Is Spanish Really Hard to Learn? Myth or Fact

Question: Is Spanish hard to learn?

There is no simple, straightforward answer to this question. Learning Spanish has many challenges and many benefits. In this article, we are going to go over some of the factors that make learning Spanish difficult versus easy, discuss how much effort it will take to learn the language, and explore some top tips that will help you master it. You might discover that you already know a lot of Spanish words. Afterward, you can decide for yourself how difficult it is to learn Spanish.

3 Reasons Why Spanish is Hard to Learn

1. Irregular verbs

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While there are some basic patterns that most regular verbs follow, unfortunately, there are also many irregular exceptions. If you want to communicate effectively in Spanish, you need to learn which verbs are irregular, and what their irregularities are.

Many of the most commonly used verbs are irregular. This can make your life harder when you are just getting started, but because you will encounter them so often in ordinary speech, you can get used to them much faster as you practice more.

VerboVerbYoUsted/Él/EllaNosotros/asUstedes/ Éllos/ Éllas
serto besoyeresessomosson
haberauxiliary to be/to haveheheshahemoshan
estarto beestoyestásestáestamosestán
tenerto havetengotienestienatenemostienen
irto govoyvasvavamosvan
saberto knowsabessabesabemossaben
darto givedoydasdadamosdan
hacerto make/ to dohagohaceshacehacemoshacen
podercan/ to be able topuedopuedespuedepodemospueden
decirto saydigodicesdicedecimosdicen

2. Pronunciation

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Anyone whose first language does not require accent marks will find it difficult to understand accents, whether they be Spanish or any other kind. How does the use of accent marks affect how a word is pronounced?

Only the five vowels (a, e, i, o, u) can be written with the Spanish accent mark (tilde) which looks like a little tick on top of the letters á, é, í, ó, ú. An accent mark above a vowel in a word in Spanish denotes that the vowel is stressed. Accents are so important because a simple tilde can change the meaning of words. For example:

  • más (more/plus) – mas (but)
  • sé (I know) – se (direct object pronoun)
  • sí (yes) – si (if)
  • cómo (how) – como (like)
  • tú (you) – tu (your)

3. Gendered words

Spanish nouns have genders assigned to them, which may take some getting used to for first-timers.

Every ‘día’ (day) is masculine while every ‘noche’ (night) is feminine. Every ‘mesa’ (tables) is female while every ‘libro’ (book) is male. This gendering also carries over to the articles and adjectives the modify these nouns. For example:

  • Buenos días. (m.)(Good morning.)

    Buenas noches. (f.)(Good evening.)

  • La mesa roja es pequeña (f.) (The red table is small).

    El libro rojo es pequeño (m.) (The red book is small).

The term “gender” can be deceptive since it seems like it should refer to sex-based characteristics like human gender. But words have a grammatical gender that has very little to do with our common understanding of gender. It is important to remember that it is the words that are gendered not the thing itself and not the person it refers to.

Some words can change depending on the biological gender of the subject. For example:

  • un camarero (m.) (a waiter)
  • una camarera (f.) (una waitress)

Two words for the same thing can be diffent genders

  • el carro (m.) (the car)
  • la maquina (f.) (the car)

Some always stay the same regardless of the person’s ender.

  • Carla (f.) es una (f.) persona (f.) lista (f.). (Carla is a smart person.)
  • Miguel (m.) es una (f.) persona (f.) lista (f.). (Miguel is a smart person.)

So no matter if you are male, female, or anything in between. You are una persona (a person).

3 Reasons Why Spanish is Not Hard to Learn

1. Many words are similar to English

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Do you know any of these words?

  • popular
  • radio
  • actor
  • capital
  • conductor
  • ideal
  • personal
  • animal
  • probable
  • flexible
  • hotel
  • cable
  • central

Can you recognize any of these words?

  • Atlántico
  • Pacífico
  • restaurante
  • importante
  • presidente
  • constructive
  • permanente
  • optimista
  • dentista
  • artista
  • medicina
  • dramático
  • atractivo
  • invitación
  • confusión

You already know hundreds of Spanish words, even if you’ve never seen or heard a single one. The only reason you aren’t aware of these words yet is that they have not been pointed out to you. The lexicon of English is heavily influenced by Latin and Romance languages. Since Spanish derives from these same sources, the two languages have a lot in common.

2. Simple sentence structure

Because English uses a Subject-Verb-Object pattern like Spanish, Spanish word order is extremely similar to English word order. The subject of a sentence is the person or thing who performs the action, the verb is what is being done, and the object refers to what is affected by the action.

  • Pablo (s) eats (v) apples (o).

    Pablo (s) come (v) manzanas (o).

  • He (s) has (v) work (o).

    Él (s) tiene (v) trabajo (o).

3. Spanish has a fixed pattern to follow

We mentioned the gendered nouns and irregular verbs earlier and how they could make your life harder. However, those are just exceptions to the rules. There are patterns and principles that still apply the majority of the time.

Words ending in a are generally female, and words ending o are generally male.

  • el periódico (m.) (the newspaper)

    un hermano (m.) (a brother)

  • la cantina (f.) (the canteen)

    una hermana (f.) (a sister)

Verb conjugation is also pretty consistent across the language, so all you need to do is master the patterns. For example in the present tense:

Pronouns-ar verbs-ir verbs-er verbs
Yo-o-o-o
-as-is-es
Usted/ el/ ella-a-e-e
Nosotros/as-amos-imos-emos
Ustedes/ Ellos/ Ellas-an–en-en

 

Spanish Learning Tips

1. Practice! Practice! Practice!

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The fastest way to learn Spanish is to practice and use the language as much as possible.  it really is the fastest way to learn Spanish. If you want to learn and improve, you need to make a commitment and find time to practice. When it comes to Spanish, just like any other skill, practice is the key to learning.

The best approach to learning Spanish is to practice and expose yourself to it as often as possible. It is the quickest method to learn Spanish. If you want to learn Spanish fast you must make a commitment and schedule practice time. Practice is as essential to learning a language as it is with any other craft or ability.

2. Speak as much as you can!

If you have access to a Spanish-speaking community, you may find it more convenient to learn the language. Practicing with others in person is a vital part of the learning process, and having Spanish speakers nearby provides you with more opportunities to put your Spanish abilities to practice. But if you don’t have access to people to talk to in person, you can always find a tutor or a language partner online. You can try speaking it to yourself. Look at your surroundings and describe the things in your room to yourself out loud in Spanish. You can even talk to your cat in Spanish!

3. Fully immerse in Spanish

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Consider switching the language setting to Spanish on your phone, computer, tablet or whatever device you use on a daily basis. This is a simple but practical way to expose yourself to the Spanish language on a regular basis and is a small way of living the language.

You’ll see the date and time in Spanish every time you set an alarm or look at your calendar. You’ll see ‘buscar’ every time you search for something. On your music player, you’ll see ‘artistas’ instead of ‘artists’, ‘albumes’ instead of ‘albums’, ‘pistas’ instead of ‘tracks’, and ‘listas de reproduccion’ instead of ‘playlists.’

Seeing a handful of the same words again and over can help the language feel more natural to you, and you’ll find it simpler to incorporate them into your daily life with no effort.

FAQ:

1. Is Spanish hard to learn for English speakers?

Particularly if you already speak English, some features of Spanish that are similar to English will make it easier for you while other features different from English will make it more challenging. In the end, how you respond to the challenge is up to you.

2. How long does it take to learn Spanish?

The generalized answer would be around 600 hours. The Foreign Service Institute rates Spanish as a category 1 language, requiring approximately 24 weeks (600 classroom hours) of concentrated practice if English is your first language.

The more accurate answer is that it depends. The time it takes to learn Spanish depends on your goals and definition of fluency. It also depends on how much and how effectively you are able to practice per day.

The journey of language learning is its own reward. Try to enjoy it. The more you enjoy it, the more you are motivated, the more you will keep at it, and the better you will get. That’s what counts.

3. What are some resources that can help me learn Spanish?

You can make use of all kinds of media from music, radio, Youtube videos, TV shows, podcasts, and online articles. Whenever you encounter new words you can supplement those with pop-up dictionaries, frequency lists, and flashcards. You can even make a playlist of your favorite Spanish music and browse through the lyrics. You can also check out our list of 100 Spanish adjectives.

Es hora de decidir por ti mismo.

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Now that you are familiar with some of the advantages you have and the challenges you will face in learning Spanish as an English speaker, it’s time for you to decide for yourself how hard it is. Why not check out some online Spanish courses?

With AmazingTalker, you can work with professional Spanish tutors at reasonable rates from the comfort of your home while receiving, personalized learning plans and 1-on-1 support. Anyone who wants to learn Spanish effectively and efficiently can benefit from working one-on-one with a Spanish tutor from AmazingTalker. Whether it is for toddlers, young kids, older kids, middle school and high school students, or adults of all levels, we have professional Spanish tutors in beginner, intermediate, and advanced Spanish language programs.

Head on over to AmazingTalker to learn more about Spanish and any other languages that might catch your interest.

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