Languages in Colombia

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Languages in Colombia

The official language of Colombia is Spanish. Some indigenous tribes in rural areas continue to speak their own languages, though almost all people from those tribes will be bilingual in their indigenous language and Spanish.

If you've recently learned Spanish, its a relief to know that the Bogota dialect is clear and easy to understand. The Spanish does vary, however, from Cartagena to Bogota to Cali. Generally the Spanish on the coasts is spoken more rapidly, and Spanish from Medellin has its own idiosyncrasies. Note that in cities like Medellín and Cali, the dialect of Spanish is the voseo form. Meaning that instead of the second person familiar pronoun , vos is used instead. Though is also understood by everybody, vos is a more friendly voice while is reserved for intimate circles. The Spanish spoken along the Caribbean coast is similar to the dialects spoken in Puerto Rico and Cuba.

English is taught in school, and Colombians are often exposed to subtitled Hollywood films, so while shy, many younger Colombians in the largest cities know at least a few basic phrases in English. Expect to meet teenage Colombians who may want to practice their English skills with you.

Colombians from more affluent backgrounds will have lived and worked in the U.S., Canada, England and possibly Australia in order to learn English. Many university text books are in English, and the majority of high ranking professionals, executives and government workers in Colombia speak an acceptable level of English.

French, German and Portuguese are also spoken, but to a lesser extent.

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