Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
CULater
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:59 am

Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by CULater » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:16 pm

There is a Spanish club in my area with volunteers who teach Spanish; not a community college or university. Sounds like it might be fun to attend, but I'm wondering just how much Spanish I'd learn. Is the language very difficult for English-speaking gringos? Or is this likely to just be a social club without much effective language learning?
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, The foresight to know where you're going, And the insight to know when you've gone too far. ~ Irish Blessing

User avatar
Smorgasbord
Posts: 342
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:12 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Smorgasbord » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:22 pm

For an English speaker, Romance languages are some of the easiest to learn.
https://cdn.lingholic.com/wp-content/up ... -Learn.png

My suggestion would be to go through the Pimsluer Spanish series before you attend your first Spanish club meeting. Usually you can find the whole series at a library.

Freefun
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:55 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Freefun » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:25 pm

No, Spanish isn't hard to learn. Everything is relative. Compared to most languages (and certainly English) Spanish is fairly easy. Most words have clear rules. There are 18 irregular verbs- those will need some memorization since they lack rules. Other than that, once you learn nouns, verb types (ending with ar, er, ir etc.) and how to conjugate them e.g. past tense etc., you can start picking up new vocabulary fairly easy.

Go for it and best of luck.
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

User avatar
nisiprius
Advisory Board
Posts: 36032
Joined: Thu Jul 26, 2007 9:33 am
Location: The terrestrial, globular, planetary hunk of matter, flattened at the poles, is my abode.--O. Henry

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by nisiprius » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:40 pm

I think it's probably "hard" to learn any language to the point that I would call "knowing" the language. Claims for learning a language in six months or sixty days or whatever are hogwash. It's like diet books that claim you can lose ten pounds in a month while eating as much as you like of everything you like: they say what people want to hear. I haven't been working very hard at it, but I've been learning Spanish for four years now, and I've graduated to the point where, instead of saying "I'm trying to learn Spanish," I say "I know a little Spanish."

But, the way to start is to start, and I think the language club is a great idea. Among other things, people in the club will be able to help you find no-cost and low-cost resources, of which there is an incredible richness nowadays.

There's a book, "Fluent in Three Months" which seems fairly legitimate, but if you check you'll see, first, that he has a particular definition for "fluent," and, second, that he means three months of using the language all day, every day.

It's pretty easy to learn how to say "The man drives the car" in Spanish, or "I like to eat ice cream." It is not so easy to learn to say "If I had invested $10,000 in the Wellington mutual fund in 1929, it would now be worth $11,000,000." *

According to the (U.S.) Foreign Service Institute, Spanish is in the easiest group of language for English speakers to learn:

"Category I: 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours)
Languages closely related to English."

That's to achieve "Speaking 3: General Professional Proficiency in Speaking (S3)’ and ‘Reading 3: General Professional Proficiency in Reading (R3)’."

One of the things that makes Spanish easy is that there is a huge amount of Latin-derived vocabulary that is almost the same in both languages. You probably almost know hundreds of Spanish words that just need a few spelling changes.

latitud, nacional, conversación, universidad; febrero, abril, mayo, noviembre; física; abdomen.

Pronunciation is pretty easy because there are only five vowels and it is easy to hear the differences. The spelling is phonetic; almost from day one you can read Spanish aloud correctly without understanding what you are saying! There are verb conjugations, but nouns don't have "cases" the way they do in German.

*El hombre conduce el coche. Me gusta comer helado. ??? Si había invertido diez mil dólares en el fondo de inversion Wellington en mil mil novecientos veintinueve, ahora valdría once millones de dólares. Something like that.
Last edited by nisiprius on Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness; Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.

User avatar
alpine_boglehead
Posts: 208
Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:51 am
Location: Austria

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by alpine_boglehead » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:42 pm

The English vocabulary mostly originates from old French and old Germanic. Spanish is quite similar to French, so you'll encounter many familiar/similar words. I'd also suggest to get started on your own (grab some youtube videos on simple phrases, pronunciation and grammar), and then improve using the group.

Spanish is not hard. Nothing really is, if you like it :)

User avatar
cfs
Posts: 4139
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:22 am
Location: ~ Mi Propio Camino ~

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by cfs » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:52 pm

Easy to learn, I know, Español is my lingua materna. Get serious and go for it! Please send me a pm in Español two years from now. Gracias por leer / cfs
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

Sojourner
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2018 4:53 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Sojourner » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:56 pm

Spanish is one of the easiest Romance language to learn [Italian is a close 2nd in my opinion given its similarity to Spanish].

If you want to reach conversational level, I strongly recommend spending at least 1 hour minimum daily practicing/learning Spanish. Take the time to also listen to Spanish audio [Youtube or Podcast or Telenovelas] in order to improve your listening and subsequent understanding of the pronunciation of the words.

There is school Spanish [grammatically correct with excellent pronunciation] and there is street Spanish [slurring of words/contraction of pronounced words and imperfect grammar]. From my experience as a medical student [now resident] rotating through Miami, NYC, Baltimore, and Chicago, more often than not, what I call "street" Spanish was spoken.

In summary:
1] Spend 1hr [minimum] daily practicing and learning Spanish.
2] Spend 20-30min daily just listening to Spanish audio [hopefully with subtitles].
3] Continue practicing with the Spanish group. At first, you will have limited vocabulary. This is normal. Gradually over time, as you continue to learn/practice Spanish, your vocabulary repertoire will increase and you will contribute more.
4] If you're not married or in a relationship, seek out a Spanish speaking member of the opposite gender and try to learn Spanish with this person. You will be more motivated to pick up Spanish in your attempt to impress this person [I tried this with Italian when I was younger and it worked - but I'm rusty now as I have not practiced/spoken Italian in years].
5] All of the Romance languages to learn, Spanish is the easiest to pick up as it is a phonetic language and has similar sentence structure as English.

All the best,
Sojourner

white_water
Posts: 201
Joined: Sun Oct 27, 2013 1:16 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by white_water » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:02 pm

It depends on your language acquisition ability, and easier for some than others. Take a look at Duolingo, it's a free cell phone app and do some sample lessons. It uses visual, oral, aural lessons and clues that many find easier.

THY4373
Posts: 703
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:17 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by THY4373 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:05 pm

Depends on the person. I am dyslexic and while I love reading and I am a good writer, I have a really poor understanding of the technicalities of English grammar. Because I read a ton as a kid and continue to do so now I have a instinctual sense of what is correct in when writing English but you try to teach me a foreign language including its grammar and my head explodes because I don't really have a technical grasp of English grammar. I suspect I would do fine in some sort of immersion course because in essence that is how I learned English.

Katietsu
Posts: 1459
Joined: Sun Sep 22, 2013 1:48 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Katietsu » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:13 pm

If it doesn’t annoy you...watch a couple shows with subtitles aimed at preschoolers. A great way to get introduced to a language with limited vocabulary and simpler sentence structures.

Jack FFR1846
Posts: 7205
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 7:05 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:22 pm

Have you learned any other languages? I learned German in college because it was a requirement. 4 days a week classes for a year. I don't learn languages easily. Later, my wife and I decided to take a night class at a college in Spanish. I did not find it at all easy. But I've never found any language easy. The year in high school French didn't end well either. I don't know if there's some easy way to learn.....I haven't found one.
Bogle: Smart Beta is stupid

BeneIRA
Posts: 436
Joined: Sat Nov 29, 2014 8:43 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by BeneIRA » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:37 pm

Spanish is the easiest. I tried learning French and it was quite a bit more difficult. I haven't become fluent because I have refocused on improving my Spanish. I highly recommend the Duolingo app for some more fun, at least to me, learning of languages to mix in with anything you're doing.

livesoft
Posts: 61406
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 8:00 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by livesoft » Fri Apr 06, 2018 4:38 pm

I've learned Spanish 3 or 4 times in my life, so it probably should not be considered hard to learn. :)
Wiki This signature message sponsored by sscritic: Learn to fish.

User avatar
FreeAtLast
Posts: 630
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:08 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by FreeAtLast » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:05 pm

I took 4 years in high school and then one year in college - one semester of Advanced Grammar and one semester of Spanish Literature. Like anything else, some of it is easy and some of it is difficult. You will recognize a lot of words, as pointed out above, and a lot of the pronunciations will come easy. It really helps to repeatedly hear how a native speaker pronounces the language. Eventually, you will need to be drilled on some of the grammar if you want to sound sophisticated. For example, there are at least 15 simple/compound tenses and also the concept of -ie and -ue verbs. Spanish is a lot easier than many other languages like Russian, Chinese, Arabic, Japanese, etc. I enjoyed learning it very much, it's a beautiful sounding language, like Italian and French. I wish I had more chances to speak it.
Illegitimi non carborundum.

Güero
Posts: 30
Joined: Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:23 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Güero » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:37 pm

It’s about degree and formality. What do you want to learn it for? Like in what context? That will determine the number of hours you have to devote to get traction in the area in which you want to perform.

An example: if you just want to travel around and buy vegetables at a local market, ask basic questions, and receive basic answers on the street, you don’t need to put in as many hours as if you want to hold a conversation or talk about topics with any nuance.

To speak it well enough to get compliments as a tourist is not hard. To speak it well enough to help a native speaker think of a word that has escaped him or her is not easy.

I would say one of the best ways to learn a foreign language is to make fun of native speakers. I’m sure the reason why is obvious so I’ll spare you the explanation.

Native speakers of English are in a wonderful position to learn other languages, especially Teutonic cousins and Romance languages due to the hybrid nature of English and the overlay of Greek and Latin technical vocabulary on a streamlined Germanic framework. This comparatively enviable position is (like most gifts) taken for granted and squandered.

Try it out, I would be interested to hear what you think.

User avatar
LadyGeek
Site Admin
Posts: 46084
Joined: Sat Dec 20, 2008 5:34 pm
Location: Philadelphia
Contact:

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by LadyGeek » Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:00 pm

Caution on the Spanish dialect you wish to learn. The overall guidance is to decide where you wish to speak Spanish.

The majority of spoken Spanish in the US is the Latino dialect. Look for courses which teach Spanish for Mexico. Spanish from Spain is very different. You'll have a difficult time going between the two.

Of course, there are differences among the Central and South American countries, but the point is to start with Mexican Spanish instead of Spain.
Wiki To some, the glass is half full. To others, the glass is half empty. To an engineer, it's twice the size it needs to be.

Nyc10036
Posts: 355
Joined: Wed Oct 05, 2016 6:29 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Nyc10036 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:50 pm

I had 2 years of high school Spanish.
And I cannot understand a thing on Spanish-language radio or TV.
To me it's hard.
They speak so fast, and the words "slur" together.
I can't do the tongue rolls for the R either.
Sigh.

Lynette
Posts: 1729
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Lynette » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:12 pm

It depends on the level of proficiency that you want to achieve and whether you want to be able to use the formal, academic grammatically correct language. In my class at a community college, we had a young lady whose mother came from a Spanish speaking country. She could speak fluently but not grammatically. In the end she gave up the class. She did not know what the subjunctive was. You will be able to pick up the spoken language much better by immersion. If you want to be able to write formal language, you will need to study the grammar as well.
Last edited by Lynette on Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
aspirit
Posts: 90
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2018 12:52 am
Location: Bos/Mia-south

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by aspirit » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:31 pm

Cubano's another latino dialect concentrated through out the FLkeys. http://spanish.yourdictionary.com/cubano
Time & tides wait for no one. A man has to know his limitations.

jlawrence01
Posts: 1373
Joined: Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:34 am
Location: Southern AZ

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by jlawrence01 » Fri Apr 06, 2018 9:37 pm

Nyc10036 wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:50 pm
I had 2 years of high school Spanish.
And I cannot understand a thing on Spanish-language radio or TV.
To me it's hard.
They speak so fast, and the words "slur" together.
I can't do the tongue rolls for the R either.
Sigh.

Several years ago, there was a Wall Street Journal article on Major League Baseball's Hispanic broadcasts. The Spanish broadcast in South Florida featured announcers who were Cuban. The Spanish broadcast for the Dodgers was in a Mexican Spanish. When they mixed it up for national broadcasts, most Spanish speaking fans were not happy with the other broadcast. There were different words used to describe baseball terms between the two broadcasts.

izzybee
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:09 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by izzybee » Fri Apr 06, 2018 10:01 pm

I am a native Spaniard and have been as a translator/interpreter for over 30 years. I help patients in hosptals communicate with healthcare personnel. It does not matter if a person comes from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Argentina, Venezuela or the Dominican Republic. We all understand each other. Sure, the accent for each country is different, and so are some words. But the base is 95% the same. Just choose a teacher you like and that makes learning enjoyable, regardless of where the person comes from. I would not specifically seek a Mexican teacher over other nationalities, unless you really only need Spanish to communicate with Mexicans or any other very specific reason. Spanish is spoken in over 20 countries, so the more accents you get used to, the better. At the end of the day, it’s like Americans, Canadians, Britishers and Australians, the simmilarities are much higher than the differences. Enjoy the experience and all the new possibilites that will open up to you, and good luck!

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 3236
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by lthenderson » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:28 am

LadyGeek wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:00 pm
Caution on the Spanish dialect you wish to learn. The overall guidance is to decide where you wish to speak Spanish.

The majority of spoken Spanish in the US is the Latino dialect. Look for courses which teach Spanish for Mexico. Spanish from Spain is very different. You'll have a difficult time going between the two.

Of course, there are differences among the Central and South American countries, but the point is to start with Mexican Spanish instead of Spain.
+1000

I learned Spain Spanish which is great for talking with my friend from the Canary Islands. However when I talk to my Hispanic friends, it is no bueno! Actually they are similar enough that I can follow along but there are a lot of differences between the languages and if I had it to do all over again and considering I live among Hispanics and know exactly one Spaniard, I would learn the Hispanic dialect.

mptfan
Posts: 4534
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:58 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by mptfan » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:29 am

nisiprius wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:40 pm
I think it's probably "hard" to learn any language to the point that I would call "knowing" the language. Claims for learning a language in six months or sixty days or whatever are hogwash. It's like diet books that claim you can lose ten pounds in a month while eating as much as you like of everything you like: they say what people want to hear. I haven't been working very hard at it, but I've been learning Spanish for four years now, and I've graduated to the point where, instead of saying "I'm trying to learn Spanish," I say "I know a little Spanish."
This.

mptfan
Posts: 4534
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 9:58 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by mptfan » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:31 am

LadyGeek wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:00 pm
Caution on the Spanish dialect you wish to learn. The overall guidance is to decide where you wish to speak Spanish.

The majority of spoken Spanish in the US is the Latino dialect. Look for courses which teach Spanish for Mexico. Spanish from Spain is very different. You'll have a difficult time going between the two.

Of course, there are differences among the Central and South American countries, but the point is to start with Mexican Spanish instead of Spain.
This is so true! There is no one "Spanish" language, it varies quite a bit depending on the country.

User avatar
Rocco Sampler
Posts: 36
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:59 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Rocco Sampler » Sat Apr 07, 2018 7:47 am

Although Spanish is considered one of the easier languages to learn as compared to say, Arabic, it is still very hard to learn to speak it well, especially for someone learning later in life. Learning to say some phrases as a tourist is totally different from being able to speak with and understand native speakers talking at full speed, with idioms, irregular verbs conjugations, local terms, etc. One unknown term renders a sentence meaningless. The conversation may flow from from economics, to politics, to science, to fixing the garbage disposal or cooking. There are no shortcuts and it takes YEARS, not months to discover and memorize the tens of thousands of words necessary to communicate effectively, and to be able to digest what is being said. I have been working on my Spanish for a number of years, and can now say that I pretty much fully understand what is being said in person, TV and radio and can say what I want to say, but that has taken a lot of time building my vocabulary, which I must continuously review to retain. On the other hand, it has been a labor of love. Learning Spanish has made my world twice as big: twice as many places to enjoy, twice as many friends, more food to enjoy, and the cultural and historical knowledge gained just from learning the language, not to mention the travel is priceless. I also got a great wife out of the deal!

User avatar
Toons
Posts: 12791
Joined: Fri Nov 21, 2008 10:20 am
Location: Hills of Tennessee

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Toons » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:00 am

It takes practice practice and more practice.
I have been using Duolingo,youtube,watching videos,,,etc. for over 2 years now everyday.
I have come a long way but still have a lot more work to do before I can hold a conversation with a Native Speaker.
Remember the word PRACTiCE> :happy


https://www.duolingo.com/
"One does not accumulate but eliminate. It is not daily increase but daily decrease. The height of cultivation always runs to simplicity" –Bruce Lee

User avatar
pezblanco
Posts: 470
Joined: Thu Sep 12, 2013 8:02 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by pezblanco » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:07 am

I think people are exaggerating a bit the difficulties encountered with the different accents/dialects of Spanish. To say that you learning peninsular Spanish precludes your being understood by Latin Americans or visa versa is just false (I'm sorry, there is no way to soften that). Yes, it is true that there are some vocabulary differences among speakers from different countries but they are on the same order as the differences between English speakers from different countries. Educated Spanish from wherever the speaker is from is universally understood by all Spanish speakers.

You don't really need to concentrate yourself too much on what dialect of Spanish you are going to study when you begin. The one exception in this piece of advice is to decide if you want to learn Spanish from Spain or Latin America (basically the verbal forms of vosotros (the second person plural) are not employed in Latin America except strangely enough in church liturgy). The basics are the same ... it's the same language. All Latin American speakers understand the vosotral forms even if they don't employ them themselves.

It is a conservative language. By that I mean that it doesn't change much. Cervantes is quite easily readable to modern Spanish readers while Shakespeare (who wrote at about the same time) is almost incomprehensible to English ones. The centuries of accent development in the old Spanish colonies haven't been enough to really allow the language to drift that much.

User avatar
car733
Posts: 67
Joined: Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:07 am
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by car733 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:13 am

I am a native Spanish speaker living in the US. Every time I find someone who says "I know some Spanish..." I immediately turn into Spanish.
Most of the time, people are more fluent than expected but they are very shy.

Another tip: Personally, I wouldn't worry about perfect pronunciation. You will have an accent and that's ok! After a while, you learn how to avoid taboo words. Like "beach" for me :)

gtd98765
Posts: 76
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 4:15 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by gtd98765 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:18 am

Spanish is definitely the easiest language for English speakers to learn, for the reasons given above. However, learning any foreign language, like any other skill, requires time, practice, and memorization. The younger you are the easier it is to learn a new language. But the benefits to speaking another language are substantial; you will open up a whole new world of interesting people to meet and communicate with. My recommendation is to go for it and see how far you get.

Lynette
Posts: 1729
Joined: Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:47 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Lynette » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:35 am

mptfan wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:29 am
nisiprius wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:40 pm
I think it's probably "hard" to learn any language to the point that I would call "knowing" the language. Claims for learning a language in six months or sixty days or whatever are hogwash. It's like diet books that claim you can lose ten pounds in a month while eating as much as you like of everything you like: they say what people want to hear. I haven't been working very hard at it, but I've been learning Spanish for four years now, and I've graduated to the point where, instead of saying "I'm trying to learn Spanish," I say "I know a little Spanish."
This.
Totally agree. It is really a project of a lifetime. As I studied Latin extensively, I tend to focus more on being able to read Spanish. At my community college the different skills are emphasized: reading, writing, understanding and speaking. Even if I do not get the opportunity to speak much Spanish, being able to read the newspapers and literature opens new worlds. Artificial intelligence has become really good so I am inclined to simply copy and dump articles into Google Translate. It is amusing to see where these translators fail. Unlike Spanish, English does not have genders for nouns and adjectives that must agree in gender with the noun. These translators often mix up who did something e.g. he/she.

If something of significance happens in another country, I often go to one of the main newspapers in those countries and copy the article and dump it into Google Translate. It gives me a different perspective. I did this recently when there were questions on this board on the safety of visiting Barcelona after Puigdemont declared independence of Catalonia from Spain. He is currently out on bail in Germany!

User avatar
kramer
Posts: 1611
Joined: Wed Feb 21, 2007 2:28 am
Location: Philippines

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by kramer » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:13 am

Moving from intermediate level to advanced level and then to fluency is quite difficult and takes years of effort. Most learners stay in what is often called "intermediate purgatory." When I lived in Mexico, I had a few friends tell me that I was fluent, when in fact I was not even close (thus leading to the claims that so and so "picked up" the language in 6 months).

But it can be a labor of love ... I recently recharged my Spanish after 7 years of dormancy ... after a couple of months of study, I think I am almost back to where I was before ...

There are amazing resources available now. There are programs for flash cards (Anki for PC/Android/IOS) with downloadable vocabulary or you can insert your own that are far superior to using old fashioned paper flash cards. Great podcast resources with transcripts and detailed usage explanations (like Coffee Break Spanish). And now you can get one on one lessons online with professional teachers through services like iTalki. As a matter of fact, I have used all these resources in the past couple of months. To get ready for an upcoming trip to Spain (and Spanish school and the responsibility of being the translator for several family members), I even have an online teacher in Spain for one on one lessons ... technology is amazing.

User avatar
jhfenton
Posts: 2997
Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2015 11:17 am
Location: Ohio

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by jhfenton » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:57 am

car733 wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:13 am
I am a native Spanish speaker living in the US. Every time I find someone who says "I know some Spanish..." I immediately turn into Spanish.
Most of the time, people are more fluent than expected but they are very shy.

Another tip: Personally, I wouldn't worry about perfect pronunciation. You will have an accent and that's ok! After a while, you learn how to avoid taboo words. Like "beach" for me :)
+1 Being overly self-conscious is the biggest obstacle for most people. I try to get over it when I'm learning a new language, knowing that most people are incredibly understanding. But the social discomfort is still real.

As far as the regional accents go, I find it much easier to communicate face to face than it is to understand speakers watching TV or listening to the radio. Face to face with a non-native speaker, most people will naturally speak a little bit more slowly and use less slang. I learned from Spanish Spanish teachers in high school and college, and, on a day-to-day basis, I listen to more football matches (Barcelona) and news reports from Spanish Spanish speakers, but I can still communicate with neighbors who speak Mexican or South American Spanish. (I had a couple of Puerto Rican friends in college who poked fun at my Spanish lisp, but we could be understood.)

I'm currently trying to refresh and expand my Spanish vocabulary for a June school trip to Spain and Morocco with my son. When in doubt, I tend to reach for the French word and hispanicize it. :beer That strategy fails more often than it succeeds. :oops:

To answer the original question, Spanish is the easiest language I've formally studied. In order from easiest to hardest: Spanish > French > Mandarin > Russian > Arabic > Mandarin . I'm not sure how to rank Mandarin. It is both fairly easy (basic grammar and basic pronunciation) and really, really hard (memorization of characters and recognition of tones in rapid speech).

User avatar
Peter Foley
Posts: 4376
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:34 am
Location: Lake Wobegon

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Peter Foley » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:03 am

I don't want to be disrespectful of others who have posted their opinions on this topic, but many things stated in this thread are just that opinions, not facts. I will quote a couple of the better, and based on my academic experience, more factual responses.

Rocco wrote:
Although Spanish is considered one of the easier languages to learn as compared to say, Arabic, it is still very hard to learn to speak it well, especially for someone learning later in life. Learning to say some phrases as a tourist is totally different from being able to speak with and understand native speakers talking at full speed, with idioms, irregular verbs conjugations, local terms, etc. One unknown term renders a sentence meaningless. The conversation may flow from from economics, to politics, to science, to fixing the garbage disposal or cooking. There are no shortcuts and it takes YEARS, not months to discover and memorize the tens of thousands of words necessary to communicate effectively, and to be able to digest what is being said.
This is true except for the reference of "tens of thousand of words." Basic communication can be done with the 3,000 to 5,000 most common words.

Soujourner wrote:
Spanish is one of the easiest Romance language to learn [Italian is a close 2nd in my opinion given its similarity to Spanish].
I believe, note I am not saying "know", this to be true. My belief is based on my study of Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. Spanish has fewer vowel phonemes (5) and the spelling of words more closely tracks to pronunciation.

Pezblanco wrote:
I think people are exaggerating a bit the difficulties encountered with the different accents/dialects of Spanish. To say that you learning peninsular Spanish precludes your being understood by Latin Americans or visa versa is just false (I'm sorry, there is no way to soften that). Yes, it is true that there are some vocabulary differences among speakers from different countries but they are on the same order as the differences between English speakers from different countries. Educated Spanish from wherever the speaker is from is universally understood by all Spanish speakers.
This is true based on my experience. Educated speakers of Spanish have little trouble understanding a wide variety of dialects and accents. Some vocabulary, e.g. common day objects and foods, is quite localized just as it is in English.

Okay - what is my basis for making these statements? I have a Ph. D. in Spanish linguistics and have studied Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and French. I taught college level Spanish language and literature for 8 years. These languages all have Latin roots and similar grammars. They all share a lot of cognates with English, but, because of spelling and language evolution, Spanish and Italian words are more recognizable. Many vowel sounds (including nasalized vowels) and consonants that may or may not be pronounced are but two of the things that make French the hardest to learn IMHO.

Studies have been made and published regarding the number of contact hours needed to reach different levels of fluency. I read a couple a number of years ago and am not sure if they are on line.

I think Spanish clubs might be a good way to go to see if one has the interest, time, and ability to pursue near native fluency.
Last edited by Peter Foley on Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Freefun
Posts: 242
Joined: Sun Jan 14, 2018 3:55 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Freefun » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:23 am

Hmmm. Not sure I understand some of the points here.
My thoughts:

+Spanish is fairly easy.
+Yes, go to the social club. Nothing ventured nothing gained.
+It's likely you will enjoy it. The less you care about making mistakes, the quicker you practice and learn.
+It sounds like an effective learning opportunity to me.
+HAVE FUN
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

User avatar
Pajamas
Posts: 5719
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:32 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Pajamas » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:32 am

Spanish dictionaries generally don't even include the pronunciation with each entry because there is no need to do so. There is usually simply a short guide to pronunciation in the front of the dictionary. Contrast that with English, in which letters and vowels can have many pronunciations and even words can have two or more acceptable pronunciations.

Learning another language also gives you a new perspective on your primary language and a deeper understanding of language in general. Those are aspects that are rarely mentioned.

User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 4128
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Kenkat » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:35 am

LadyGeek wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 7:00 pm
Caution on the Spanish dialect you wish to learn. The overall guidance is to decide where you wish to speak Spanish.

The majority of spoken Spanish in the US is the Latino dialect. Look for courses which teach Spanish for Mexico. Spanish from Spain is very different. You'll have a difficult time going between the two.

Of course, there are differences among the Central and South American countries, but the point is to start with Mexican Spanish instead of Spain.
Interesting point. My sister had five years of French but in the Parisian style; she had a friend from Quebec, Canada and the dialect was actually a pretty significant struggle to get past.

User avatar
Kenkat
Posts: 4128
Joined: Thu Mar 01, 2007 11:18 am
Location: Cincinnati, OH

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Kenkat » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:37 am

I would also add, if you can speak Spanish regularly - ideally daily but at least 1-2 times a week, you will learn it at some level. If you study it and never speak it, it will be gone quickly.

User avatar
cinghiale
Posts: 1141
Joined: Wed Oct 17, 2007 4:37 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by cinghiale » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:54 am

OP,
How old are you? (Serious question here.). And just how much within an average day are you obligated to think and speak in English?
"We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are." Anais Nin | | "Sometimes the first duty of intelligent men is the restatement of the obvious." George Orwell

User avatar
tennisplyr
Posts: 1660
Joined: Tue Jan 28, 2014 1:53 pm
Location: Sarasota, FL

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by tennisplyr » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:10 pm

Spanish is relatively easy to learn, don't let fear stop you from growing.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

RandomPointer
Posts: 253
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:38 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by RandomPointer » Sat Apr 07, 2018 6:20 pm

nisiprius wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:40 pm
latitud, nacional, conversación, universidad; febrero, abril, mayo, noviembre; física; abdomen.
Oh cool, I read it as latitute, national, conversation, university, February, April, mayonnaise, November, physics, abdomen.

Oh wait...

mrsbetsy
Posts: 113
Joined: Mon Jun 26, 2017 12:16 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by mrsbetsy » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:18 pm

Conversational Spanish would be nearly as easy to learn as reading and writing it. Consider that while English has on 44 sounds, we have 1,100 different ways to represent those sounds. Spanish also has 44 sounds, but only 44 ways to represent those sounds. It's 1:1, unlike English.

I have a strong desire to learn Spanish, but do not yet have the bandwidth to begin and stay consistent. I'd love to know how your community class goes and if you felt it was worthwhile.

FraggleRock
Posts: 362
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2017 6:50 pm

Facil

Post by FraggleRock » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:27 pm

As someone who spent 170 hours learning Português for a 3 week trip to Portugal.
As someone who is attempting to learn a tiny bit of Euskara for a trip to España.
As someone who is attempting to learn a tiny bit of Català for a trip to España.
As someone who spent 6 years, off and on, learning Française at the Alliance française.
As someone who had 2 años de Español en la escuela superior in 1963-4.

Español es muy facil.
Last edited by FraggleRock on Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Frank Grimes
Posts: 97
Joined: Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:54 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Frank Grimes » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:34 pm

Creo que no

I think I'll eventually pick up Spanish again as I was a pretty good student in high school and college. I recall that the basic rules for the written language were pretty logical and you could apply them pretty consistently with few exceptions. Contrast that with English which borrows from Latin-based and other languages like German...God help you if you're trying to learn English as a second language.

User avatar
cfs
Posts: 4139
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:22 am
Location: ~ Mi Propio Camino ~

Re: Facil

Post by cfs » Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:35 pm

FraggleRock wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:27 pm
. . . Español es muy facil.
That was good, and oh by the way yo estoy de acuerdo!

Good luck y gracias por leer / cfs
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

User avatar
Peter Foley
Posts: 4376
Joined: Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:34 am
Location: Lake Wobegon

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by Peter Foley » Sat Apr 07, 2018 10:47 pm

cfs wrote:
Good luck y gracias por leer
Me parece que a usted le gusta la poesía de Antonio Machado. Usted también se hace el camino al andar?

RandomPointer
Posts: 253
Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2013 1:38 pm

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by RandomPointer » Sat Apr 07, 2018 11:12 pm

Frank Grimes wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 9:34 pm
God help you if you're trying to learn English as a second language.
English is my second language. I was struggling with English, until I had a chat with my friend. The problem was that I need to map my English conversation to my own native language. I had a 'base' language. I need to construct English sentences into something that I understand in my native language.

My friend asked me, 'do you think English speaking people need to reconstruct/translate/create a mental model of an English sentence in their mind while they are conversing?'. No. They just understand.

I stopped trying to think about the grammar when I listen, I watched movies without subtitles and just tried to understand. Purchased an English Bible, and read that one instead. Eventually, I was able to read and listen as well as my own native. Children learn a language without what I call a base language. That is their advantage.

User avatar
rhinopylon
Posts: 40
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:51 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by rhinopylon » Sun Apr 08, 2018 9:57 am

The same website that hosts Harvard's free online courses also have Spanish learning classes from the University of Valencia. No idea if they're any good but they might be worth a shot for a free course.

https://www.edx.org/school/upvalenciax

User avatar
cfs
Posts: 4139
Joined: Fri Feb 23, 2007 1:22 am
Location: ~ Mi Propio Camino ~

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by cfs » Sun Apr 08, 2018 12:54 pm

Mister Peter wrote:
Me parece que a usted le gusta la poesía de Antonio Machado. Usted también se hace el camino al andar?
Just back from my daily LUng Distance walk and I do remember Don Antonio Machado's poem--I like the poem and I like the song by Juan Manuel Serrat. To Don Antonio Machado I say this: De cierto he hecho mi propio camino; y al volver la vista atras veo la senda que nunca volvere a caminar.

Gracias por leer ~cfs~
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

CULater
Posts: 1119
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 10:59 am

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by CULater » Sun Apr 08, 2018 2:49 pm

Since I'm a senior citizen, I've heard that trying to learn a new language is good for the aging brain. For that reason alone, it seems like a worthwhile pursuit. But, I also find that there's might be some real use in speaking some Spanish since I encounter many Latin folks regularly these days. Then, of course, there are the Spanish-language TV channels...
May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, The foresight to know where you're going, And the insight to know when you've gone too far. ~ Irish Blessing

bearcub
Posts: 860
Joined: Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:54 am
Location: Twilight Zone

Re: Is it very hard to learn Spanish?

Post by bearcub » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:48 pm

I took 2 years of German in H.S. just to be different. Most of my friends took Spanish + did well. I am trying to learn Arabic now. Pretty hard indeed. Best wishes.

Post Reply