If you’ve got your heart set on ¨hablar español¨, there’s no better way than learning Spanish abroad. Immersion in the language and culture via a Spanish language schools abroad will help you hone your language skills faster than any app or course you can take back home, but it may feel like a big leap to take. It’s obvious why studying Spanish abroad is the right move.
Spanish is spoken by an estimated 437 million people in at least 20 different countries around the globe. Why not be 437,000,001?
Language schools throughout the Spanish-speaking world are waiting for you. Spanish language schools abroad offer a variety of options including intensive language formats, cultural activities, excursions, community engagement projects, and more.
Here are eight reasons to talk yourself into learning Spanish abroad.
1. Immersion is the best way to learn
There’s no better way to learn a language than by being surrounded by it. The big reason why it’s harder to learn your second or third language later in life than it was to learn your native language isn’t age. It’s timing.
When you’re two years old, you don’t have many responsibilities beyond trying to get “mama” and “dada” just right. As you get older and have school, jobs, a social life, it gets harder to carve out that dedicated time to letting your brain just be a sponge and soak up all the language it can.
By choosing to learn Spanish abroad, you’re choosing to immerse yourself in the language every day, doing this will get you a whole lot closer to toddler levels of absorption.
2. It’s good for your brain
If your brain is like a muscle, then adding another language to your repertoire is like putting another weight on the barbell. Speaking multiple languages requires that you know how to manage multiple vocabularies, grammars, and even cultures, and can switch back and forth between them at a moment’s notice.
It’s a real workout! Recent scholarly research shows that this mental exercise can have positive impacts on your cognitive function later in life, so investing in learning Spanish abroad now can have big payoffs in the long-term. Your future self will thank you for this.
3. Eat your heart out
The food is as varied as the geography in the Spanish-speaking world. As in many cultures, Hispanic cultures place great importance on sharing food as a way of sharing with loved ones, celebrating important occasions, and transmitting cultural traditions across generations.
While you’re learning Spanish abroad, you’ll have plenty of time to find the best [taco, paella, pupusa, asado — you name it!] you’ve ever eaten. If you really want to make the most of your immersion, take advantage of the opportunities food presents for language learning.
Make new friends and don’t eat alone! Making and sharing meals are a perfect time for conversation and intercultural exchange. These interactions can also introduce you to a lot of vocabulary you might not encounter in a classroom.
4. So many different people
One of the big differences between studying abroad and choosing to learn Spanish abroad at a language school is the people.
While study abroad programs are often based at universities and offer very structured programs for students from a particular university or region, Spanish language schools, on the other hand, are open to more diverse kinds of students.
You could find classmates of all ages, from all backgrounds and from all over the world. This is especially good if you aren’t currently a university student yourself, but even if you are, this kind of variety could be just what you’re looking for.
5. Who doesn’t love a challenge?
There will probably be moments when your time learning Spanish abroad feels like anything but the best. Spanish language schools owe part of their success to the immersion that accompanies them, but that can be exhausting at times.
Let the hard parts be part of what you savor about this experience. The metaphorical friction of it all seems to be part of what grinds the Spanish into your brain. Everyone who’s ever learned a new language has been through some challenging bits before the conversations start flowing.
6. Join the club!
An estimated 52 million U.S. citizens and permanent residents speak Spanish. That includes nearly half of Californians, a quarter of Floridians, and almost 20% of New Yorkers.
That makes it the country with the second-largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico—bigger than any other country that counts Spanish as an official language.
And by all estimates, that number just keeps growing. That means learning to speak Spanish isn’t just useful for when you take to the friendly skies.
It’s an everyday kind of skill! Bring those language chops back home and you’ll be able to engage more deeply with more members of your own community, enrich your own life from those new relationships, and finally feel legit enough to try that neighborhood real Mexican place everyone’s been talking about.