Although many of Colombia’s well-educated people speak some English, the majority do not.
So what does that mean for an English-speaking foreigner who is going to relocate there?
Anyone who seriously plans to live, retire or invest in Colombia, especially Medellín, should know some Spanish — and the more the better. They should at least try to obtain minimum level Spanish survival skills in order to handle most daily situations they will encounter.
Frankly, anyone will be at a disadvantaged and be considered a foreigner to some degree without a basic knowledge of the language Part of the fun of living in another country is communicating with the local people, making new friends and enjoying the culture. Speaking Spanish will enable you to achieve these ends, have a more rewarding life, and open the door for many new and interesting experiences. Knowing a little Spanish can also save you money when shopping and, in some cases, keep people from taking advantage of you.
Most foreigners who come to Colombia will find it hard to understand the locals and communicate with them. Even native Spanish speakers will have a difficult time with the local slang. Like English, Spanish is very idiomatic. In Colombia, everyday conversations are filled with local jargon called Colombianismos.
To make learning even more confusing, in Antioquia the locals use the paisa dialect. This regional variation is spoken in Antioquia (Medellín). Paisa people speak Spanish with a distinct Castilian sounding “S”. Paisa uses also vos for the second person singular pronoun. But don’t worry about this now.
Many diminutives are also used quite frequently. Beginners should not worry about this either.
Future articles will cover all of the above and introduce slang to help demystify and make the learning of Medellín-style Spanish easier for the neophyte.
* Those who participate in our one-of-a-kind Medellín relocation tours will receive a FREE copy of, “Christopher Howard’s Official Guide to Colombian-style Spanish,” in addition to “Christopher Howard’s Official guide to Discovering Medellín Relocation.”