In our last post, we talked about the importance of bilingualism and why it was beneficial to children. We openly discussed why we think Spanish is a good choice in particular. In the world we live in, globalized citizens are at the heart of cultural exchange and we ourselves see how beneficial that is. Luckily for kids these days, the option to study a language is available in most schools.
In fact, nowadays Spanish is among the most popular languages to learn in secondary school. GCSEs students have increased their interest in Spanish over the years, overtaking other European languages like German.
There’s a big Hispanic influence in the western world in the form of pop culture, and even some English words are derived from the Spanish language itself. This means that from an early age, our kids are exposed to Spanish in one way or the other. Despite overall interest in foreign languages dropping among pupils, Spanish continues to grow popular. And yet, you may wonder, can Spanish be easy to learn after all? Well, there’s evidence that seems to suggest so. But the answer may be trickier than expected. According to the Foreign Service Institute, Spanish is among the easiest languages to learn as a native English speaker. For the average person, achieving general Spanish proficiency can take roughly 23 to 24 weeks, or equal to 600 class hours give or take. This may sound like a lot of time to invest in, but we assure you this is barely sizable when compared to other languages such as French, German, Russian, or even Chinese.
French is the second easiest in this table with an extra 6 weeks needed to achieve proficiency. German then follows with an average extra of 12 weeks, to make for a total of 36 weeks. That translates to a rough estimate of 900 class hours! And if that doesn’t seem long enough, Russian and Chinese can take 44 and 88 weeks each! These are labeled as “hard languages to learn” for a reason after all!
In terms of difficulty, Spanish may seem complicated but behind the vast vocabulary being used, there's a grammar structure that unveils easily once the base language is mastered. For example, during the use of verbs where the lexicon can change depending on the pronoun preceding it.
Tú – bailas
Nosotros - bailamos
Vosotros – bailáis
Ellos – bailan
If the verb bailar (to dance) alone scares you, rest assured once the lexicon is mastered it can be quite easy to learn other verbs. For kids especially, this will be much easier to learn during their language development years. Learning this part in fact could be achieved within hours. It all depends on the consistency and hours put in to keep practicing the language.
So, time-wise, Spanish remains among the most popular and accessible options to learn for an English speaker. But how about difficulty? This is even more fascinating to learn about! Indeed, kids learn things at a much quicker pace than a grown-up, so it is much easier for a child to learn foreign languages than it is for an adult. And the earlier the better, as it turns out, children aged 3 and older have a grammatical accuracy of between 71% and 90%. While they may make mistakes here and there, it is at these ages where they start building the vocabulary needed to develop basic proficiency that you see in adults like us! Considering Spanish is already a language that can be learned at a minimum of half a year, it is quite possible to grow to learn Spanish from the get-go as a child. This barely comes as a surprise to many, after all, this is how many sons of migrant families become proficient at both their mother tongue and their local language. Similarly, this also applies to students and young adults, though the learning curve always varies depending on environmental circumstances and other external factors.
At Bilingual Beats, we try to maximize and replicate that ideal learning environment seen in a bilingual household. This is why all our teachers are native Spanish speakers. As people who often switch from one language to another in our daily lives, we are familiar with how it is best to introduce a second language without having to worry that our message cannot be delivered across because of language barriers. We are in fact, talking about us creating bridges to those barriers.
Of course, in terms of actual learning, this means spending a lot of hours in both nurseries and family classes making sure kids get enough exposure weekly so that they start building their bilingual vocabulary too.
Throughout this learning journey, we make sure kids are granted the opportunity to familiarize themselves with Spanish while staying in a comfortable area of proficiency. This also applies in a cultural sense. Like we mentioned earlier in the article, you will find that a lot of words are similar in both languages actually! In practice, we see this happen often enough that it is inevitable that kids will pick up on speech patterns and grammar structure. Associating one language with the other, they eventually fill in the gaps by making use of their own native language. Kids will unconsciously engage in the practice of switching between both languages, in turn making it easier for them to adapt to new foreign language territory. Ultimately though, while it may be easier to learn Spanish out of so many other languages, it is also important to keep your kids engaged in an environment where the language of study is used. But if you yourself cannot provide this as much as you want to, don’t worry! Bilingual Beats can help you tackle this barrier by introducing your kids to our bilingual education program! Our program implements EYFS educational parameters and has proven to be successful not just to develop kids’ proficiency but also their motor and social skills. On top of it, everyone in our classes has a lot of fun doing so. Doesn’t that sound like a great way to get your kids started in their bilingual journey? If you’d like to learn more check out our website to book a lesson online! Adios amigos!