Several subscribers to my Spanish-language learning newsletter have asked me is the Colombian accent the best accent for learning Spanish. Since I have lived in two different cities in Colombia (Barranquilla and Medellin) and have also traveled to many different cities and “pueblos” (towns) in that country, I will try to answer the question.
By the way, a customer emailed me a link to an interesting article online about the “Colombian accent” becoming “big business” in dubbing movies and TV series, working in call centers, etc.
But to answer the question, yes, the “Colombian” accent is the best one to learn for learning the Spanish language. I say that for 5 reasons:
1. The “Colombian” accent is rather easy to understand compared to other Spanish-speaking accents.
2. The Spanish that you hear spoken in Colombia is the most “neutral” in the entire world.
3. Colombian Spanish is also very “undiluted” when you compare it to, for example, the Spanish of Mexico which has been heavily influenced by the Aztec Indians.
4. A huge arrival of Old World immigrants from Italy has a caused the Argentine accent too sound somewhat Italian.
5. In fact, the Spanish of Colombia is the “purest” Spanish in the entire world. Even “purer” than the Spanish spoken in Spain which has been, and still continues to be heavily influenced by Arabs and Muslims.
With that said, I want to bring to your attention that the phrase “Colombian” accent is actually a misnomer. Not only are there numerous accents in Colombia but the accent that people generally refer to when speaking of a Colombian accent is the “Rolo” accent.
A Rolo is a person from Bogotá, Colombia, the country’s capital. And most (but not all) of the Colombian “novelas” or soap operas are recorded in Bogotá. And the Rolo accent is very easy to understand compared to the other accents in the Spanish speaking world.
This is what I have personally observed about Colombian accents…
A Rolo accent is completely different from a Paisa (Medellín) accent. In my opinion, the Rolo accent sounds rather “flat.” And the Paisa accent is more song-like.
The people from Colombia’s Atlantic coast or “Costeños” also have an accent that is completely different from other Colombians. The Costeños cut letters off of some words and their accents sound like the Dominican or Puerto Rican accents that I used to hear in Nueva York (New York).
When I traveled to Cali, Colombia they also had a different accent.
And the people from the Pacific coast of Colombia in the Chocó department – who are descendents of African slaves also have a distinct accent.
And when I traveled to Colombia’s Caribbean Islands, San Andrés and Providencia, I also noticed that the people there also had a distinct accent. Most of the people living on the Colombians islands were not from the mainland of Colombia. And although they all spoke Spanish fluently, when they spoke Spanish, their accents reminded me of the Panamanians who I had met in Brooklyn, New York and who were all from Panama’s canal zone, and who were descendents of Jamaicans and other West Indians who went to Panama as part of the Canal’s labor force.
I also noted that the language and culture of San Andrés and Providencia, Colombia had been heavily influenced by Jamaican or Rastafarian culture which was apparent in their their music, clothing, food, etc. Besides speaking Spanish, they also spoke Patois like Jamaicans. In fact, they seemed more comfortable speaking English and Patios than when speaking Spanish. At times in San Andrés and Providencia, Colombia I felt as if I was still in one of my old “barrios” (neighborhoods) of the north west Bronx, New York, which is a predominantly Jamaican neighborhood.
So far that’s 6 completely different Colombian accents that I have identified. And I am sure that there are more.
For example, if I were to travel to the part of Colombia that is surrounded by the Amazons, I would also find that the Colombians there, many of them who are indigenous people, also have a distinct accent.
So I just wanted you to be aware that there isn’t just one Colombian accent as many of the “novelas” suggest. And when people say that the Colombia accent is the best one for learning Spanish, what they should really say is that the Rolo accent or the accent from Bogotá, Colombia is the best.