ATLANTA, GA, February 20, 2006: If you think that learning Spanish is just for High School students or international travelers, think again. Consider these statistics:
o Spanish and English are nearly tied as the most spoken language in the world. As of 1999, there were 332 million Spanish speakers, versus 322 million for English. (Ethnologue.com)
o Hispanics are our nation’s largest minority group at 39.8 million, an increase of almost 13% since 2000. The Latino population is expected to increase by 188 percent to 102.6 million, or roughly one-quarter of the population by 2050. (U.S. Census Bureau 2004)
o The Hispanic population grew faster in Georgia than in any state in the nation from 2000 to 2002, at 17%, with 102 Hispanics moving to Georgia each day. Metro Atlanta experienced the most rapid Hispanic growth rate among the nation’s 20 most populous metro areas. (U.S. Census Bureau, Sept. 2003).
o In 2004, Georgia was one of ten states with the largest Hispanic markets ($10.9 billion). (Selig Center for Economic Growth, 2004)
o Atlanta has 21 periodicals and 9 radio stations that focus on serving Latinos in Georgia. Univision and Georgia TeVe are Spanish-Language television stations that also serve Atlanta. (www.ghcc.org)
Do you still think that you will never need to learn Spanish?
“When I first started tutoring Spanish over 5 years ago, I primarily worked with Public Health professionals, people preparing for a vacation in Latin America or Spain, and students needing extra help in their courses. Today, I work with Executives and Engineers, Writers and Retirees. Everyone has realized how learning Spanish is fast becoming a necessity in Atlanta,” says Jennifer Casado, owner of CharlarUSA, a Spanish Academy that emphasizes a conversational approach to Spanish supplemented with activities that teach students about Latino culture.
If you decide that learning Spanish is for you, here are 6 tips for setting your strategy:
Tip No. 1: Set realistic goals: Consider carefully the proficiency you would like to attain as well as the time you have available to learn Spanish. Do you need to be fluent, or even conversational? Or do you just want to be able call a cab and order food during your next visit to Mexico? Learning a Foreign Language will not happen overnight (they call it “foreign” for a reason!) and becoming fluent will require a long-term, consistent commitment on your part.
Tip No. 2: Think about your learning style BEFORE you invest: Whether you plan on purchasing a set of CDs, workbooks, or tutoring sessions, do your research! Books and CD’s will not help you learn if you don’t use them.
If you are a “visual” learner, buy a workbook before you invest in CD’s. If you have a long commute, buy CDs to listen to as you drive. To ensure personal attention, contact a tutor or an academy that can guarantee small class size and can address your individual questions.
Tip No. 3: Start slowly: After determining your initial strategy, test it out: If you decide to take classes, sign up for one and see if you like it. Perhaps you would like a less structured approach or more personal attention. To supplement your classes, you may want to ask your instructor or classmates for recommendations, or borrow CDs, videos, and/or textbooks from your local library to try them out before you buy.
Tip No. 4: Put yourself out there! : The key reason to learn a foreign language is to COMMUNICATE. Join Spanish Language clubs or an academy like CharlarUSA that organizes activities where you can practice outside of a classroom setting. If you apply and actively use what you’ve learned–even if it’s only in your local Mexican restaurant–you will greatly accelerate the learning process!
Tip No. 5: Keep at it! Learning a foreign language is like a staircase–at times it may not seem like you’re progressing, and then all of a sudden you will jump up to the next step. If you feel you are at a stand-still, perhaps it’s time to adjust your learning strategy (more oral comprehension, less grammar, etc). Discuss any anxieties you have with your instructor so that your program can be adjusted.
Tip No. 6: Finally, have fun! Learning Spanish can open up numerous doors for you, teaching you about other cultures, and even helping you to better understand your neighbors, coworkers and friends. Make sure you ENJOY it and reward yourself for all of your hard work!