3 Common Issues with Learning Spanish

Back when I was doing my Mandarin Project, I recall having numerous days where I would wish I was back to studying an ‘easier’ language. The grass is always greener on the other side. Now, I’m back learning Spanish, I realize that whilst there are a lot of things which are incredibly easy when it comes to learning Spanish, there are some key issues I have. I’ve noted them in this article.

3 Common Issues with Learning Spanish

The first issue is pronunciation. Like French, Spanish is remarkably similar to English in a lot of ways. Ways in which Mandarin Chinese for instance, aren’t. This means that there’s a tendency to assume certain things are true with regards pronunciation. Like for instance, ‘c.’ ‘C’ in Spanish is not the same letter as ‘c’ in English. They are different phonetic sounds that share the same Latin representation.

Luckily, for this one, Language Bug already has you covered. Check out last week’s IPA for Spanish Language article to get a head start on this.

The second issue could be describing language learners of any language, but Spanish is no exception. This is a word for word, or L1 grammar translation. Sentence structures in Spanish are similar to those in English in a lot of cases, but they aren’t the same. Similarly, a lot of words have similar roots and look very familiar, but you must remember that it is a different language. A Tiger looks like a cat, and yet they are very different. False cognates are not your best friend. Again, this is a problem you don’t have with ‘harder’ languages. Because some languages are alien, you at least have the advantage of not being able to get them confused.

The third issue is mistaken use of verbs. For instance, you can use ser or estar. You may or may not be wrong. This is something that I’m currently working through, so you’ll have to bear with me as regards an answer. This is particularly interesting as a problem, as you’ll find (or, at least I’ve found) that you can buy one of those big ‘comprehensive guide to Spanish verbs’ books, and think that you have everything you need for learning Spanish verbs. Mine at least, doesn’t give context. I look up “to be” and I get a verb. Of course, if we go back to point two in this article, we’ll realize that you can’t just substitute ‘to be’ in because we think it is the best verb to use. This is particularly damaging when we get it wrong for the tense. For a long time, I used to look up the verbs “to have” and “to do” because I wanted to say, “I have done” in a foreign language. Of course, what I needed wasn’t those verbs, but the correct way to talk about the past.

Those are the three main issues I’m having with learning Spanish. I imagine that now I’ve verbalized them, they’ll be easy, and something else will take their place. Still, that’s all parting of the fun when it comes to learning Spanish or any foreign language.

Feel free to drop your issues with Spanish in the comments below!


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