Why Learn Another Language?
Getting out your Spanish vocabulary pocket-book may benefit your health by improving your cognitive skills, as well as having massive social benefits.
The benefits of learning a second language hit the headlines recently, when neurological research showed that being bilingual can help stave off Alzheimer’s disease. It was shown to boost brain power, and those who spoke another language were diagnosed with the disease on average four years later than in those who only spoke one language.
The reason for this is said to have something to do with a part of the brain called the executive control system, which is part of the prefrontal cortex and other regions of the brain. Bilingual people access the executive control system – the part of the brain that allows us to get our heads around complex thought.
The executive control system is one of the most important regions of the brain, which controls attention. It is thought that people who speak more than one language engage this part of the brain in order to keep the languages separate – it is a complex process that stops the languages from interfering with each other.
Get to Know the Real Spain
Learning another language comes in handy in many areas of your life, not just when you’re on holiday in Spain or on that Mediterranean cruise you’ve always dreamed of taking. Although you’ll find that most people speak English when you’re on holiday in Spain, you’ll be very warmly welcomed if you can demonstrate even a basic knowledge of the host country’s native tongue.
When you’re on holiday or travelling abroad for whatever reason, even the most rudimentary knowledge of Spanish can open doors for you. For example, it’s difficult to see the real side of Spain if you can’t understand the language. With a little understanding of Spanish, you’ll leave your holiday with a much deeper and richer understanding of Spanish culture and its people. Rather than staying within the tourist areas you’ll be able to explore a wider area and see some of the true landscape of the country and enjoy some of the same delicious food the locals eat instead of the staid ‘Irish theme pubs’ often frequented by tourists.
Being Bilingual Benefits Business
In business, learning another language can really help your career prospects. Spanish is particularly useful in commerce as it is one of the main spoken languages in the world.
There are around 400 million Spanish speakers across the globe. It is the official language in 21 countries and has native speakers in a total of 44 countries, dating back to the days when Spain was a dominant colonial power.
Statistics suggest that by 2050 in the United States, Spanish will have overtaken English as the language for international trade.
America has the fifth largest Spanish-speaking populous – there, it is spoken by almost a third of the population. If you’re in business and want to trade with the mighty market of the U.S., in the future it may become an absolute necessity to learn to speak Spanish.
Welcome to a Whole New World
Learning a different language can be challenging as well as fun but Spanish is a relatively easy language to learn. When you start to speak it, you’ll notice what a beautiful, flowing language it is. It is one of the most phonetic languages there are – once you’ve got to grips with writing it, speaking Spanish will follow soon because if you can spell the word, that’s usually the way you pronounce it.
Spanish is closely related to several other languages, with Italian being the closest relation. It is classified as an Indo-European language. Other Indo-European languages include English, German and French. They are named this because of the similarities between these languages and the Indian languages. The link between the Latin based languages of Europe and the languages of India was first noted as early as the 1500s by European traders in India. In short, learning Spanish is a key to so many other European languages – once you’ve learnt it, you’re opening up a world of opportunities.
There’s no better way to learn Spanish than being totally immersed in the language. Find an innovative way to learn the language of Spain at our school in Andalusia.
Betty Redding is guest blogger for SparkSpanish. She writes travel articles for a number of travel sites, brochures and journals in England where she has been based for the last few years. An experienced traveller herself, having spent most of her twenties in Asia she strongly believes in the importance of experiencing a country the way the natives do and not staying in a boring ‘tourist bubble’.