12 reasons to learn Spanish

Personally, I’ve always found it amazing and even brave to spend more than a short holiday in a country without speaking the local language. I started my journey as a digital nomad in East Europe and spent most of my time in my two favourite countries Hungary and the Czech Republic. Neither my Czech nor my Hungarian was ever even close to a conversational level but I was able to do the most basic stuff in those languages. I also spent some time in Romania and even though I had some Romanian lessons, I never got beyond “Thank you” and the most common greetings and as a result, I always felt a bit insecure and stupid.  I had to ask “Do you speak English” whenever I needed to talk to people. Sure, I know nomads who don’t mind at all and get along very well speaking only English. I also agree that a language barrier shouldn’t keep everyone from travelling. However, there are so many reasons to learn Spanish and I hope that I’ll be able to convince you to get started or improve your Spanish. My Spanish isn’t perfect, either but I get everything done without having to switch to English. Yes, I know, being a non-native speaker of English helps.

1. Spanish is spoken all over Latin America

I’ve never met a digital nomad who visited only Peru. It’s much more common to travel around the continent for a while and that means that you’re likely to spend quite a while in a Spanish-speaking environment. Brazil is the big exception but even there you’re more likely to get along with Spanish than with English. So it’s really worth it to learn at least some basics of the language.

2. Spanish is an easy language

With the exception of its numerous tenses, Spanish is actually pretty easy to learn. You will quickly see results when you start learning and talking to people. Compared to English, the pronunciation of Spanish words is definitely easier. As a non-native English speaker, I still stumble about words I might understand but I’ve got no idea how to pronounce them correctly. This is almost impossible with Spanish. Once you’ve learned the rules, you know how to pronounce the words.

3. The regional differences are not big

I know that not everyone will agree with me but I come from a country (Germany) with a lot of dialects and there’s also Switzerland where I hardly don’t understand anything when locals talk to each other. As far as Spanish is concerned, the biggest differences are between Spain and Latin America. Don’t choose a European teacher if you intend to spend time in Latin America, it’s as easy as that. There are differences in Latin America, too, of course:

  1. Mexican Spanish is much more influenced by English
  2. Chileans and Cubans are most difficult to understand
  3. Argentina and Uruguay use “vos” instead of “tú”
  4. Vocabulary varies and each country has its own slang expressions

However, I’ve never had huge problems to understand people and they always understand me.

4. Learning a foreign language is good for your health

Studies have shown that people who speak more than one language are less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Well, and no matter how old you are, giving your brain something new to work with is always a good idea. Apart from that, you can go running while listening to your new Spanish vocabulary or a podcast. Combining language learning with a physical activity is easy and fun.

5. It’s fun to combine online with offline learning

As a digital nomad, you’re not always in the same place. Don’t worry, it’s easy to have online lessons and follow a structured approach or you may study on your own and just practice speaking with a teacher. Or you just practice in real life while you’re in Peru. Once you leave the touristic bubble, you’ll realize that only a few people speak English. It’s easy to practice Spanish here. For online lessons, I recommend italki.

6. It helps you to leave the (English-speaking) expat bubble

Some people may be fine with having just English-speaking friends but is that really what you want? Did you come to South America to speak English all the time? I don’t think so and if you are interested in making friends from Peru or other Latin American countries, speaking their native language will help you immensely. English isn’t as widespread here as you may think. Imagine travelling the US and Canada speaking only Spanish. That’s about the same as travelling in Latin America speaking only English.

7. You’ll be able to read books and watch movies in Spanish

Latin America has fabulous authors (Mario Vargas Llosa, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Isabel Allende, to name just a few) and being able to read their work in its original language is a special experience. Just don’t start with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, that’s difficult! Or perhaps you more into tv series and movies. Especially Mexico and Argentina produce telenovelas which are popular all over the continent. Watch them and your Spanish listening comprehension and usage of slang expressions will increase dramatically.

8. There are endless resources which will help you to master the language

Spanish is not only one of the most spoken languages but there are also millions of people who study it and as a result, you will find more resources online and offline than you’ll ever be able to use. Okay, I admit that this can also be a disadvantage as it may be overwhelming. I plan to list some good resources here later on.

9. You will finally understand Enrique Iglesias’ Spanish songs

Okay, I admit that I’m an Enrique Iglesias fan and I also admit that I only like him when he sings in Spanish. One of my favourite songs is “Nunca te olvidaré”. Do you understand what it means? This song is very old and it has a special meaning for me. Or you can try to understand the “subjuntivo” by listening to “La media vuelta”.

10. You’re less likely to be scammed

I’ve heard it’s worse in certain Southeast Asian countries but in Latin America, it may also happen to you that locals see you as a walking ATM. Sad but sometimes true. However, if you speak Spanish AND are confident when negotiating prices or looking for a certain service or product, you’re much more likely to be respected and have a lesser risk to be scammed.

11. Leave your comfort zone

This is mostly an advice for English native-speakers because the rest of us normally do this already. If you aim to work globally, English is a must and it’s not always easy to live your life and run your business in a language which is not your native language. However, it’s also very rewarding and leaving your comfort zone will always bring you a step forward. So dear English native speakers, be brave and just dive into a Spanish-speaking environment.

12. Spanish is a beautiful language

Well, all Romance languages are beautiful. Some people think that French sounds more romantic but I don’t agree. Or, let’s wait, French may indeed be more romantic but Spanish is sexy and demanding, so it may depend on what you prefer :-). However, you’ll probably agree that Spanish sounds much more beautiful than English, won’t you?

Do you speak Spanish? How did you learn it? Are you still studying now or have you achieved the fluency you were looking for? Let us know in the comments. 

Daniela Fries
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1 Comment
  1. I absolutely agree with you and I would love to learn Spanish for all of the above reasons. If I lived in another country, I’d try and learn the local language, even if it’s a few basic phrases to connect with locals.

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