Nearly 400 million people worldwide are speaking Spanish today. Spanish is the fourth most widely used language in the world, next to English, Chinese, and Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu). Yet, unlike the last two, which are concentrated in the particular regions of China, India and Pakistan, Spanish is spoken as the mother tongue in 21 countries and as one of the secondary languages in 21 other countries.
Spanish is an official language of the United Nations and has become the most prominent second language to learn in the US and Canada. Is the trend to teach yourself Spanish a passing fad? It seems not, because the number of people, who want to learn Spanish, seems to be on the increase.
There are many good reasons why you should teach yourself Spanish, but here are the top five:
1. Teach yourself Spanish and gain a better understanding of English.
“Those who know nothing of foreign languages know nothing of their own.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Like Spanish, many English words are rooted in Latin, a Romance language. Learning Spanish, therefore, brings you back to the Latin roots of English words and therefore helps to improve your understanding of English vocabulary.
Spanish grammar and English grammar are similar. Learning Spanish helps us to be aware of our English heritage, which we generally take for granted. Our knowledge of Spanish, may help with our understanding of medical and legal terms, many of which have Latin origins.
2. Teach yourself Spanish and give yourself a head start with other languages.
Learning Spanish, makes it easier to learn other Romance languages, like Italian, French and Portuguese, because words and structures in this family of languages are derived from a common source.
Also the learning skills and the discipline that you develop when you teach yourself Spanish will hold you in good stead when you study another language. So the challenges in learning another language will be more easily overcome because of your experience with learning Spanish. Even if you try to learn a non-Romance language, the learning skills will still be useful.
3. Learning Spanish will give you more employment opportunities.
There is a growing need in industry and commerce for people with fluency in a second language.
In the European Community, there are job opportunities in most countries for workers who speak Spanish as a second language. These are in travel and tourism as well as customer service centres.
In the United States, the Hispanic population is growing rapidly and so are the Hispanic economies, which mean there are employment opportunities for Spanish speakers.
Then there is a massive and growing market in South America which means that travellers to that continent on business or leisure would do well to have a command of the Spanish language.
The demand for Spanish speakers is increasing at a steady rate. So if you want to improve your employment potential with an advantage over your monolingual counterparts, better teach yourself Spanish.
4. Teach yourself Spanish and appreciate arts, film, and Spanish literature.
Wouldn’t it be great to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpieces in the original Spanish text? Or see Y Tu Mama Tambien without reading the English subtitles? The English subtitles offer good insight into the film but like some of the finer points get lost in translation. A visit to a Spanish speaking city is enhanced when appreciating the local culture in Spanish.
5. Teach yourself Spanish for a better travel experience.
Many Spanish speakers do not speak English so they appreciate the effort of those who speak English as a second language. Imagine visiting Spain and being able to converse with local people. How about visiting the more exotic Mexico or travelling down the Pacific coast of South America to Peru and Chile with Spanish at your disposal?
You can strike up a conversation with a local, or give instructions to a taxi driver in Spanish, or order your favourite tapas in a restaurant.
You can get by with only a little Spanish or none, but you will lose a special advantage from the rich Spanish traditions and local cultures that you will have when you teach yourself Spanish.