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french langauge

French Language Profile
Fascinating language spoken across the world and access to a great country – France. As Barry Farber says :”No matter your other language achievement, you will be judged by your French”

French is highly useful for any activities involving travel to France: whatever great minds the French have, they are poor polyglots. If you go to France and want to understand something of the country, speaking French is a must. Speaking a few words will help considerably, but don’t expect people to applaude just because you mumbled a heavily accented Bonjour Monsieur. The French can be extremely demanding and even rude, especially in Paris, to people who do not speak French well.Speaking French will be very useful in many countries besides France, such as North Africa, Québec, and in many “black” African countries. Unless you wish to learn the local dialects, French will often be the only language widely understood (see below for more details about each country).
French is one of the most chic languages you can learn. It is associated with haute cuisine, fine wines, culture, philosophy and a stunningly beautiful country.But be aware that to be chic, you need to speak French correctly. It is a not a good idea to start showing off your French if all you know is a couple words and you make mistakes in every phrase. The French themselves do not take kindly mistakes in their language, even from foreigners. I read a lot in English and it seems almost every French word in italics I encounter in English texts, especially from the US, contain mistakes. I am not sure who these people are trying to impress, but they certainly miss the mark for anybody who speaks French.
French is an official language of : France, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Canada, Madagascar, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Belgium, Rwanda, Haiti, Switzerland, Burundi, Togo, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Comoros, Djibouti, Luxembourg, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mauritius, Vanuatu, Seychelles.It is also widely understood in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Lebanon. You will also find small communities of speakers in a dozen other countries.
About 75 mio speak French as their mother tongue, but a further 55 mio know it as a communication language.
French will open you one of the world’s largest economies, France, and allow you to do business in various North African countries where French is the lingua franca of the business intelligentsia.If you do business in France and are selling anything, a knowledge of the French language is almost indispensible. French businessmen often speak little or no English, and feel much more confortable dealing with a business partner they can adress in French.
France is the most visited country on earth. I believe there is something attractive to do in France for anybody at any stage of his life. More than 20,000 castles. Some of the nicest beaches you can find. A food used as a reference for fine cooking all over the world. Wines. Truffles. Amazing landscapes, hiking trails and outdoor pursuits. Incredible museums. I have visited France several times a year for over 20 years and can see it from my bedroom (I live on the Swiss side of Lake Geneva) and still it captivates me.The language considerably help travel in France. The French are often quite chauvinists, especially with non-white, non-French speaking tourists. It’s sad but that’s the way it is. If you speak French well and understand a bit of the culture people’s values, you can bring back amazing memories of interacting with the French. This makes for more vivid recollections than the monuments – trust me. Travellers who visit the Maghreb (Tunisia, Algery and Morroco) report that a knowledge of French can get you anywhere in those countries, whereas learning Modern Standard Arabic does not.
Good news for the learner – if you speak French you can travel the world over and only encounter mostly cosmetic variations. The French will say quatre-vingt when they mean “eighty”, whereas the Swiss will say huitante. In the South of France the accent is much more musical and some words are pronounced differently, like année (year) pronounced like an-née. People from Quebec will use about a hundred special words, such as piasse,boissondemeurerchumblonde, which are great fun to learn and do not pose any problem for mutual intelligibility after a few hours. Variations in accent can be downright hilarious and are indeed an attractive feature of the language. Besides the small vocabulary differences, they are similar to the differences in accent between a middle class person from London, a farmer from Virginia and a surfer from California.If you need to choose an accent to learn, for example when planning a study trip, I encourage you to go for the Paris accent if you can. I am myself a Swiss and do have a different accent (very pleasant!), so you will get it straight from the horse’s mouth. If you learn French in Africa, or Québec, Switzerland or Belgium, your accent will always be noticed wherever you go. If, however, you speak with a mainstream France accent, people will just notice you speak French and are from out of town.

French culture is seen as the epitome of refinement in several domains, litterature, philosophy, architecture, arts and cuisine. You will have no lack of intellectual pursuits to maintain your French, be through films, television, books or newspapers.There some excellent French movies - often available on DVD with subtitles. Please note that many French movies are done on subsidies and would probably not get a theatrical release in other countries. The proper euphemism for those movies in France isfilms confidentiels. French non fiction books are not always very user-centered and practical. French authors, when given a choice, seem to prefer trying to impress the reader with their culture and intelligence rather than trying to get understood. French fiction is terrific, and there are enough wonderful books in French to last you for several lifetimes. French TV is sometimes very good, with some excellent documentaries. People who do not live in Western Europe will probably not get the mainstream French channels but can rely on TV5, an international TV channel with programs from French, Canadian and Swiss televisions. Talk shows are very Parisian and require a detailed knowledge of the latest local celebrities to be understood. French newspapers can provide you with a continuous flow of interesting reading material, most of which can be accessed for free over the Internet. The most important dailies include Le MondeLe Figaro and Libération. For weeklies look out for Paris Match, not an intellectual publication but which ususally comes with the best photos of the week’s international events and with quality articles. These newspapers can be quite partisan and self-centered, but so are the French. French popular music is very good. The three most famous singers of chansons à textes (songs appreciated as much for their words as for the music) are Georges BrassensJacques Brel and Serge Gainsbourg, but there are many other French singers with a high quality production. Try to look for BarbaraMichel SardouBoby Lapointe,Noir Désir or Bérurier Noir. Bande dessinée. The French speaking Belgians have created a form of art know as Le Neuvième Art which has no real equivalents outside France, Switzerland and Belgium. The bande dessinée is nothing like Comic books although it uses the same device of little boxes with drawings and bubbles filled with texts to tell a story. Bande dessinées are read by children and adults alike, and tell complex stories with incredibly creative drawings. Paris is the best city I know for shopping. New York is filled with soulless chain stores. London is expensive and has rude and underpaid shopping attendants. But Paris – ah Paris. Sure the shopping attendants are rude, but if you speak French, you can get back at them. And the more you do, the nicer they become. Just try. Paris has thousands of shops for every budget. Many of those shops are unique. This means you can find stuff you would never find anywhere else in the world. I buy jams from Le Furet, a jam-maker in the business since the 17th century. The owner has only one shop, refuses to sell to supermarkets as he would not be sure to be able to keep the quality up for every batch. He supervises the fruit picking himself to guarantee that only the best fruits will make it into his jams. My teas come from Mariage Frères, a century old tea trading house with a handful of shops in Paris and two in Japan. That’s right, French people selling tea to the Japanese. They stock more than 450 teas of the highest order. I regularly spend an hour discussing the merits of various types of white tea or the latest harvet of Darjeeling. All in a beautiful shop in a picturesque street. Even if shopping in Paris is not an option for you right now, you have to keep this amazing possibility in mind when learning French.


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German Language Profile

A powerful and streamlined language that gives you access to the largest economy in Europe, German is only slightly more difficult than French.

If you deal with Germany or Austria, either as a tourist or for business, speaking German is a key asset. The problem is that you need to speak it well, since the Germans like precision and exactness. They will not like talking to you if you constantly make mistakes. Furthermore, many Germans speak good English and like to show it off. Unless your German is flawless, they’ll switch to English.
German is a language that few learn for pleasure, and none because it is easy. Consequently, anybody who learned German enjoys a special status and a good measure of chic. Few people speak any German, and those who do are seen as exceptional people. I recall attending a trade show in Milan back in the days when I did not speak any Italian. I wanted to ask some questions to a short man at a booth, and asked whether he would rather speak French, English, Spanish or German. He immediately chose German, altough I am quite sure he also spoke some of the others. We spoke in German while all his colleague were looking at him in awe, murmuring Lui parla il tedesco (He speaks German!). Since less than 3% of the Italians speak any German, this Italian was justly proud of his achievement.
Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and in regions of Italy and Belgium.
There are aproximately 75 million German speakers Germany, 7 million in Austria, 260,000 in Luxembourg, 3,400,000 in Switzerland, and about 1,500,000 in Alsace-Lorraine. There are many German speakers in Eastern Europe but the subject is quite sensitive and no statistics are available. The total number of speakers, including non-native speakers such as myself, is said to be 120 millions, but I could not verify this.
German is a language of immense economic use in the German-speaking countries. However, it does not enjoy the lingua francastatus of English, French or even Spanish. German is useful only when dealing with people whose mother tongue is German, whereas you might speak English to a Taiwanese businessmen or French to a Morrocan.German companies manufacture some of the highest quality products available anywhere. In the course of my business I met many people who earn their living by buying various high-priced equipments from Germany, then selling them across the world. A long-term relationship with the German factories is greatly helped if you speak their language.Germans are demanding but loyal clients. If you speak German, you will get many more clients from Germany than if you could not. I made that experience myself. Even those Germans who speak some English would much rather trust some person who speaks in German if available.
Apart from the Germans themselves, you will see very few tourists in Germany. In a way this is a pity since the country has so much to offer, but it also means you get the country for yourself and won’t have to cope with hordes of tourists with pink legs and video cameras around the neck.Amongst the many beautiful areas that you can travel to on German are the beautiful Bavarian Alps, with the Berchtesgadener Land and its immaculate Königsee, the fairy-tale castles of Ludwig II, the beautiful historical town of Salzburg and the friendly regional capital, Munich. Further in the Alps are our beautiful Swiss cities of Bern and Zurich, as well as Austrian Innsbruck and its captivating Renaissance castle, Schloss Ambras.There are many other places to visit in Germany, such as Nürnberg with the Dürer house and the remains of the nazi vision of a new Roman Empire, the city of Freiburg-am-Brisgau and its University, the giant metropolis of Berlin and Hamburg, the small picturesque port of Lübeck.

Germany is not a place of gastronomy, and finding a fine dinner should never be taken for granted in Germany and you should make sure you buy the latest German-language Restaurantführer.
You should not need to learn any of the numerous German dialects. Every German-speaking region has its own dialect, but usually writes in the regular German (the one you can learn, also known as Hochdeutsch). In the North of Germany, the dialect isPlattdeutsch, in the South East, Bayerisch.Although in Germany everybody speaks German without problem, in the Swiss-German speaking part of Switzerland many people will be confortable only in schwyzertütsch, the local Germanic dialect. Schwyzertütsch is great fun but hard to learn since it is not written and is different in every valley or city.

German culture can provide for a lifetime of fulfilling experiences. It is not as easy to embrace as French or Italian culture. German TV is abundant – I get more than 50 channels of it. Evening news are very seriös but rather easy to follow. Entertainment programs can be quite fun to watch. On week-ends you can see a typical German Bierhalle where hundreds of middle-aged people are sitting on benches at huge tables, drinking from enormous glasses of beer and eating sausages, while a German popular singer sings German country songs. A German TV presenter in a suit with long, carefully combed hair walks down the aisle and asks the people what they think of the song, the singer or the food. These shows seem to last all weekend and are quite spectacular to watch – for a few minutes.

German newspapers are numerous and some of them are of the highest quality you can find, even if they make for tedious reading and provide little entertainment. You can now read most of them over the Internet for free:
Die Zeit, an intellectual newspaper from Hamburg
Die Neue Zürcher Zeitung, the serious daily from Zurich
Die Süddeutsche Zeitung for general news from Southern Germany
Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, where several hundred PhDs work to create serious article every day with an emphasis on business and finance.My choice for daily news isGoogle News Deutschland. Germans also publish weeklies, paper copies of which you can often buy abroad. The best knowns is Der Spiegel.German music comes in two brands. One was written by the likes of Johann Sebastian Bach and Georg-Friedrich Haendel, and is played in historical buildings by musicians wearing suits. The other one is heard in huge Bierhalle where grids under the table allow people to urinate while sipping gallons of beer.
Classical music, German composers have created some of the finest music of its kind. A knowledge of German will increase your experience such music sung in German, such as the many choir works by Bach or the captivating operas by Wagner. Such is the magnetism of such musical work that an American client of mine learned German only to follow Wagner’s cycle of operas – Der Ring – in Bayreuth, and he now speaks German very well.
German popular music comes in the shape of drinking songs and contemporary pop music. Not all of it is bad, and if you care for easy-listening music you can actually learn some songs by heart to get you in the spirit of the language.

German non-fiction is of good quality and plentiful. It makes for hard reading though since both language and style are usually very dry. I personally much prefer to read books in English, which seem to be written with a greater concern on keeping the reader interested and making sure he understands. After English, German is the second language in which new books are published and German books benefit from fine publishing due to a long tradition and large print runs. My favorite source to buy books, DVDs and CDs in German is
German litterature is amazing, with immense authors such as Hermann Hesse, Heinrich Schiller, Goethe and others stacked in the Belletristik section of German bookstores. They are not easy to read, but if you are serious about German you should at least once in your life read one cover to cover.
German history did not start in 1933. There are many interesting historical events, institutions and monuments you can visit in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, outside of World War II. But let’s face it – if given a choice many people will want to look backstage at what was the war on the German side. And there is much material, some of very high quality. Even if you are not a military buff, you can visit former bunkers, fortifications and remains of that era all over Germany. They make for a grisly but captivating visit. One such book, Hitler’s Ende, recently made into a film, gives a detailed account of the last days of the Third Reich, showing how it fell apart and its effect on the German Führer.
German cinema is nowhere near Hollywood in terms of size or budget, but there are enough good films in German available on DVD to keep you busy for a couple years. Most have subtitles in English, but the best is to get subtitles in German. Some great German directors to watch out for are Werner Herzog, who shot incredible movies with his nemesis, actor Klaus Kinski. For young people, a must-see movie is Lola rennt (Run, Lola, Run)


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italian langauge
Italian Language Profile
Many people consider Italian as the most beautiful spoken language in the world, and I am one of them. Speaking in Italian about opera, painting, design, architecture, cooking, love or god makes you feel you finally understood the topi

The choice to learn Italian is most often one of love rather than reason. Unless you have a special reason (family, travel, interest in Vatican affairs or art history), you should probably begin with either French or Spanish, two languages closely related to Italian, then learn Italian at a later stage.
If you live in Italy or want to travel regulary, a knowledge of Italian will increase your experience manifold. Many Italians do not speak anything but Italian. If they realize you speak Italian they can become very talkative – and talkative they can be! Italians do not expect visitors to speak their language and, in my experience, they are quite forgiving of language mistakes and are willing to speak more to compensate for your relative muteness. This makes for an encouraging climate for the language learner.
Chic factor
Italian tends to be seen as a language of the arts and gastronomy. In the US, UK and Japan, Italian has the aroma of upper class, where people could afford to spend time learning a beautiful and culturally attractive language with no direct economic utility.
If come from an Italian background, speaking Italian might not be seen as chic, but just some sign that you are close to your community. Some might even call you a dago – don’t listen to them.
In countries where a Romance language is spoken, Italian is seen as an easy language. Thus, unless you already speak other more difficult languages, people might assume that you chose an “easy language” because that is all you could manage to learn. This is certainly so in France and Switzerland.
With these two caveats in mind, I’d say that Italian enjoys a very high chic factor.
A word of caution that I hope will be useless : Stay clear of the cheap show-offs sometimes seen in the USA who like to drop a few badly misspelled Italian words, like they would “casually” mention they had dinner with Madonna, in the vain hope that they look smart. The perhaps do to an illiterate audience, but this is a stupid and arrogant strategy and you should take every opportunity to knock them down if you ever encounter one.
Countries Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and the Vatican
Italian is mainly spoken in Italy, with 58 million native speakers. Other countries where it is an official language include San Marino and the Vatican, two tiny enclaves within Italy, and Ticino, a Swiss canton with a population of 840,000. Italian is also spoken in some areas of Croatia and Slovenia.
Expatriate communities abroad make up for an additional 5 million speakers.
Economic importance
Italy has one of the world’s top ten economies – way bigger than Russia’s for instance (table of languages sorted by combined GDP of the countries where they are spoken). If you work in the furniture, design or construction industries, Italian will be an important asset for your job.
Buying and especially selling from the Italians necessitates a lot of personal contacts. Many Italian businessmen, even those who deal with clients outside Italy, do not speak anything but Italian. Italian companies often have someone in charge of exports who speaks some English, but remember that the great majority of Italian companies are small to medium family companies with up to a few hundred people. If you speak Italian you can normally directly deal with the owner or his children and get better terms.
Traveling to Italy is intensely pleasurable, with about everything you can dream of : the richest archeological sites in Europe, entire Roman towns miraculously preserved for you to visit, cathedrals, roman circuses, monasteries, paintings, sculptures, lovely historical towns, immaculate beaches and ski resorts.
But Italy is not only about the past. Italian gastronomy is one of the most attractive in the world, with hundreds of varieties of cheeses, breads and wines. Hundreds of highly creative Italian cooks create new dishes with traditional inspiration in artfully decorated restaurants.
A knowledge of Italian will tremendously increase your travel experience by offering you the opportunity to converse with people. Especially in Southern Italy, most people you will meet will be glad to have a chiacchierata (informal conversation) with you. After many years I still remember some conversations with people on the street, at kiosks, restaurants, bakeries, museums, bookshops, and so on. The memories you will bring back will be not only made of stone monument but also of people.
The main problem when traveling in Italy seems to be that you have to go back.
Outside of Italy, the small but beautiful Swiss canton of Ticino is well worth a visit. The Italian spoken there lacks the manly rolled R so enjoyable in Italian, but the place is beautiful.
Many regional dialects are spoken in Italy. The country was unified only in the 19th century, and regional differences in culture and economic development are still strong.
The standard Italian (the one you can learn) is originally from Tuscany. Tuscans like to poke fun at regional accents, and especially that of Rome, with the saying Lingua toscana in bocca romana (“Tuscan language in a Roman mouth”).
Everybody in Italy speaks standard Italian, so you should not worry about those dialects. Unless you plan to live in a village for 20 years, or marry into a Sicilian family, there is no reason why you should need to learn one of those dialects.
Italian culture is dominant in many areas and there are many ways to enjoy it from the confort of your home:
Italian designers of modern furniture and every day items are famous all over the world. I attended many times various trade shows in Milan, including the famous Fiera di Milano where almost every furniture maker in Italy displays his latest creations. This is a unique experience. If you are interested in design, a knowledge of Italian will give you direct access to this world, through trade shows, trade publications and numerous books about contemporary creations.
Italian fashion is sold the world over, and Italian fashion houses such as Armani, Versace or Gucci have become household names in most countries. This is an expensive pursuit but fashion victims should dream about coming to Milan and ransack the shops on Via Montenapoleone while not attending fashion shows.
Italian gastronomy can be enjoyed at a much higher level if you speak Italian. When visiting Italy, there are numerous markets you can visit, such as the one of Piazza Campo dei Fiori in Rome. On these open air, weekly markets, small merchants would come from the country to pitch their local cheeses, prosciutto (hams), zucchini flowers and other vegetables, homemade pastries, olive oils and other delicacies. Most of these come from small producers and if you speak Italian, you can spend hours tasting and discussing the relative merits of each prosciutto or asking exactly where the tartufi bianchi (white truffles) came from and how good they are this year. Back home, you can enjoy many fine Italian recipe books and books about specific products, all in Italian. Only a small fraction of these books are translated, so the knowledge of the language not only increases your experience, but lets you access more information.
Art History – anybody serious about it must learn Italian. Ask anyone who studies Art History at University. Many academic books on the topic are available only in Italian, and when visiting Italy, most museums have notices only in Italian.
Architecture, ancient and mordern, is serious topics in Italy. There is a two thousand year old continuous tradition of designing beautiful buildings in Italy. Consequently, there is a wealth of architectural books and magazines available only in Italian – all very enjoyable.
Opera buffs will not need convincing but for the rest of us, let’s not forget that the majority of popular operas are in Italian. Sure, the Italian in La Traviata or Don Giovanni is slightly different from the one spoken now, but if you want to get a full enjoyment of these works, understanding the libretto is a must. And you will be able to sing your favorite airs, with every single world distinctly pronounced, while cooking or under the shower. This is one of the nicest way I have found to practice the language!
Italian pop music is no opera, but there are great songs of hit parade grade. My own preferences are all time disco hits, such as Ti amo by Umberto Tozzi, L’Italiano (Lasciatemi cantare) by Toto Cutugno or Felecità (Al Bano e Romina Power). Top Italian pop songs are world class, easy to learn and let you practice the language in a highly recreative way.
Roman History – Italians are the closest heirs to the ancient Romans, and if you want to study Roman History, Italian is just as useful as Latin. There are thousands of books in Italian about the Romans, both academic and for the general public. They make an amazing reading. For instance, I have a book about the food in ancient Rome and a very detailed study about the use of concrete (yes, concrete) in Roman buildings, with studies of dozens of samples taken from various monuments.
The catholic church, although universal in its vocation, is more present in Italy than anywhere else. You see priests and nuns all over the place, and bishops and cardinals in Rome. If you stay long enough you can probably catch the pope at a religious function if you feel like it. No matter your religious belief, this is a fun aspect of Italy and newspapers and TV are filled with reports of the church, interviews of priests, news about the latest canonizations. A street in Rome is entirely dedicated to selling clothes for priests, equipment to say Mass in the field and of course hundreds of crucifixes.
Italian books can now easily be ordered from outside Italy using the Internet. My personal choice is Internet Bookshop Italia, which always delivered books on time and were pleasant to deal with. Non-fiction books are of high quality and there are many excellent novels, modern and classical, as well as captivating books on contemporary affairs in Italy. As always, reading novels requires much more vocabulary than reading non-fiction.
Italian newspapers are now easily accessible through the Internet. Among the most famous are the serious Milan daily Il Corriere della Sera, Torino based La Stampa or the Roman La Reppublica. I also use a lot Google News Italia.
Italian television – for those who can receive it – is better than its reputation. People like to poke fun at the many silly games and talk shows on Italian TV, but my own experience is that there are many gems out there. When you turn on the news in the evening, an electric Italian blond anchorwomen tells you in the finest Italian about the news of the day. Some local Italian news is quite baroque, and you get to see interview of people on the street from all over Italy. On talk shows you can see colorful Italian politicians in heated discussions about societal issues with bearded cardinals. On Sundays a helicopter flies over some of the most spectacular historical towns in Italy, stopping at pre-arranged spots where huge italian matronas prepared endless tables covered with local food specialties, then historians explain the history of the local monuments, etc… This is so captivating you can barely turn the TV off.

Italian movies were once famous all over the world. The movie industry is now in decline, but if you don’t mind looking at older movies, there are many treasures out there. And you can get them on DVD with subtitles – this doesn’t hurt.

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dutch langauge

Dutch is a West Germanic language with about 20 million speakers mainly in the Netherlands and Belgium. There are small Dutch-speaking communities in northern France around Dunkerque and Dutch is also spoken in Aruba, the Netherlands Antilles, Suriname and in Indonesia.

The Dutch dialects spoken in Belgium are collectively know as Flemish (Vlaams). They differ to some extent from the Dutch spoken in the Netherlands in terms of intonation and pronunciation, and there are minor differences in vocabulary, including loanwords from French and English not found in Standard Dutch.The official or standard form of Dutch is known as Algemeen Beschaafd Nederlands (ABN), ‘general civilized Dutch’. It is taught in schools and used by authorities in the Netherlands, Flanders (Belgium), Suriname and the Netherlands Antilles. An association known as theTaalunie (Language Union) set up by governments of the Netherlands and Flanders regulates the orthography and spelling of ABN. Alternative names for ABN are Algemeen Nederlands(AN), general Dutch, and Standaardnederlands, standard Dutch.

The Dutch language developed from the Lower Franconian (Niederfränkisch) dialect of Low German. The earliest known example of written Old Franconian appears in a 9th century Latin manuscript, the Laws of the Salic Franks, and in translations of the Psalms. Some poetry written in Middle Dutch dating from the 12th and 13th centuries survives. The Dutch translation of the Bible, the Staten-Bijbel, of 1619-1637 was one of the first major works in Modern Dutch.


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Spanish Language Profile
Easy, logical and useful language that is on top of most people’s language shopping list. Very handy when travelling in the many Spanish-speaking countries, it also brings its own rewards through books, music and films. A must for any language lover.

If you are looking for a useful language, Spanish will definitely be on your short list. You can speak Spanish in more than 25 countries and with 330 million people who often speak nothing but Spanish. The language is spoken in a very similar way all over the world, and each hour of study you put in will bring you closer to all 25 countries.
‘Chic’ has unfair rules. If you are Hispanic, speaking Spanish will not be seen as an especially chic asset, even if you learned it from scratch and speak it with no accent. And if you are Italian or French, people will assume you chose this ‘easy’ language because that is all you could manage to learn. How unfair.If, however, you are a non-hispanic American, speaking Spanish will be seem as very chic. And if you speak many languages, people will just assume you speak perfect Spanish anyway.The bottom line: if all you want is showing off, Spanish is probably not the most secure investment you can make. But I hope readers of this website have better aspirations than becoming show-offs. There are tons of other reasons why you should study this language.
Spanish is spoken in Spain, Andorra, Argentina, Urugay, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela, Equatorial Guinea, Colombia, Puerto-Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Gibraltar, Nicaragua, Mexico and by more than 22 million people in large portions of the United States that were taken from Mexico according to the ‘doctrine of manifest destiny’. Spanish is also an official language of the US state of New Mexico and the city of Miami, Florida, has the highest number of Spanish speakers outside Latin America.
Spanish is spoken by 100 millions people in Mexico, 44 millions in Colombia, 41 millions in Spain, 39 million in Argentina and 22 million in the USA. There are over 330 million native speakers of Spanish worldwide.
The combined GDP of Spanish-speaking countries is one of the highest for any language, surpassed only by English and Japanese.If you do business with Spain or the Americas, Spanish is a must, since many businessmen do not speak other languages very well. Furthermore, it is generally true that in hispanic countries people like to get to know personnally their business partners and associates. If they have to talk to you through the narrow funnel of their limited English vocabulary, the ties you will be able to weave together will not be so strong.Spanish is an important business language in large areas of the United States, the world’s biggest economy. Southern California and Florida have important Spanish speaking communities and a knowledge of the language is an important asset.
You could travel the Spanish-speaking world all your life and never see the same city, beach or church twice. The variety of the former Spanish colonial empire is so great that you can find some of the highest mountains, the most immaculate beaches or largest cities in the world within its borders.The most popular ‘Spanish’ destinations are Spain and Mexico.Spain is the world’s second most visited country and for good reasons. Not only can you visit the most popular beaches in Europe on the Costas, but you also have with some of the hippest holiday destinations on earth such as Ibiza and one of the most exclusive beach resorts, Marbella. Should you aspire for more intellectual pursuits, Spain is a treasure chest of antique churches, picturesque historical towns, monasteries and moorish palaces. Those interested in contemporary culture will find Barcelona immensely stimulating. The country has a lot to offer, and conversely is very popular with travellers from the world over.

I have myself fond recollections of my trips to Mexico, where speaking Spanish increased my travel experience manifold. Mexicans are nice and often very cultured people, with an immense pride at the great history of their country. You have no idea how many conversation you can start with total strangers, in the street, in shops, in restaurants with people sitting at the next table, in taxis, riding the bus, etc… Mexicans are always happy to converse with a foreigner in Spanish and will explain you the history of the local city, its monuments and its cultural institutions or discuss the relative merits of various brands of Tequila. The interactions I had with people thanks to my command of Spanish are some of the best memories I have from this amazing country, just as potent at the recollections of murals, palaces, food and museums.
Even if you do not plan to travel to a Spanish speaking country in the near future, you will eventually do it. When you do, you will discover your Spanish like a forgotten toy in an attic, and be amazed at the enchanted world it can open. You can take my word for it.
Unlike Arabic or Chinese, with Spanish, you will be able to speak and understand people in every single Spanish-speaking country in the world. Regional variations and accents do not get in the way of understanding after a few hours of practice with a local.The variations in the Spanish language from one country to another are similar to those of French between Canada, France and Switzerland although slightly more important.For instance, in Chile and in the Carribean, Spanish speakers eat up the final ‘S’ in most words. This sounds like the famous Cuban song Todo’ lo’ negro’ tomamo’ café, which in regular Spanish would be Todos los negros tomamos café. In Argentina people use an additional person when conjugating verbs, vos, and pronounce the ‘Y’ as a ‘ZH’. In Madrid, people pronounce ‘S’s in a wet and whistling fashion that recalls mating snakes. Spaniards generally use Vosotros instead ofUstedes.

These differences in accent will not pose you many problems if you recognize that they exist and work for a few hours on learning the differences, and will be a source of great fun when speaking Spanish with people from across the world.
There are also many regional languages in Spain. Within the current political context of Spain, they are called languages and enjoy an important political status.

Castellano or Castilian is used to denote the regular Spanish, by opposition to the other languages spoken in Spain
Catalan is the official language of Catalunya, the Spanish state around Barcelona. This is a fun language close to Provencal and French. With Basque, it is the ‘dialect’ with the most political clout.
Galego, a language close to both Portuguese and Spanish, is spoken is Galicia, the Spanish state just north of Portugal.
Valenciano, very similar to Catalan, is spoken aroundValencia.
Basque is not at all related to Spanish and is a very difficult language. It is spoken in the Basque country, capital Bilbao, on both sides of the French-Spanish border.
Other Spanish dialects/regional languages include Aragonese, Asturian, Murcian, Leonese and Andalusian.
These regional languages should not pose you any trouble as a tourist, but if you travel in Spain you will hear them everywhere. For instance, although everybody in Barcelona does speak Spanish, most people actually converse in Catalan. This will not pose any problem to a visitor, but if you want to speak as the local do, you’ll need to learn Catalan.
Labelling some languages ‘a dialect’ and others ‘a language’ is a tricky path to walk and by doing so some people will feel offended. This can happen easily in Spain where regional languages often have a long historical tradition and can claim to be direct heirs of  Latin. Spaniards justly proud of their regional language would thus react strongly if you label their mother tongue ‘a dialect’ whereas you would call Portuguese ‘a language’. The language learner should, however, keep in mind that the actual differences between Castellano and any of the regional languages of Spain is probably not larger than that between the many dialects of Italian.
When choosing which Spanish accent to learn, for instance when planning a study trip, I recommend you stay away from the Carribean, Chile and Argentina. These are fine countries, but their strong accents and grammatical particularities will automatically brand you as a native of these countries anywhere you go. If you learn Spanish in Cuba, everytime you open your mouth in Spanish you will come across as a Cuban. Try to choose a country with a neutral accent and no grammatical variations. In my humble opinion, the clearest Spanish is to be heard in Mexico, Colombia and the region of Castilla in Spain. I am sure plenty of people will disagree, so I emphasize that there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ accent, but if I was to learn Spanish again, that is the sort of accent I would try to learn.
The culture accessible through Spanish is very rich and rewarding. There are many ways you can use it to enjoy your Spanish from the confort of your home.Spanish litterature is abundant and of high quality. Some of the most successful writers are Colombian Gabriel Garcià Marquez, Spanish historical thriller master Arturo Perez-Reverte, on whose novel the movieThe Ninth Gate by Roman Polanski was based, the Argentinian Geneva-based writer Borgès as well as Vargas Llosa andSepulveda.Spanish music is manifold and can be enjoyed to a much higher order if you understand the language. Flamenco, although beautiful, uses a barely recognizable language and you’ll find it harder to catch what they actually say than managing the swingtap. Tango, unfortunately, is mostly instrumental, but it will help your motivation to learn Spanish if not practice it by singing. Salsa is immensely popular all over South America and makes heavy use of Spanish-language lyrics. Check out Ricky Martin and Gloria Esteban for example. Other artists who sing in Spanish include Julio and Enrique Iglesias and Colombian singer Shakira.

Movies in Spanish do not generally enjoy the large budget of Hollywood productions, but what they don’t have in money they compensate by talent. There are many great movies out there, and you can buy them on DVD with Spanish and English subtitles. This makes for a golden opportunity to practice or just enjoy your Spanish in a most entertaining fashion. Some of my favorites are Amores PerrosDarkness, Hollywood action flickTraffic or El by Luis Buñuel. You can now buy these films in theSpanish-language DVD section of

There are more newspapers in Spanish than you could read in a lifetime. Some are very good, and you can read most of them for free over the Internet. In Spain, the most important are El Paìsand La Vanguardia. You can get a searchable selection of article refreshed every hour 


Ashu jain has over 18 years of experience in the field of international career ,education consulting and foreign language linguistic . She is also running a foreign language school in the beautiful city Chandigarh AIFLC. She is the member of french association of France (IATF). She has traveled extensively and guided a large numbers of aspirants to leading US universities at both, the undergraduate and graduate levels. She has successfully guided a large number of students into the leading universities of the US including the Ivy League, MIT, Cal-tech, Stanford, Yale and the UCs, U Toronto, UBC, McGill and other universities of Canada and the top 10 in UK.

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