Why learning Spanish is so important?
Is learning Spanish a need before going to South America?
Relocating to South America is the dream of many. Home to such sites as Cartagena, Santa Marta, Machu Pichu, the Iguazu Falls and Chris the Redeemer, the continent promises exciting adventures. Nevertheless, to truly immerse yourself in the culture, learning Spanish is essential. Below includes the many benefits of learning this widely-spoken language.
Success at work
If you are living in South America, it is highly likely that at least some portion of your team will be Spanish speaking. While it may be the case that your colleagues and clients speak other languages, knowing how to converse with them in their native language helps establish a deeper connection and avoids misunderstandings. This is particularly important for those in leadership positions as they are responsible for the cohesiveness of a team.
For this same reason, most HR expatriation and relocation packages include language training. This training should not just focus solely on learning the language, however. Cross-cultural training is of equal importance. BiCortex Languages, which specialises in language tuition for expatriates and their families, is an ideal resource. With native speakers, they can offer not only authentic exposure to Spanish, but can also give advice on how to assimilate in a new business setting. It is also important to get professional support for documents translations when needed.
For example, as part of what you might learn that Hispanic cultures tend to be more tactile, or equally that American cultures are traditionally more individualistic.
A useful skill
Spanish is the official language in all South American countries except Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Thus, once you have mastered Spanish with some online lessons, you can get around the continent with ease. Spanish will also prove useful should you leave South America. Spoken in Spain, the United States, Andorra and Gibraltar, it boasts 580 million speakers around the world. It is no surprise that employers receive a significant return on investment by providing Spanish classes to their employees.
South American Culture
Learning Spanish will allow you to truly appreciate all the wonders of South American culture. Julio Cortázar, Jorge Luis Borges, Horacio Quiroga and Ruben Darío are just some of the continent’s literature greats. Similarly, the culinary delicacies are made of unique ingredients unable to be sourced as easily in other parts of the world. Ajiaco and Arepas, for example, are delicious traditional dishes from Colombia. From art, dance, architecture, history and more, there is plenty to discover in South America.
Do all South American countries speak the same Spanish?
While Spanish is spoken widely in South America, there are distinct regional variances.
You can certainly make yourself understood, whichever particular dialect you choose to study, however it is important to be aware of some of the main linguistic differences. The best Spanish courses will include information about how language and culture can vary. Using a virtual classroom, your Spanish teacher may also use sound media such as video and radio to allow you to hear the differences.
Ways of saying ‘you’
For English speakers, who are accustomed to having only one word for ‘you’, learning Spanish can be confusing. With polite and plural forms, ‘you’ can be said in different ways in Spanish. But there are also differences in how ‘you’ is said between different Spanish speaking countries. In South America, for example, ustedes is more commonly used as a plural form, whereas in Spain you are more likely to hear vosotros. While most Spanish speaking countries use tu for the singular form of ‘you’, there are some countries (such as Argentina and Uruguay) where vos is used.
Useful vocabulary when learning Spanish
Given the vast geographical distances across South America, it is hardly surprising that variances in vocabulary should emerge. This is particularly the case with regards to colloquial words phrases, which are more likely to evolve given their frequent use. Padre (Mexico), chévere (Colombia), bárbaro (Argentina) and buena onda (Chile) are just some of the many ways to say ‘cool’ in South America.
You may have noticed a distinct difference between the pronunciation in Spain versus Latin America. However, there are also differences in pronunciation both between Latin American countries and also within them. For example, the ‘ll’ combination, such as in ¿cómo te llamas?, can be pronounced as a sh, j, or y sound.
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