If you are traveling to Mexico a little knowledge of Spanish will go a long way to making your experience better, and if you are planning to retire or relocate to Mexico it’s a must if you want to get the most out of your exciting new life.
The great thing about learning Spanish is that it really is never too late. Whether you are a young child or teenager, a young professional, a parent or a retiree you can learn Spanish.
Mexican people really do love “Gringos” who attempt to learn their language, and it doesn’t matter how silly you feel trying to speak it, they are more than willing to help and encourage you in whatever way they can.
On top of that Spanish is an extremely fulfilling experience. Once you begin to get a grip of the language you begin to appreciate its beauty and its roots and discover that many of the words are actually very similar to your own language.
If you’re like me you will have memories of struggling to grasp the basics of learning languages at school but the fact is that methods have vastly changed over the years. These days learning a language can be an uplifting experience.
It really isn’t that hard, even if you are learning from scratch, Spanish is a language that you immediately start to see results with.
Some interesting facts about Spanish:
• Spanish is the 3rd most widely spoken in the world, used by 500 million people, after Mandarin Chinese and English.
• 25 different nations speak Spanish either as the official language or as a primary language.
• Spanish Literature & Film: A large body of literary work is written in Spanish and Spanish language films continue to receive praise from the film industry and viewers.
• Studying and practicing Spanish increases problem-solving skills, improves memory and mental sharpness.
• Increase your career opportunities: knowing a foreign language will enable you to take advantage of significant educational opportunities, such as spending a summer or abroad on student exchange.
• Prepare you for university: Students who have studied foreign languages score better on entrance exams. Foreign language is an important research tool in many disciplines, and reading knowledge of a foreign language is usually required for completion of a doctorate.
• Many languages have Latin origins. Since Spanish is a Latin language, you will find as you study Spanish that you have a better understanding of your native vocabulary.
• Cultural understanding: While most of us (Pope John Paul II may be an exception) cannot hope to learn the languages of more than one or two cultures other than that of our own, those that we can learn help us to learn how other people learn and think. When you read Latin American or Spanish newspapers, for example, you often find that you gain a sense of how other people think and feel in a way that differs to your own.
• If you can learn Spanish, you will have a head start in learning the other Latin-based languages such as French and Italian. And it could even help you learn Russian and German, since they too have Indo-European roots and similiar characteristics (such as gender and extensive conjugation) that are present in Spanish. And don’t be surprised if learning Spanish even helps you learn Japanese or any other non-Indo-European language for that matter, since learning the structure of a language can give you a reference point for learning others.
There are various methods of learning Spanish. You may have been born into a Spanish-speaking family and have the benefit of your parents teaching you from an early age. You could watch television programmes broadcast in Spanish absorbing it that way, you could enrol in classes at your local college or you could even teach yourself using special software or dvd’s.
The great thing about using online or computer software methods is you can learn at your own pace and at your own convenience.
Language applications that you can access online or by computer let you study at your convenience and in a way that suits your learning style.
Software for Learning Spanish: What you should look for
Spanish courses differ greatly, what’s right for one person can be completely wrong for another. To determine what the best approach for you is try researching the different types of instructional methods and tools used and decide which one one you think would best suit your learning abilities. Some of things to consider are…
Determine your entry level. If you are a complete beginner or just trying to learn a few phrases for your next vacation then a basic Spanish course will suffice. If your goal is to become fluent you will want to invest in a more in depth course. For example, a total immersion approach is where the instructors speak only Spanish and all instructions are in Spanish, while the more traditional products offer guidance and instruction in English, with practice in Spanish pronunciation. Neither approach is necessarily better than the other; they are just different approaches. You will need to figure out which way suits you best.
If you are a visual learner software with images and videos will more than likely be the best option for you. If you absorb information better by listening then an audio-focused approach will better suit you. Digital flashcards, Word recognition programmes and recordings of a native speaker’s voice are great tools.
Help & Support
Look for programs that make it easy to navigate the screens and modules. If you get stuck you want to be able to quickly find help from within the application. If you run into a problem that requires you to contact the publisher, it should be straight forward to contact support, and it should be made clear on the website or manual when support is available and what response times are likely to be.
If you have made learning Spanish your goal, congratulations, you have a chosen a worthy goal that can only benefit you for the rest of your life.
If a hectic work schedule and/or family responsibilities make it impossible for you to take a language class at the local college instructional language software is one of the best ways for you to effectively learn Spanish.