For many English speakers, Spanish is one of the most obvious languages to learn. Especially in the United States, it is often considered the most useful for going about daily life. But we get it: choosing a language to learn is a tough decision. You wouldn’t want to be months into Spanish before realizing that Dutch is your true calling. If you need that final convincing, we rounded up the five best reasons to learn Spanish.
Reason 1: Spanish Is A Global Language
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, and it is the most spoken language in the Americas. It’s the official (or co-official) language in Spain, most countries in Central and South America and several Caribbean countries. It’s a useful language to know when doing business with Spanish or Latin American firms, and a great way to strengthen your resume and improve your career prospects. In the United States alone there are over 50 million people who speak Spanish as their native or second language. So even if you don’t fancy yourself a globetrotter, Spanish is probably the most useful language to learn if you want to flex your language muscles on a daily basis.
Reason 2: Spanish Immersion Opportunities Are Everywhere
Yes, convenience can be one of the most convincing reasons to learn Spanish. There are more Spanish speakers in the United States than in any other Spanish-speaking country except Mexico. That’s right, there are more people speaking Spanish in the United States than in Spain! So if you want to learn a language through immersion, you can practice your Spanish without leaving your neighborhood.
Americans see and hear Spanish often (on signs, on the radio and TV, in eavesdropped bits of conversation). Instead of tuning out the language, why not tune in? Once you start learning a little Spanish, every encounter with the language is an opportunity to practice and improve. Order Mexican food in Spanish, put on Spanish-language radio or television while you’re doing chores around the house, add some Spanish-language publishers to your news feed. And the best part is that none of this requires taking vacation time or booking expensive plane tickets.
Reason 3: Spanish Is Easy To Learn And To Start Speaking
Spanish is considered one of the easiest languages for a native English speaker to learn. The grammar and pronunciation are different from English, but simpler and more consistent. Because English acquired almost 30 percent of its vocabulary from Latin, you’ll immediately recognize and understand many Spanish words that share the same roots. You can communicate a lot with simple grammar, so even before you’ve reached a high level of comprehension you will be able to communicate and express yourself. Nothing motivates you to keep going quite like the little victories that come through speaking and being understood.
Reason 4: Spanish Can Help You Discover Something New About Yourself
Almost 60 million Americans — 18.3 percent of all Americans — claim some Hispanic heritage. Do you? There’s no better way to reconnect to your ancestors than by learning their language. Depending on your life, this can be one of the most compelling reasons to learn Spanish.
Even without Hispanic heritage, you might find an affinity for a new language that allows you to express yourself in a different way. It can help foster aspects of your personality that might not come through in your native tongue.
Reason 5: Spanish Gives You Access To Other Cultures
No matter how you choose to learn Spanish (online, classes, a tutor, apps, a home stay in a Spanish-speaking country), the best way to stay interested and motivated is through engagement with Spanish-speaking culture. Even if you live in a cabin in the woods with no one around with whom to speak Spanish, you can connect to the Spanish language through its art, music, cinema and literature.
Internalize Spanish pronunciation and the cadence of speech by listening to the news on Spanish-language radio, and by watching movies and telenovelas. Sing along to music sung in Spanish: Spanish flamenco, Cuban jazz, Mexican rock, Puerto Rican salsa, Argentinian tango… It’s just as fulfilling to explore the Spanish language through literature, whether it be Miguel de Cervantes, the first modern novelist; poets like Octavio Paz, Federico García Lorca and Pablo Neruda; magical realists like Gabriel García Márquez and Jorge Luis Borges; or more contemporary novelists like Isabel Allende, Reinaldo Arenas, Roberto Bolaño and Laura Esquivel.
Still not convinced? Keep in mind we didn’t even include opportunities for travel as one of the reasons to learn Spanish.