Op-Ed: 3 benefits from speaking Spanish as a second language
The English-speaking world is notoriously monolingual. Due to English being the most spoken second language across the world, a lot of native English speakers feel no need to learn one themselves.
While monolingualism is found in other parts of the world, there is a certain stereotype of an English speaker expecting everyone to understand them that seems to have some truth in it. It’s common to hear English being spoken in tourist spots, meaning that some Americans, Brits and other anglophones have come to expect it wherever they go.
Those who have resigned themselves to only ever speaking their first language are missing out on the experience and opportunities that learning a second language can bring them. After speaking Spanish for some time now, I have noticed what being bilingual can do for someone. Here are just a few:
While you can travel to a country without speaking the language (no one can learn them all) it’s undeniably easier when visiting a country when you know how to speak to the people there.
As a Brit, traveling around the United States was made a lot easier because I already spoke the language. However, thanks to being able to speak Spanish, I felt this sense of ease when also traveling through Mexico that same year.
While I could have still gone there without knowing a single word, I made my trip a lot easier for myself and the natives around me by being able to converse with them easily.
Spanish is the second most spoken native language in the world, this means there is a whole world of media out there to consume if you understand it. With English speaking movies, TV shows and music finding their way into all four corners of the globe, it’s easy to forget that there is a plethora of other media to consume if you are willing to learn the lingo.
Watching a movie in Spanish or listening to a new Latin American band you’ve just discovered is a brilliant way to not only understand the culture you’re trying to know more about but also open your own eyes up to what else is out there.
There is nothing like laughing for the first time at joke you understand in your second language.
A lesson in English
This may sound counter-productive but learning even a little bit of Spanish will help you understand your own language so much more. When speaking your mother tongue, it’s easy to get into the habit of just speaking without really thinking about what you’re saying.
It’s not until you learn a second language that you’re forced to deal with infinitives, conjugations and pronouns that will give you a far better understanding of the inner workings of English. Speaking a second languages makes those old English lessons you had as a kid finally click.
Learning Spanish will undoubtedly benefit you wherever you live but few people feel these benefits more than US citizens who decide to pick it up. For those who live in the southern states, learning Spanish will help you to connect to those emigrating from Spanish speaking countries as well as giving you better opportunities when visiting those wonderful places so close to home.