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Official Language in Colombia

Spanish is the official language of Colombia, with English being the second most common, although not widely spoken. While the government is promoting English education in schools (many universities require students to study it), finding people who speak conversational English on the streets can be challenging.

In more affluent and tourist-friendly areas, such as El Poblado, you’ll likely encounter someone at hostels, hotels, bars, or restaurants who speaks English. Menus often include English descriptions or versions. The locals try their best to communicate with you, but it’s best to learn some basic Spanish or have a local guide to help you.
For those interested in learning Spanish in Medellín, Medellin.co has a close relationship with a certified Spanish School you can connect with that will help you learn Spanish. Colombian, specifically Medellin Spanish is considered the purest and most neutral form, making Colombia an excellent place to study the language in South America. It is spoken without the distinct lisp heard in Spain and at a slower pace, making it easier to understand.
There are some notable differences in Colombian Spanish compared to other Spanish-speaking countries. The double “L” sound, which is pronounced like a “Y” in Spain or Mexico (e.g., “Medellin” would sound like Me-De-Yeen), is more of a “J” sound in Medellín (Me-De-Jeen). Locals, or “Paisas,” will quickly recognize you as a newcomer if you use the “Y” pronunciation.
Instead of “Cómo estás?” or “Qué tal?” (used in Spain) to ask how someone is doing, Colombians commonly use “qué más?” or “como te va?”. If you don’t understand something, you would say “Cómo?” rather than “Qué?” or “Mande?” (used in Mexican / Puerto Rican Spanish).
Additionally, You may hear some slang in Medellin like “ahorita”, “ahora” (meaning “now” in Puerto Rico, Mexico) can mean “in a little bit” or even “much later”, “or whenever” in Colombia. In restaurants or shops, you’ll often hear “A la orden!” meaning “At your service!”.

Other Languages Spoken in Colombia

Spanish being 99.5% of the language spoken in Colombia. There are plenty of other languages such as English being second most spoken, then you have Creole, Amerindian and Romani you will hear here but very rare. The indigenous people you will see in the streets of Medellin speak Amerindian, actually don’t speak much Spanish. If you travel to San Andres and island outside of Colombia but part of Colombia, majority of the natives there speak English.