Spanish is one of the most spoken languages throughout the world, with over 650 million native and non-native speakers scattered around the planet. Becoming fluent in Spanish, then, opens countless new doors both at home and abroad, be it professionally, culturally or socially speaking.
For instance, knowing how to speak Spanish fluently will enable you to apply for a job in over 20 countries where Spanish is the official language (such as Spain, Mexico, or Colombia). Meanwhile, a working knowledge of Spanish will also expand your horizons at home, allowing you to explore bilingual jobs at local companies that usually do business with Spain, for example.
And speaking Spanish will also be useful if you want to experience Spanish and Hispanic festivals and events on a whole new level or connect with Spanish-speaking communities in your city or when travelling. The possibilities are endless! Are you ready to take the leap? Have a look at our Spanish language guide below and find out more about this fascinating language and how you can start learning today, regardless of your background, level or age.
How Many People Speak Spanish and Where Is it Spoken?
Spanish is the official language of over 20 countries, as listed below:
As you can imagine, all of these places speak different dialects and varieties of Spanish. While most of them are mutually intelligible, the truth is that vocabulary can vary widely, especially in Central and South America. For instance, certain provinces in Argentina (like Misiones or Corrientes) are deeply influenced by the Guaraní language and this shows in their accent and rhythm when speaking. And, of course, the differences are even more noticeable when you compare speakers of different countries. While Colombian people use the second person singular “tú” and would name an avocado “aguacate”, a person from Argentina uses the second person singular “vos” and names avocados “paltas”.
That is why it’s so important to learn the variety of Spanish you truly need, with a professional tutor who can explain the differences and similarities and help you communicate fluently in any context!
The Spanish Grammar System
One of our Spanish students’ main concerns is always grammar. Yes, the system is complicated (much more complex than the English one for sure!), but it’s by no means impossible to learn. With the help of an expert tutor who can explain the rules and exceptions, you’ll master the Spanish grammar system in no time! Below, you can find some of its main features:
Spanish Nouns In English, nouns are declined only for number (singular and plural). While in Spanish it’s the same regarding number, you have to add one more element to the mix: gender. Nouns can be feminine (usually ending in “a”) or masculine (usually ending in “o”. These genders are grammatical only, which means they are arbitrary – for example, table is mesa (feminine) while glass is vaso (masculine) - and the only way to learn them is by using them a lot.
|-o||Masculine (el trabajo, el niño)|
|-aje||Masculine (el viaje, el traje)|
|-miento||Masculine (el pimiento, el sufrimiento)|
|-a||Feminine (la silla, la casa)|
|-ia, -ie||Feminine (la historia, la serie)|
|-eza||Feminine (la tristeza, la pobreza)|
Adjectives Similarly, Spanish adjectives also have gender and number, and they always agree with the noun they modify. For example, if you want to say the house is black, you first need to understand that house (casa) in Spanish is feminine, so the noun that accompanies it should also be feminine (negra). Instead, a black cat would be gato negro, because cats are masculine. Here are more examples:
A black car.
An Australian woman.
An Irish man.
We are not going to lie: the Spanish verb system can be truly difficult to learn. While English has only one or two verb forms, Spanish can have over 10. In addition to being declined for tense and mood, verbs also change their form for person and number. Plus, the number of irregular verbs is high, with over 500 you’ll need to memorise (versus around 200 in English). Find some examples in the table below:
If you are a beginner student and don’t know where to start, our expert teacher Juan recommends that you start with the indicative mood “because it’s the most used one, with very useful tenses and quite straightforward to learn”.
|Modos||Tiempos simples||Tiempos compuestos|
|Presente (Canto)||Pretérito Perfecto Compuesto (He cantado)|
|Pretérito Imperfecto (Cantaba)||Pretérito Pluscuamperfecto (Había cantado)|
|Pretérito Perfecto Simple (Canté)||Pretérito Anterior (Hube cantado)|
|Futuro (Cantaré)||Futuro Perfecto (Habré cantado)|
|Condicional (Cantaría)||Condicional Perfecto (Habría cantado)s|
As you may have guessed, articles in Spanish are also gendered. Thus, instead of one definite article such as “the”, in Spanish you can find “la, las, el, los”.
Spanish articles always have to agree with the noun in gender and number. Then, you say:
- La silla (the chair) and las sillas (the chairs) or
- El trabajo (the job) and los trabajos (the jobs)
How to Learn Spanish Vocabulary
Now comes the time to learn something which is also essential for communication: vocabulary. While memorisation has always been the main technique for learning new words and phrases, now you have plenty of options if you prefer to try more interactive approaches. Here we present you with some ideas to study Spanish vocabulary more effectively!
Focus With the Pomodoro Technique
One of the main difficulties we face when studying is having to concentrate for long periods of time. If you’re facing this challenge, why not try the Pomodoro technique? This is a study method organised into “Pomodoros” of 25 minutes followed by 5-minute breaks. Thus, you are supposed to focus on studying for these 25 minutes, then take a break, then repeat!
What is the Pomodoro Technique?
A method for staying focused and mentally fresh
Pick a task.
Set a 25-minute timer.
Work on your task until the time is up.
Take a 5 minute break.
Every 4 comodoros, take a longer 15-30 minute break.
Use Visuals as Much as Possible
Many people learn better when using some kind of visual aid to help them remember vocabulary. For instance, flashcards can be an excellent tool to study new words, as you will associate the term with its visual representation. And you don’t have to be good at drawing to prepare your own flashcards! Today, you can use different apps, like Quizlet, to prepare your own cards with text, pictures, audio recordings, and even phonetic symbols for free! You can also use and adapt decks prepared by other people so you can start learning Spanish vocabulary straight away.Increase your vocabulary with our native teachers
Listen to Music!
If you love music, you’ll be happy to know this is a brilliant resource to learn real-life Spanish. No matter what type of genre you enjoy, you’ll find thousands of songs by well-known artists to learn from. If you love pop music, for instance, and would like to learn Argentinian Spanish, you’ll surely enjoy music by Tini or Lali Espósito. Alternatively, if you are into reggaeton and would like to learn Spanish from Puerto Rico, Daddy Yankee or Rauw Alejandro are great options. Find a ready-made collection of Spanish songs in our Spotify Spanish playlists!
All in all, becoming fluent in Spanish can be challenging for students who are native English speakers, especially if they are beginners, but it’s not an impossible goal to achieve! The first step is to identify your reasons for learning the language and then find the best Spanish tutor for those needs and requirements. There’s nothing better than studying Spanish from an experienced native speaker who knows how to explain even the most difficult topics.
Are you ready to start your language journey? Start learning Spanish with us at Listen & Learn! Send us a quick enquiry and one of our team members will respond within 24 hours to start planning a personalised programme. Soon, you’ll find yourself saying “Buenos dias” and “Buenas noches” like a native speaker!