All You Need to Know About Spanish as a Second Language
Are you thinking about studying Spanish as a second language?
If you’re still in the decision-making process, this blog post is ideal for you. In it, I’ll discuss why Spanish is the right language to learn, the main benefits of studying Spanish as a second language, and how to do it.
You’ll also discover helpful learning strategies to use on your learning journey, take a look at some of the most useful resources on the web, and discover one of the most comprehensive Spanish online courses on the market right now.
What’s more, you’ll also learn about the pros and cons of some of the main Spanish certification tests out there.
So, you’ve decided to learn a second language and now you have to choose one. How do you proceed? What makes one language more desirable than another? How do you know which one is the right one for you?
Each language has its pros and cons, and you need to find the one that best suits your specific situation and preferences.
Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, just behind Mandarin. This helps to explain why studying Spanish as a second language has become a popular choice around the world, and specifically among students from the U.S.
Benefits of Learning Spanish as a Second Language
The pros of learning a language spoken by over half a billion people in the world are plentiful. Let’s check out some of the main ones:
1. Lots of Opportunities
The Spanish as a second language boom has been particularly noticeable in the U.S., due to the huge number of Spanish speakers there (around 50 million). It’s no wonder that 88% of elementary schools with language programs teach Spanish and that 70% of K-12 students choose to study Spanish as a second language.
The opportunities available for Spanish speakers are found everywhere with so many people speaking Spanish in the U.S., as well as just south of the border in Mexico and Latin America.
Speaking Spanish as a second language also boosts your career and gives you a competitive edge.
2. Discover a New Culture
Studying Spanish as a second language means not only learning a new language, but also discovering a fascinating new culture. Languages hold the key to understanding endless cultural expressions, and the Spanish-speaking world is rich in them.
Learning Spanish gives you a whole new perspective on Latin American culture. It provides you with the tools to better understand cultural expressions such as Día de Muertos in México, the traditional Tango dance in Argentina, or Pamplona’s running of the bulls in Spain.
3. Easy to Learn
Of course, learning Spanish as a second language has its challenges, such as those pesky conjugation charts, but overall it is a simple, straightforward language to learn. You don’t have to learn a new alphabet as you would have to do if studying Russian, or new symbols if Chinese were your choice.
Secondly, as Spanish is Latin-based, it has many words that are similar to those in English. For example: aire – air, submarino – submarine, and extraordinario – extraordinary. Plus, once you have learned Spanish, it will be easier for you to learn another Latin-based language such as French, Portuguese, or Italian.
4. Get Smarter
Scientists in Sweden discovered that learning a second language makes for a larger brain. It also improves your creative thinking, mastery of your mother tongue, and sense of empathy. Bonus!
How to Learn Spanish as a Second Language
By this point, you have decided to learn a second language, and Spanish is your choice. The next step is finding out how to learn Spanish as a second language.
From learning Spanish with a teacher or on your own, to becoming fluent as an adult or supporting your children to learn Spanish, many strategies can help you achieve your goal of learning Spanish as a second language.
1. Maximize Exposure
If you can’t move to a Spanish-speaking country for a few months, this is your second-best option to learn Spanish as a second language. Maximizing your exposure means to switch as much as possible of your life to Spanish.
Yes, I’m talking about watching movies in Spanish, listening to Spanish music, switching your devices to Spanish, and anything else that can keep you thinking in Spanish all the time.
2. Talk with Native Spanish Speakers
You can do this in many ways. Find a language partner, hire a private online tutor, look for Spanish conversation clubs, or visit a Latino community center in your community and make some new friends.
The important thing is that you speak with native Spanish speakers, as nothing can give you what real-life conversations provide.
3. Set a Schedule and Define Your Goals
I’m not going to lie to you, learning Spanish is a long process that takes time and challenges your willpower. Make sure to define clear goals before embarking on this journey, and set up a schedule to guide your efforts along the road. You don’t want to lose your focus in the middle of your learning process.
The good news is that there have never been more resources to learn Spanish than there are today. Here are some suggestions to make the most of them.
1. YouTube Videos
By watching YouTube videos in Spanish you achieve two of your main goals: listening to native Spanish speakers and learning about the language. Moreover, YouTube is a huge library where you can find a Spanish video on any subject you may be curious about.
Check out our Spanish Academy TV channel for tons of Spanish-related videos with an easy-to-understand Spanish accent.
Nowadays, everything seems to come in an app, and languages are not the exception. There are excellent language learning apps for all levels, and they are a great complement to your Spanish learning efforts.
Listening to Spanish podcasts is a fun and effective way to train your ear to the speed and different accents of the language. Listen while commuting to work, in the dentist’s waiting room, or on your jog.
4. Blogs and Worksheets
Online Spanish Courses
Homeschool Spanish Academy offers a wide range of online Spanish courses for all levels and with a flexible schedule. You can sign up for a free trial class and see for yourself how it works by engaging in real-life conversations with a native Spanish-speaking teacher.
You can choose from preschool and elementary courses, a course that offers high school credit, or courses for adults. This complete program assigns homework specific to your own needs, quizzes and exams, and report cards.
Spanish as a Second Language: Tests
Just as there are certifying tests for English students, Spanish also has its own body of tests designed to certify your mastering of the language.
DELE is the internationally recognized standard bearer in the world of Spanish tests. It stands for Diploma of Spanish as a Foreign Language and certifies the level of Spanish proficiency of students.
It’s issued by the Instituto Cervantes on behalf of the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sports. Each exam consists of four sections measuring the four language skills: listening, reading, writing, and speaking.
A new test, SIELE is supported by the Instituto Cervantes, the National Autonomous University of Mexico, the University of Buenos Aires, and the University of Salamanca. It stands for International Spanish Language Evaluation Service and also consists of four segments. SIELE is more international and flexible than DELE.
The Certificate of Spanish: Language and Use is promoted by the Ministry of Education of Argentina and has the great benefit of not expiring. Its downside is that it’s not as internationally recognized as DELE or SIELE.
CELA means Certificate of Spanish as an Additional Language and it’s the Mexican answer to DELE and CELU. If your focus is in Mexico and Latin America, it is be a valid option, but again it’s not as widely known as CELE or SIELE.
Not Convinced Yet?
Studying Spanish as a second language is a decision that will open new opportunities in your life and give you a better understanding of the world. Learning a new language is an amazing adventure, and with today’s endless resources, it’s easier to achieve than ever before.
If you’re still not convinced, sign up for a free trial class with one of Homeschool Spanish Academy’s certified teachers from Guatemala and experience the thrill of speaking Spanish today!
Want more amazing Spanish learning resources? Check out our latest posts!
- 50 Useful Transition Words in Spanish for Everyday Speech and Writing - January 14, 2021
- Master the 18 Spanish Tenses (and Take Our Cheat Sheet With You) - January 13, 2021
- A Guide to Double Negatives in Spanish - January 12, 2021