Half full or half empty? How easy or difficult is to learn a foreign language by an English speaker? When it comes to learning Spanish, the cup is initially 61% full.
All courses of foreign languages should have an introduction, a lesson zero, where the instructor not only empathizes with the students, but also builds an enthusiastic attitude towards the target language. That introduction should answer two questions: how useful and how easy the target language is.
The answer about the useful is straightforward: why would the students be in the classroom otherwise? Even young students in mandatory classes can be shown that if the course is in their academic program is because it is useful: either to communicate with others in their area or to get better jobs.
And if asked how easy the target language is, the answer is also straightforward: Spanish is practically the easiest language to learn. The popular Language Academy Berlitz in her blog “15 of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers” put Spanish is the forth place, only behind Frisian, Dutch, and Norwegian languages. So, Spanish is ahead of similar languages like Portuguese, Italian, French, or German.
And if asked how easy the target language is, the answer is also straightforward: Spanish is practically the easiest language to learn.
Spanish derives from Latin; English doesn’t but it is filled with Latin. A rough estimate based on the etymology of words reveals that 61% of the English vocabulary is related to Spanish.
– Latin, including modern scientific and technical Latin: 28%
– French, including Old French and early Anglo-French: 28%
– Greek, (already in Latin): 5%
Although this is a rough estimate, it justifies the level of similarity between English and Spanish. Many English words have one synonym that is similar in Spanish, for examples “chick pea” is “garbanzo”, “satsuma” is “mandarin.”
The most effective pedagogical method is the one that makes the content easy. Using English to Learn Spanish is this method. It focuses on the similarities and takes out the Spanish that is already in you.
When learning Spanish, a “garbanzo bean soup with a touch of mandarin” tastes always better than a “chick pea soup with a touch of satsuma.”