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Archive for January, 2009

Why You Should Learn Spanish?

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Currently, Spanish is the primary language for over 400 million people around the world. Twenty three countries use Spanish as their nation language, and there are over 38 million people in the United States alone who speak Spanish as a primary language. In fact, the number of people that speak Spanish fluently continues to grow every day, and many experts say Spanish may eventually match English in the United States in terms of the number of people who speak it as their primary language.

In addition to being one of the most frequently used languages around the world, there are several other reasons why you should spend time learning the Spanish language. The following are just a few of the top benefits that come with speaking Spanish:

      Many of the words commonly used in both English and Spanish had origins in Latin. Learning Spanish will help you to understand the roots of words, which will help you in learning more languages. In fact, many people find that once they’ve learned Spanish, it only takes a little more effort to pick up French and Italian – two other Romance languages that have similar linguistic structures.
      Learning any new language will improve your communication skills in your native language. As you learn a new language, you become more attuned to the grammar rules and sentence structures of both languages. Because you’re constantly thinking about how things translate, you’re more aware of the choices you make in both your native and second languages.
      Learning another language helps to improve your skills in interacting with other people. As you learn the Spanish language, you’ll probably also pick up information about the culture and customs of Hispanic communities. Being familiar with a person’s cultural history can be an enormous help if you plan to work closely with native Spanish speakers.
      You’ll be able to negotiate business deals more effectively with Spanish people. If you’re learning Spanish for your job, you’ll be able to move more quickly up the ranks since you have knowledge and skills your co-workers may not have.
      You’ll find it easier to get a new job if you speak two or more languages. As business becomes increasingly globalized, many countries are looking for applicants who can speak Spanish, in fields as far reaching as accounting and engineering. In this tough job market, anything that sets you apart from other candidates can be a great help!
      You’ll be able to travel to a Spanish-speaking country without worrying about whether or not you’ll be able to communicate effectively. If you’ve ever wanted to travel to Mexico, Spain, or another Spanish-speaking country, you’ll be able to do so without being unable to communicate for things like directions, food orders, and taxis.

While learning to speak read and write a new language holds a certain appeal for most of us, actually learning it is another thing altogether. Spanish can be difficult to learn, and if you choose a Spanish instruction method that moves too quickly or slowly for you, or if you don’t see results fast enough, you may be more likely to stop. You need to feel comfortable with your Spanish language instruction method, its pace, and whether or not you can keep up with it.

Differences in Spanish Dialects - Spain vs. Mexico

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Spanish is one of the most commonly-used languages in the world, right behind English and Mandarin Chinese. Today, over 30 countries list Spanish as their main language and it’s estimated that over 400 million people speak Spanish as a first language.

However, if you’re thinking of learning Spanish, you’ll need to think about where you want to use your newfound language skills, as there are several different Spanish dialects. The two major dialects are those used in Mexico and Spain, although other Spanish-speaking countries may have their own variants as well. Many students worry that the differences between the major dialects are so great that studying one is useless if you need to know the other. That’s not the case, but it’s like comparing American and British English. People who can speak Spanish can still converse with others who speak different dialects, although they may need to go slowly!

The differences between the dialects are more common in written Spanish than in the spoken word. However, it’s not so different that you can’t learn these differences if you need to. And while it’s common to think of Latin American Spanish as one common dialect of Spanish, there are actually many subtle differences that occur in the different countries of the Western hemisphere. Fortunately, they aren’t so different that they prevent communication.

Here are a few of the differences you’ll find between Castilian and Mexican Spanish:

Pronunciation

There are several specific variations in the sounds of spoken words in Mexican and Castilian Spanish. Castilian Spanish dictates that the “z” and the “c” are pronounced before the “i” or the “e”; however, most Latin Americans pronounce it like an “s”. The sound normally associated with the Spanish letter “ll” and “y” are often pronounced like the “s”, as in the word measure. This is very common in Argentina. You’ll also find that many people will completely drop the “s” sound, while the “j” sounds more like the “ch” sound, as in the word “loch”. The rhythm of the speech is also different between the two dialects.

Grammar

There are two significant differences here, including the use of “leismo” and “yos” instead of “tu”. “Tu” is the singular form of “you” in Spain, while in Latin America, the word “usted” is normally used instead.

Vocabulary

Normally, the differences in vocabulary between these two dialects occur when a suffix is used. In Latin America, a “computadora” is a “computer”, while in Spain it is called an “ordenador”. These differences are very similar to the variations between British and American English, such as a “chip” referring to what Americans would call a “French fry”. If you’re planning to transition between areas that speak different Spanish dialects, you may find it helpful to brush up on your vocabulary before you arrive, so that you don’t unintentionally offend someone!

A Final Note

Even though there are differences between the two dialects, it’s not impossible to be understood or to converse in any of the Spanish-speaking countries if you have a decent knowledge of either Spanish dialect. While you may be somewhat confused initially, it shouldn’t take you long to understand the quirky phrases and words that are common in any country.