How Hard Is It To Learn Spanish?

Are you thinking about learning Spanish? If so, you should go for it!

The Foreign Service Institute has ranked 60 spoken languages from easiest to hardest, Category 1 being the easiest and category 5 the hardest. Spanish is in category 1. On average, native English reach proficiency in the language within 600 hours of instruction.

Why Spanish is Not Hard to Learn

Spanish is a Romance language and has much in common with the languages that were at the center of the Ancient Roman Empire: Italian, French, and Portuguese. English, on the other hand, stems from old Germanic languages that were spoken by people from the northern regions of that country. However, its development was significantly influenced by both French and Latin. This is partly what connects it to Spanish, and lowers some of the barriers the two languages might otherwise have.

Here are some of the reasons why Spanish is not that hard for an English speaker to learn:

1. There are cognates.

A cognate is a word that looks or sounds familiar. English shares many linguistic roots with Spanish, and these similarities manifest as cognates. Even though a sentence in Spanish may at first seem incomprehensible to an English speaker. If listened to carefully, they will recognize certain similar roots.

Take this sentence in Spanish:  El doctor usa el telefono publico en el parque.

The English translation is: The doctor uses the public phone in the park.

Although this is a very basic sentence, it proves the point: English speakers are bound to feel a certain familiarity with Spanish. Cognates make it easy to achieve a high level of comprehension in the language very quickly.

2. Similar Alphabet

As you may have noticed from the sample sentence above, English and Spanish use the Latin Alphabet. This means you need not learn a new alphabet or characters. There is an additional ñ in the Spanish alphabet. But learning when to use and how to pronounce this letter is not so difficult.

3. Pronunciation is Uncomplicated

The fact that English and Spanish share the same alphabet makes it easier for native speakers of the former to pronounce the latter. Nearly half the letters in the Spanish alphabet are pronounced the same in English. Another advantage is that Spanish pronunciation rarely changes. Unlike English, which seems to change at random.

4. Spanish is a Widely Spoken Language

Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world. This means you will hear it spoken a great deal no matter where you happen to be. In certain parts of the United States, it is spoken nearly everywhere, which will give you plenty of opportunities to practice hearing and speaking the language.

There Are Challenges to Learning Spanish

Despite the relative ease of learning Spanish, the task will come with difficulties. It is better to understand them from the outset. Doing so will make it easier to overcome them. Here are some of the challenges that native English speakers will face:

1. Gendered words

This concept is very strange to English speakers, and it takes them a while to get used to and understand it. In your first few lessons, you will notice that every Spanish noun is either masculine or feminine. Nouns that end in -o are masculine, and nouns that end in -a are feminine. There are exceptions to this rule, and you will have to memorize them.

2. The Grammar is Complex

Native English speakers take for granted the ease of its grammar. Every English verb has two tense forms: simple present and simple past. In Spanish, almost evert verb has a different conjugation in multiple tenses and moods. There are also personal pronouns in Spanish that have no equivalent in English.

The only good thing about this complex grammar is that there are rules and patterns that make the learning process easier.

3. Spanish Syntax is Fluid

Spanish sentences can be composed in more than one way. The subject can come at the beginning, middle or end of a sentence. In some instances, it can be omitted altogether. As long as the subject the sentence is understood, the noun is not needed.

It will take a while to master these nuances, but it can be done over time.

4. Different Accents

Because Spanish is spoken all over the world, it is spoken with a range of different accents. The language is not even spoken the same within individual nations. If you plan to travel to or live in a particular Spanish-speaking country, you may find it difficult to understand regional accents.

Again, it will take time to adjust to this reality. But learning the basics of the language will make it much easier to do so.

In Summary

Spanish is not that hard for English speakers to learn. With dedicated study and practice, most people can gain proficiency in the language within months

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