Top 5 Reasons to Learn Spanish
5.) Spanish is everywhere!
There are now more Spanish speakers in the United States than there are in Spain. As of July 2015, The U.S. has 41 million native speakers plus 11 million that are bilingual. With over 40% of the population growth in the country being owed to Hispanic peoples, the usage of the Spanish language is only set to grow within the country.
And it’s not just The States! The Index of Human Development ranks Spanish as the second most important language on Earth, behind English but ahead of Mandarin. The Spanish language is an official language on four different continents and is the mother tongue in 21 countries (including Costa Rica). On the Internet, the language ranks as the third most widely used. On Facebook, it ranks second.
The numbers don’t lie, and the increasing rate of Spanish speakers in the world and on the web makes learning the language a must for those looking to invest in their future.
4.) Grow in your ability to teach, volunteer, and impact communities
Once you learn Spanish the doors open wide into areas of teaching, community involvement, and volunteerism.
Opportunities to teach English in Spanish speaking countries increases ten-fold with a background in the native language. Students tend to feel more connected to their teachers when they know they are equally struggling to learn a foreign language and can communicate with them in their native tongue. That camaraderie can go a long way when trying to connect and teach a group of students learning English.
Likewise, friends and family will tend to turn to you for quick Spanish tidbits for traveling abroad, restaurant ordering, or simple communication with members in their community. If you're someone who enjoys teaching and sharing what you've learned about the world, learning Spanish might be just for you.
Although it’s increasing in many places, the standard of living in many Spanish speaking countries isn’t nearly as high as Western standards. Corruption proves to still be a problem and many living in these countries face poverty, homelessness, and unemployment. Learning Spanish can equip you with the communication skills you need to really make a difference. Locally and abroad, you can assist Spanish speaking communities with local community outreach initiatives that can truly impact peoples lives. Take it from Nelson Mandella when he said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Learning Spanish will give you the skills to truly connect with a community while volunteering.
3.) Your traveling experience will forever be changed.
The confinement to tourist-only areas will forever be over. No longer will you be stuck at a resort only speaking English. With Spanish the exploration for the countryside and connection to the local culture is possible. Simple things like reading signs, ordering dinner,
and asking for directions to the coolest watering hole all require a basic understanding of the language. After speaking a little bit of Spanish in Costa Rica, I was immediately welcomed in a way that would never have happened if I only spoke English. I was in the in-crowd instead of a simple tourist, and I have to say, it felt (and still feels) fantastic!
Go from simple observer to an all out participant. Having Spanish in your back pocket can completely transform the way you travel in Spanish-speaking countries.
Get out there and have the confidence to explore!
2.) Grow a better understanding of language as a whole
When I started learning Spanish the awareness of my native language of English was immensely heightened. Not only was I being reminded of different verb tenses or what a preposition was, but I was also becoming attune to how important sarcasm, idiomatic expression, and tonal inflection are in language. I began to notice the subtleties in my English that shaped what I was trying to communicate.
I hate to use the cliché quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe here, but I absolutely connect to it when I think of my newfound awareness of language. In 1906 in his famous book Maxims and Reflections he wrote, “Those who know nothing of foreign languages, know nothing of his own”. Yes, I knew how to speak, write, and ace a few college English courses, but until I began analyzing another language did I gain a new understanding of the in’s and out’s of English.
Both based in Latin, English and Spanish fall into the “Romance” language category. You’ll notice extremely similar words for both languages; “bicicleta and bicycle”, “artística and artistic”, “perfecto and perfect”. Expanding your vocabulary in Spanish can in turn expand your vocabulary in English. The two work hand-in-hand.
1.) Learning Spanish is FUN!!
I’m gaining the ability to communicate with people I shouldn’t be able to communicate with! It’s awesome! I feel as if I can connect to a whole new population that I was previously not able.
I really believe learning a new language can be a journey into a new realm of thought, communication, and interaction. My Spanish language journey will forever be continuing as it enables me to understand different cultures and grant me new ways of thinking and broadening my horizons.
On top of that, it’s actually one of the easier languages to learn because nearly every word in the language is phonetically perfect. Unlike English words like “Bologna” or “Wednesday” you can look at almost any word in Spanish and know exactly how to pronounce it.
That said, once you have a basic framework for the language, new words are learned quickly and easily, new friends are made though practice, and new cultures are at your fingertips to explore. Have at it!
Chris Reidy | Program Director