Is it hard to learn Spanish?
As a Spanish teacher I get asked this question very often. How difficult is it to learn Spanish? The answer may surprise you. In short, it depends on a number of factors, but usually isn’t too difficult. Let me explain.
The first question you need to answer is why are you learning Spanish and how proficient would you like to become. This is important because if you are learning Spanish for a job in a professional environment, then it’s likely that you’ll need to be nearly fluent in order to excel at that job. However, if you want to learn Spanish so you can speak to your neighbors and your goal is not to be completely fluent, then conversational Spanish proficiency is all you’ll need.
Do I need to be fluent in Spanish?
Speaking Spanish fluently means that you could go into a doctor’s office and describe most of your body parts in Spanish. It means that you could attend an institution of higher learning, comprehend perfectly the materials that your professors would teach, and write pages on specialized topics in Spanish. But most of us don’t wish to become that skilled in the Spanish language. And despite the claims of many Spanish language products and courses, becoming fluent in Spanish would likely take years of living in a Spanish speaking country and rarely speaking English.
More on conversational Spanish
Conversational Spanish is not difficult to master. Even the poorest classroom students are able to learn to speak in casual conversations with native Spanish speakers. In fact, many who don’t perform well in traditional classroom settings do extremely well learning languages. This is because learning a second language is similar to memorizing the words to your favorite song. Think about the last time a great song came on the radio. You hear it a few times and before you know it you could sing the lyrics from memory without any help from the band.
You may have noticed that each day we hear, see, and use Spanish words, phrases, and popular catch phrases. Chances are you already know a good amount of Spanish. Here are some of the popular phrases used in today’s culture:
Adiós = Goodbye
Pronto = Hurry up
Por favor = Please
Grácias = Thank you
Si, se puede = Yes we can/Yes you can
De nada = Don’t mention it
Mi casa es su casa = Please feel at home
¿Cómo estás? = How are you?
Buenos días = Good day
Hasta la vista = See you next time
Mano a mano = Man to man
Se habla español = We speak Spanish
Learning to speak Spanish is not difficult and becoming conversant in the Spanish language is something that the average person can accomplish. The key is to have a few great resources that can explain the rules of the language, such as grammar books, a Spanish-to-English dictionary, and a friend who speaks Spanish. This way you’ll be able to overcome some of the confusing concepts that surface from time to time. Lastly, make sure you get a good amount of verbal Spanish practice, perhaps through watching the Spanish channel on TV and repeating what you hear, listening to Spanish radio, watching movies in Spanish, or having actual conversations with people who know how to speak Spanish.
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