Spanish is generally considered a simple language to learn in comparison with languages such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic or even German. In Spanish, a word is pronounced just as you would expect with most sounds having only one spelling.
Gallagher, one of my all-time favorite comedians, points out several pronunciation and spelling headaches in English that make life hard for English learners (I’ve added a couple of extras too):
Confusing English pronunciation examples:
- think, then
- cook, cool or good food
- bomb, tomb, comb
- worse, horse
- laughter, daughter
- ache, steak, stake
- go, do
For a language learner the only way to differentiate among the above sounds is through memorization. There are hundreds of these differences in English. In Spanish far fewer exceptions to the language exist than in other languages.
So, to some degree Spanish is in fact easier than most languages. Except for one major component that people do not discuss. Spanish changes significantly from one country to the next. And after 15 years of Spanish study, it still baffles me why NOBODY TALKS ABOUT THIS.
As a foreigner learning Spanish you are not told that major differences in the language will hinder your ability to understand and communicate in the language as you travel from one country to the next. This does not just apply to foreigners that are learning Spanish. Native speakers trying to communicate with native speakers from different countries also suffer through this.
Here I must highlight that IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO LEARN THE LOCAL LANGUAGE TO COMMUNICATE WITH A SPANISH SPEAKER. However, YOU WILL COMMUNICATE BETTER if you speak to someone in their local language.
It annoys me when I read someone arguing that Spanish is only one language, that everyone speaking Spanish communicates easily and the differences among countries are not important. THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” -Nelson Mandela
Check out these other Learning Spanish Slang articles.