a native speaker of English but have studied Spanish since a young age, as well as living in Chile for 5 years. I learned Spanish as a student myself, and have also taught introductory and intermediate level Spanish courses both privately and at the University level. At the graduate level, I have studied linguistics and sociolinguistics, as well as focusing on language teaching and the use of technology in the classroom.

University of Calgary, Canada; Universidad de Concepcion, Chile

Strickland, B., & O'Brien, M. G. (2013). A Review of the Literature on Technology in Second and Foreign Language Learning. Calgary: University of Calgary. Strickland, B. (Summer 2012). Communities of practice in the language classroom: Theory and reality. ETAS Journal. Strickland, B. (2009). De Gardner a Bajtin: La comunicacion mediada por ordenador y su impacto en la clase de lenguas. University of Calgary (Canada), ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. MR54572. Strickland, B. (2009). El mito de Narciso en la poesía española de los Siglos de Oro. Espéculos: Revista de estudios literarios, 40.

I have an undergraduate degree in Spanish and Psychology from Bowdoin College in the U.S. I completed an M.A. in Spanish and Second Language Acquisition and a PhD dissertation in the same field, both at the University of Calgary in Canada and currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de Concepción in Concepción, Chile.

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