If you have always wanted to learn Spanish, you’re nowhere near alone; tens of millions of people study the language every day around the world. And it’s no wonder! Spanish is a language full of beauty, melody, layers of meaning, and a rich linguistic history. It can take you all over the world, from South America to Spain and even to the islands of the Pacific.
But you might have a lot of questions about what it takes to get started — or why it’s even worthwhile at all. The good news is you can rest assured that learning the Spanish language is an effort worth undertaking. With the right technology to guide you in your journey, you’ll see your efforts pay off in so many ways.
With Babbel, you’ll be on your way to having real-life conversations in Spanish before you know it — without going to classes, hiring a tutor or investing in expensive software. For an affordable monthly subscription, you can have access to hundreds of hours of interactive courses that get you speaking right from the first lesson.
We add new courses on a regular basis so the opportunities to learn and improve are always growing. And if you own a smartphone, the key to speaking Spanish is already in your pocket.
Why Learn Spanish?
Learning any new tongue is a challenge that can open up your mind to new perspectives and help you connect with all types of people across boundaries of land and language. When it comes to learning Spanish, these reasons are especially true. Here are just a few of the reasons why spending time learning Spanish is a great idea:
- build new connections with hundreds of millions of people across the world
- get a leg up in learning about other related languages, including English
- experience culture and history of the Spanish-speaking world through a linguistic lens
- spruce up your Spanish business skills to help you compete in the global economy
- travel to and even live in Spanish-speaking countries with confidence
- stimulate your brain and keep your mental muscles sharp
Learning Spanish To Join A Global Community
To start, if you know the Spanish language, you open yourself up to a whole world of speakers that span continental borders. There are slightly more than 400 million Spanish speakers around the world, making it the second most spoken language worldwide behind Chinese (and ahead of English in third place!). It’s also the second most spoken language in North America, behind English, and the most spoken in South America, just barely beating out Brazilian Portuguese.
You can find Spanish speakers spread around the planet in Spain and in most of the countries of the Latin American world, including Mexico and Central and South America. And did you know there are more speakers of Spanish in the United States than there are even in Spain? That’s right; for many people living in the U.S., especially in places like Florida, the American Southwest, and densely populated cities, you likely don’t even have to leave your town or local community to find native Spanish speakers to talk to.
Learning Spanish As A Link To Other Languages
Spanish, a Romance language, is closely related to all of the other languages in the same family, like French, Italian, and Portuguese, to name a few. They all derive from Vulgar Latin, the vernacular variety spoken by the common people of the Roman Empire. That means these languages share a whole lot of cognates, or words that are spelled and sound the same and that have the same meaning across more than one language.
Though English is a Germanic language, more than a quarter of its words come from Latin, and roughly the same amount come from French (so, indirectly from Latin). And there are thousands of Greek words that have made their way into both English and Spanish, too. That means you’re going to find a lot of Latin- and Greek-derived words in Spanish you already recognize. When you see the Spanish words profesional, eléctrico, or artista, for example, you’ll probably have no trouble guessing their English equivalents.
Whether it helps you master other Romance languages faster and more easily or it gives you a new understanding of the English you already speak, there’s no doubt that learning Spanish gives you a learning advantage right from the start!
Benefits Of Learning Spanish
Picking up a new skill can help you express your creativity, stimulate your mind, and discover new sides of yourself along the way. Learning a new language like Spanish is no exception! Here are just a few of the many ways learning Spanish will have a positive impact on your life.
Build Your Business Spanish Skills
Today the world is more connected economically than ever before. The sweeping tide of globalization means that companies and organizations today are operating across international borders and boundaries. If you’re a professional looking for ways to stay competitive and current in the global market, learning a new language — especially Spanish — is a no-brainer for success. Latin and South America are emerging markets full of opportunity for businesses. Learning the Spanish language is a fantastic way to connect with colleagues in other countries, score new clients, build strong relationships with Spanish-speaking partners and investors, and to show off the multicultural, international, and inclusive nature of your brand.
Learn Spanish For Travel
When the spirit of adventure strikes, don’t let language barriers hold you back. When you have Spanish in your back pocket, you have a passport to a whole new world. Learning Spanish not only means you’ll be able to navigate new cities by reading road signs, menus, and train tickets; it also lets you connect with the new people you meet there. It’s often said that the best way to explore a new place is through the eyes of a local, and learning Spanish lets you branch out of tourist hotspots and into the real world as the native speakers see it. Whether it’s the beaches of Barcelona, the many streets of Mexico City or the Incan ruins in Peru, you’ll be more equipped to venture off the beaten path when you have Spanish in your linguistic repertoire.
Open A Window Into History
Learning Spanish is a great way to trace historical developments in language across time and geography. For example, many nouns beginning with al- in Spanish, like la almohada (“the pillow”), la alfombra (“the rug”), or el algodón (“the cotton”) trace their etymological origins back to Arabic — a reflection of the Arabic-speaking Moors’ conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the 8th century. In fact, there are about 4,000 modern Spanish words that come from Arabic, evidence of a lasting legacy imprinted on the language today from hundreds of years ago in history.
Live The Spanish Language Abroad
Whether you’re looking to enroll at a foreign university and have a more alternative college experience, find a job at a hostel that lets you surf by day and work at night, or retire in a more tranquil, tropical climate, living abroad is hands down the best hands-on approach to getting the most immersive language experience possible. By placing yourself in an environment where you’re obligated to speak Spanish, you’ll fast-track your journey to fluency. Your life can take on new twists and turns when you move to an unfamiliar place, and there’s so much of the Spanish-speaking world to explore. Learning Spanish is a gateway to a robust, colorful, and novel life adventure!
Use Language To Train Your Brain
Learning any new skill is a surefire way to expand your intellectual horizons. Picking up a new language is an especially sound way to keep your brain flexible and nimble, especially as you grow older. Don’t give in to the argument that you’re somehow worse at learning languages after your youth! Picking up a new language is more than just memorizing lists of vocab (though you’ll certainly sharpen your lexical recall along the way). It involves making connections between those words and what they represent, taking apart and putting together grammatical structures, spontaneously speaking and thinking on your feet, sticking with a challenge when it’s frustrating and confusing, and a whole lot of active listening. If you’ve been lacking intellectual stimulation, there are few better ways to exercise your mental muscles than by learning Spanish.
Immerse Yourself In Spanish Culture, Unfiltered
Learning Spanish opens you up not only to a better understanding of the language itself but also of the arts and culture of the world that speaks it. To read the literature of decorated Spanish-speaking authors like Gabriel García Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, and Pablo Neruda is to engage with the language in some of its most beautiful and poetic expressions. Through the lens of Spanish you get a look into the lyrics of classic flamenco songs and a more active immersion in more contemporary Spanish-language media like podcasts, radio shows, audiobooks, and TV shows. The stories and recipes of world-renowned culinary creations, the dialogue of famous Latin American films, and the most sweeping currents in Spanish-language journalism all become accessible to you when you learn the Spanish language. And if you’re from a family with Spanish-speaking elders and ancestors but you don’t know the language yourself, learning Spanish is an excellent way to connect with your heritage.
Learning Spanish For Business
A lot of business involves knowing how to crunch numbers, analyze data and make predictions using quantitative trends. But there’s a whole side to business that revolves around effective communication — often considered among professional “soft skills,” but no less important. How well do you interact with business partners? Do you make a good impression when you meet them? Do you feel confident negotiating and striking deals? These aren’t necessarily things we all do well in our own language, let alone in a second language.
Learning a few words of a language in any country you visit for business can carry a very significant professional value, and Spanish is by no means an exception. Whether you’re giving a presentation to coworkers in an international office or selling your product in Latin American markets, you’ll find there are plenty of great opportunities to apply business Spanish to accelerate your career. Spanish for business can cover a very wide range of skills in the language, from simply getting a meeting off to a good start by introducing yourself in a client’s native language, to combing through the finer details of a contract.
Pursuing a second language is proof of your willingness to engage with the world. It’s proof of an open mind and an ability to learn new things and see things from different perspectives. So when it comes to finding a job, knowing a second (or third) language will give you a leg up and set you apart from the rest of the field.
Not only will adding Spanish to your résumé — and being able to back it up with actual language skills — go a long way to convincing potential employers of your open-mindedness and passion for learning, but it will also give you the confidence to take on new challenges in the future and might even present you with some business opportunities you never would have imagined.
Ways To Learn Spanish
There is no right answer when it comes to how to learn a new language. With so many options for your language journey, it’s no surprise that choosing a learning style or method can be overwhelming!
Of the roughly 90 million people who speak and study Spanish as a non-native language, you’ll find folks who have used all sorts of resources to learn the language, some free, some fairly cheap, and some more of a financial investment. There’s no right combination, and it’s up to you to decide which methods work best for you.
Learning Spanish In The Classroom
Behind English, the Spanish language is by far the most studied language in school systems and universities, especially in the United States. Classroom learning is the most popular option for learners in grade school or university settings. It allows more intensive, regular study with feedback from teachers who know the language and can correct mistakes as they happen and teach content in an interactive way. Depending on how large a class is and how engaged the teacher is, learning in a classroom might be a less personalized experience, but having other students to talk to and practice with is a valuable resource for a learner of any language.
Though students make up a large proportion of classroom learners, plenty of adults enroll in language classes, too. Many cities and communities offer free or fairly cheap language classes, and you’ll be very likely to find them in popular languages like Spanish. Though a full-time job might limit your schedule, a commitment to a once- or twice-weekly class after work or on the weekends can really improve your language skills in a measurable way.
Learning Spanish With A Private Tutor
Private tutoring offers a more tailored learning experience than traditional classroom learning with many of the advantages. Having a skilled tutor at hand who can help you perfect your pronunciation and work with you closely on the aspects of Spanish that cause you trouble is a great way to improve your skills fast — without a teacher needing to split time and attention among multiple students. And tutoring doesn’t have to be inconvenient at all; many sessions can and do take place over video call instead of in person.
But the often steep costs of such individualized instruction can be a barrier to many learners. Well trained master tutors often charge high hourly rates for their lessons, so finding a top-quality, budget-friendly option can be challenging.
Software And Online Courses In Spanish
There are many top-notch, expert-designed online courses and programs that run from reasonably priced to very expensive. They allow you to learn on your own time and are often more interactive and engaging than many free courses and resources. Plus, many of the best products out there are constantly updated with new, fresh material, so you can get the most relevant learning experience available.
Can You Learn Spanish For Free?
All of the above options have one thing in common: they cost money. For those learners who want to be more conscious of their budgets or are okay to spend more time finding and working with more cost-effective content, there are still plenty of options!
Learning Spanish With Tandem Partners
Tandem learning is a technique where two people who speak different native languages meet up to help each other learn, swapping roles as teacher and student. For example, if you spend one hour teaching a Spanish-speaking friend something about English, he or she would then spend the next hour teaching Spanish to you. This is an effective method when both people are able to commit significant time and thought to the partnership, but keep in mind that not everyone is a good teacher. Explaining why your native language works the way it does is often easier said than done; you might understand English grammar subconsciously and use it flawlessly all the time but not be able to explain to a non-native speaker the rules that govern how you’re supposed to use that grammar.
Immersion Spanish Learning
This technique is definitely the most extreme and intensive, and it’s not for everyone. (It’s also not technically free if you count airfare to a new place and all the costs of living associated with wherever you go.) But without a doubt, immersing yourself in a new culture and a place that doesn’t speak your language will force you to make rapid progress in your target language as you struggle to communicate and understand those around you.
Of course, you’ll want to start with at least a little foundation in a new language before picking up your life and plunging yourself into a completely foreign locale. Using resources like Babbel, language textbooks and classes, and practice with native speakers can all help you prepare before you make a big transition.
Learning Spanish With Audio Resources
Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn passively while you trudge through your daily commute, cook dinner, or take a walk in your neighborhood. It’s easy to fit learning into your busy schedule when you’re doing it in the background of another activity. Luckily, there are lots of audio resources to pick from, and many of them are free. But keep in mind that to really master a language, you’ve got to do more than just listening to it; you’ll probably want to supplement audio with ways to practice writing, reading, and speaking Spanish, too.
Free Online Courses And Apps For Learning Spanish
There’s no shortage of free Spanish content you can find on the web and on your phone. From Spanish grammar wikis to online forums and classes, you’re sure to find hundreds of options that might do the trick. Some of it is better than others in the ways it’s organized and how thoroughly it explains new concepts, so take it with a grain of salt.
Be aware that the tradeoff of a free product is that it usually sacrifices quality. Much of the content that’s in apps like Duolingo and Memrise or that’s scattered around the web comes from user-generated translations that are rarely verified and are often inconsistent or riddled with errors. These lessons often focus on writing and reading without much of a way to improve listening and speaking skills. And be wary that free interactive lessons like these can often be basic, poorly designed, messy, rigid, and just downright boring — not to mention littered with ads.
That’s not to say these resources can’t be helpful! But it’s important to know how and where to fill in the gaps in your language learning journey when certain content isn’t enough.
Learning Spanish With Babbel
The goal of learning any language is to have real-life conversations with native speakers. So a language learning app should be designed to get you to that goal in the best way possible. It’s important to dedicate the time and effort to practicing with discipline, but outside of your own personal commitment, you’ve got to have technology that knows how to help you most effectively along the way.
Luckily, Babbel is designed by a team of language experts, educators, and designers who know all about what it takes to get the most out of learning a new language — so you are guaranteed a top-quality Spanish learning journey that’s capable, engaging, and yes, even fun.
Here are the key ways Babbel is crafted to get you having real-life conversations in Spanish with confidence, and all for less cost per month than your morning coffee.
The Full Spectrum Of Language Learning
Learning a new language is an endeavor of many dimensions. It takes a lot of skills and patience to learn how to start speaking on the spot, to write a text to a friend, or to translate dialogue you hear from a TV show in your target language.
We know how to make these elements work together to your advantage. Babbel’s lessons are interactive and cover all the aspects of learning Spanish — reading, writing, listening, and speaking — with multimedia content to train your ears and eyes. Our speech recognition feature even helps you hone your pronunciation, too.
Spanish Learning On Your Terms
One of the best parts of learning with Babbel is being able to fit lessons in seamlessly when you want them and where you want them. Our bite-size lessons take roughly between 10 and 20 minutes to complete and can be squeezed into your already busy schedule, whether you’re on your commute or waiting for a pot of water to boil as you cook dinner.
With Babbel, you can pick and choose the topics and themes that are most relevant to you. Taking a trip soon? Brush up on the Spanish you’ll need for travel and navigating new places. Need to sharpen your Spanish for an upcoming business meeting? Our courses have you covered.
The iOS and Android apps are fully integrated with the web application. And your progress is saved in the cloud and synced across all devices — so you can learn Spanish anytime, anywhere.
Learn Spanish — And Make Sure It Sticks
What good is committing to learning a new language if you’ll forget it before you even have a chance to use it? That’s why your personalized Babbel Review feature is optimized to help you retain the information you’re learning.
It takes advantage of the concept of microlearning, or bringing back information in short bursts to help you hold on to it better. You can practice writing, listening to, and speaking the terms and expressions you’ve learned in your earlier lessons to lock them into your brain.
For Spanish Learning, Try Babbel
We’re committed to making sure you get the most out of learning Spanish. We offer a free first lesson in every language so you can get a feel for if Babbel works for you. And if you don’t like it, we have a 20-day money-back guarantee — no questions asked.
Try a free Spanish lesson with Babbel and see for yourself how quickly you’ll be on your way to speaking Spanish with confidence — like you’ve always wanted to!