Learn about its history, its importance in today’s society, and how is the best way to learn Spanish?
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by Gabriela García.
What words come to your mind when you think about describing the Spanish language? A melting pot? A rich cultural mix? An important language? Spanish the language of love?
Spanish, the language that spread far and wide across 3 continents, from Europe to Latin American, and all the way to Africa. The Spanish language, for many, symbolizes a vibrant and colourful culture, dynamic way of thinking, which sets it apart from other languages. Nowadays, the use of Spanish has grown significantly due to population growth, and also as more people are interested in learning the language for a variety of reasons, whether professional, academic, or simply as personal development.
History of the Spanish Language
We shall begin with a little bit of its history, noting that the history of the Spanish language is so rich, we will only touch the surface here, if any. The Spanish language in a nutshell originated in the Iberian Peninsula as the result of a cultural mix, it’s origin dates back to 4th century during the fall of the Roman Empire, and was highly influenced by the Moorish invasion of Spain in the 8th century, which contributed with thousands of new words from the Arabic. The reconquering of Spain from the Moors, which took over 700 years, and the later colonization in the Americas from the 15th century, all had significant influence on the Spanish language we know today. Spanish is a language that evolved from Latin, specifically from Latino Volgare (Vulgar Latin in English, which is the Latin language used informally).
Throughout the centuries, the Spanish language has been influenced by Arabic, Iberian, Basque, French, Catalan, Portuguese, Italian, and other languages, and cultures. The Spanish language can be thought of as a melting pot in which different cultures communicate and give birth to new words, expressions, intonations, and pronunciations. These characteristics are one of the reasons why Spanish is so appealing to students all over the world.
Spanish, along with French, Italian, and Portuguese, is classified as a Romance language, or as some people call it, Spanish the language of love. Their common feature is that they are descended from Latin, which explains why some words are pronounced similarly, among other similarities they share as languages.
The Spanish Language Today
Spanish is currently one of the most spoken languages in the world, in fact, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world by the number of native speakers, just behind Mandarin. In recent years, the Spanish language has experienced a significant growth due primarily to population growth in Latin America, and an increase in the number of people learning Spanish as a second language. Another incredible fact about Spanish is that it is officially spoken in 21 countries in the whole wide world, with most countries located in Latin America, of course.
The Royal Spanish Academy’s role in the Spanish-speaking world
The Royal Spanish Academy (Real Academia Española in Spanish, or simply RAE) is an officially recognized institution that establishes standards for the Spanish language’s usage, grammar, vocabulary, and expressions. The RAE was established in 1713 and is located in Madrid, Spain. This academy is a recognized institution, and its work is used as a reference in Spanish.
RAE’s website (rae.es) offers various Spanish dictionaries, news about Spanish-speaking countries around the world, and other important information about the Spanish language that anyone interested in learning the language should consult .
‘RAE aims to define standard rules for the Spanish Language’
One of the goals of the Royal Spanish Academy is to ensure a common standard in the Spanish language, which means a common set of rules, words, and expressions used in Spanish by all countries. The RAE also establishes standards for orthographic accents in specific words, spelling of all Spanish words, and so on. Each Spanish-speaking country follows the RAE’s common rules. These common grounds can be influenced by the widespread use of new words or expressions in the Spanish speaking countries.
Spanish Vocabulary can be different from country to country
Even though there are some common Spanish norms, countries may have its own way of referring to certain things. One interesting example is the use of the word ‘facturas’ in Argentina. The term facturas does not have the same meaning in Argentina, if compared to other countries in Latin America. Argentinians use the term facturas when referring to specific types of sweets or pastries. Nevertheless, the word ‘facturas’ refers to invoices in most Spanish Speaking countries. There is some historical context on why ‘facturas’ is used this way in Argentina, and it dates back to the nineteenth century when bakers used it as a way of highlighting the value of their work, but we’ll save that story for another time.
Another example of vocabulary differences among Spanish-speaking countries is the way the words ‘carro’ and ‘coche’ are used differently in different countries. In Spain, for example, the word ‘coche’ refers to an automobile, whereas in some Latin American countries, the word ‘coche’ refers to a stroller or pram. ‘Carro’, on the other hand, is a term commonly used in Latin America to refer to a car.
One language, multiple Spanish Accents and local variations
It is also worth noting that each Spanish-speaking country has a distinct accent, which means that sound articulation can vary slightly. Even between neighbouring Spanish speaking countries, that speak the same “standard” Spanish language, you are likely to find different intonations, pronunciations, and/or word articulations. Also, different local dialects or expressions may be found within the regions of these countries, but we’ll leave that for a future article.
Why learning Spanish is important?
Learning the basics of Spanish can open up a whole new world of opportunities for anyone. Whether you choose to learn Spanish for work related reasons, to read books, to understand songs’ lyrics, movies, TV shows YouTube videos, or social media; or perhaps you want to improve your Spanish fluency to communicate better with Spanish-speaking family or friends, to travel to Spain or Latin America, or for some other reason, the Spanish language offers interesting and unique opportunities to unlock many doors in life. The Spanish language represents a wide universe of possibilities and becoming fluent in Spanish provides the key to unlock them.
Spanish is a language of opportunities, advantages, and beautiful words. Spanish the language of important writers like Miguel De Cervantes, Mario Vargas-Llosa, Gabriel García Márquez, Isabel Allende, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Julio Cortázar among other writers. The language of music artists such as Shakira, Carlos Vives, Juan Gabriel, Ricky Martin, Simón Díaz, and other important musicians. The language of painters, such as: Pablo Picasso from Spain, Frida Kahlo from Mexico, Botero from Colombia, Cruz-Diez from Venezuela, etc.
Spanish, the language of people that share an interesting and colorful culture, customs, food, and way of life, has evolved from ancient times to become one of the most important languages in the world, and its importance is growing every day, making it important to seize the opportunity and start learning it.
How is the best way to learn Spanish?
There are many ways to learn the Spanish language and to learn Spanish fast, what is important is to look out for the method that suits you the most and is effective too.
Some people opt for DIY methods, including reading books, newspaper, YouTube, Spanish apps etc to learn the basics of Spanish. Some choose to take Spanish classes in order to stick to a structure and possibly to fast track the results, and some prefer to immerse themselves in a Spanish speaking country. DIY methods, free courses and some online apps, while very cost effective, may not provide you with the learning structure and consistency you need to achieve meaningful results, hence unnecessarily delaying your path towards Spanish fluency. So, it is important that you value your time and also consider your availability, budget and expectations when comparing the different options.
Are you interested in learning Spanish in an effective way? At Spanish Connect, they focus on providing students with immersive Spanish language experiences through language acquisition and stories in Spanish, similar to the way children develop their language ability in their first language, creating the path towards Spanish fluency in a natural and enjoyable way. With this teaching approach, and delivering through a number basic Spanish language courses for beginners and intermediate students, the learning process flows almost unnoticed, making students remember language structures and vocabulary with considerably less effort and time than more traditional methods that depends on continuous repetition and memorization. They also offer the possibility for you to learn Spanish online for free through a number of videos available in their YouTube channel.
Remember, regardless of the learning approach you prefer, the most important step is to start the Spanish learning journey somewhere, as you can always make adjustments along the way, but remember your time is precious, so make the most of it.
We have covered a lot about the Spanish language in this article, from some of its history and how it has been influenced by historical and regional events, to the importance of Spanish in the world nowadays, including the fact that it is officially spoken in 21 countries, and that there are many renowned writers, musicians, painters, and other artists from Spanish speaking countries. We touched on the why learning Spanish is important and some of the best ways to learn the language and to become fluent.
Spanish is one of the most important languages of today and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Spanish is only a part of the amazingly vast Spanish culture. Start learning today, take part in this endless universe of possibilities by earning a new language, and when you do, I really hope you enjoy the journey!
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