Put your hands up if you think Spanish is easy?

Shame on you if you raised your hand.

I’ve been looking at Portuguese just to get a feel for the language (I’m not trying to learn it as such), but in a similar way to the idea behind the 52 languages in 52 weeks blog (although not so ambitious), I’m keen to expand my language horizons.

The dude behind 52 languages in 52 weeks project aimed to cover 52 languages in a year. The idea appeals to me, especially as someone who has difficulty finishing projects, but I digress.

Personally I think a more relaxed timescale such as a month per language is more suitable, allowing time off for holidays, good behaviour, work? and so  on.

As I said, I’ve been looking at Portuguese which has in turn made me consider Spanish again.

In Portuguese, as in Spanish it is in fact straightforward to string together simple sentences, as you will see when the fruits of my labour are released onto Surface Languages.

You only need to know some easy grammar/constructions to make a sentence. Grammar that you can pick up over a few hours. Subject followed by verb followed by object. Plurals add an s. Etc. Only two genders. Feminine nouns mainly ending in an a and masculine nouns mainly ending in o. Lots and lots of regular verbs ending with ar. And so armed with this information, you can make a simple sentence!

I’m messing around here, but the idea is sound. You can not do this with, for example, POLISH. Sigh.

I think it is this that gives the misleading impression that Spanish (and Portuguese) are easy languages to learn.

But, they are not easy to learn well. The initial barrier to entry, to start speaking is easy to overcome. But  anyone can speak a language badly, so don’t be fooled. It takes time to learn to speak any language well.  Even, the so-called easy languages.

And what about comprehension?????

How many of you who put your hands up are able to understand Spanish radio? Or films? Or native speech when it is not dumbed down? Or even directions when you ask ‘donde está el bar’?

Or you ask someone Qué tal? and they reply Estoy de mala uva. He pasado la noche en blanco. Easy? No, it takes time to learn these expressions. Easy is the wrong word to learn with any language. It gives the wrong impression.

The reason people erroneously consider these languages easy, is that it is (in comparison) to other languages straight-forward to start making simple (and I mean simple) sentences.

But they are not easy.

They are not difficult either.

But they all need time.

Peace,

MF

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