People we meet here in Santiago tell us that Chile is the most difficult country in which to learn Spanish, because the Chileans ‘swallow’ their words when they speak and they also use a lot of local terms instead of the Spanish words you would find in a dictionary. So, not only will it take us long to learn Chilean Spanish, but the Spanish we will speak will not be understood by Spanish speaking people from other countries! Fantastic!
There are two websites that have been invaluable to me in my journey of learning Spanish:
http://www.memrise.com is a website that allows you to learn languages and other interesting topics under categories like Arts & Literature or Maths & Science for free with the use of ‘mems’ to help you remember words or items. I recommend using this website for anybody learning a new language. you learn new words by ‘planting’ them and then you need to ‘water’ the plants every now and then to keep the words fresh in your mind.
http://www.conversationexchange.com/ lets you connect with people who are learning other languages and then you can either meet in person or have conversations via Skype or email if you are not in the same location. It’s easy to create a profile and it seems that there are a lot of people trying to learn English here in Santiago, because I keep getting requests to meet up for conversations. Dirk and I have already met one guy, Camilo, for an English/Spanish conversation and coffee and I think it will speed up the Spanish learning if we have intentional Spanish speaking sessions on a regular basis.
Some Chilean slang words that we have picked up so far:
Weon – Can be used for ‘dude’ or ‘a thing or object’. It is not a very polite word; I was told not to use it if I go for an interview:)
Guagua – (Pronounced ‘wahwah’) means baby
Huacho – orphan or bastard (another impolite word)
Choclo – corn
Palta – Avocado
Mina – woman
Pololo – boyfriend (and polola for girlfriend); if you are ‘pololar’ you are dating