Whether you’re looking to travel to Peru or other parts of South America or you’re just lining up your next challenge, studying a second language is a valuable thing to do. The benefits of learning Spanish, particularly if you have designs on travel, can’t be understated.
So, if you’re looking for inspiration for why you should learn Spanish, read on as we take you through the six main benefits of picking up this language up.
If you’ve yet to embark upon a journey through South America, you probably don’t quite appreciate the difficulties that you come across as a monolinguist or solo English speaker in these parts.
Want to get to another city? You’ll be needing the colectivo, or possibly the micro.
Hungry? You’re looking for the mercado.
Want to strike up a conversation with a lady waiting with her goat for the same bus? You’ll need Buenos días, ¿cómo está usted? ¡Qué lindo su cabrito!
Well, the last one is possible less important, but all of these situations prove that Spanish is an important language to learn. To get around abroad requires at least a basic understanding of the local language to help you navigate them successfully, including knowing exactly what you’re ordering in the local market or finding the right bus. Never underestimate how important these two things are!
As we’ve highlighted above, one of the biggest reasons why it is so valuable to learn Spanish is that it just makes like a whole lot easier when you travel. Communication and understanding what’s going on around is 95% of the challenge when you’re traveling.
But, the real benefit of speaking Spanish, unlike most other languages, is that there’s almost an entire continent of Spanish-speaking countries. You need to first understand exactly how to learn Spanish but once you’ve put the time in, the payoff will soon start rolling in.
You’ll be able to travel across South America with few communication difficulties and can even get stuck in with rewarding volunteering projects where you need to be able to speak to the local people.
And sure, English is a really helpful language too. But trust us when we tell you that finding someone who speaks competent English in most parts of South America is about as easy as fitting two llamas in a taxi cab (something that we, admittedly, have seen happen in Cusco).
Your brain is a muscle and, as you’ve probably learnt with other ones around your body, it pays to exercise it. No, this doesn’t mean a head-sized treadmill to give it a work out; it means helping to make your brain grow by challenging it through the act of learning to speak Spanish.
One of the reasons why learning Spanish feels like you’re in the process of rewiring your brain is because, in some ways, you are. Studies have proven that by learning a second language, you’re strengthening the pathways that connect the different sides of your brain. And doing so can actually physically increase the size of your brain.
What’s more, one of the real benefits of speaking Spanish in a country like Peru is that it can make you feel significantly smarter when managing to haggle in the San Pedro market in Cusco and not getting ripped off with gringo prices.
Studies have consistently proven that speaking another language – Spanish or otherwise – can stave off the signs of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia by multiple years, thus actually protecting your brain.
All this proves that learning Spanish as a second language can be a surprising investment into your future health, which means you’ll end up with even more time to see the world. Win!
Alongside being useful for your holidays, another important advantage of learning Spanish is that it makes you exponentially more employable – even if you’re not applying for a job with a second language requirement.
The fact that you’ve overcome huge challenges to learn a new language, and that in doing so, you’ve proven both dedication and hard work, are all factors in making your resume shine for new employers.
And, if you’re a real lover of travel, another huge benefit of learning Spanish is that it can be extremely handy for getting a paid job abroad.
Sure, English might be the lingua franca of most of the world but when in Rome (or Cusco), it goes an awful long way if you make the effort to pick up the local lingo.
There aren’t a huge number of English-language speakers in South America in general, and certainly not in Peru, so it comes down to visitors to go that extra mile and study Spanish to bridge the gap of communication. There’s nothing better than hanging out at a bar or taking a tour to a remote village and being able to strike up a conversation with a local person.
If you want an authentic, immersive travel experience in Peru or other parts of the continent, nothing beats studying up, particularly as it’s always fun to start a debate with a Peruvian over the origins of their national pride and joy, pisco (a word of warning: don’t say Chile!).
Research has shown that by speaking the language of a new country, you learn to be more tolerate and positive of that culture. But it also just means that you understand what on earth is going on around you.
Trust us, there will be times traveling when you won’t have a clue what’s happening (regardless of whether you have Spanish or not), but picking up the local language means you can start to understand the traditionals that you’re noticing and even learn to participate in the culture. Whether it’s learning local slang in Peru or getting to grips with Argentine foods, you’ll soon feel well on your way to understanding your new country.