There are many good reasons to learn any foreign language. You have probably heard already that learning a language is a fantastic pastime to sharpen intelligence, it significantly decreases chances of suffering from dementia, it is the ticket to participate in new communities of people and experience their culture, it is incredibly fun, and the list may go on. At the same time (you most probably know this, too) learning any language involves a considerable amount of time and effort. It usually takes between 300 to 500 hours of guided study to reach intermediate level, around a year if you study 7 hours a week. Before committing to such a journey, you may want to make sure that your efforts will be as profitable as possible and soon enough. If that is the case, if you want to make the most of your foreign language, Spanish is your very best option. This article will tell you why it is important to learn Spanish as a foreign language.
Why is it important to learn Spanish? If you learn Spanish as a foreign language, you may start communicating faster and more easily than in other languages by taking advantage of its similarities with English and its fixed system of sounds. Since Spanish is a widely spoken language, you will have plenty of opportunities to put it into practice and benefit from it, and it will definitely come in handy when visiting Spanish speaking countries because people may not speak English there or their level may be low. As a traveler, speaking Spanish is important to prevent you from being deceived, and through Spanish you will have the opportunity to experience a vast and fascinating culture, full of excitement and emotion, because Spanish is also, for many, “the language of love.”
In this post, we present the top 6 reasons why it is important to learn Spanish.
Table of contents
- #1 English speakers can take great advantage of two similarities and a fixed system of sounds
- # 2 Spanish is a widely spoken language
- #3 The level of English in Spanish speaking countries is generally low proficiency
- #4 Spanish can help you avoid becoming a victim of tricksters and cheaters
- #5 Hispanic culture is fascinating
- #6 Spanish is the language of love
#1 English speakers can take great advantage of two similarities and a fixed system of sounds
English and Spanish are very similar languages, which has the potential of accelerating comprehension and, therefore, acquisition. In other words, you can learn Spanish faster and more easily than other languages, like Chinese or Greek.
The first similarity is that both Spanish and English use the Roman alphabet, so written language consists of virtually the same characters. There are only a few of exceptions and these are the letter “Ññ,” Spanish tildes (a mark that sometimes is drawn above vowels to represent word stress), Spanish initial question mark (¿) and Spanish initial exclamation mark (¡).
Another similarity that becomes a great advantage for English speakers learning Spanish is the 10,000 to 15,000 words that can be easily related due to their similar sound, spelling and meaning. These words are called “cognates” or “friends,” and they are similar because of they have a common etymology, in other words, have the same Latin or Greek roots. You will be able to understand and learn them really fast and easily. For example, try to guess the meaning of the following 10 words: alarma, familia, elefante, historia, información, música, restaurant, turista, tráfico, vegetales.
Do they not look familiar to some English words? Definitely. As you probably guessed, their English “friends” would be: alarm, family, elephant, history, information, music, restaurant, tourist, traffic, and vegetables. How many could you guess?
Finally, a convenient difference: once you have learned the Spanish alphabet, you will be able to read words correctly quite easily, because, unlike English, most letters have always the same sound and the ones that have two sounds follow simple rules. This characteristic of Spanish saves a lot of time when it comes to speaking and pronunciation.
#2 Spanish is a widely spoken language
The fourth most widely spoken language in the world, only after English, Chinese and Hindi, Spanish is currently the majority language in the following 21 countries and territories: Mexico, Colombia, Spain, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Cuba, Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Panama, Uruguay and Equatorial Guinea. Only in the mentioned nations, there are over 442,000,000 Spanish speakers. Let us consider now Spanish speaking residents in countries where Spanish is not the official language. Only in the United States, the largest population of Spanish speaking residents, there are about 52 million! Actually, the estimated number of Spanish speakers in the world is as high as 534.3 million . Is it important to speak Spanish if it helps you reach about 661 million potential friends, coworkers, collaborators or clients? Also, who knows? Maybe even your soulmate is one of them, too?
The fact that there are so many Spanish speakers in the world also means that you will definitely have many opportunities to practice and take advantage of your foreign language; whereas it may not be the same case for other languages whose speakers are the concentrated in one or two countries only or consist of a small population. Spending so much time and effort in learning a language to not using it much might be disappointing.
#3 The level of English in Spanish speaking countries is generally low proficiency
If you travel to any Spanish speaking country, it is important to speak Spanish because people may not be able to speak English. According to a ranking of countries by their English skills, 11 out of 13 Latin American countries speak English at a “low” or “very low” proficiency level. In the case of Spain, the country only reached the “moderate” proficiency band. This data shows that speaking Spanish will definitely be make a difference in your everyday interactions with Spanish speakers. You may want to speak some Spanish to successfully book a room at a hotel, rent a car, use public transportation, order food, go shopping, ask for directions, get assistance if you are sick or in trouble, and so on.
#4 Spanish can help you avoid becoming a victim of tricksters and cheaters
When you travel to one of the many Spanish speaking countries, it is important to speak Spanish in order to avoid being swindled. Sad but true, and it may happen anywhere: not speaking the local language would make you an easy pray for unscrupulous people who could try to take advantage of you, charge you more money or somehow deceive you. Speaking Spanish has a great potential to protect you and make your trip safer!
#5 Hispanic culture is fascinating
By culture, we mean all of it: high culture, popular culture, and customary practices. Hispanic countries will blow your mind with their history, literature, cinema, traditions and views of the world. You can be told about it in English, but to penetrate and experience this fascinating culture firsthand, it is important to speak Spanish.
#6 Spanish is the language of love
Do you consider Spanish romantic? Many people believe Spanish is the language of love because of its melodic and passionate sound. But it does not stop there: Spanish is full of love because of the many expressions of endearment it has, which we may not find in other languages. Learning Spanish is important to soak your heart in cultures that are full of emotions. Spanish has the potential to expand both your mind and soul.
Learning Spanish is important because it will definitely open doors. Being the official language in 21 countries and spoken by 534.3 million people around the world, Spanish has the potential to open more doors than other languages, bringing up exciting opportunities for their users, from meeting new interesting friends to building international collaborations for study or work purposes. Due to its shared roots with English, these languages have a lot in common: both use the Roman alphabet and have a high number of similar words that can be used to boost your comprehension from the very beginning. This can help you learn Spanish faster and more easily than other foreign languages, and put your new skills into practice really soon with its many speakers. Your Spanish will be very useful when visiting Spanish speaking countries where, in general, English is not widely spoken by locals. Even more, it will protect you from crime and allow you to participate in Hispanic communities and cultures, which are many and quite diverse, and could never be fully experienced without Spanish. And, last but not least, Spanish is a beautiful musical and emotional language that will definitely flow deep into your heart and make you mind fly!
- Shira Lubliner & Elfrieda H. Hiebert (2011) “An Analysis of English–Spanish Cognates as a Source of General Academic Language” Bilingual Research Journal, 34: 1–18, 2011 Copyright © the National Association for Bilingual Education ISSN: 1523-5882 print / 1523-5890 onlineDOI: 10.1080/15235882.2011.568589 Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233351501_An_Analysis_of_English-Spanish_Cognates_as_a_Source_of_General_Academic_Language
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