From Love To Work Why Smart People Learn Spanish
Learning Spanish has become very popular in the last few decades. People have all kinds of reasons for learning Spanish. By understanding your motivation to learn it, you may be more successful in becoming fluent.
So, why would you put a lot of time and effort into learning Spanish? Let’s take a look at some of the best reasons people have to learn Spanish and what they might mean for you.
#1. I Am in Love with a Spanish Native Speaker
My husband is from Norway. When we first met, we only spoke in English. But after a few months together, we decided to learn each other’s language.
He just sounded more authentic when he spoke his native language.
Now he speaks Spanish fluently and has no significant problems communicating with others.
Suppose you fall for a Spanish native speaker. Lucky you! You’ve just got an excellent opportunity to learn Spanish. That’s the dream of every single Spanish learner! Just kidding 😉
In my experience, learning a language because of your significant other can pay off in the long term. Think of it as an investment. And if things don’t work out eventually, you can still speak Spanish.
#2. I Would Like to Raise My Children to Be Bilingual
Ever since I became a mother, raising bilingual kids has been one of my obsessions. Independent of where we live, my children shall speak both Norwegian and Spanish.
They are sponges, right? So talking in Spanish at home while living in Norway will make them automatically bilingual.
Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.
Raising bilingual children isn’t an easy task.
They soon begin to distinguish between the language they need in their daily lives and the language only mum/dad speaks.
That’s why we:
- Talk in Norwegian and Spanish with them daily.
- Read books to them in both languages.
- Travel to Spain as often as possible. Not as tourists. Just home. We visit family and friends. We do the things locals do, including eating paella and churros and celebrating Reyes Magos. We live the Spanish culture.
Maybe your partner speaks Spanish. For that reason, you’re willing to learn it.
You have or plan to have kids together. You both agree on passing your respective languages on to them. This way, they’ll be able to communicate with their grandparents. Great! It will be an incredible asset for them.
Bilingual children usually:
- Become more open-minded to other people and cultures.
- Adapt quickly to new environments.
- Learn other languages more easily.
#3. My Family Comes from a Spanish Speaking Country
Jennifer López, Marc Anthony, and Eva Mendes. What do they all have in common?
- They were born and raised in the United States.
- They have parents from Latin America.
- They speak Spanish!
Unlike them, some people never pick up the language of their parents while growing up. As adults, though, they wish they had.
That’s why learning Spanish represents an opportunity for them to:
- Connect to their roots by knowing the language of their ancestors.
- Communicate better with their family.
- Strengthen their cultural identity.
If your family speaks Spanish, but you don’t, don’t worry!
You have a strong reason to learn it. Your relatives will be thrilled to hear you’re learning their language. And you have them to practice. That’s so cool!
#4. I Need to Fulfill a Foreign Language Requirement
Many people need to take a language in high school. Language choices are usually Spanish, German, or French. They’ve heard Spanish is easier. So they choose it.
Others start learning Spanish because it’s part of their college’s curriculum. Their main goal to study Spanish is to fulfill a foreign language requirement.
As it happened to me with French, most of them never get fluent and forget all they learned after a few years. Some others, however, come to love the language.
#5. I Live/Want to Live in a Spanish Speaking Country
There’re many advantages of living in Latin America or Spain.
First, you’ll develop an ear for the language, since you’ll hear it all the time: From the cashier at the supermarket to your neighbor.
Second, it forces you to practice. Mainly because many locals don’t speak English, they’ll expect you to reply to them in Spanish.
Unless you want to find yourself trapped inside the so-called “expat bubble,” you’ll need to talk in the local language.
Third, living in a Spanish speaking country also gives you many chances to fully immerse yourself in the culture.
When my husband moved to Spain, he soon adopted the Spanish lifestyle: He hung out with other Spaniards after work, ate traditional Spanish food, and even joined a Moors and Christians parade in my hometown. But he drew the line at eating snails.
If you live in Spain, be ready to:
- Have lunch at 2 pm and dinner at 9 pm.
- Enjoy mild winters and warm summers.
- Spend less time at home as your social life increases.
- Eat fantastic Spanish food.
- Make your diet more Mediterranean-style.
Do as the saying “Allá donde fueres, haz lo que vieres” (“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”)
#6. It Is Widely Spoken
If it’s widely spoken, it’s useful. I think that’s a reasonable conclusion.
However, I still learned Norwegian, which has barely 5 million speakers. Still useful.
There is a very high number of Spanish speakers.
On the one hand, because it’s the second most widely spoken language in the world as a native language. And on the other hand, because there are 577 million potential Spanish users (source).
Let me give you some figures (source):
- More than 480 million people have Spanish as their mother tongue.
- 7.6% of the world’s population is Spanish-speaking.
- More than 21 million students study Spanish as a foreign language.
Because so many people speak and learn Spanish, studying it has some advantages:
- You can find a massive amount of learning resources, mostly online, and many of them free.
- You’ll have many opportunities to use it if you live in countries where Spanish is commonly spoken, like in the United States.
#7. I Would Like to Visit a Spanish Speaking Country
Many people visit Spain without speaking Spanish. They go to the tourist areas and find that most people speak reasonably good English.
There might be situations like ordering in a restaurant or a bar or taking a taxi where things can get tricky. But it usually goes okay.
When going on a vacation to a Spanish speaking country, you’ll most likely get by without knowing the language. Why? Because:
- The staff working in tourist places speaks English.
- Despite the language barrier, most local people will try very hard to help you.
- The Google Translate app can ‘rescue’ you whenever you need a quick translation.
Now, suppose you can speak Spanish. Not necessarily at a very high level. Basic. Your experience will be so much better. How?
First, you’ll be able to hang out in the ‘secret’ places locals do, enjoying authentic Spanish food in cool bars.
Most of my favorite restaurants or cafeterías are recommendations from friends.
Just ask anyone in the street for an excellent place to eat. Use these words: Perdona, ¿hay algún sitio que esté bien para comer por aquí cerca? (Excuse me, is there a good place to eat around here?)
Second, you’ll get special treatment. Even saying a few broken sentences of Spanish can make a difference in the way people treat you.
If you don’t feel very confident in the beginning, say at least gracias, hola, or por favor instead of using the English equivalents.
The local people will appreciate your efforts in trying to speak their language. They’ll smile at you. They’ll converse with you. They might even compliment your Spanish, boosting your confidence.
Third, you’ll get to experience amazing things.
Many places only promote their local festivities on a regional scale. But your Spanish skills can help you find a large offer of events just in a single region: Street markets, food contests, tapas tours, music festivals, parades, to name a few.
How do you get to know about these events? Try searching on the internet “agenda cultural” and the name of the place you’re visiting.
#8. I Want to Have Greater Opportunities to Get a Job
You’d be amazed about how many jobs require speaking foreign languages.
My then-boyfriend got his first job in Madrid in part because he was Norwegian. He worked as a Norwegian video game tester.
Later, we lived in Brussels. There, he also got a job that required speaking Norwegian.
The list could go on. Pretty much all the jobs he had outside Norway required his native language.
Of course, he also had to pass a job interview as other skills were needed too. But his native tongue set him apart from the rest.
I’m not saying you should learn Norwegian to get a job. Well, only if you wish to move to Norway.
I’m just trying to make a point: Languages are in high-demand in the job market.
I used to obsess myself with levels and certificates until I found out that companies don’t look at that.
Employers in need of employees with a specific language do not care if you have an A2 or a B1. They want someone that can communicate in that language, generally at a proficient level.
It’s simple: You either speak it, or you don’t.
#9. My Job Requires Me to Learn Spanish
Think of the actor of Narcos, Wagner Moura. He’s from Brazil, but he had to learn Spanish to play the role of Pablo Escobar.
One thing is that you learn a second language to become more attractive to the job market.
Another thing is that you already have a job that demands you to learn the language.
I know that in the United States, it’s not uncommon for doctors to learn Spanish. They encounter many Spanish speaking patients every day.
Like them, many other people need to learn Spanish due to their career: Diplomats, teachers, translators, people relocating abroad, managers working with Spanish speaking staff, employees of multinational companies with business units in Spanish speaking countries, etc.
Y tú, ¿por qué quieres aprender español? Why do you want to learn Spanish? Please, leave a comment!