Why Learn Spanish ?

Who’s learning Spanish these days? For starters, residents of the United States, a bunch not known for conquering monolingualism, are studying Spanish in record numbers. Spanish, too, is becoming of greater importance in Europe, where it often the foreign language of choice after English. And it’s no wonder that Spanish is a popular second or third language: with some 400 million speakers, it’s the fourth most commonly spoken language in the world (after English, Chinese and Hindustani), and according to some counts it has more native speakers than English does. It is an official language on four continents and is of historical importance elsewhere.

The numbers alone makes Spanish a good choice for those wanting to learn another tongue. But there are plenty of other reasons to learn Spanish. Better understanding of English: Much of the vocabulary of English has Latin origins, much of which came to English by way of French. Since Spanish is also a Latin language, you will find as you study Spanish that you have a better understanding of your native vocabulary. Similarly, both Spanish and English share Indo-European roots, so their grammars are similar. There is perhaps no more effective way to learn English grammar than by studying the grammar of another language, for the study forces you to think about how your language is structured. It’s not unusual, for example, to gain an understanding of English verbs’ tenses and moods by learning how those verbs are used in Spanish.

Knowing your neighbors: Not all that many years ago, the Spanish-speaking population of the United States was confined to the Mexican border states, Florida and New York City. But no more. Even where I live, less than 100 kilometers from the Canadian border, there are Spanish-speaking people living on the same street as I do. Knowing Spanish has proven invaluable in speaking with other residents of my town who don’t know English.

Travel: Yes, it is perfectly possible to visit Mexico, Spain and even Equatorial Guinea without speaking a word of Spanish. But it isn’t nearly half as much fun. I remember about two decades ago — when my Spanish was much less adequate than it is today — when I met some mariachis on top of one of the pyramids near Mexico City. Because I spoke (albeit limited) Spanish, they wrote down the words for me so I could sing along. It turned out to be one of my most memorable travel experiences, and one unlike most tourists have the opportunity to enjoy. Time and time again while traveling in Mexico, Central America and South America I have had doors opened to me simply because I speak Spanish, allowing me to see and do things that many other visitors do not.

Cultural understanding: While most of us (Pope John Paul II may be an exception) can’t hope to learn the languages of more than one or two cultures other than that of our own, those that we can learn help us to learn how other people learn and think. When I read Latin American or Spanish newspapers, for example, I often find that I gain a sense of how other people think and feel, a way that is different than my own. Spanish also offers a wealth of literature, both modern and traditional.

Learning other languages: If you can learn Spanish, you’ll have a head start in learning the other Latin-based languages such as French and Italian. And it will even help you learn Russian and German, since they too have Indo-European roots and have some characteristics (such as gender and extensive conjugation) that are present in Spanish but not English. And I wouldn’t be surprised if learning Spanish might even help you learn Japanese or any other non-Indo-European language, since intensive learning the structure of a language can give you a reference point for learning others.

It’s easy: Spanish is one of the easiest foreign languages to learn. Much of its vocabulary is similar to English’s, and written Spanish is almost completely phonetic: Look at almost any Spanish word and you can tell how it is pronounced. And while mastering the grammar of Spanish can be a challenge, basic grammar is straightforward enough that you can have meaningful communication after only a few lessons.


Arabic Influence on the Spanish Langauge

If you speak either Spanish or English, you probably speak more Arabic than you think you do. It’s not “real” Arabic you’re speaking, but rather words that come from Arabic. After Latin and English, Arabic is probably the biggest contributor of words to the Spanish language, and a large portion of English-Spanish cognates (words that the two language share) that don’t come from Latin come from Arabic.

The English words you’re most likely to think of as Arabic origin are those that start with “al-,” words such as “algebra,” “Allah,” “alkali” and “alchemy,” and they exist in Spanish as álgebra, Alá, álkali and alkimia, respectively. But they are far from the only ones. A variety of other types of common words such as “coffee,” “zero” and “sugar” (café, cero and azúcar in Spanish) also come from Arabic.

The etymology of English words goes beyond the scope of this article, but the introduction of Arabic words into Spanish began in earnest in the eighth century, although even before then some words of Latin and Greek origin had roots in Arabic. People living in what is now Spain spoke Latin at one time, of course, but over the centuries Spanish and other Romance languages such as French and Italian gradually differentiated themselves. The Latin dialect that eventually became Spanish was highly influenced by the invasion of the Arabic-speaking Moors in 711. For many centuries, Latin/Spanish and Arabic existed side by side, and even today many Spanish place names retain Arabic roots. It wasn’t until late in the 15th century that the Moors were expelled, and by then literally thousands of Arabic words had become part of Spanish.

On the next page are some of the most common Arabic-origin Spanish words you’ll come across. As you can see, many of the words also are a part of English. Although it is believed that the English words “alfalfa” and “alcove,” which originally were Arabic, entered English by way of Spanish (alfalfa and alcoba), most Arabic words in English probably entered English by other routes. Not all possible English translations of the Spanish words are listed.

  • aceite — oil
  • adobe — adobe
  • aduana — customs (as at a border)
  • ajedrez — chess
  • Alá — Allah
  • alacrán — scorpion
  • albacora — albacore
  • albahaca — basil
  • alberca — tank, swimming pool
  • alcade — mayor
  • alcatraz — pelican
  • alcázar — fortress, palace
  • alcoba — bedroom, alcove
  • alcohol — alcohol
  • aldea — village (same source as English word “alderman”)
  • alfombra — carpet
  • algarroba — carob
  • algodón — cotton
  • algoritmo — algorithm
  • alkimia — alchemy
  • almacén — storage
  • almanaque — almanac
  • almirante — admiral
  • almohada — pillow
  • alquiler — rent
  • amalgama — amalgam
  • arroz — rice
  • asesino — assassin
  • atún — tuna
  • ayatolá — ayatollah
  • azafrán — saffron
  • azúcar — sugar
  • azul — blue (same source as English “azure”)
  • baño — bathroom
  • barrio — district
  • berenjena — eggplant
  • burca — burqa
  • café — coffee
  • cero — zero
  • chisme — gossip, gadget
  • Corán — Koran
  • cuzcuz — couscous
  • dado — die (singular of “dice”)
  • embarazada — pregnant
  • espinaca — spinach
  • fez — fez
  • fulano — what’s-his-name
  • gacela — gazelle
  • guitarra — guitar
  • hachís — hashish
  • harén — harem
  • hasta — until
  • imán — imam
  • islam — Islam
  • jaque — check (in chess)
  • jaque mate — checkmate
  • jirafa — giraffe
  • laca — lacquer
  • lila — lilac
  • lima — lime
  • limón — lemon
  • macabro — macabre
  • marfil — marble, ivory
  • masacre — massacre
  • masaje — massage
  • máscara — mask
  • mazapán — marzipan
  • mezquita — mosque
  • momia — mummy
  • mono — monkey
  • muslim — muslim
  • naranja — orange
  • ojalá — I hope, God willing
  • olé — bravo
  • paraíso — paradise
  • ramadán — Ramadan
  • rehén — hostage
  • rincón — corner, nook
  • sorbete — sherbet
  • sofá — sofa
  • rubio — blond
  • talco — talc
  • tamarindo — tamarind
  • tarea — task
  • tarifa — tariff
  • toronja — grapefruit
  • zanahoria — carrot

Community Spanish Class in Koreatown- Class Outline and Schedule for Fall, 2014

Gaucho Life

La Portena de Areco- BUENOS AIRES

La Portena de Areco- Estancia outside of Buenos Aires- Gaucho Lifestyle- Folkloric Guitar- Asada- Riding Horses, Polo-

Recently, I just came back from Buenos Aires, I went in conjunction with Queens University Latin America MFA Program in Creative Writing. I had so much fun learning about Tango Culture and Gauchos in the Argentine countryside. I’d like to share some photos with you here.



Feria de San Telmo- Tango in the Afternoon

Feria de San Telmo- Tango in the Afternoon

I wanted to inform everyone there will be a Study Abroad in Mother’s Bed and Breakfast http://marlenesbedandbreakfast.wordpress.com/ in the heart of Managua, from December 26- January 9th. Here is the link if you would like more information, Please RSVP by October 15th.

                                                        Photos of Nicaragua:

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My Community Spanish Class will begin September 2nd, Tuesday and will be Ongoing until the end of the 2014. If you can’t make it tomorrow, please come the following week. You can Drop in anytime of the year. This class is for the Community.

Below is more information.



Tell your friends !


Spanish Classes for the Community are held on Tuesday evenings are ongoing, each class we discuss practical matters in daily life: Introductions, Directions, Ordering at a restaurant, Reserving Accommodations and even asking someone to dance. Classes are $25 and all materials are provided.
Please RSVP.
Classes are ongoing every Tuesday Night at Conference Room in Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf on Wilshire and Normandie located in Koreatown.

All materials will be provided, please bring a notebook and get ready to have some fun !

September Schedule
September 2: Introductions/How to Talk about Yourself Intelligently: Family, Profession & Passion
September 9:How to Tell Time (More from Before)
September 16:Asking & Giving Directions
September 23 : Food/ How To Order at a Restaurant/ Etiquette
September 30: Hot and Horny Spanish –

October Schedule
October 7 : How to read Signs in Public- Commands
October 14: How to Purchase Food at Supermarket
October 21: Handling Currency Negotiations
October 28: Grooming/ (How to use the Reflexive)

Where: Tuesday Night Nights in K-Town
When: Time: 6: 30 pm- 8:00 pm

Private Students come Free For the Price of a Latte at the Coffee Bean.

Classes are $25 per person, drop in.
Package of 5 Classes, $120.00 CASH
Package of 5 Classes, & $125.00 Credit Card


You can NOW purchase classes with Credit Card and Pay Pal.

If your interested in TAKING a class, please let me know ASAP, as you will have to fill in a Questionnaire before your first class.


I look forward to seeing you soon !

All the best,
Langauge Instructor and Owner of The Spanish School
Sabrina Rongstad de Bravo
email: sabrina@escuela-espanol.com
web: http://www.escuela-espanol.com
blog: http://www.laescuelaespanol.wordpress.com
cell: 310- 993-6007