BY TANJA TASSO (translated from Portuguese)
12 reasons why I should speak Spanish. Yes, that’s right. Not only 3, 5 or 10, but altogether 12 good reasons for you to leave your comfort zone and learn another language like Spanish, as I am going to show you the benefits for your leisure activities, your salary increase and how language learning helps you improve your cognitive health (mental / intellectual).
- Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world, with around 500 million native speakers. It has its origin in spoken Latin and is the official language of 20 major countries, not counting Spain. Learning Spanish means knowing how to communicate with people from 20 important countries, which are Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, El Salvador, Spain, Ecuador, Guatemala, Equatorial Guinea, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela, without going through trouble. Spanish is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations. It is also used as an official dialect by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the African Union, the Southern Common Market and many other international organizations.
- It is very popular as a second language indeed. Approximately 100 million people speak Spanish as a second language. In the United States and Canada, Spanish is the most popular foreign language, and therefore, the most taught in universities and in primary and secondary schools.
- It is the 3rd most spoken language in terms of number of inhabitants, behind English and Mandarin, the official language of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
- International importance. Spanish is therefore, after English, the second world language as a vehicle for international communication, especially in commerce, and the third international language of politics, diplomacy, economics and culture, after English and French.
- Rich literature. It was in the 17th century, also known as the golden century, that Spain reaped many fruits with literary production and thus great works were carried out. By learning Spanish, you will be able to read countless talented authors, both Spanish and Latin American, in the original language. The list includes: Gabriel García Marquez (from Colombia), a writer, journalist, editor, activist and politician who sold more than 40 million books including the story of a castaway, El amor en los tiempos del cólera, One hundred years of solitude, Memories of my whores and Nobody writes to the colonel. Federico García Lorca (from Spain), was a poet and playwright, also one of the first victims of the Spanish Civil War. He created a theater movement called La Barraca. And, he was harshly persecuted because of his preference for men. Miguel de Cervantes (Spain) work is considered among the most important in all literature, with the story of Don Quixote de La Mancha. And also Mario Vargas Llosa is a Peruvian journalist, writer and politician who in 2010 was honored with the Nobel Prize for Literature, with a literary movement called Latin American boom. There are also Pablo Neruda, Isabel Allende (Chile), Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina), Gioconda Belli (Nicaragua), Carlos Fuentes (Mexico), among many others.
- Spanish cuisine is part of Mediterranean cuisine, although with its own characteristics. Learning Spanish will make it much easier to understand culinary styles that are sometimes being mixed up, but actually very different from each other – that would be for example the Spanish, Mexican and the Peruvian cuisine. From Spain and Spanish speaking countries comes food like paella, navarro, Iberian jamón, gazpacho, salmorejo, paprika (kind of), churros, and sangria and tequila to drink.
- Spanish speakers are similar to you. To learn, study and understand Spanish you will be able to identify Spanish originated cultural influences in your behavior, e.g. the habit of drinking wine with meals accompanying most meals. As well as using fried and raw oil for salads and the use of garlic and onion to prepare your meals.
- Fluency in the Spanish language will be a differential in your curriculum. Stay ahead of your competitors and add Spanish to your language section and make a difference. If you think that just speaking your language correctly is enough for your professional life, you’re wrong! This is because multinationals and large companies are giving preference to professionals who speak more than one language, as they add value to business and increase profitability. There are companies that deal with countries where Spanish is the official language on a daily basis and these may be the ones you are never getting in and you do not know why. Remember that there are cases where meetings & negotiations take place in videoconferences, among other situations in which you must master the language. Then maybe, after entering, your salary might rise quite nicely.
- Cultural exchange in your life will be favored. It is important to think about your academic life, but it is also essential to know what you will do afterwards outside university, in the job market. Learning Spanish may change from a hobby to a job vacancy in other countries if you become fluent. When learning Spanish, you will be able to visit many other countries, and this type of experience is highly valued by companies. It is one of the most widely spoken languages on radio stations, television channels, magazines, publications on the internet and other media.
- Latin American countries have grown dramatically in the economic sphere. For example, Spain is in fifth place in the economic ranking in Europe, when looking at its GDP that exceeds 1.4 trillion dollars. Its economy is based on the export of vehicles, in addition to footwear, shipbuilding, steel -, chemical – and textile industries. In agriculture the highlights are the production of grapes and oranges. The Spaniards are major producers of wines and olive oils. Fishing is also a widespread economic activity, the country has the largest fishing fleet in the world. Tourism has been responsible for a large part of the country’s revenue.
Another example is Chile, a country rich in mineral resources, especially in copper, considering that about 38% of the world’s deposits are in the country. Chile also offers marvellous tourism options, among them, the most outstanding are: the spa of Viña del Mar, and also the Andean Lakes region. Already in Costa Rica, which is located in Central America, offers very diversified natural resources with native forests that shelter a great riches of plant species, such as ebony, raft, camba and cedar, robles, cypresses, mangroves, helechos, guácimos, ceibas and palms. The fauna includes animals such as the puma, jaguar, monkey, coyote and the armadillo. With that, Costa Rica positively and sustainably combines economic and social development with environmental preservation, which are essentially valuable factors in today’s world.
- The Común del Sur, or MERCOSUR as we know it, is an open and dynamic process and has produced precious agreements in commerce, politics and business with a diverse number of nations and organizations spread over five continents. The potential of MERCOSUR in most diverse areas is immense, since in its territory of almost 15 million square kilometres it has a great variety of natural wealth and treasures that humanity wants: water, biodiversity, energy resources and fertile land. In short it is excellent for your professional (economic and financial) and private future (enjoying extraordinary and unforgettable trips).
- In addition to other reasons, learning another language is good for your brain. Learning another language keeps your mind active, contributes to the quality of aging and supports your state of well-being. These were the findings of a study undertaken by Penn State University in the United States. According to this, language learning also improves your ability to memorize. In the 2016 Galileu magazine, Humberto Abdo points out five scientific reasons for you to learn another language and among them is: – The risks of having Alzheimer’s or dementia decrease, as learning another language strengthens memory and the ability to make decisions. In addition to becoming aware of the world around you and gaining independence, you will feel more confident and self-sufficient when dealing with challenging situations such as an international exchange or conference. Knowing another language, such as Spanish or Mandarin, can be your differential when it comes to getting a good job. It also allows you to expand your cultural repertoire.