Are you wanting to broaden your horizons by learning a new language, but can’t decide which one? Let us make it easier for you: learn Spanish!
Spanish is one of the world’s global languages and is also one of the most beautiful (if we do say so ourselves). It forms part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages, a group of languages formed on the Iberian peninsula: an area comprising mainly Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Andorra and parts of Southern France.
Here are the 5 main reasons why we think you should learn Spanish.
It’s one of the most spoken languages in the world
Spanish has the second-most native speakers of any language, after Mandarin, with roughly 460 million native speakers worldwide, while it is the fourth most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin and Hindi.
The Spanish-speaking world is vast and varied. Although the language dispersed most notably in the Americas, Spanish was also taken to territories in parts of Africa, Oceania and the Philippines (this country’s modern name derives from Felipe II, King of Spain in the 16th century). The Spanish conquistadors of the 15th century brought their language, culture and religion to Central and South America and parts of the Caribbean, where most of the native Spanish speakers of the world now live.
You can travel to amazing Spanish-speaking countries
Unlike some other languages such as Mandarin, not only is Spanish spoken by many people – it is also spoken in a great number of different countries!
There are 20 countries where Spanish is an official language. Apart from Spain, we have: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay and Venezuela (I hope you paused to take a breath). On top of these, there are several areas where Spanish is widely spoken, such as the USA. This means that once you’ve unlocked some Spanish language skill, the opportunities are bountiful.
This is probably one of the most exciting reasons for learning Spanish. To travel is a wonderful thing, to be able to learn about new cultures, explore new places and try out new cuisines. It is also an opportunity to see all of your hard work come into fruition when you can glide happily into Spanish conversation, or even just order a plate of tapas.
The long list of amazing Spanish-speaking destinations laid out before you is surely enough persuasion for anyone to learn Spanish. These countries not only have a vibrant culture and rich history, but the geography is enough to give anyone #wanderlust.
From the lofty Andes to the warmth of the Caribbean sea, from the heights of Macchu Picchu to tango-ing your way through the streets of cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, there is so much to see. Though united by a common language, each Latin American country is utterly unique as indigenous traditions have mixed with Spanish colonialism to form a transcultural continent with great cultural exports.
It has a rich history and diverse roots
While Spanish is one of the closest modern romance languages to Latin, owing 75% of its vocabulary to Latin roots, the language is also influenced by Arabic: 8% of Spanish vocabulary was developed during the Al-Andalus period of the Middle Ages on the Iberian peninsula. Many of these Arab-influenced words can be recognised by the prefix ‘Al’ which is the Arabic definite article (the), such as ‘almendras’ which means almonds.
Spanish became more commonplace after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century and can be traced back to then. However, its evolution since then is incredibly interesting considering its journey across the Atlantic and its collision with the indigenous peoples and languages of Central and South America. The Spanish language varies a great deal from country to country, whether it be via accent, dialect or vocabulary, therefore, it is truly fascinating to discover the differences between Spanish in all its different global manifestations.
Fun fact: Spain’s greatest literary export, Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quijote has become such a renowned cultural reference that many people refer to the Spanish language as ‘la lengua de Cervantes’ (the language of Cervantes).
It is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn
Pronunciation is usually one of the hardest things for a language learner to grasp. Luckily, Spanish is a phonetic language, which means pronunciation will be a lot easier than most other languages for a beginner as it is more or less said how it is spelt (and vice-versa).
A lot of Spanish vocabulary derives from Latin. Fortunately, so is the case with English, where Germanic and Latin roots have intertwined to form modern English. Therefore, there are many cognates (words with the same linguistic derivation) that you are bound to be familiar with when you first start learning.
Fun fact: In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish underwent some significant change in pronunciation, when people began to pronounce the sibilant consonants Z and C (only before e and i) with the lisp (“th”) sound used today in parts of modern Spain.
Although some may find the idea of learning a new language and its grammatical rules daunting, the tenses used in Spanish align closely with English ones, so you will always have a point of comparison to guide you. Don’t be mistaken, there are still some key differences in the grammar, but they aren’t as difficult to fathom as you might think!
Learning Spanish can help with your English
When learning a language later in your life, or at least in your post-school years, you will find that you will become more grammatically astute and develop a greater understanding of your own language, having started from the beginning with Spanish. Even if you are learning Spanish just for the conversation and decide to skip some of the more lengthy grammar explanations, learning new vocabulary in Spanish is likely to expand your English lexicon massively as you discover new words or even synonyms of existing words.
Being a native English speaker abroad, especially in Spanish-speaking countries where they are as eager to learn English as you might be to learn Spanish, you will likely be called upon to teach some English here and there. This means you are going to be thinking more about what you say in English, coming up with ways to teach people or explain something and you will find your skills are heightened – not only in Spanish but in English too!
In addition to these wonderful reasons why Spanish should be the next language you learn, we can assure you that you will enjoy the journey! Learning a new language can be much easier with the right attitude and then the rewards will surely follow. Language learning is a satisfying and enjoyable process, especially when you feel yourself improving and reap the benefits.