Why should I learn Spanish?
You’re probably asking yourself this very question.
If you live in an English speaking country, there isn’t really an urgent need to learn Spanish or any other foreign language. Even if you were to travel abroad, you would probably be fine because chances are the people at your hotel, at restaurants, or your tour guide can speak English.
So then the question becomes:
Why should I learn Spanish when I can get by without it?
Well, there is a big difference between just “getting by” and “thriving”.
There are tons of reasons why Spanish is the third most popular language to study in the world (behind only English and French). Instead of asking yourself why should you learn Spanish, try asking yourself this:
How can my life become better by learning Spanish?
Well, I’ve just done the brainstorming for you. Here are 40 reasons why learning Spanish could make a difference in your life.
Spanish is probably the most important language to learn if you love to travel. Spanish speaking countries are extremely beautiful and diverse, with stunning landscapes and interesting cultures that are simply unforgettable.
However, very few people in these countries speak English. According to EF English Proficiency Index, 11 Spanish speaking countries placed in the “Low” or “Very Low” categories in terms English proficiency. So if you really want to get to know the people of these countries, then learning to speak Spanish is essential.
Being able to travel knowing that you can get yourself around and handle pretty much any scenario is one of the biggest reasons to learn Spanish. You can even travel alone, without having to rely on tour guides or other tourists. It takes away the stress and uncertainty that sometimes comes with travel. It’s an empowering feeling that puts you at ease and lets you truly enjoy your vacation.
Once you’ve become that confident, independent traveler, you can even bring your friends and family along and almost act as their tour guide. They’ll be grateful and super impressed!
What if you took a wrong turn and couldn’t find the way back to your hotel? This would be a scary scenario for many tourists, but if you know Spanish you could easily ask a local for directions.
But it’s not just about getting lost, knowing Spanish lets you ask for help in a variety of situations, or talk yourself out of all sorts of misunderstandings.
Say goodbye to paying the inflated “tourist” prices. The ability to speak Spanish allows you to haggle and pay what the locals pay (or close to it). You’ll save money on everything from fruits at the local market to gifts at souvenir stands. For accommodation, you’ll be able to avoid the overpriced tourist hotels, and opt for family-run guesthouses or homestays which will give you a more authentic experience.
People absolutely love it when you speak their language. Say a few words in Spanish and they’ll gladly repay your efforts with smiles, warm gestures, and acts of generosity. You may get to see places and do things that normal tourists would never get to experience.
I know this from experience. I once got invited to a family farmhouse in the coffee growing region of Colombia, all because I started a conversation with the few broken sentences of Spanish that I knew at the time. I was treated as an honored guest by virtual strangers who I’d only known for a few hours. It remains one of the most memorable travel experiences of my life.
Whether it’s Tapas in Spain, or Ceviche in Peru. Spanish speaking countries have mouth-watering food. But instead of asking for the English menu, knowing Spanish lets you try the local delicacies that other tourists don’t get to try. Plus, if you ever spot something delicious-but-strange looking, you can always ask what it is!
The stereotypical tourist is an easy target. In popular tourist destinations like Cusco (starting point for Machu Picchu) or the streets of Havana, people will see you as a walking dollar sign. You’ll be hassled by all kinds of shady people looking to take advantage of you.
But if you can speak Spanish, all of that changes. You’ll stop being hounded by the salesmen and touts. You’ll come across as more “street smart” and scammers are less likely to try to trick you.
More and more people are making the decision of spending their golden years abroad. Every year, International Living Magazine publishes a list the top 10 best places to retire in the world. Seven of them (including the top 5) are Spanish speaking countries.
With warm weather, beautiful beaches, lower cost of living and a relaxed pace of life…it seems like a no-brainer. So if you’re thinking about retiring overseas, then that’s a very good reason to learn Spanish.
In an increasingly globalized world, many companies are doing business in Spanish speaking countries, which in general are growing much faster than more developed nations like the US, Canada, and the UK.
Also, with the number of Spanish speakers living abroad, more and more businesses are catering to the needs of Spanish speaking customers.
That’s why many people are learning Spanish to set themselves apart from other candidates, and get the dream job they always wanted.
Some jobs may not require you to speak Spanish, but it’s an added bonus if you can.
For example, if you work in the medical field in the United States, chances are you’ll get a Spanish speaking patient once in a while (or very often, depending on where you live).
To be able to communicate with them lets you diagnose their problems faster and make them feel at ease. You’ll do a better job and feel more satisfied that you were able to help them. It could also lead to other rewards, like promotions or higher pay (see the next reason).
Knowing Spanish or another foreign language is valuable and can help you earn higher wages. The Economist confirmed this in their study on the bonuses of learning a second language:
Imagine becoming one of those jet-setting businesspeople who are always traveling to exotic destinations for work. Or maybe living and working as an expat in a cool country like Mexico or Spain.
Even in today’s digital age, most business is still done in-person, so that means meeting people face-to-face or having people “on the ground” in a particular country. Becoming a proficient Spanish speaker can open up tons of new career opportunities abroad.
In certain regions of Central and South America, millions of people continue to live in poverty. In response to this, there are many organizations that organize volunteer or missionary trips to help those in need. You could be helping build homes for local families, or educating children at an orphanage.
However, translators are often in short supply on these trips. You would get a lot more out of your trip if could speak with the people that you’re helping and learn more about their lives. It can truly be a life-changing experience.
One of the most effective ways to learn Spanish is by traveling to a Spanish speaking country, and enroll in an intensive Spanish course. It can be very rewarding to immerse yourself in the environment and learn from teachers and through real-life situations. In addition, studying in another country offers plenty of opportunity for adventure and discovery; it’s an experience that you won’t soon forget.
My Spanish journey started after coming home from an inspiring trip to South America. I desperately wanted to learn Spanish but wasn’t really sure how to do it.
I tried everything under the sun…group classes, audio courses, Rosetta stone, but nothing worked. My progress was painfully slow and I often wondered whether I could really do it.
But then, I found Julia. She was a teacher based in Guatemala, and I started to take online lessons with her over Skype. In less than one year, I went from a babbling beginner to conversationally fluent.
This method worked so well for me, that it inspired me to start my own company and share this way of learning with other people. I wanted to help people who struggled to learn Spanish like me, by offering convenient and affordable lessons with the best teachers in the world (including Julia).
That’s how Verbalicity was born.
So you never know, learning Spanish might just be the inspiration you need to start your own business.
Admit it. Have you been dreaming of meeting a handsome, Latino caballero while on vacation…hmm?
Even if that’s not the case, knowing Spanish and delving into the various aspects of Spanish-speaking culture can really expand your social life and the number of people you connect with.
But it’s not just about getting more dates. Spanish is simply a sexy language, and just knowing it can make you a more attractive, or at the very least, a more interesting person (see reason #32).
If you’re already dating or even married to a Spanish speaker, then all the more reason to learn. What could be more motivating than speaking to the love of your life?
Boy meets girl, they fall in love. Girl’s parents come to visit from Mexico, and they don’t speak a word of English. Boy is meeting them for the first time! What to do?
Whether it’s making a good first impression or getting to know your in-laws at a deeper level, learning Spanish can really bring families closer together. Plus, you’ll be able to understand what they’re saying about you!
Statistics show that only 44% of second-generation Latinos in the United States can speak Spanish, and for the 3rd generation or higher, that figure drops to 24%.
If you are one of these people, then your parents or grandparents probably still speak Spanish to each other around the house. Learning Spanish can let you communicate with them in a different manner, and add a completely new dimension to your family life. It can also be a way of taking pride in your ancestry.
Language is the ultimate connector. If you can speak Spanish, you’ll be able to communicate with a lot more people, and you’ll right away have something in common with them. People take an instant liking to you when you use their native language, and it’ll enable you to get to know them at a deeper level.
This makes it easier to make new friends in a variety of situations, such as when traveling on vacation, at work, or even just hanging out in your hometown.
We all have high hopes for our children, and many parents these days want their children to be raised bilingual. Maybe you’re a monolingual parent who wants your kids to experience a new dimension that you never had, or maybe you are Latino and want your children to be better in touch with their ancestry.
By learning Spanish yourself, you’ll be able to help your kids learn the language too. Or alternatively, it could become a family project, something that you and your children can learn together.
Learning Spanish is quite an accomplishment, and you might be the only person in your circle of friends who’s done it. Whenever you bust out your Spanish, whether it’s at a restaurant or on vacation, people will be amazed at your abilities and you’ll be complimented often. In fact, you could even become a source of inspiration that motivates them to learn Spanish for themselves.
Everyone likes to be in the spotlight once in a while.
Spanish is often referred to a gateway language. It is relatively easy for English speakers to learn, and it belongs to the same family of languages as French, Italian, Portuguese and Romanian. If you want to eventually pick up one of these languages, then the similarities with Spanish means that you can learn them much faster. That’s why people who can speak 4-5 languages, often know languages from the same family.
Even if you wanted to learn an unrelated language like Mandarin Chinese, or Russian, knowing Spanish still helps. That’s because, for each foreign language you learn, you pick up learning tips, strategies and a sense of confidence that will carry over to the next.
Many studies have concluded that being bilingual can prevent or delay the onset of dementia later in life. Having to switch between two languages helps exercise parts of the brain and makes them more resilient. Although lifelong bilingualism has the strongest protective effect, even attempting to learn a language can be beneficial. So the earlier you start learning, the better!
Your brain is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets. Learning Spanish involves memorizing new words and grammar rules, which help develop your overall memory. People who are bilingual have been shown to be better at remembering things like shopping lists, names, and directions.
Speaking Spanish or any other foreign language can challenge and improve the cognitive functions of your brain. A York University study indicated that bilingual kids tend to score higher on standardized testing, even in unrelated subjects like math, while a study from the University of Chicago concluded that bilinguals make more rational decisions.
In order to learn Spanish, you’ll need to push yourself out of your comfort zone. You have to figure out a learning strategy that works best for you and have the discipline to follow through with it. By going through this process, you’re training yourself to become a better and faster learner. Your experience can then be applied to any other skill you choose to learn.
Most people will never attempt to learn a foreign language. Why?
Because doing so takes guts. By choosing to learn Spanish, you can prove to yourself that you have the courage to take on a big challenge. As you learn more and more, you’ll start to feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-satisfaction. You’ll then be more prepared and have the confidence tackle other challenges in life.
Spanish is considered to be a very “emotional” language, with more words that can be used to express feelings compared to other languages like English. In particular, Spanish has a lot of words associated with positive emotions.
Researchers from the University of Vermont analyzed billions of words from 10 different languages and concluded that Spanish had the highest average usage of “happy” words. Many of these words evoke an attitude that is carefree, relaxed and optimistic. ¡Pura vida!
You might come across as a totally different person when speaking in Spanish. Why is that? The term “frame switching” refers to the idea that bilingual people display different personality traits depending on which language they are speaking.
For example, one study observed that people speaking in Spanish came across as more diplomatic, and left a better overall impression. This is because interpersonal harmony and the idea of pleasing others are important in most Spanish-speaking cultures. However, when those same people were asked to speak English, they showed more “intellectual efficiency”, since in American-English culture there is more of a focus on individualism.
Chances are if you grew up speaking English, you probably don’t know the rules of your own language. You speak it without ever thinking about using the proper preposition, or placement of relative pronouns (you probably don’t even know what those are). Everything just seems to fall into place naturally.
But when you study another language like Spanish, you are forced to learn the grammar rules and then tie them back to what you already know about English. Doing so can actually help you catch English mistakes that you make every day.
Most people are afraid of rejection and social embarrassment. It’s one of the biggest reasons why people spend a lot of time studying a language, but never feel quite ready to actually speak it.
But in order to learn Spanish or any other language, you have get out there and make mistakes. Maybe you’ll get flustered and forget what to say, or maybe you’ll tell someone that exercise makes you horny (instead of hot). There will be plenty of times where you’ll look and feel silly, but you’ll get used to it eventually and will become a stronger person as a result of it.
Very few English native speakers know a second language. If you took the time to learn how to speak Spanish, then you can consider yourself rather unique!
As someone of Asian descent, people are always astonished (and confused) that I can speak Spanish. I don’t quite fit the stereotype, so that makes me interesting to them. I get a lot of questions about how I managed to learn Spanish, and what were my reasons for learning in the first place.
If you know a foreign language like Spanish, you are guaranteed to have a lot more interesting conversations and connect with people that you wouldn’t otherwise connect with, whether that’s at home or traveling abroad.
You have more exposure to Spanish than you think. This is especially true if you live in a big city, or certain parts of the United States.
Once you’ve tuned your ear to the language, you’ll notice it more than you ever did before. All of a sudden, you pick up fragments from passers-by on the street or songs that come on the radio. You may even see and begin to understand signs or advertisements in Spanish.
All of this broadens your perception of the environment around you and allows you to appreciate how Spanish has been intertwined with your culture.
Every culture has a special sense of humor and many Spanish speaking cultures love nothing more than to joke around. By learning Spanish you’ll get to finally get what they’re laughing about.
“Cuáles son las vacas más perezosas?” (What kind of cows are the laziest?)
Get it? Kind of lame but still funny. Here’s a few more to tickle your fancy.
The beat is contagious, the melody is forever stuck in your head, and you have no idea what they’re saying, but you love every bit of it.
Latin music has taken over the world in recent years, with Latin Pop, Reggaeton, Salsa and Bachata dominating the airwaves. If that’s not your cup of tea, then there are plenty of alternatives to enjoy, such as the rock, folk, or traditional music from countries like Spain and Argentina.
Music is driven largely by emotion, and if you can understand the Spanish lyrics, you’ll appreciate the songs you hear that much more. Plus, listening to music can be a really fun way to learn Spanish!
There are loads of award-winning movies and addictive shows in Spanish, just waiting to be watched.
But don’t you ever get tired of reading subtitles? They can be distracting, and something always gets lost in translation.
If you learn Spanish, you won’t have to rely on the subtitles and truly enjoy these films and shows as originally intended. Don’t expect to be able to follow every word though, the Spanish in movies usually comes out really fast!
From Havana, where the salsa beats can be heard everywhere you go, to Barcelona, where the party never seems to end (not even when the sun comes up), Spanish speakers really know how to party!
But even if marathon-style partying is not your cup of tea, you’ll still get to enjoy the abundant energy, positive vibes, and live-your-life-to-the-fullest attitude that Latin and Spanish culture has in spades.
In order to fully understand your own culture, you need to have a point of comparison. There are a lot of things that we do which we consider to be “normal” but in fact, are done very differently in other parts of the world.
Maybe we think that we’re kind or courteous people, but you haven’t experienced warmth until you’ve witnessed Spanish speaking cultures, where eye-contact, touching, kisses on the cheek and sentimental goodbyes are a part of daily life.
Learning Spanish offers a window into other people’s customs and traditions, which in turn lets you examine your own.
I’m sure you’ve seen the stats, but they are worth repeating. As of 2017, Spanish has over 477 million native speakers, the second most out of all languages (ahead of English). Including people who have learned it as a second language, there are now nearly 600 million Spanish speakers in the world.
Approximately 50 million people speak Spanish in the United States alone, making it the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world, and by 2050 it will become the largest. That in itself is a pretty good reason to learn.
I started to learn Spanish in 2013. Back then, if you had told me that one day, I would be running a Spanish learning company that’s helped hundreds of students around the world become fluent, I would’ve thought you were crazy.
But you never know what life has in store. Good things happen when you expand your horizons and learning Spanish can change your life in ways that you can’t predict.
That’s a wrap! Do any of these 40 reasons make you want to learn Spanish?
At the end of the day, you only need ONE reason to get the ball rolling. Taking action and getting started is after all, the toughest part.
As you continue to progress, it’s always a good idea to come back and revisit your reasons for wanting to learn Spanish in the first place. Use them as motivation to push yourself forward, and you’re guaranteed to become fluent.
If you want to know how to get started, check out our complete beginner’s guide to the Best Way to Learn Spanish.