Is Spanish an easy language to learn? Many language learners ask us this question before they start a Spanish course. Or better: they wonder, if Spanish is a difficult language to learn. To give you great relief right away: no, Spanish is not a difficult language to learn. It’s more:
Spanish ranks among the easiest languages to learn!
How do we know? As the Business Insider states: Arabic has a completely different alphabet, French spelling and pronunciation is incredibly specific and tricky, and Chinese requires learning unique tones. But not Spanish. And while mastering the grammar of Spanish can be a challenge, basic grammar is straightforward.
Spanish: one of the easier languages to learn?
Another source for our statement that Spanish is easy to learn, the The Foreign Service Institute (FSI). This institution has created the Language Proficiency Scale. This is a list that shows the approximate time you usually need to learn a specific language (as an English speaker).
The list reflects 70 years of experience in teaching languages to USA diplomats. Spanish is one of the 10 languages in the first category! This means that an average student only need approximately 600 hours to reach the level “Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking” and “Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading” on the Interagency Language Roundtable (IRL) scale.
Spanish: the most popular language to learn
The most studied foreign language in the European Union is not surprisingly, English. But still 16.9% of the pupils at lower secondary level study Spanish in the EU (2017, Eurostat). The latest decennium, there was a remarkable increase in young Europeans learning Spanish. Let’s check some reasons why Spanish isn’t not only of the easier language to learn but also one of the more popular languages to learn!
Is Spanish easy to learn?
Yes it is. Do you want to know why? Read on!
1. Prevalence of Spanish in our life
For people from United States, it is very probable that Spanish is prevalence in daily and everyday life. There are many Spanish speaking people living in the United States. But also in Europe and Australia, you will find that every city has a large Spanish speaking community.
In terms of numbers of speakers Spanish is the world’s second most spoken language with 332 million native speakers. Spanish is official language in 21 sovereign states. These comprise: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Spain, Uruguay and Venezuela. But Spanish is also a very popular language to learn. Over 14 million people worldwide are learning Spanish at this very moment!
The prevalence of Spanish in our lives makes it easier to learn this language than a language that is not as present as, for example, Finnish. You will find study materials without looking very hard. You will easily encounter social media groups of people in your country learning Spanish. You will even be able to find a ‘tandem’ friend in your home country which is someone who wants to learn your native language who in exchange teaches you Spanish.
Evening schools teaching Spanish are very common in Europe and the USA. Even if you don’t remember it, probably you saw several Spanish speaking movies and series in your life, such as ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘Volver’ or ‘Casa de Papel’. Probably you can take at least one Spanish speaking TV-channel or radio station.
Also the Spanish and Latin music is booming over the whole world. A famous song is for example ‘Despacito’ by ‘Luis Fonsi’. More songs to practise your Spanish? Check these Spanish songs!
In fact, Spanish is everywhere, so you already have a leg up on learning it!
2. The Latin influence
Spanish is one of the Romance languages with direct descendants of Latin. There are also many Latin derivatives in English although English is a Germanic language. While learning Spanish you will notice that many words in Spanish are similar to their English translation, because of the Latin influence on both of them.
Such similar words are called cognates and with simple reasoning you can understand the Spanish translation of the English word. In total there are around 15 000 English – Spanish cognates. Many of them will be your best friends while learning Spanish.
Examples of cognates:
3. The Romance languages
The name “Romance languages” doesn’t come from the fact that they are romantic (although we do think they are romantic), but because they all derived from Latin, the language of the Roman Empire Other Romance languages are: French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian.
Romance languages share a good proportion of basic vocabulary and a number of similar grammatical forms. If you already know a second language, but especially if you know a Romance language, you will learn Spanish fast.
So if you have chosen to learn Latin during high school, and you thought that was a waste of your time, think again! In the Spanish language the nouns, adjective and verbs have to agree in gender and number. That is mostly the same in other Romance languages, so again an advantage for those mastering already another Romance language.
For example, a cup in English has no gender. But in Spanish it is ‘una taza’, in French it is ‘une tasse’ and in Italian it is ‘una tazza’. So the word is feminine in those three Roman languages and they use almost the same word.
4. The Spanish pronunciation
The most learned foreign language in the USA is Spanish. Every year, over 700 000 students in college and universities and over 6 million K-12 students (primary and secondary school) learn Spanish. That means that over 50% of the university students choose Spanish as their language of study in the USA (Modern Language Association of America, 2013). Spanish is a popular language for residents of the USA looking for employment opportunities or to communicate with Spanish speaking members of their community.
Luckily for Spanish students, the pronunciation in Spanish is very straightforward compared with most languages. That means that most words are pronounced the same ways at they are spelled. Once you get used to the new sounds, with practice you will be able to speak Spanish fast. Written Spanish is almost completely phonetic — look at any Spanish word, and you can tell how it is pronounced.
The Spanish language has only one silent letter: the letter h. In Spanish there are noticeably fewer sounds than in English, both for consonants and vowels, which is probably a relief for many Spanish beginner students. That Spanish sounds just like it is written and vice versa is another important reason that Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn.
5. The Spanish rules and patterns
Once you take (Online) Spanish lessons, you will notice that your teacher will explain you rules and patterns to help you with the grammar. Of course there are always exceptions, just like in any language. But generally the rules and patterns for the Spanish language are pretty clear and once you know them, you will hardly make mistakes (except for the exceptions, of course).
For instance, one of the first patterns you will learn is that nouns ending in –o are mostly masculine while nouns ending in –a are mostly feminine.
These are the 5 most important reasons that Spanish is an easy language to learn and not at all that hard as some people think.
The hardest part of learning Spanish is taking the step to get started.
Once you started with your (Online) Spanish lessons, you will notice that you are progressing so quickly that you will always want to learn more. Spanish is a wonderful and useful language to know!
So don’t hesitate to contact us for more information about our Spanish teaching programs!
Do you want to try first?
- Try seven email lessons in your inbox: Spanish course for free
- Contact us for a free trial lesson via zoom!
- Bonus tip: learn Spanish Idioms to improve your speaking skills!