Languages of Venezuela

Languages of Venezuela

There are at least 40 languages around Venezuela, [Ethnologue. [ Languages of Venezuela] .] but Spanish is the language spoken by the majority of Venezuelans. The Constitution of Venezuela of the year 1999 declared Spanish and languages spoken by Indigenous peoples from Venezuela as official languages. Deaf persons use a variety of sign language called "lengua de señas venezolana (LSV)".

Indigenous languages

Below is a non-exhaustive list of these languages.

* Akawaio
* Arawakan languages
* Arutani
* Carib
* Cariban languages
* Cuiba
* Guahibo
* Maku
* Mapoyo
* Nheengatu
* Panare
* Pemon
* Puinavean languages
* Pémono
* Sapé
* Sikiana
* Uw Cuwa
* Wayuu
* Yabarana
* Yaruro

Other languages

Other languages spoken by foreigners and their descendants are found in Venezuela. The most important are Italian, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and English.

Some people who live next to the border of Brazil speak Portuguese. In the areas located near to Guyana English language is used by some inhabitants, especially in the Ankoko Island. Alemán Coloniero, a dialect of German language, is spoken in the Colonia Tovar.


English is a foreign language with a great demand in Venezuela. It is spoken by many academicians, professionals and part of the members of middle and high social classes. Besides there is an English written newspaper in Caracas: "The Daily Journal", founded in 1946. This preponderance is the consequence of the oil exploitation done by companies from English speaking countries (especially from the United States) since the beginning of the XX century.

English is taught as a compulsory subject in the secondary education and in the "bachillerato" for five years. Bachillerato is a segment of secondary education similar to the baccalaureat, secondary school or American high school and is divided into two branches: sciences and humanities. According to the syllabus approved by the Venezuelan Ministry of Education in 1986 English language is considered as a tool to communicate with people from other countries and to obtain information in the areas of humanities, technology and science. [Ministerio de Educación: "Programas de Estudio, Educación Básica, INGLÉS, 7o, 8o, 9o grados". Caracas: 1986 es icon] For that reason it is taught using a Notional Functional Approach. [Ministerio de Educación: "Programas de Estudio, Educación Básica, INGLÉS, 7o, 8o, 9o grados". Caracas: 1986 es icon] In the bachillerato a Structuralistic Approach is used. However, and despite of the lines provided by the syllabus, few people learn to speak the language with only the knowledge acquired at school.

In some universities degree programs to train teachers or translators of English language are offered. In the rest of universities English is studied as a compulsory subject to understand texts written in this language.


In the second half of the XX century, more than 300,000 Italians moved to this oil rich country and left -linguistically - many words in the local language. For example "Ciao" (english: Hi) is now an usual friendly salute in Caracas, not only between Italo-venezuelans. There are even expressions in the local young people that mix Italian and Spanish words: "Muérete que chao" is an example.

According to the Italian Embassy in Caracas the "....Italian language teaching is guaranteed by the presence of a consistent number of private Venezuelan schools and institutions, where Italian language courses and Italian literature are active. Other similar courses are organized and sponsored by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Associations.

The Didactic Office of the General Consulate of Caracas, together with the Embassy, is negotiating an Agreement with the Venezuelan Authorities for the recognition of the Study Diplomas emitted by the Italian School (in Venezuela there is a Civil Association called “Agostino Codazzi” which offers the complete didactic cycle from elementary to high school) so that there can be access to the University system in Venezuela with an Italian high school Diploma. Since 2002, the Italian Government has become the promoter for a provision which makes it mandatory to teach Italian as a second language in a consistent number of public and private schools within Venezuela..." [ Section:Cultural cooperation]


French language is taught as a compulsory subject in the branch of humanities of the "bachillerato" for two years. Students learn French grammar in their first year of study, then construct and translate French texts in the second year.

In some universities degree programs to train teachers or translators of French language are offered.

Latin and Greek

In Venezuela Latin is taught as a compulsory subject in the branch of humanities of the "bachillerato" for two years. Students learn Latin grammar in their first year of study, then construct and translate Latin texts in the second year. [Duque Arellano, José Gonzalo [ Pertinencia y vigencia del latín en la enseñanza de la lengua española, en las áreas de la morfología y de la sintaxis] ; "Universidad de los Andes" es icon]

At university level, the University of the Andes offers a degree program for "Letras Mención Lengua y Literaturas Clásicas" ("Classical Languages and Literatures"). In this program (the only one of its type in Venezuela), the students learn Latin, Ancient Greek and the literature of both languages for five years. [ [ Detalle de la Carrera: "Letras Mención Lengua y Literaturas Clasicas"] ; "CNU-OPSU: Oportunidades de Estudio de Educación Superior en Venezuela" es icon] In other Venezuelan universities, Latin is a compulsory subject of the program for "Letras" ("Hispanic Literature") and "Educación, mención: Castellano y Literatura" ("Education of Spanish language and Hispanic Literature").

Latin and Koine Greek are also taught in Roman Catholic seminaries.


See also

* Italian language in Venezuela
* Venezuelan Spanish

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