Benefits of Learning Spanish Abroad

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Search our blog about all things Panama! From must dos, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, in our blog you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 15 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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Benefits of Learning Spanish Abroad

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There are so many options for learning Spanish nowadays - online lessons, apps, local tutoring, and immersion programs in Spanish-speaking countries just to name a few. It isn't to say that one method is better than the other; it simply depends on your goals and personal circumstances.

But for those who desire to authentically communicate in Spanish, you MUST partake on an adventure in a Spanish-speaking country. Playing tourist in Panama's crystal clear Caribbean waters while you learn Spanish could be a good enough reason though...

Winter's got you down? Work stressing you out? Why not come experience learning Spanish in paradise? #BocasDelToro #hablaya #learnspanish #travel #panama #visitpanama #bluecoconut #winterblues

Posted by Habla Ya Spanish Schools on Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Even if it's just for one week, this experience will benefit you greatly, especially with your ability to effectively communicate with Latinos.

Let me explain to you why:

1. Cultural Understanding

Latinos are a different breed - in totally the best way! In many ways, they are exact opposite from North Americans and Europeans. Traditionally they are indirect communicators (will avoid direct confrontation and direct questions that might make you nervous or embarrassed), very respectful (use the formal usted - "you" and titles Señor, Señora, Don, Doña - "Mr., Mrs."), and focus on context rather than content (relationship importance, circumstances, timing and social appropriateness).

It's so important to understand and experience the cultural difference in order to gain trust with the Latinos you communicate with. It completely changes the picture and conversation for a Latino and you will reap the benefits in your new relationship with them.

2. Slang Terms

What you learn in Spanish books is sometimes no where near what is happening on the ground. I'm not referring to learning curse words and vulgar terms; even regular day-to-day words can be vastly different from the proper book vocabulary.

If you want to speak authentically and make a true connection with the person you are communicating with, I encourage you to speak to them with common words that they are used to. You'll notice that they will open up to you more because they know that you have a better understanding of what they are saying.

The best way to learn these on-the-ground terms is by being right there in the action! Travel and talk to as many locals as you can. Listen carefully, try to understand as much as possible, and ask questions when you need further clarification or explanation. Latinos love to share their culture with foreigners and are a very open and accepting group of persons.

3. Ability to Think on Your Feet

Many times when learning and speaking a foreign language, your ability to speak the language can be measured by how much you catch of what is being said. When you first start learning, typically 0% - 5% is understood. After a few weeks of classes, that percentage starts increasing. With some dedicated practice and classes, it continues to increase until you feel pretty good about how much you understand and what you can respond in turn.

However, there are always some things that trip up a foreign-speaker no matter how fluent they are. Unless you were raised speaking the foreign language in the native environment, it's virtually impossible to be able to understand 100% of everything that is said. So don't beat yourself up if you don't understand everything that you hear!

The trick is being able to work around the things you don't understand. Follow these steps: First, be able to pick out of a sentence what you don't understand (whether a phrase, a word, a verb conjugation, etc.). Second, try to figure out the meaning with context clues. Third, ask for or confirm the meaning of what you don't understand. Fourth, use it correctly in the future.

Being in an environment with native speakers gives you endless opportunities to hone this important skill.

4. New Friends in Fun Places

Spanish-speaking countries are in some of the most beautiful parts of the world (check out these 8 amazing beach destinations to learn Spanish...). With the friendliness of Latinos, I have no doubt that you will make new friends who will be happy to show you their country AND invite you back whenever you can make the trip again. With social media, you'll be surprised how easy it is to stay connected to people all over the world!

Habla Ya Spanish students and teachers having a few drinks at a bar in Panama City
Habla Ya Spanish students and teachers having a few drinks at a bar in Panama City

But while you're visiting the foreign country, eat at local restaurants, take local transportation, and visit local areas. Take in the vibe of the place, talk to everyone you can, and feel what the people feel on a daily basis.

Having this connection with Latinos and their homeland will give you fodder for more interesting conversations and experiences with Latinos back in your homeland.

So what are you waiting for?! Start planning your trip abroad today! Of course we are biased that you should visit Panama to learn Spanish, but for very good reason.

WHY CHOOSE PANAMA FOR SPANISH LEARNING? LEARN WHY HERE... »

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Search our blog if you're visiting Panama! From must do's, where to party or eat, to which beaches and hiking trails you shouldn't miss, you'll find great insider info about Bocas del Toro, Panama City and Boquete, as well as Panamanian culture, customs and traditions, and certainly tips and advice for learning Spanish while in our country! We've been writing about all things Panama for over 10 years and nothing beats local knowledge from the locals themselves.


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