Most of us have studied or learned a second language sometime in our education, whether it was at elementary school, high school, university, or beyond.
For those of you fortunate enough to have learnt Spanish (or be learning Spanish), the benefits may outweigh those offered by learning other languages.
For one, Spanish is no longer considered a foreign language. There are 38 million people in the US alone speaking Spanish, and HIspanics will make up 30% of the population in the US by 2050. In addition, Spanish is spoken in 20 countries today, with 44 countries containing at least 3 million Spanish speakers.
Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language across the world, as such, you’ll know you are going to gain great rewards for the time you take learning to speak Spanish. Even the British are swapping French for Spanish; The British Council’s “Languages of the Future” report ranks non-English languages in order of importance for British citizens to learn, based on a thorough analysis of cultural, economical, and diplomatic factors. Spanish topped the list, followed by Arabic, French, and Mandarin.
Here are some other amazing things that will happen when you start learning Spanish.
1. You’ll open up more career opportunities
As the population of Latinos continues to increase in the US and around the world, there is a huge demand for individuals who can speak Spanish. And this demand will only rise faster than ever as Spanish-speaking economies continue to thrive ($6 trillion GDP), backed by the commodities boom.
This is especially important for those of us who want to work in business and the media, as in these industries it is particularly lucrative to tap into the market of over half a billion people who speak the Spanish language. English may be okay if you’re just buying something from someone, but doing complex business deals together is a completely different thing.
In other words, learning Spanish will not only increase your chances of getting a raise at your current job, but it also opens up new career opportunities around the world.
2. You’ll become an avid traveller
One of the biggest obstacles we have when it comes to travelling is the fear of not being able to communicate.
When it comes to learning Spanish, you’re not just learning how to speak Spanish, you’ll also learn about the amazing culture and people behind the words from South America, Central America, Spain, and more.
You’ll notice the different accents, personalities, and the beautiful attractions that each country has to offer, and open your mind to a completely new world.
Learning Spanish will become not only a valuable education, but a global experience for you.
3. You’ll be a more interesting person
In today’s society, the knowledge of foreign languages is an attractive feature that many people truly admire — and for good reason.
We naturally associate individuals who understand another language with having more experiences with different cultures, being open-minded to new experiences, and simply being more interesting. For example, if you met two random strangers at a party, would you rather talk to someone who has lived in Washington their whole lives, or someone who has traveled and lived in Spain, Colombia, Mexico, and Costa Rica in the past 12 months?
Learning Spanish will allow you to gain experiences and knowledge that most only dream about experiencing, and will therefore make you a more interesting and attractive person to be around.
4. You’ll be more outgoing and likable
Language learning is not only about communicating in a foreign language, but it’s also about experiencing a new culture.
The first reason is that meeting foreign people is embedded in the core of language learning. In order to practice and improve your new language, you’ll need to work with a native speaking teacher, use conversation exchanges, and/ or attend language meetups. This is similar to how you need to just ride the bicycle instead of watching videos about it; its just part of the process.
The skills and experience gained from a conversation exchange include being more outgoing and sociable. This can have a positive impact on other areas of your life as well.
Most importantly, learning a new language helps you step into the shoes of people different to yourself and see the world in a completely different way — therefore, developing empathy for others.
5. You’ll improve your English/ native language
Studies have shown that learning a second language can strengthen your language skills in your first language, including speaking, writing, reading, and listening skills.
When we think about it, it makes sense. Learning a new language like Spanish forces us to deconstruct every component of the language and learn it from the ground up. This includes accents, vocabulary, sentence structures, and so on. When we first learned our native language as children, it’s a skill that seemed to come quite naturally to us, or we hardly remember the language classes we took in elementary school.
It’s similar to playing basketball your whole life, then learning how to play volleyball, and using those skills to improve your basketball game.
“You can never understand one language until you understand at least two.”
— Geoffrey Willans
6. You’ll learn anything faster
In a study done in Massachusetts (2007), researchers concluded that the “exercise in cognitive problem solving” through language learning can be directly applied to anything we want to learn.
When learning Spanish. for example, you’ll be faced with different ways to conjugate verbs, and use new vocabulary that you’ve never encountered before, forcing you to solve a multiple problems in a creative manner.
In brain imaging studies, scientists have discovered that bilinguals have higher density of gray matter in the area of the brain associated with vocabulary acquisition. Further research shows that your memory retention is also improved when learning a new language. Absorbing and retaining more information can significantly shorten your learning curve, because you can spend more time learning new information instead of re-learning something you’ve already seen before.
7. You’ll make better decisions in life
When you’re learning how to speak Spanish, you’ll be constantly making small decisions, such as forming sentence structures, experimenting with new words that you’ve never used before, and trying to understand what the other person is describing to you.
A study published online in the journal, Brain and Language, showed that multi-lingual individuals were better at filtering out competing words than monolingual individuals. This ability to tune out competing words benefits in blocking out distractions in order to focus on the task at hand.
The best news of all this is that Spanish is easy to learn, especially if you work with a professional Spanish teacher. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how much experience you have in learning languages, you can achieve your goals with a little bit of help.
In fact, research has shown that even those of us with minimal knowledge of a secondary language can reap the advantages of the benefits we’ve mentioned in this article.