Spanish

Learning Spanish language can unlock doors to new experiences, relationships, jobs, and academic programs. Spanish is not only a beautiful language that many students enjoy learning, but it is a language that leads to opportunities for learners of all ages. As the official language of 20 countries worldwide (WorldAtlas.com), and one spoken by over 34 million people in the United States (US Census Bureau, 2010), Spanish language skills enhance career opportunities for learners everywhere in fields including education, medicine, media, and other industries.  Learners who are lucky enough to have authentic language practice with a private tutor or native speaker, can enhance Spanish listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills with tools that can help you practice vocabulary and grammar to make lessons even more engaging.

Spanish-speaking Countries
Countries where Spanish language is spoken. (Image credit @Spanishlinguist.com)

How to Learn Spanish

There are so many resources for Spanish language learners that the main  challenge is choosing those best suited to your learning goals. Students in school or college can benefit from a number of books, flashcards, and other resources to learn vocabulary quicker or to use while doing homework or during conversation practice. Adults and families taking trips to Spanish-speaking regions can learn Spanish as beginners, or brush up on conversational skills with phrase books, dictionaries, language software. Students already learning with a personal tutor can use resources to vary lessons and enhance speaking and listening opportunities during lessons. Here are books, software, practice materials, language exchanges, question and answer websites, and other resources to help you with your journey in learning Spanish language online, through self-study, with a personal tutor, or in the classroom:

Where do you start? If you are an adult who is studying Spanish for the first time, think about your learning style. How have you learned best in school or professional situations–by listening to instructors? By reading about the subjects yourself? With using technology? Or did you always feel you could use one on one help?

  • If you learned best by reading then, you might want to try a self-study program with books–but be sure to get one with a CD (many come with CD’s or DVD’s) so that you can hear and copy the pronunciation of each vocabulary word and phrase you study.
  • If you love using technology and are quick to catch onto the latest programs and gadgets for various daily tasks, then you might prefer to use software, apps, or online tutors to start.
  • If you are an audio learner and really like to hear a topic being explained aloud and in depth, you might want to try online learning or an audio-based language software.  Note that some softwares provide audio learning, but some of them are more visual in nature. You can learn about this quickly by reading reviews about the software that looks interesting to you.
  • Some learners are naturally more talkative and benefit from recapping or explaining what they’ve learned and want feedback. In this case, you might want to try a self-study program along with a language tutor.

Reasons to Learn Spanish

There are many reasons to learn Spanish. First, Spanish is the native language of over 450 million people worldwide. This means, it’s second in the world in terms of native speakers, preceded only by Mandarin Chinese. Besides population statistics, Spanish language is the official language of over 20 countries (see a list below), and it is a recognized minority language in even more countries, regions, and cities. For this reason, Spanish is used not only for tourism but also business conducted in these countries, but also professionals who run companies in these countries who may have a need for Spanish-speaking executives and staff. Spanish is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations, an official language of the European Union, and it is estimated that it is the second most commonly spoken international language after English and French. In the United States, over 34.5 million people speak Spanish according to a recent study conducted by the US Census Bureau.

Where Is Spanish Spoken?

Spanish is the official language of over 20 countries in Europe, North America, Central America, and South America, but it is spoken as a majority language in many regions and cities in addition to these! The countries where it is the official language include the following: Spain, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru, Paraguay, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Note that countries including Bolivia, Peru, Paraguay, Spain, and others recognize official languages in addition to Spanish.

While Spanish isn’t the official language of the United States, over 34 million people speak Spanish in the home, and some states have nearly as many speakers of Spanish as English, such as New Mexico where 40% of the population speak Spanish. In the South American country of Belize, English is the official language; however, over 40% of the population speak Spanish. In Brazil, while Portuguese is the official language, over 10 million residents speak Spanish fluently. Historically, Spanish was also the official language of Spanish colonies in Asia, Africa, and Oceania, where the language is still spoken in communities in the Philipines, Guam, Easter Island, Morocco, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, and others.

How to Start Studying Spanish

Above all, try something, and don’t delay! Learning a language is like other endeavors in that when you have gained the momentum and willingness to try, jump in and start. If you find the program you’ve chosen isn’t working, try another. There is no one way to learn a language. Every learner has a unique set of skills, and you will learn what yours are as you go. For example, you might remember new vocabulary best by writing it down. Or, you might remember new words by visualizing them or by using other mneumonic devices. You won’t discover the best way of learning a language for you until you actually begin to study your new language. So why not start today? Find a learning program that looks affordable, set your start date, and begin to learn a new language. You can do it!