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Speaking the Language

Colombia - Speaking the Language


Colombia’s official language is Spanish, although the accent used will differ slightly from standard Spanish. There are over 60 languages in daily use in the country, and these are mainly old local dialects which are mainly used in rural communities. Minority languages in use in the country include English, German and several other European languages.

English is not widely spoken, though some foreign businesses may use it during the working day, so it is essential that expats learn some Spanish in order to be able to communicate with colleagues and neighbours. Learning the language will also help people moving to the area to integrate into the local community. English is taught in some schools though the focus on language learning for children tends to be on Spanish and the local dialects.

The Colombian government is attempting to promote the use of English though there is a demand for teachers of English as many of those who are teaching English courses in schools actually have very little knowledge of the language. Until the opportunities for learning English improve it will be difficult to promote the use of the language of business, although the increasing number of foreign companies who are investing in the country may help to turn this situation around.

Spanish is a relatively easy language to learn, particularly for Europeans who are familiar with the ‘Romance’ style of languages which are common there. Those who have spent time in Spain will be familiar with the sound of the language and this should help learners to pick it up. There are some grammar differences between Spanish and English, but none that should cause any major problems.

If you are moving to Colombia for work it is worth speaking to your employer to find out what language training may be provided but if this is not the case there are several language schools in Colombia which offer a variety of courses to suit all needs. They run evening courses which can take several months to complete, or intensive courses which are full time and last for a week or two. The course you choose will depend upon how quickly you need to learn the language. As Spanish is a widely spoken language worldwide it should be fairly easy to take a few lessons at home before you move to Colombia and ‘teach yourself’ CDs and books are widely available.


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