Why You Should Learn… Spanish
No. 2: Spanish
420 million native speakers, 500 million total speakers. Official language of 22 countries, spread over Europe and North & South America, and 1 of the 6 official languages of the United Nations.
If you’ve ever been to Spain or Latin America and have gone somewhere even only slightly off the beaten track, then you’ll understand me when I say that English hasn’t really taken off. If you’re planning on going travelling, then at least a smattering of Spanish is essential if you want to get a real insight into the country. What’s more, Latin America has faired far better than the US or Europe during the recession, and it’s another great area like China that is experiencing huge economic growth and therefore lots of opportunities. And also, Spanish-speaking people are just great fun!
Being one of the romance languages it shares the Latin root that also underpins certain elements of the English language, making it relatively easy to learn. And for any native speaker of another Romance language, picking up Spanish is virtually effortless as there are so many similaritie,s in terms of vocabulary and grammar, with French, Portuguese, Italian, etc. Look for evening classes in your area – there are bound to be plenty as it’s one of the most popular languages to learn.
I would of course extol the virtues of learning Spanish as it’s one of the languages I speak, and having lived in Andalucía in the south of Spain, I can truly say that having Spanish in my toolkit was very necessary! One decision you may need to make is whether to embrace Castilian Spanish (from Spain) or Latin American Spanish. They are of course still the same language (and a speaker of one can easily speak the other) but there are big differences in accents and colloquialisms. I personally prefer Castilian Spanish, as to my ear it sounds smoother, and so when I first went to work in Chile during my Gap Year, I did struggle to adapt to the ‘Chileanisms’. But with a little effort, it is possible to learn how each country moulds the language in its own unique way.
Top 5 Survival Phrases:
- Hola – Hello
- Gracias – Thank you
- ¿Qué tal? – How are you?
- No hablo español – I don’t speak Spanish.
- Adios – Goodbye
To compliment the myriad of courses that there are out there, try to find a native Spanish-speaker to be a tandem partner – surrounding yourself with natives will help you perfect the accent far better than by speaking to fellow language learners. Set up a weekly tandem and spend half the time speaking Spanish, and the other half speaking the language your tandem would like to learn. You can also sign up for daily emails at Online Spanish Course containing vocabulary for a quick & easy daily lesson.
Next week I’ll be profiling the No.3 most spoken language: English.
[You can still vote below for the languages you’d most like to learn]