Spanish is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. Today, it is a global language with nearly 500 million native speakers, mainly in Spain and the Americas. It is the world’s second-most spoken native language after Mandarin Chinese, and the world’s fourth-most spoken language overall after English, Mandarin Chinese, and Hindi.
Spanish is a part of the Ibero-Romance group of languages of the Indo-European language family, which evolved from several dialects of Vulgar Latin in Iberia after the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century. The oldest Latin texts with traces of Spanish come from mid-northern Iberia in the 9th century, and the first systematic written use of the language happened in Toledo, a prominent city of the Kingdom of Castile, in the 13th century. Modern Spanish was then taken to the viceroyalties of the Spanish Empire beginning in 1492, most notably to the Americas, as well as territories in Africa and the Philippines.
So, Why Learn Business Spanish Specifically?
- Mastering even just the basics of business Spanish vocabulary will really benefit you no matter what your career or desired career.
- Whether you’re looking for the competitive edge to help you stand out from others during your job search or if you’re a seasoned higher-up in a company hoping to better communicate with Spanish-speaking clients or employees, studying business Spanish is paramount.
- Knowing business Spanish can vastly boost your appeal to employers and it can aid you in a job you already have.
10 Brilliant Ways to Learn Business Spanish
1. Read El País online
El País is a Spanish daily covering financial and economic news, including stock market news and reports. All of its articles are also available on its online edition. Try to find one which relates to the line of business you’re interested in, otherwise any business article will do. While you’re reading, jot down 10 words you’re not familiar with. Look up their meanings in a Spanish online dictionary and write them down by hand in a notebook. Writing things down manually will help you to commit them to memory better.
2. Give yourself a target of learning five words a day
Review the words you’ve learned in tips #1 , and underline the five words you think you’ll have the hardest time remembering. Write out each word by hand in your notebook, followed by its meaning—ten times each. Repetition is key when it comes to remembering new vocabulary, so the act of writing it down repetitively will help you commit it to memory easily. If you learn five new words a day, five days a week, you’ll be learning 25 new words a week, or a minimum of 100 words a month!
3. Read a business article on Wikipedia in English and Spanish
Choose a precise business topic you’re particularly interested in and look it up on Wikipedia. It could be about business intelligence, the global financial system, or the balance of trade… you choose. Read the description in English carefully, then click on “Spanish” in the “languages” column on the lower left side of the page and read the Spanish page about the same topic. Again, don’t worry if you don’t understand every word in the article; the aim of this exercise is to try to guess the English equivalent of any new terminology you come across in Spanish. You can also do this exercise the other way around, reading the Spanish version first. Keep a mental note of any terms you’re not sure about, and then looking for their equivalents in the English version afterwards.
4. Read out loud every day
Reading an article out loud every day not only helps you get your tongue around difficult pronunciations, but it also jogs your memory.
Aim to read a short article out loud every day. You can choose one of the articles on the La Tribune website mentioned above in tip #1, or read the Wikipedia article you selected in the previous tip.
5. Read a business book in Spanish that you’ve already read in English
Choose a business book you’ve already read in English and find out if it has a Spanish translation.
6. Write a paragraph in Spanish about your line of business
Imagine you’re meeting an important business contact and have to describe what you do or talk about the line of business you’re in. Write down in Spanish the key points of what you’d like to say in a paragraph, and try to incorporate some of the words you’ve learned doing the other exercises in the previous tips above.
If you’re not currently in a specific line of business, write about your dream business sect. You can also write this in a question and answer format, as if you were having a face-to-face discussion with a potential business partner.
7. Follow Spanish business leaders and influencers on Twitter
Find the Twitter pages of Spanish business leaders and influencers you would be interested in following. Read their most recent posts and decipher any terminology you don’t already know.
8. Sign up for classes.
If you are learning for business or you want to live in Spain, consider enrolling in a college level course, an intensive language program, or online classes. Learning to read and write will be crucial to your long term success, and having a mentor during the early stages is ideal for developing good study habits and asking all the questions you will have about Spanish language and culture.
9. Learn Business Spanish via Books
Good ol’ fashioned text on paper can provide you with all you need to know and more about business Spanish.
- “Business Spanish (Teach Yourself)” by Juan Kattan-Ibarra
Do you already consider yourself fluent in Spanish or close to it? If you answered “yes,” then this book is for you. A unique advantage to this book is that along with its ample amount of business Spanish vocabulary, it provides brief grammar explanations and brush-ups to keep the often-confusing elements of Spanish fresh in your mind as you expand your knowledge. Another benefit is that the text covers varying dialects of Spanish.
- “Manual of Business Spanish: A Comprehensive Language Guide” by Michael Gorman
Are you someone who gets overwhelmed by gigantic textbooks that seem impossible to get through? Well, you’re not alone! If massive language learning books don’t appeal to you, you may benefit from the concise and comprehensive nature of this book. It’s particularly helpful for those that find themselves in translating roles at work.
- “Spanish for Business and Finance Enhanced Edition” by Ana Jarvis
Unlike the first book in this section, Spanish for business and finance focuses on teaching basic, simple Spanish for useful communication in business settings. Readers also get ample opportunity to practice what they learn from the text via accompanying exercises.
10. Practice, Practice and Practice Your Business Spanish
So now you have all the information, but how do you make it all stick? One option is via practice exercises on a number of websites such as 123 Teach Me.
Another option is to join a conversation group. You can find local groups nearby of people gathering to practice Spanish on Meetup. You can also watch a television show that takes place in a business setting (such as “The Office”) in Spanish to try and pick up pertinent vocab.
Follow these 10 handy tips and you’ll quickly and easily increase your business Spanish vocabulary, as well as your confidence.
As long as you stay focused on your studies, you’ll be picking up business Spanish and using it like a pro in and outside the office in no time! Who knows, maybe one day you’ll be confident enough to share your new-found knowledge with your coworkers.