Let this be the year you master Spanish
A lot of people, especially in the US, have tried at one point or another to learn Spanish. Usually through mandatory classes in high school or university. However, more often than not, none of this sticks with you after your final exam is finished. Only once you’ve graduated and entered the world do you realize all the benefits of learning to speak Spanish fluently. Not only is Spanish the official language of 21 countries (mostly Europe and Latin America), it’s the second most spoken language in the world, with over 470 million native speakers. In the US alone, there are over 45 million first or second language Spanish speakers, making it the second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.
With so many Spanish speaking people worldwide, being able to speak Spanish fluently can benefit you both socially and economically. For many jobs in the US, it's a must. Even if Spanish isn’t directly related to your job title, many employers look favorably on having relevant language skills on your resume, and might give you an advantage over other candidates with otherwise equally impressive resumes. Of course, speaking Spanish will come in handy if you plan on visiting almost any country south of the Rio Grande other than Brazil.
In many Spanish-speaking regions, English fluency is low, so being able to communicate with people in their own language will help you get around easier, and get to know the local culture and customs. There are so many wonderful places to visit in Spanish-speaking countries such as the mythical, ancient ruins of Machu Picchu, the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Buenos Aires or the natural beauty of Costa Rica that almost anyone can find a reason to go.
There are over 470 million native speakers, and 45 million in the US alone.
There are 21 countries where Spanish is a first language.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world - even more than English!
It’s one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn.
The US is the second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico.
Because Spanish is spoken almost exactly as it’s written, it’s easy to for English speakers to read and pronounce. However, the grammatical structure is different with greater conjugation of the verb tenses, and more use of the subjunctive form which is often takes English speakers some time to get used to. Many Spanish and English words share the same Latin roots, and look the same in both languages. These are called cognates, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, of them. However, there are many false cognates as well which look the same but mean completely different things, such as the word embarrassed in English. In Spanish, the word embarazada means ‘pregnant’, which has the potential to cause considerable embarrassment.
Here are a few more Spanish cognates you may recognize:
Verb conjugation is one area where Spanish differs completely from English. While English only conjugates verbs in the 3rd person singular, Spanish has separate conjugation for every tense. However, this conjugation follows a strict set of rules, so once you’ve learned how to conjugate verbs in one tense, you can easily conjugate almost any verb according to the same pattern. There are, however, a number of exceptions which have to be memorized, but with a bit of study, and some regular practice with a native speaker, these will soon become like second nature.
There are a variety of ways you can choose to learn Spanish, and thanks to the Internet, a lot of them are even free.
This is the most traditional way to study Spanish, and it’s very likely that you’ve tried this method already in high school or university. It can be a good way to mix all 4 aspects of language learning (reading, writing, speaking, and listening) in one setting. However, many people find Spanish lessons to be too tedious and too much of a time commitment to fit into their already busy schedules.
Similar to a classroom, this is an excellent way to get to know another language. You can learn directly from a native Spanish speaker, and practice reading, writing, speaking, and listening to the language the way it’s actually used. This one-on-one interaction is ideal to master the language in the shortest amount of time. However, private Spanish course can be quite expensive with a qualified language teacher. One good option is to pair up with someone trying to learn your language, and help each other - in Tandem style.
One method which was popular before the advent of the Internet was to self-teach via audio, video, and books. This can be an effective method granted you have the willpower to stick with it. However, it lacks the social interaction which might be the whole point of learning a new language, and you’ll most likely only learn “textbook” Spanish, not the way Spanish speakers naturally speak.
Computer software can be a very effective method of learning Spanish. Many programs try to mimic natural learning methods which teach you to associate the language directly with the places, things, and situations in which they apply instead of having to filter your new language through your native language via translation. However, this also lacks a certain level of social interaction which makes language learning more fun and exciting. It's harder to start speaking!
This is by far the best way to truly master a new language. However, unless you already have the basics of the language under your belt, you may find yourself a bit lost. It’s also one of the more expensive ways to learn a new language, and not everyone has the time or the resources to spend extended periods of time in another country.
There are a huge number of websites which promise to teach you to learn Spanish online, and a lot of them are even free (or quite reasonably priced). This is probably one of the best ways to “dip your toe” into learning a new language if you’re still deciding if it’s something you wish to pursue. However, more advanced language learners might become frustrated with the slow pace, and elementary level material covered in much of these online courses.
One of the biggest revolutions in online language learning is the availability of apps which allow you to log in and connect with language learners and teachers around the world. With this, you can practice Spanish wherever and whenever the mood strikes. It can be a fun, easy way to learn conversational Spanish, the way it’s actually spoken.
The Tandem app is the best way to learn Spanish online for free. With millions of members, Tandem is one of the largest language learning communities out there! With the Tandem app, you can connect with native Spanish speakers all over the world and practice by speaking via text, audio message, and video call. Master Spanish now and download the app!