4 Reasons I Want/Need To Learn Spanish

All right, that’s it, I’m done, I have to learn Spanish. Je peux lire le français et parler un peu, so while I’d like to brush up on it to be fully fluent, I could get by in French-speaking countries. But my one year of Intensive Spanish in high school is no longer cutting it. I’m still beginner-level. Here’s why I want to learn it:

1. Other Americans speak it, and it’s a barrier between my understanding of my fellow countrymen that I can’t. Theoretically you could say that about any language, but the difference between Spanish and any other (non-English) language is that it is the second most-spoken language in the United States other than English. There are 37.6 million Americans who speak Spanish. The next-most spoken language is Chinese, and only (“only”) 2.8 million Americans speak it. That’s one-thirteenth of the Spanish-speaking population of the United States. For a long time, English kids were forced to learn at least a little bit of French because of the high probability that they’d one day be in a situation in which they had to have a conversation with a native French-speaker. In America, it’s not a probability, it’s an inevitability that you will find yourself trying to communicate with someone who’s more comfortable speaking Spanish. Why shouldn’t we all know how to speak it, at least passably?

2. I can be a better intersectional feminist and ally to Latinas and undocumented immigrants if I can speak or read Spanish. A good amount of the activist work that is done in Hispanic communities in the United States is done in the Spanish language, and I have no access to it merely because I don’t know even basic Spanish. I can’t learn about the complex issues that my neighbors deal with because I can’t understand the language in which they are most capable of communicating their experiences.

3. I want to be able to consume media that’s in Spanish. Canal+ just visited the “Game of Thrones” set in Spain and I can’t read a gal-derned word of their tweets because I don’t know Spanish. It took me way, way too long to figure out that “juego” means game and “trono” would probably mean “throne.” I want the news, and I want all of it, and I don’t want to have to pass it through either a human or a computer translator! I also want to be able to watch telenovelas and read Bolaño in his original words.

4. My friends bothered to learn English so that they could talk to people like me — so I should learn Spanish so that I can talk to people like them. I live in a city that is 28 percent Hispanic. Somewhere in the range of 1 out of every 10 people I might meet in the United States would have an easier time talking to me if I learned their language — and the thing is that I have the resources available to do so. I have the money, the time, and I have access to people who speak Spanish as their first language who would be patient with my bad pronunciation.

So does anyone know a good way to learn? I have Fluenz for French, but I feel like there are probably more options for learning Spanish in America. Any tips will be appreciated!

[Pew]

[BBC]

[The Mary Sue]

[Census Bureau]

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