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We’ve read the arguments for learning French, but let’s be honest: Spanish, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, or any other language with growing global importance would be a better choice.
Spanish may be the best choice of all for a second language, which is why its popularity in schools is soaring worldwide.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, here are some reasons why you should estudiar.
1. Spanish isn’t a foreign language anymore
In the US, Spanish is rising ahead of any other non-English language at a rapid pace, with a steady flow of new immigrants from Latin America and growth in the already large Hispanic population.
According to a Pew Research Center report, an estimated 37.6 million people in the US spoke Spanish as their first language in 2013, and analysts predict the Latino population will reach approximately 128.8 million by 2060.
Proportionally, Hispanics will rise from around 16% of the US population in 2010 to 30% by 2050.
2. Learning Spanish will help your career
With such a large Latino population in the US and booming Latin economies outside the US, employers are desperate for people who speak Spanish. There is a huge demand in the US for Spanish-speakers in nursing, construction management, and media, among many other positions.
Big corporations are realizing the importance of reaching a market that will represent $1.5 trillion in purchasing power in the US by 2015. Meanwhile, Latin America received a record $174 billion of foreign investment in 2012, and companies everywhere are expanding there, such as PepsiCo, which announced a $5 billion investment in Mexico in January 2014.
3. It will unlock a world of travel destinations
There are approximately 329 million native Spanish speakers in the world, and they populate some of the coolest destinations in the world. You can leave behind the touristy resorts in Cancun and explore thousands of miles of cheap and beautiful Latin America cities, beaches, and trails.
Even if you do go to popular destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean, speaking the local language will help you get off the beaten path and see some real culture. And then of course you can book a trip to Spain and see the wonders of Barcelona, Madrid, Andalucia and more.
4. You can enjoy amazing books and movies
Around 100 successful authors from 54 countries voted “El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha” by novelist Miguel de Cervantes as the best book of all time, and while the 17th-century book is widely available in other languages, it, like any book, is best in its original language.
Other Spanish-language authors you’ll want to read are Chilean poet Pablo Neruda — many of whose works have not been translated — Gabriel García Márquez, Roberto Bolaño, Mario Vargas Llosa, and many more.
And then there are the movies. Star directors Pedro Almodóvar, Alfonso Cuarón, and Guilermo Del Toro — who all have movies in their native language — should be enough to convince you of the richness of Spanish-language cinema.
5. Spanish is easy to learn
Arabic has a completely different alphabet, French spelling and pronunciation are incredibly specific and tricky, and Chinese requires learning unique tones. Written Spanish, on the other hand, is almost completely phonetic — look at any Spanish word, and you can tell how it is pronounced.
While mastering the grammar of Spanish can be a challenge, basic grammar is straightforward enough, and many vocabulary words are similar to English. Since the number of Spanish speakers in the US continues to rise, chances are it will become even easier to learn and practice this language.
6. Even the British are swapping French for Spanish
The British Council’s “Languages of the Future” report ranks non-English languages in order of importance for British citizens to learn, based on a thorough analysis of cultural, economical, and diplomatic factors. Spanish topped the list, followed by Arabic, French, and Mandarin.
If the home territory of the English language — which is located just miles from France and which doesn’t even have that many Spanish-speaking immigrants — has decided that Spanish is the best second language, then who are we to argue?