We live in a world full of myths… So, why should Spanish language be spared?
God knows why some people harbour myths about foreign languages and their acquisition, myths about learning Spanish are not an exception. There is a notion around foreign languages that speaking several languages was something only possible for intellectual elites. Learning Spanish or any foreign language is not akin to climbing the Himalayas: it only requires motivation and a bit of perseverance. If you are contemplating learning Spanish, just go for it and don’t let yourself get intimidated by myths.
Here are five common and coarse myths about learning Spanish:
1. “Spanish grammar is super difficult” is one of the most well-spread myths about learning Spanish. Frankly, Spanish grammar is easier than other grammar especially if you’ve studied other languages.
Spanish grammar is somehow simple in many key aspects:
– Genders: Spanish only has two genders: masculine and feminine, whilst German has three. It is easy to identify gender in Spanish: 99% of the words ending in A are feminine, whereas 99% of the word ending in O are masculine. Try to identify the gender of a noun in French or German. It is a real puzzle, thanks to the last letter.
– Irregular Verbs: There are 46 irregular verbs in Spanish, 283 in English, 570 in French.
– Declensions: There are no declensions in Spanish, sorry for those who decided to learn German or Russian. Declensions, inherited from Latin, are a series of variations applicable at the end of the words according to their function in the sentence. There are no less than four declensions in German, which are applicable to articles, nouns, pronouns and adjectives. For example, the article “the” in masculine in German: Der, can become Den, Dem or Des depending on its function in the sentence.
– Plurals: dead easy! 99% of plurals in Spanish consist of an S at the end. There are only three types of irregular plurals in Spanish. Try Arabic, the majority of plurals must be learnt as a different word.
2. “Spanish is hard to spell” This is probably one of the coarsest myths: Spanish spelling is dead easy despite very few exceptions.
Whoever has studied several languages knows that Spanish is probably the easiest language to spell among Latin ones. Not to mention French that inspires many memes has dozens of words that are pronounced exactly the same way but have different spelling. When it comes to spelling in Spanish, what you hear is what you get. Actually, there are probably not more than 8 common spelling mistakes as compared to English!
3. “Spanish is like Italian” Come on, this is like saying Renaissance is like Baroque!
Although at first sight, Italian and Spanish may seem very similar, it is only partially true. Yes, both languages share many vocabularies but they are grammatically quite different. Italian grammar can be very tricky and can often present more difficulties than the Spanish one. You would be surprised though, how French and Italian grammar are twin sisters and use convoluted rules when Spanish does not. Example: the use of the auxiliary verb “to Be” for past tenses. Yes, French, Italian (and German by the way) use alternatively to be or to have to compose past tenses. Je suis allé or Io sono andato . Spanish is easier and only uses to Have for all past tenses: “Yo he ido”.
More? In addition, Spanish has thousands of words inherited directly from Arabic, whilst French and Italian have a few dozens. This is why, despite the myth, many common and daily words are not at all similar between Italian and Spanish.
4. “Spanish phonetic is hard to pick up”: hum… then taste Polish or Chinese and compare
Spanish phonetics may not be so easy, but if you think about it, English vowels are particularly difficult for many foreigners; bead vs bid, read, vs rid, beach vs bitch (sorry, this one is irresistible for many non-English speakers). What about Polish? How are you supposed to pronounce a word like Szczęście. Check some Polish words phonetic: it is a big challenge! What to say about Chinese, which has four different tones? This means that depending on the way you pronounce the syllable [ba] it could mean: dad, eight, aim or pull.
5. “Spanish subjunctive is a torture” True, but not totally true.
Subjunctive exists in all Latin languages. So, don’t blame it only on Spanish. Whichever Latin language you decide to learn you have to overcome the trauma of subjunctive. Whether it’s French, Italian or Portuguese you will have to assimilate subjunctive. The key here is the same for all those languages: subjunctive will naturally become intuitive after an extended aural and reading exposure to the language. Moreover, practice leads to perfection when it comes to subjunctive in Spanish, Portuguese or any other Latin language.
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