Visiting South America? Learning the most common language will make your trip easier and much more immersive.

Travelling to South America? Your trip can be much easier and much more immersive if you learn the right language to chat to locals.

Which Languages Are Spoken In South America?

There are 13 official countries within South America including: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Whether you visit one country within South America, or several, the good news is that they all have one particular language in common, which is Spanish.

Portuguese, Dutch, Paraguayan and Quechua are all languages also spoken in South America. However, Spanish is spoken by 210 million South American’s and is largely the easiest South American language to master.

Do I Need To Learn Spanish To Visit South America?

You don’t need to learn Spanish to visit South America, but it’ll definitely provide you with a ton of benefits, so our advice is if you can, you definitely should.  There are plenty of agencies offering tuition with options for every price range so there’s really no excuse.  Let’s take a look at how learning Spanish will benefit your travels:

Asking For Directions

You’re in a place you’ve never been before so it’s normal that you’ll get a bit lost. Whether you’re hopping on and off busses, or looking for a local bar or restaurant, knowing the language is important. In particular, it’s so important to understand the response you get to your questions so that you end up in the right place!

Asking About New Things

There will be drinks, food, accessories and a whole host of things that you’ve never seen before when you travel in South America. Asking what these items are and how to use them is really useful, to ensure you get the most out of all these new experiences. It could even stop you having a nasty surprise – take for example the cherimoya fruit which has inedible seeds but delicious edible flesh. Or the naranjilla, which is acidic and unpleasant to eat as it is, but tastes great in milkshakes or blended with other sweet ingredients!

What’s Going On?

If there’s a protest, celebration or other event it’s really helpful to be able to ask a local “What’s going on?” At the very least it can help you switch your plans to work around the event. At the most, it could help you avoid getting caught up in a potentially dangerous event.

Navigating Fully Spanish Menus

Although some more touristy areas will have restaurants with English/Spanish menus, there are also plenty that won’t. To avoid ordering food you really don’t want, it’s a great idea to learn Spanish to navigate these menus.


Although many medical professionals in South America will speak some English, it’s still helpful to know some Spanish so you can at least try to describe your symptoms or explain what happened. Plus, pharmacies and other dispensaries may not speak any English at all so knowing Spanish to communicate is really helpful if you’re trying to get medication and other similar items.

Avoiding Getting Ripped Off

Sadly, there are scams and unscrupulous people who take advantage of tourists in South America. By learning Spanish and some basic Spanish numbers, you can avoid these situations and stand up for yourself.

Cultural Treats

You might get lucky with a cinema showing that has English voice overs or subtitles. However, you could enjoy a lot more than an English voice over by taking the time to learn Spanish. You could see theatre productions, bands, plays and local cinema, all in Spanish – what better way to immerse yourself in the local culture!

Meeting People

What is a trip without unique interactions with the local people? They may ask you questions, in which case it helps if you can respond! You should also be able to make small talk with locals so you can chat to them and learn about their culture. You might even have the chance to share a meal with them or a dance in a local bar, and so speaking their language will make all the difference.

Learn Spanish To Boost Your South American Travels

To help you make the most of your trip to beautiful and vibrant South America, we strongly recommend you at least learn some Spanish. It’ll definitely make your trip easier, and may even enhance your experience overall, helping you create truly great memories.

By Rob