August 1, 2020

Hispanic Family

Why learn a second language?

Learning a new language takes time and dedication. Once you do, mastering a second language offers numerous benefits and opportunities. Learning a second language is exciting and beneficial for all ages. Offers practical and intellectual benefits and many opportunities

Studies say that speaking 2 or more languages is a great benefit to the brain's cognitive process. Bilingual people have a brain that functions differently than people who speak only one language, and these differences have several benefits for the mind.

Our confidence increases when a new skill is mastered, and learning a foreign language is no different. Language learners can be smarter, have better decision-making, and keep their brains healthy into old age, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


"Learning a language is having one more window from which to observe the world." Chinese proverb

It is always the right time to learn a language

In today's world, there are more than 7000 languages and learning at least one will help you in life in a massive way. Although it has been shown that it is easier for children to learn a second language, it is never too late to learn, and the benefits are definitely worth the effort and dedication.

Among many other benefits, learning a language facilitates problem solving, decision-making and multitasking, develops memory and concentration, and increases creativity. Whatever your age, speaking two or more languages certainly has its advantages, especially in today's global society.

Do you speak Spanish?

Spanish is the second most widely spoken language in the world, with a total of 477 million Spanish speakers worldwide. For this reason, many people learn to speak Spanish. It is also a language of Latin origin, which facilitates the learning of other languages of Latin origin. So, how about you take advantage of your knowledge of the Spanish language and start learning a new language?

Romanic languages

The Spanish language is a Romance language, that is, it is part of the languages that are forms of Latin that have evolved over the centuries in various regions with some interaction of other local languages

All Romance languages are derived from ordinary Latin, or the colloquial form of Latin spoken by the lower classes. The Latin language had its heyday during the Roman Empire, and since then it has spread into various dialects. After the collapse of the Empire around AD 476, these dialects began to take the shape of the various languages we know today.

Romance languages form the group of languages with the greatest mutual intelligibility, that is, speakers of a Romance language can often understand themselves without the need for any special study or knowledge of these other languages.

Why is this important?

Because there are many languages that share structures with Spanish, and when you have grammatical structures or vocabulary in common, the learning process is faster and easier.


"If you speak to a person in a language they understand, the words will go to their head. If you speak to them in their own language, the words will go to their heart." Nelson Mandela

French

Known as one of the most beautiful languages in the world, French belongs to the family of Romance languages and enchants thousands of people. It is also one of the most widely spoken languages between the continents, making it an easy language to learn. There are several similar aspects between French and Spanish, mainly in terms of grammar, spelling and verb tenses, and it can be considered the most similar.

However, the Spanish-speaker may find French a bit more difficult to learn than Portuguese and Italian, for example, due to its phonetics, which requires greater dedication, in which it has had a great influence from the German language. As in the case of Spanish, the vocabulary derived from Latin becomes easy for Portuguese and Spanish speakers, with words like edificio, real, circo, idioma, etc. However, for those who want to know how to learn a language on their own, you have to be careful with the French language, due to the "false cognates".

 

But what are False Cognates?
False Cognados are words that we believe have similar meanings in Spanish, but do not actually have them, like the word "costumbre" that people think means habit or custom but its true meaning is "tender".

Italian

Italian is a language known worldwide for its gastronomy. In addition to Italy, we can find Italian-speaking people in Switzerland, Malta, and Argentina, as well as in 25 other countries, bringing a total of 70 to 125 million Italian-speaking people worldwide.

The grammar is very similar to that of other languages of Latin origin, with fewer irregular verbs compared to Spanish or French. The similarities are clear. The endings of verbs in Italian are almost the same as in Spanish and the sentences are constructed in the same way.

Also, the Italian influence on gastronomy and art makes many words sound familiar. It is always a good motivation to "study" the language of the Italian restaurant menu, ordering dishes such as Bolognese, Parmigiana, bread, mozzarella, pasta and much more.

Portuguése

It is no secret that Portuguese and Spanish are closely related, but most people do not realize how similar these two languages are.

With the same origin, from proto-romantic Latin, it is easy for native Portuguese speakers to learn Spanish, and the same is the other way around. But for Spanish speakers it may be easier, if the person already speaks a Spanish dialect, because these dialects usually have a vocabulary and pronunciation similar to that of the Portuguese language

The two languages also have similar grammatical systems. In both languages two genders are used, masculine and feminine, and also four definite articles. Portuguese and Spanish also have similar conjugations and tenses. So if you know a little Spanish, Portuguese becomes one of the easiest languages to learn. They are so similar that native Spanish speakers can often understand Portuguese without having studied it.

Languages of Spain

The Spanish language in Spain has been diverted to several other languages with different vocabulary and grammar in the various relevant areas. Some of them are Catalan, Valencian and Galician, these dialects that are so similar to Spanish that when a Spanish speaker hears them, they can understand most of it.

Catalan

Catalan is probably one of the most important Romance languages in the history of Spain. It is a dialect of Valencian, a language with a long history as a Romance language, but more related to Spanish than to any other Romance language, but it also has some connection with Portuguese, noticed in words like: schoriço, amo, burro .

When it comes to writing, Catalan has a unique characteristic: the geminated L: "l-l" as in síl·laba and col·legi and a substitution of the Spanish "ñ" for the "ny" as in piñón and pinyó.

Galician

In the northwest region of Galicia, residents speak Galician. This language is very similar to Portuguese. Galicia extends to the border with Portugal and its cities as the cradle of Galician, in the famous pilgrimage region "Santiago de Compostela" is the Galician language. Furthermore, Galician can still be separated into 3 different dialects related to geography.

Provencal

Provençal is one of the varieties of the "Occitan language" spoken in Provence and in the eastern half of the Gard, in southeastern France. In our list of the easiest languages to learn for Spanish speakers, we have Provencal. As for native speakers, Provençal is not that popular. Only about 350,000 people speak this language in the south of France, mostly in Provence. However, according to the distance map, this language will be much easier for a native Spanish speaker to learn and master. Some words of the Spanish language originating in the old Provençal are: color, rural, pasar, remar.

Romanian

Romanian is a language spoken by almost 30 million people in Romania and Moldova. And as surprising as it may be to many people, Romanian is a Latin language, just like Spanish, which makes the similarities quite remarkable.

Although it has evolved a lot over the centuries, it still shares many words with the other Romance languages, French, Spanish and Italian, and even with English. There are approximately 500 similar or shared words between Romanian and Spanish. An example is "superior", which is spelled and pronounced the same way.

Therefore, if you have any familiarity with the most popular Romance languages, Romanian will be an easy transition. Plus, visiting castles and the popular Transylvanian city you can impress Count Dracula with your stellar Romanian skills.

English 

English has been the most widely spoken language by natives around the world. With the great influence that the Anglo-Saxon countries have on culture and economy, it is difficult to find someone who does not speak a word. Its pronunciation seems complicated, but grammatically it is a very basic language. The Latin influence of the English language forms words similar to Spanish, such as "actor", "capital", "médico", "horrible".

As English bears great historical similarity to the Latin of the Spanish language, it is considered one of the easiest languages to learn for Spanish speakers. This is because it is the most widely spoken language in the world. Therefore, English is an "easy language" due to the need, global standards and immersion in this culture, since it is present in aptitude tests, in the selection processes of multinational companies, in addition to being present in various famous songs, movies and series.

The great advantage of choosing to study English is that it is a language made up of small words and, of course, it has almost no variation in gender and verb tenses, contrary to what is seen in Spanish.

German

As in the Spanish language, each letter is assigned a single sound. German also has few specific pronunciation rules, which once learned are repeated in all cases. This makes it is easier than French. The biggest difficulties arise when there are several consonants together, which often happens because there are many compound words like Haarschmuckfachgeschäft which means hairdresser.

The German language has 3 genders, masculine, feminine and neutral. Because it is such a logical language, a few hours of memorization is enough to make significant progress. For Spanish speakers it is not as easy to learn as English because it has fewer Latin terms, but it is the language of philosophy for its ease of creating new concepts by combining words, it is definitely worth a try.

Dutch

Dutch, like German, also belongs to the West German-speaking family. The Dutch language, as well as Spanish, has feminine and masculine genders for nouns. Dutch is also one of the easiest languages to learn for people who already have some knowledge of English.

"The limits of my language are the limits of my mind." Ludwig Wittgenstein

Looking for ways to practice? See the article on how to find practice partners.

3 golden tips for studying a language

Put your goals on paper

These goals should incorporate all four language skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The amount of time or effort you spend on each one varies depending on your personal preferences, your learning goals, and your learning style, but it's a good idea to include them all as they help reinforce each other.

If all you want to do is to talk to the people you know, then writing an essay every day is probably too much, but keeping a journal in which you write a few sentences a day will go a long way.

Challenge yourself, but don't overload yourself

A big mistake that many people make when studying a language is trying to learn too many things at the same time. Setting high goals and wanting to master a language, or even master it one day, is a noble goal, but to be successful in learning you need as much specificity as possible. If you're short on time, it's much better to study a little every day than to do study marathons a few times a month. For example, if you only have 2 free hours a week to dedicate to language studies, it is much better to do 20 minutes a day, 6 days a week than to do the full 2 hours in one day.

Include the things you like

Learn words that you will use in your daily life, learn about the things that you like and that pique your interest. If you start from scratch, the first thing you have to do is think about which words you will use the most on a daily basis in whatever situation you find yourself. You can make a list of the foods you like, the things you want to do, and other daily needs.

"Language helps us capture the world, and the less language we have, the less world we capture." Fernando L. Carreter

What NOT to do to learn a second language

Is there a way to improve the foreign language learning process? Eliminating these five things is sure to help you learn any foreign language more effectively.

Translate literally

One of the most common mistakes in language learning is learning new words by translating them into your mother tongue. After all, it seems like the most efficient way of doing things: all you need is a two-language dictionary and the translation and definition of each new word is only a few turned pages.

But this all-in-one method is not a productive way to learn. Not only is the translation of each sentence very laborious, but the complexities of the new language are not learned.

Focus only on your mistakes

You have worked hard and you have learned many things. Don't worry about making mistakes or not having the perfect accent. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Don't let fear of making mistakes keep you from speaking up. Remember that it is also very important to celebrate your successes and acknowledge your progress in the language.

Focus on grammar

Intensive study of grammar kills the progress of the conversation. Get your feet under you and get comfortable with this new adventure. Don't worry about grammar until you have mastered the so-called basic skills of listening, repeating, and understanding some of the new languages.

You started studying grammar in school after becoming a fluent speaker of your mother tongue. Grammar study is for higher-level literacy, not fluency in conversation in the early stages.

Pay for low-quality professionals

Make sure you have the help of a native speaker or qualified teachers, this type of attention is important to avoid wasting your time and money.

Forget to have fun

Don't forget to have fun! Learning the language takes time, but it doesn't have to be difficult. Always remember to associate language with your everyday situations and the things you like. If you follow the tips mentioned above and approach learning a language with a smile, you will be successful!

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About the author 

Jaimi Saunders

J’aimi has worked in the education industry for over 20 years, gaining experience in teaching, mentoring, and coaching. As a seasoned educator he is passionate about advancing teaching excellence and student motivation. In addition to working in the education industry, he is also involved in continuing his personal education and improvement. Outside of the office, J’aimi enjoys, antique vehicles, motorcycles, and travelling to new destinations.

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