Are there differences in accents? National and regional differences in accents are much more pronounced than differences in vocabulary. Four very general types of Spanish accents would include those that (1) emphasize the letter “z” as distinct from the “s” (e.g., parts of Spain); (2) have a nasal quality (e.g., Cuba, and some Central American nations); (3) accent a different part of the word (senTAte vs. SIÉNtate) and tend to use a “sh” sound (e.g., Argentina, Uruguay); and (4) non-nasal (e.g., México, Colombia, Chile), often with regional “sung” qualities. So, given a choice, it is ideal to learn Spanish from someone in the target nation that most interests you.
Learning Spanish, or another language, then, takes commitment, but the rewards are enormous, even if your focus at first is only on learning some very basic vocabulary and polite expressions.
Gregorio Billikopf is a labor management farm advisor for the University of California. He may be reached at email@example.com.