Why Spanish

Spanish has a greater number of native speakers than any language in the world, apart from Chinese (Mandarin)

Number of first-language speakers world-wide:

(Comparing the top 50)

Diagram created from Ethnologue‘s data.

Five facts about the spread of Spanish:

  • Second most spoken first-language in the world – behind mandarin Chinese
  • The most widely understood language in the Western Hemisphere
  • One of the six official languages of the United Nations (UN).
  • An official language of the European Union (with 22 others)
  • A romance language: which means it’s closely related to Portuguese, French, Romanian, Italian etc, making third language learning easier. Bonus: how sexy does the phrase “Romance Language” sound (a lot better than “Vulgar Latin“).

 

Why am I learning Spanish

I’ve flirted like a 16-yearold schoolgirl with the thought of second language fluency. The sexy “rrrrr’s” of Spanish flowing out of my mouth as I sip pisco and mingle with the locals in a salsa dance obsessed town in Latin America on a Caribbean holiday. Eavesdropping (or helping, if I must) foreigners when back in my home country. Slipping a quick and poignant joke to unsuspecting Spanish speakers. Carving myself a key that unlocks an ability to communicate and live with people significantly different than myself. To escape the quiet fear of slipping into the ethnocentric European-type stereotype as I grow old. To open myself up to adventures and discoveries I would not otherwise ever get the chance to experience…. I could go on, really I could…..

Despite the quiet fantasies…

I have had simmering in my mind, after dabbling with a stint at memorising phrases from a Pimsleur introduction to Spanish audio recording set, I realised that it will be long long and painful journey to Spanish fluency – one that takes more than some idealistic thoughts and a love for Latin culture to reach.

My story begins with packing up my life into two suitcases, shipping myself to the fine shores, and by shores I mean smog-ridden but yet utterly beautiful metropolitan city, of Santiago, Chile. “You will just learn a language from being surrounded by it” people told me before I left. I have a friend who just learnt through “osmosis” said another. “Just relax and don’t think about it, it will just flow out of you after a while” a friend reassuringly repeated. I took comfort in the fact that I could be a lazy sod and still reach this goal. That I could go on with life as usual in a Spanish speaking city, and meanwhile, like the advertisements for whiting chewing gum that “magically whitens as you chew”, I would be transformed into a Spanish speaker through the quiet “osmotic” forces as I go about my daily life.

It’s not until I met another foreigner…

living in the apartment next door to me who had been in Santiago for over two years, who couldn’t even count to ten, that it dawned on me how sweet, lovely and well, rubbish this advice was – at least for me and almost every foreigner I have meet here. It’s a conscious process, it’s challenging, it takes effort and concentration, it’s a daily struggle – but at the end of the month, end of a milestone, end of one sentence in Spanish understood in the right moment, you realise that it’s worth it.

This blog pays homage to this realisation. It shares my Spanish discovers with other people attempting to climb the Mt Everest of learning that is Spanish. Parts of the blog will be published as a resources for people wanting the discovers of another in their-shoes, while a range of other posts might even seem like utter nonsense, as I will publish grammatical gibberish as a means to solidify my monthly Spanish progress – at the stage that I’m at, which is somewhere nearing the end of beginner, while seeing the bright lights of “intermediate” a few miles away.

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