12 Fun Facts About the Spanish language

spain

 Original Facts

  1. With 405 million native speakers, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the world, after only Mandarin Chinese.  – Source: Wikipedia
  2. Spanish is an official language of the UN, the European Union, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international organizations. -Source : Wikipedia
  3. Over the last 10 years, the worldwide demand for Spanish Language courses has almost doubled. -Source: U of Illinois, Springfield.
  4. Spanish is the most popular foreign language to learn in the U.S., Europe and Canada. -Source: Wikipedia
  5. Studies have shown that students with 2 years of studying Spanish or other foreign language score higher on their verbal scores on the ACT/SAT. -Source:  Actfl.org
  6. Spanish is one of the world’s most phonetic languages. If you know how a word is spelled, you almost always know how it is pronounced. -Source: One Month Spanish
  7. Spanish’s use of use of inverted question marks and exclamation points (¿ and¡) is unique among major languages.  -Source: About.com
  8. The official Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (DRAE) contains 88,431 words.
    Source: DRAE 22nd edition
  9. The average native Spanish speaker uses about 7,000 words.  –Source: ABC.es
  10. The country with the largest population of Spanish speakers is Mexico with 114 million.  The country with the second largest population is the United States with 50 million (more than Spain).  -Source: Wikipedia
  11. After Latin, the language that has had the biggest influence on Spanish is Arabic. Source: About.com.
  12. Countries from Central America (except El Salvador) use the term español to refer to Spanish, while most countries from South America use the term castellano.  -Source: Wikipedia.

Spanish Pronunciation: The Complete Guide

Complete guide to Spanish Pronunciation with Audio
One of the big mistakes made by many Spanish students is spending all of their time and effort learning vocabulary and grammar while neglecting Spanish pronunciation.  This is big mistake for those who aspire to do more than read and write in Spanish, since your ability to use effective pronunciation will have a much greater impact on your ability to be understood by native Spanish speakers than occasional grammar mistakes.

Whenever I [spoke to someone], they kept asking me ‘What? What?’ I would repeat my sentence again and again. Finally they would say Ah-ha! and then repeat my sentence, using exactly my words! It was very humiliating. I knew my words and grammar were good, but nobody would understand me, just because of my pronunciation.

The other mistake that Spanish students often make is to delay the study of pronunciation until after they have already acquired a large vocabulary. This is also a big mistake  — learning vocabulary without correct pronunciation from the beginning means that you end up building a large vocabulary of words that you can recognize one paper, but cannot faithfully reproduce orally.  These words must later be re-learned a second time with proper pronunciation — an increasingly difficult task when you have been pronouncing words incorrectly for a long time.  For this reason, proper pronunciation should be stressed from the very beginning of your language study in order to provide a solid foundation for future learning.

How to use this Guide

The primary goal of this guide is to teach you how to first hear, and eventually replicate, proper Spanish pronunciation. Each section below contains audio exercises designed to help you to practice specific aspects of Spanish pronunciation. Simply reading through this guide without taking the time to complete the audio exercises will likely do little to improve your pronunciation in Spanish.  Listen to the audio exercises carefully and try to emulate their pronunciation as closely as possible. Practice the audio exercises over and over until you are confident you are pronouncing the words correctly.  (You can use the link below to download the audio files to your computer for additional practice.)

Download Complete Guide and Audio Files: Click here to download a PDF copy of this guide along with all of the audio files to your computer.

Continue reading

How to get over 1000 free podcasts to rapidly improve your Spanish

Spanish podcasts

Listening to podcasts is one of the best ways for students to practice and improve their Spanish.  Listening to Spanish podcasts allows you to:

  • Practice your Spanish with native materials, even when you don’t have access to a fluent Spanish speaker.
  • Train your ear to recognize oral Spanish, from a variety of a speakers and accents.
  • Expand your ability to process and understand larger chunks of Spanish than the short sentences and phrases you have worked with as a beginner.
  • Download audio so that you can practice your Spanish while walking the dog, going to the gym, commuting to work, etc.

You will get the most benefit from working with podcasts if you already have a solid understanding of basic grammar and know a decent amount of vocabulary (at least 1000 words). Until then you will likely find it difficult to understand enough of the material benefit from podcasts. A good rule of thumb is that you should be able to understand approximately 75% of everything you hear, so that any new material you need to learn makes up no more than 25%.

Before diving into podcasts, you should already be able quickly recognize the various verb forms (including present, preterite, imperfect and command forms), and have a decent grasp of object pronouns, reflexive verbs, and other basic structures. If you are still rusty on any of these topics, you will likely progress faster by focusing on dedicated instructional materials like our full conversational Spanish course, and then move on to podcasts only after you have mastered these essentials.

How to use podcasts to improve your Spanish

You will get the most benefit from listening to podcasts if you train yourself to use them as the basis for active learning rather than passive listening. To maximize the value of podcasts as a learning tool, we recommend taking the follow approach:
Continue reading