Why do people study Spanish?
On June 29, 2018, we conducted a survey in which we asked some of our current and former students in NYC and Chicago the following question:
What was the main reason behind your decision to learn and/or improve your Spanish?
The choices where:
586 students answered. Here are the results:
As you can see, 61.4% of the students (current and former) said that the main reason behind their decision to take Spanish classes was personal growth. Let’s analyze the different common reasons behind people’s decision to learn/improve their Spanish one by one:
Being able to speak Spanish obviously makes you more marketable in today’s workplace. Bilingual candidates are, in many industries, more likely to land the job than monolinguals. In the US, the most commonly learned second languages at colleges and universities are Spanish, French, German and Japanese. Also, with more than 442 million native speakers worldwide, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the world. Being able to speak Spanish will undoubtedly open more doors than being able to speak any other language (that is, if you already speak English, of course!). If you study and practice enough, you may even be able to conduct a job interview in Spanish!
Well, some people choose to learn how to dance tango, some people choose to learn how to draw, and some people choose learn how to chess box, among other activities. Learning how to do new things obviously makes you grow as an individual, both socially and intellectually. Learning a language has consistently proven to be not only one of the best things you can do for your brain, but also a great way to expand your horizons, get immersed into other cultures, connect with more people, and open your mind. And, of course, with so many countries a short plane ride away from the US and so many Spanish speakers in all 50 states, Spanish is probably the best choice you can make!
Many people decide to learn Spanish because they have a significant other who speaks Spanish, or because they have relatives who speak Spanish. It feels great to suddenly be able to communicate with your uncle in Mexico, with your spouse’s family, or with your kid’s fiancé(e). For most people, when they choose to learn/improve their Spanish for this reason, they are not typically doing it as a necessity, but as a way to connect with more people (and in this case, people they already have ties with), which is rewarding and fulfilling. It’s a great reason, and the fact that it’s someone’s main one doesn’t take away all the other benefits that come with learning Spanish as a second language!
Some people may learn Spanish for some other reasons. Some common ones could be having a trip planned and learning some basics “ad hoc,” taking it just as a challenge, improving one’s language processing skills in general… But we could argue that all these reasons qualify as personal growth, right? In our next survey, we should maybe ask people who choose “other” to elaborate ;)
So, summarizing, apparently most people want to learn or improve their Spanish with the goal of becoming a better-rounded individual, regardless of the extrinsic additional benefits that they might get. Isn’t that great?
 Source: Modern Language Association
 Source: Ethnologue