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Why is Spanish one of the 'easier' languages to learn?

Posted by:
Bianca
on:
February 18, 2022
in: 
Reading time:
3
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Learning a new language comes with many advantages. Even if you don’t want to work as a professional linguist, studies show that speaking one or more foreign languages can boost your career, from higher pay to better communication skills and creativity. And if you’re still completing your education, languages can mean valuable extra credits.

But whether at school or work, language training requires effort and a time commitment that can be hard to fit into a busy schedule. It’s only normal that you want to focus on a language that will bring you high returns for reasonable efforts.

Many turn to Spanish — it’s relatively easy to learn and it’s one of the most spoken languages in the world. But is it really easy to become fluent in Spanish for English speakers? Let’s find out.

The easiest language to learn for English speakers

Spanish consistently ranks high (and often in the first position) on lists that show the easiest languages to master for English speakers. Babbel, for example, lists Spanish in the third position after Norwegian and Swedish.

Of course, how hard a language will be for you depends on the ones you already speak — the more similar grammar rules, phonetics, and vocabulary are, the faster you’ll become fluent in your target language. To give you an example, Aramaic, Maltese and Hebrew aren’t too hard for Arabic native speakers but can be tricky candidates for someone who only speaks English.

Why is Spanish easy to learn if it’s a Romance language?

Linguists consider English a Germanic language (more specifically, a West Germanic language) while Spanish belongs to the Romance family, meaning that it derives from Latin. So how come English speakers find Spanish fairly easy to learn, when it’s not even within the same linguistic family?

Even though English is a Germanic language, it’s been heavily influenced by Romance languages throughout the years — which means that a great number of modern English words have Latin roots.

Think of the word ‘domestic’, for example. It translates as doméstico in Spanish. Same for ‘action’ (acción), 'superior' (superior), 'color' (color), 'profession' (profesión), and the list goes on. When it comes to vocabulary, English speakers have a great advantage compared to those whose native language has no Latin influence, because many words will simply sound familiar to them.

Other reasons why Spanish is easy to learn 

It’s not only vocabulary, though. Other reasons why learning Spanish will give you faster results compared to other languages include:

Alphabet

It may seem obvious, but the fact that Spanish and English share the same Latin alphabet makes Spanish much easier to learn compared to languages like Russian, Greek, or Arabic, let alone languages that don’t use an alphabet in the first place, but rather logograms (like Chinese.)

Phonetics

Spanish is a phonetic language, meaning that it’s pronounced as it’s written. For this reason, many learners actually consider it to be easier to pronounce than English. Once you get the hang of how letters are pronounced, you’ll know how to read a Spanish word even though you’re seeing it for the first time (of course, a few exceptions apply.)

Grammar

Spanish grammar is quite straightforward. Of course, you’ll have to learn its rules but unlike many other languages (for example, Greek), there aren’t many exceptions you’ll have to remember. Once you master a rule, you can count on it!

Plus, the sentence structure is simple (subject-verb-object) and questions do not require the speaker to shuffle their words — simply change your intonation and you’ll have turned a statement into a question.

Resources

Being a very popular choice and a widely spoken language, Spanish boasts plenty of resources that will help you on your learning journey. With over 450 million native speakers, you’re likely to find exceptional tutors close to home. Add to that the great amount of free study material you can find online, and you’ll know how to get support if you need it. 

Moreover, Spanish is popular among singers and artists too — whether it’s the latest Shakira song or a grabbing telenovela (soap opera) episode, you’ll have plenty of ways to make learning fun. More of a bookworm? Extraordinary writers from Spain and Latin America (think Gabriel García Marquez, Isabel Allende, Federico García Lorca, Jorge Luis Borges, etc.) created literary masterpieces that influenced writers worldwide.

Want to master Spanish fast? Get in touch today and find out how we can help.

FAQs

Is Spanish easier than English to learn?

It depends. For an Italian or French speaker, Spanish is most likely easier to learn than English. But a Swedish person will probably find English a piece of cake compared to Spanish.

Different learners have different difficulties and priorities. If the English vocabulary seems to be wider and more challenging to master, it does not present confusing gendered nouns like Spanish and other Romance languages. If Spanish grammar rules and sentence structure are more fixed and straightforward, the flexibility of English allows non-native speakers to ‘play’ more and find easier ways around their linguistic challenges — meaning that even though they may not master the language yet, they can still communicate effectively.

Is it hard to become fluent in Spanish?

Spanish is a fairly easy language to learn for English speakers. This means that you’ll become quite fluent quite fast and you’ll be able to communicate in Spanish relatively early in your learning journey.

However, if your goal is not simply to communicate but to speak like a native (which means having a deep understanding of phonetic and grammar rules), it can take years to achieve full fluency. Spending some time in a Spanish-speaking country and/or attending advanced conversation classes at home can speed up the process.