If you are planning to visit the city of Barcelona, it is definitely worth your time studying Spanish. For one thing, knowing Spanish will allow you to enjoy both the present and the past by reading old texts written in this language.
It will also greatly improve your chances of being able to communicate with a large number of people who live there today. This article aims to give you an idea about why you should learn Spanish in Barcelona as well as pointing out some options that might be available for those who wish to do so.
According to Exspanish Barcelona has a very interesting linguistic history as it saw Jews, Arabs, Italians and Catalans using their own languages on a daily basis for centuries until Castilian was imposed as the official language in 1714.
As there is nothing quite like the linguistic influence of the Arabs in Spain, it is only to be expected that contact with Arabic speakers will help you learn Spanish since it provides an insight into how languages can change over time and reveals some commonalities between words in these languages which are not evident at first sight (e.g., “habibi” means “my friend” in both Arabic and Catalan).
The Arab population settled mainly along the Mediterranean coast (València, Alacant, Murcia) and in some pockets of Andalusia. As their presence was concentrated especially in the south of Spain, contact with speakers of Catalan will be even more useful for you since it is a far off language from Castilian Spanish. This means that if you already speak French or Italian on top of your native tongue, learning Catalan should be less challenging.
Catalan also has some very interesting features which are not shared by any other romance language including the typical subject-verb-object sentence structure mostly used in English but atypical to Romance languages (e.g., “Jo vinc” instead of “Vinc jo” meaning “I come”), proclivity towards monosyllabic words and many influences from Arabic.
As its name indicates, Castilian Spanish is the official language of an entire country. Despite this fact, it is very important to point out that there are other languages spoken alongside Castilian in Spain. For instance, Galician shares some common features with Portuguese while Euskera (Basque) has no known relatives at all. As such, one might see the value in learning a second dialect of Spanish since it will provide insight into different linguistic traditions within Spain and give you access to yet another culture.
Of course, none of this rules out the option for learning the most widely used variety of Spanish worldwide which also happens to be THE official language in many countries including Argentina, Colombia or Mexico. Nevertheless, if you are planning on spending time in Barcelona, it might prove to be more useful for you to know the language of Catalonia since it will greatly help you enjoy the city’s rich linguistic and cultural heritage.
Catalan, like most other romance languages, is usually considered one of the more difficult ones to learn due to its complex grammar rules (e.g., verbs are conjugated differently depending on whether they appear in their infinitive form or an ever so slightly different version known as “the third person singular”). However, it is probably not as difficult as some other languages on this list which might be considered harder to learn than Spanish.
So let’s list some reasons why Barcelona is the perfect place to learn Spanish:
Improve your Employment Prospects
One of the main advantages of learning a second language is that it can improve your employment prospects. In fact, those who speak two or more languages have been shown to earn 10% more than their monolingual counterparts mainly due to a better understanding of foreign markets and better communication skills which are essential in most companies.
Open up a new world of entertainment
To say that Spanish is the most widely used language in modern entertainment would be an understatement. Like any other form of media, music, movies or television are dominated by Spanish-speaking artists.
Granted, you will have to learn French if you want to enjoy the latest Hollywood hit but it is not difficult to find dozens of recent songs or even entire albums complete with lyrics at your disposal. Furthermore, Barcelona’s vibrant nightlife scene means that speaking Catalan might not be enough to have a good time since everything from clubs to bars and restaurants welcome foreigners who do not speak the local language.
Help make new friends
It has been said before but one should never underestimate the power of being able to know how to interact with someone simply because you can understand one another. Of course, this is not meant to encourage you to be rude and ignore the locals as not everyone will take kindly to foreigners who think they can get away with speaking English in a country outside of their own. But if there is an ex-pat community nearby or even just one person with whom you happen to share some interests, your linguistic skills might prove invaluable for building rapport and making new friends.
Improve your tourism experience
Last but definitely not least: Spain receives more than 60 million visitors per year (and Barcelona, 2 million). If you plan on taking a vacation somewhere within its borders, whether it’s Andalusia or the Canary Islands, expect that you will be surrounded by plenty of tourists who only speak English and no Spanish whatsoever.
Of course, you can always choose to visit some other country in Latin America or even France where the locals will appreciate your efforts to speak their language.
Conclusion and some more reasons to learn Spanish in Barcelona:
- It has been a part of the Spanish Kingdom throughout history.
- There are many other languages spoken alongside Castilian which will help you learn Spanish faster (Catalan, Galician, and Euskera).
- You can choose to ignore dialectal variations (standard Castilian, Catalan, or any other variation) for ease of use.
- The city boasts both rich linguistic and cultural diversity due to centuries-old influences from Arabs, Jews, Italians, and Catalans among others.
Barcelona has proven itself to be one of the more popular tourist destinations for anyone who wants to learn Spanish and live a colorful life.