Is Spanish Really A Boring Language? (Solved!)


It is a common misconception in the United States that Spanish is a boring language to learn. This idea is largely based on the fact that many middle schools and high schools offer Spanish as a language option. Many students may think it is boring to learn because they feel forced to learn it in school. 

Spanish is not a boring language to learn. The Spanish language and culture are different enough, yet simple enough for English speakers to enjoy. Not only is it incredibly interesting, but the Spanish language is also extremely useful both inside and outside of the United States.

In 2020, Spanish was ranked as the fourth most common language in the world and the third most common Indo-European language in the world. Not only is Spanish a common language around the world and in the United States, the Spanish cultures are among some of the most intriguing and vibrant cultures in the world. Read on to learn more about Spanish and why it should not be boring for students to learn or teachers to teach.

Interesting Origins of Spanish Language

The Spanish language has been around for 1,500 years, giving it a rich and interesting history.

  • Like many Indo-European languages, Latin had a profound influence on Spanish.
  • It originated in the Iberian Peninsula from a dialect of Latin called Vulgar Latin.
  • This is different to Classical Latin, the basis of the English language and literature.

Because Spanish has interesting origins, incorporating its history and literature can be a way to ensure Spanish language learning is not boring. Infusing instruction and study with the language’s complex roots makes learning more meaningful.

During the reign of the Roman empire, Latin began to mix with many other languages in the Iberian Peninsula. The Visgoths then isolated the area, causing the isolation of the Vulgar Latin dialect. Later on, the Moors invaded the area and contributed around four thousand words with Arabic origin to the langage. 

Following the invasion of the Moors, the Reconquista period began as the Kingdom of Castile took control of what is now modern-day Spain. Castilian Spanish became popular, and many written literature was commissioned in the language. 

King Alfonso X believed that spreading literature in his native language of Castilian Spanish would ensure that the language would be spread across other nations and would never be lost. For this reason, the creation of literature helped play a major role in the spread and popularization of Castilian Spanish over the years. 

As Spain went on to colonize many other areas over the years, the Spanish language was spread to Latin America, North America, and even remote parts of northernmost Africa. In 1713, the Royal Spanish Academy was formed in Madrid to standardize the language. Although the Spanish Academy still stands today, a few other countries have formed their academies because of the differences in Spanish dialects. 

Spanish Culture Is Not Boring

One of the most interesting aspects of Spanish is the rich and colorful culture that surrounds it. Both the historical and modern aspects of the Spanish culture are full of unique traditions and characteristics. 

Spain, the origin of the Spanish language, is a popular destination for foreigners and is in the top ten most frequently visited countries by Americans.

Because Spain is a popular travel destination, many people enjoy Spanish culture, including its bold foods, lively festivals and holidays, and dynamic atmosphere. Including cultural influences with language learning will ensure Spanish is not boring for those studying it.

Major aspects of Spanish culture that draw interest from all over the world include:

  • Delicious cuisine
  • Incredible architecture
  • Entertaining cinema
  • Successful sports teams

Spanish Food is Fun

Spanish food is known for use of fresh seafood, vibrant tomatoes, and lots of colorful peppers. It also is just as well known for signature desserts. Even though you don’t live in Spain, it’s easy to incorporate Spanish cuisine into your Spanish language learning in order to keep Spanish from becoming boring.

As a language specialist teacher, I found most students are much more engaged in learning when food is involved in the process. From studying language through recipes to including cultural food as part of a broader participation in festivals, bringing food into language learning is fun.

You can keep yourself motivated (and less likely to become bored) by researching various popular Spanish foods for lunch, dinner, snacks, and holiday traditions.

Most Popular Spanish Breakfasts:

Although there’s always variety, there are some breakfast items more common place than others in Spain and will certainly keep your breakfasts from becoming boring. Here are three Spanish breakfasts to try at home, your local Spanish-style eatery, or if you’re so lucky, the next time you’re in Spain:

  1. Tostada con tomate, aceite, y jamón– This is otherwise known as toasted bread with lots of olive oil, tomato, and ham. This toast can vary a bit from region to region, but is quite popular, yet simple to do right in your own kitchen.
  2. Chocolate con churrosHot chocolate and sugary cinnamony fried dough? Count me in! Spanish hot chocolate is very rich and thick, so it is a perfect dipping sauce for your yummy churros! Recipes are easy to find on the internet, from super simple to more complicated, fancy versions.
  3. Pincho de tortilla– Most Americans are familiar with the idea of a Spanish omelette for no other reason than the local IHOP! However, a true Spanish omelette looks nothing like the IHOP version, and of course, is so much better. It’s full of delicious crisp and hearty potatoes, that it’s more of a potato pie than egg dish.

If you would like to read more about learning Spanish, its culture, or where to find it in the world, here are some of our other articles you will enjoy…

Popular, Un-Boring, Spanish Lunches:

Spain is well known for their mid-day meal being the largest. Typically all Spanish people eat lunch around 2 or 3 p.m. each day, actually sitting down with their families to eat together. This means it’s common for Spanish people to go home everyday for lunch, before resuming their work day after a one or two hour lunch respite.

Here are two typical Spanish lunches that can keep Spanish fun for you:

  1. Paella: This Spanish rice dish means ‘frying pan’ in Valencian, a Spanish regional dialect. It’s become known in the US as a quintessential Spanish dish which features rice, seafood, and vegetables in one dish. It also enjoyed attention from a popular Seinfeld episode featuring George’s parents who had ‘all this paella’ leftover after being stood up by Jerry’s parents for a dinner date.
  2. Gazpacho: This is a cold vegetable soup containing tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, olive oil and other seasonings. It’s usually served during warm summer months typical for Spain.

Very Un-Boring Spanish Desserts:

Perhaps Spain isn’t as well-known as France or even Switzerland for desserts, but there are some Spanish sweet dishes that most people have already tried and will be fun to add to your Spanish cultural experience, whether at home or acting as tourist in Spain.

Here are three Spanish desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth, as well as propagate Spanish learning:

  1. Tarta De Santiago: This is a Spanish almond cake with orange zest and most notably depicting a cross on top from an artfully constructed design technique using powdered sugar. It’s recipe dates back to the 15th century and is a delicious way to infuse Spanish culture with history and religion while language learning.
  2. Bunuelos: These are another doughnut dessert. Often they are stuffed with jam or custard or just dusted with powdered sugar. I’ve seen bunuelos on local American menus but because they have such common, easy ingredients (eggs, flour, milk, and sugar) they are simple enough to make at your home kitchen too. 
  3. Flan: Though it’s especially popular in Mexican cuisine, flan is original to Spain. Either way, you can enjoy this custardy dessert with a caramel topping as you indulge in Spanish culture and cuisine!

To help you in your Spanish cuisine journey, I recommend this cookbook from Amazon called, Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen by the award-winning chef José Andrés.

Spanish Music and Dance Culture

Now Spanish cuisine is not the only fun part of Spanish culture. Spain is aptly known for its lively music and dance culture, too. Let’s look at a few ways you can infuse your Spanish language learning, keeping it un-boring!

  • Flamenco: Flamenco is a folksy music style, originating in southern Spain. Some date it as early as the 9th century and it features instruments such as tambourines, bells, and wooden castanets. Flamenco not only has its own music, but also includes ‘Flamenco dance’ as a prominent role. Female dancers are known to wear full, colorful skirts, too.
  • Guitar: Wood guitars are a traditional Spanish instrument. In addition to the Flamenco guitar, Vihuela and Timple are two wooden guitars noted from Spain.

Other Spanish-Speaking Cultures Are Fun, Too

There are numerous countries that speak Spanish, and learning to speak Spanish will enable you to immerse yourself in these cultures when traveling abroad. While it is useful to know Spanish for travel and tourism, learning Spanish and becoming bilingual will also help you in many occupations due to the widespread use of Spanish.

Knowing Spanish will help you in other countries besides Spain: United States, Mexico, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Peru, to name a few.

In addition to speaking the same language as these other non-Spain countries, you can also learn about these countries in general (their history, culture, religion and so on) to liven up your Spanish learning. Let’s look at bit closer at these other countries and their ‘Spanish’ connection in the next section.

The Prevalence of Spanish in the World

Despite what some people may think, Spain is not the only country in the world that speaks Spanish.

  • In 2020, there were over half a billion Spanish speakers in the world.
  • Spanish was the fourth most common language in the world in 2020.
  • By 2050, it is estimated that 10 percent of the global population will speak Spanish.

Due to its prevalence, Spanish is a useful language to learn. It is recognized as one of the six official languages of the United Nations and is becoming increasingly popular in international business and commerce. Spanish is an incredibly useful language for native English speakers to learn. 

Though English is known all over the world, and is still the most commonly spoken language globally, many countries have Spanish as it’s main language and thus, Spanish will be helpful to know in many countries you travel.

The Prevalence of Spanish in The United States

Spanish speaking has increased exponentially in the United States, making it now 2nd only to Mexico as having the largest Spanish speaking population.

The United States has two bordering countries, and citizens of Mexico, the country directly south of the United States, speak Spanish. Over the years, many Mexican citizens have immigrated to the United States and assimilated into the culture while bringing in many aspects of their own culture.

While this is more obvious in southern states where more Mexican immigrants are present, there were ten million Mexican-born individuals living in the United States in 2019.

With an increase in native Spanish speakers in America, it is useful for English speaking Americans to learn some Spanish, if not become fluent in Spanish. In 43 states in the United States, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States. It is estimated that around 13 percent of people in the United States speak Spanish at home.

Learning Spanish in order to speak with native Spanish-speakers in the US will open up opportunities in business and personal relationships for you. This in turn keeps your life interesting…and thereby, makes Spanish not boring for you!

Why You Should Learn to Speak Spanish

Learning any second or foreign language has benefits, but learning Spanish specifically is beneficial for Americans.

Aside from how useful the language is, one of the most appealing aspects of Spanish is that it can be easy to learn in comparison to other common languages in the world like Chinese and Hindi. Spanish is a phonetic language, which means that you can look at a written word and learn to pronounce it, just like the English language. 

  • Spanish is written using an alphabet that is similar to the English alphabet.
  • The English and Spanish alphabets have different pronunciations for many of the same letters, but writing and reading Spanish does not involve learning many new characters.
  • Reading and writing in Spanish is easier for those who can read and write in English since many of the letters are written the same way.

Spanish is also a relatively comfortable language for English speakers to learn to pronounce words. While some sounds and words may be difficult to grasp, Spanish has a lot of similar sounds to English. 

While most words are not similar in English and Spanish, there are a few similar words in both languages. In fact, English has borrowed many words from Spain. This includes common words like patio, vanilla, macho, plaza, cargo, and tornado. 

Since there are many Spanish speakers who live in the United States, learning and practicing Spanish is practical and easy to do. If you are learning to speak Spanish, there are most likely a lot of people in your life who can help you practice.

One of the best ways to practice a new language is by trying to converse with others in that language. Consider speaking to people around you who are fluent in Spanish and politely asking if you can practice your Spanish with them.

The Final Talking Point: Is Spanish A Boring Language?

With the increase in Spanish speakers in the world and in the United States, Spanish is a great choice for an additional language to learn. Getting to a conversational level in Spanish will give you a special sense of accomplishment since not only will you be able to say you are bilingual, but you can also actually use it in many places in America.

Not only will it enable you to interact with Spanish-speaking individuals around the world as you immerse yourself in the Spanish cultures while abroad, but it will also enable you to communicate with many people who live in the United States.

Becoming bilingual in Spanish will increase the number of job opportunities available to you and can lead to an increase in pay. Aside from the workplace benefits, it will also enable you to communicate with others in Spanish. With the increase of Spanish speakers in the United States and in the world, learning Spanish is becoming more useful and beneficial, and is definitely not boring! 

You may also like these articles about the Spanish language…

Sources:

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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