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.
How Hard Spanish Is to Learn Depends on You
Before we even look at Spanish, there are a number of personal factors that will affect the ease at which you will absorb the language.
One of the best indicators of how quickly and easily you can master Spanish is if you already know a second language. Knowing a second language makes learning a third (and fourth and fifth…) language much easier.
This is especially true if you have already mastered another Romance language, since a large part of the construction and many of the words are similar in this group of languages.
If you do not know any language other than English, then things will be a bit more difficult for you as you will be starting from scratch.
You may also have an easier time learning Spanish if you have access to a community of Spanish speaking people. Practicing with others in person is an important part of the learning process, and having Spanish speakers near you gives you more opportunities to actually use your Spanish skills.
Learning Spanish can also be easier if you started at a young age. Kids find it easier to learn new languages because they do so organically, picking up information and internalizing it just like they learn their native language.
Spanish is a complex language. Some aspects of the language will make it harder to learn, while others will make things easier, especially since you already know English.
Let’s go over some of the challenges you may face along the way.
3 Reasons Why Spanish Is Hard to Learn:
1. Spanish has many irregular verbs
Irregular verbs will make your Spanish learning journey harder.
Many common verbs are irregular, so you are likely to use them in everyday conversations. This makes mastering the most common irregular verbs crucial.
Although it might seem overwhelming at first, you just have to put the time in and learn these challenging verbs. As you study, you will notice some of those patterns we mentioned before which will make your life easier.
Remember that this is one of the most difficult parts of the language, so do not give up if it takes you a little while to learn these.
2. It is a gendered language
Unlike English, Spanish nouns have assigned genders. In the beginning, this will take some getting used to.
Genders are often attached with no rhyme or reason: In many cases, you are simply expected to remember if a word is masculine or feminine.
And gender is important: the gender of a noun affects words around it like adjectives and articles. It can be frustrating at first, but if you study new nouns with their gender attached, you will have an easier time remembering them in conjunction later on.
And although they often seem random, there are some rules surrounding genders, too. As you learn, you will start to get a sense of why things are certain genders throughout the language.
For example, a group of mixed gender people will always be referred to in a masculine way, while many animal nouns can be either male or female, depending on the animal’s actual gender.
3. The pronunciation can be difficult to master
Most of the letters in Spanish are identical to those of the English alphabet. However, Spanish pronunciation differs significantly from English, even if the letters it uses are the same.
You should be especially careful with vowels, which use different pronunciations from their English equivalents.
In a way, vowels in Spanish are easier to learn: Unlike English vowels, which have a number of different pronunciations, Spanish vowels are usually pronounced the same no matter what. For example, the letter e is pronounced with an “eh” sound, like in “met.”
But nailing those sounds can be challenging for non-native speakers. And do not get us started on the notorious rolled rr sound!
It will take some practice, but you will eventually master it.
How to Make the Spanish Learning Process Easier?
No matter how difficult you find the language, there are ways to make the Spanish learning process easier.
Here are a few tips!
1. Find your learning style
Everyone has a different learning style. Find yours before you get started for a learning boost.
For example, if you are a visual learner, then Spanish podcasts might not be the best way to learn.
The key is to study smarter, not harder.
2. Make time to learn
Learning a new language takes time. You will never get anywhere in your studies unless you set time aside to learn. To achieve your Spanish goals, plan to work toward your goal on a regular basis, even if it is just 15 minutes per day.
Make studying a part of your daily routine to ensure that you actually keep up with it.
3. Choose to use Spanish every day
In addition to setting aside time, you should try to use Spanish in your everyday life.
You can do this by narrating what you are doing in Spanish, labeling your household items, playing Spanish music, reading the news in Spanish or any other way you can think to actively use Spanish on a daily basis.
The best way to learn is through practice!
4. Use the resources you have available
Thanks to the internet, the resources available to you for studying Spanish are nearly limitless.
You can hire a teacher, use free online resources or take a class or buy a great textbook to get started.
And finally, just keep learning!
The best way to make learning Spanish easier is to believe that you can do it. Just keep working towards your fluency goals and go for the gold!