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The Chilean dialect of Spanish fascinates speakers of Spanish from around the world, as it is highly unique, and has a rich vocubulary of its own. Many so-called experts opine that this is not an ideal environment in which to learn Spanish, because what's learned in the classroom differs greatly from what is spoken on the street. We feel that just the opposite is the case; it is an ideal environment to learn because the student is exposed to both "standard" Spanish (if there is such a thing) as well as the local dialect.
Furthermore, the Spanish that Chileans speak is hardly a different language, it just gets some getting used to. It is spoken rapidly, although locals are often extremely considerate, and they will take the time to explain the local slang which is full of humorous intricacies. Simply put, it is a delight to learn, and there is no place on earth as good as Chile in which to learn Chilean Spanish.
Impressionistically speaking, many refer to Chilean way of speaking Spanish as that of a stacatto, or machine-gun fire sound. It is spoken extremely rapidly by the locals, and often curves off into an oily, high pitched squeeking sound caused by the constriction of the velum. Many ponder the vast difference between the rapid, high pitched tone of Chilean Spanish and that of the Spanish spoken in Argentina, where students who study Spanish will inevitably learn to speak Argentinean Spanish with a deeper, more profound bass sound.
Much fun is also made of the commen expressions in Chilean. For example, one such uniquely Chilean piece of common vocabulary is used to express the equivalent in English to "you know what I'm saying?" or Spain's "sabes lo que te digo". In Chilean, it is simply "cachai?". This is the second-person singular form of the verb cachar, which is distinctly Chilean. Yet is origin is actually from English. Several decades ago, speakers of Spanish in Chile borrowed the word "catch" from English, and modified it to exclusively signify "understand", most closely reflecting the English expression: "catch my drift?". Now, Chileans use "catch" in this context much more often than English speakers!
If you want to get a sense of how rich and humorous Chilean slang can be, check out this list of hilarious alternative descriptions used in the Chilean dialect. (Some prior knowledge of Spanish advised):
Price of Spanish classes in Chile
It is also important to note that in Chile, there is an expression that says "todo es conversable". This means that "everything can be discussed." In other words, it is actually possible to bargain. That said, if the language institute you are bargaining with appears unmovable, don't push it further. Just politely inform them that you will be contacting a different language school, in order to get better prices. It also can't hurt to ask if there are work-study arrangments, where you can learn Spanish for free or at a discount price, in exchange for teaching English half of the time.
Chilean Spanish language schools
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