Spain has had a massive impact on the world, establishing colonies throughout the Americas and changing the destiny of a continent. So it’s not surprising that so many people today speak the Spanish language.
22 countries list Spanish as their official language, including:
There are Spanish speaking communities all over the world. All told, there are 437 million speakers across the world, making it the second most popular language on Earth. Just under 47 million of these speakers live in Spain.
Spanish is a Romance language, deriving directly from Vulgar Latin with some help from Greek and Arabic, along with the languages of the Iberian tribes. As one of only six official United Nations languages, it’s an important diplomatic tongue.
As a Romance language, Spanish uses the Latin alphabet, which will be instantly familiar to an English speaker. Although the alphabet is familiar, you should take the time to learn phonetics, which are different. Otherwise, you’ll mispronounce the words you read.
Italian and Spanish are quite similar, to the degree that people from Italy and Spain often understand each other quite well. However, they are not similar enough to be “mutually comprehensible”.
If you are familiar with Italian, you’ll certainly have a shorter learning curve. The reverse is true too, of course – which is another benefit of learning Spanish.
South American Spanish does have some significant differences, so if you intend to stay in latin America, it’s worth studying the local version. Of course, you’ll be able to get by with European Spanish – however, some of the expressions are considered archaic or old-fashioned in Latin America.
Many people in Spain and Latin America are fluent in English, which is a safety net for students attempting to learn through total immersion.
The Spanish language is the most popular European language in the world, so it’s certainly worth learning.