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Why is Spanish so Hard For me to Learn

Frustrated mature businessman with laptop indoors in home office, working.
Frustrated and disappointed mature businessman with laptop indoors in home office, working.

If you’re of the many people who struggle with learning another language, you may be wondering why is Spanish so hard for me to learn? The primary reason why Spanish is challenging is that it has cognates and false cognates.

Spanish has many cognates or words that sound the same in English and Spanish.

This leads many people to believe that they know more Spanish than they do. However, Spanish also has many false cognates.

There are many words that seem like they should mean the same in both languages but actually don’t. This makes it challenging to both learn and speak Spanish fluently.

However, this is not the only reason why people struggle with understanding Spanish. If you’re one of the many people who may be having trouble, you’re not alone. These are a few reasons why you may be having a difficult time.

Pronouns Make Learning Hard

In addition to the basic words, the technical aspects of Spanish also increase the challenge. One of the primary technical elements is the core of the Spanish structure. This can be significantly different than English.

So, while you may start by looking up each word in English, your sentences won’t be structured correctly. Spanish makes more use of verb conjugations to determine meaning instead of the common pronoun and verb combination used in English.

For example, in English, you might say, “I study Spanish.” In Spanish, you would not use the word for “I” and simply use the verb for study instead. What you would say would be “Estudio Espanol.”

Since the verb can be conjugated into the “I” form, it already means “I study.” While this can be made easier with practice, it’s a challenging concept for a beginning Spanish speaker to put into practice.

To make things more complicated, indirect, and direct pronouns frequently come before the verb, which is a change from English.

If you were trying to say that you wash yourself, you would actually say, “Me lavo.” In English, this would come out to, “Myself, I wash.” This is correct in Spanish but challenging to start using.

Spanish Tenses Present Challenge

When you start learning verb tenses, you mostly focus on the present tense. However, Spanish has many tenses, and some are challenging. For example, the imperfect tense is one of the hardest to learn.

An entire book could be written on this verb tense, but it’s used to talk about the past conditions, past actions, or describe what a person was doing until they were interrupted by something else.

The subjunctive tense is similarly challenging. This can be used to describe emotions, doubts, and similar feelings. However, there is not a comparable example in English, that’s easy, so it can be tricky to grasp and use it correctly.

Understanding Gender Nouns

In English, we don’t use masculine or feminine descriptors with most nouns unless they refer directly to a man or woman. However, items are associated with gender in Spanish.

Words that end in an “O” are technically considered a male item while items ending in an “A” are feminine. This can be challenging since the items themselves are not masculine or feminine in general.

Pairing “El” and “La” with gendered nouns are fairly common, although there are some exceptions. This often leads to confusion and challenges in speaking and writing Spanish.

Spanish has Irregular Verbs.

English is a challenging language, and Spanish may seem more straightforward with basic rules. However, there are always exceptions to these rules. One of the more challenging areas to learn is irregular verbs.

Many verbs in Spanish follow a simple set of rules that make them easy to conjugate and easy to learn. Others are not so simple. For example, the verb “Ir,” which means “to go” is conjugated to “voy” in the first person tense.

The conjugation becomes even more challenging when you translate these verbs into past or other tenses. Over time, people generally learn the conjugations of more commonly used verbs, but mistakes frequently occur.

Spanish Speakers Speak Rapidly

If you’ve ever watched a Spanish movie, show, or even heard a simple Spanish conversation, you probably have difficulty understanding what they’re saying.

Native Spanish speakers in many cultures are used to speaking quickly, which makes it challenging to pick out individual words. Since learning a language involves listening to conversations, this is an area that will present more challenges in general.

While you might think that the same holds true for every language, this isn’t just a perception. Studies have shown that while English speakers use about six syllables per second, Spanish speakers average closer to eight.

This speed makes it challenging to listen to conversations or watch movies, the news, and more in Spanish.

Spanish Has Colloquialisms

While the same holds true for any language, it’s a common problem to experience. Common sayings are not consistent in Spanish as well.

They may exist in specific countries or even just certain cities. Additionally, translating them into English likely won’t help you understand what they really mean. There are even differences in how certain words are pronounced.

In Spain, they tend to speak with a softer tone and even use a verb form that other countries rarely or simply do not use. The varied nature of Spanish makes the language rich but can be challenging to follow for this reason.

Even more advanced speakers find that while they’ve learned the Spanish colloquialisms in a certain area, it may be more challenging when they travel or hear Spanish speakers from different countries.

Learning Spanish

These are the basic reasons why Spanish is a challenging language to master. While you can successfully master it, learning a foreign language takes time.

Using a good program and following a structured program is an excellent way to improve your comprehension. With dedicated study and time, you have a higher chance of overcoming these challenges.

Even people who don’t naturally learn foreign languages usually find that they can learn Spanish successfully over time.

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