Everyone needs a bit of motivation now and then, but no one more than a second language learner. The learning curve is steep and the road to fluency is long. Learning a second language is one of the most important challenges every person must conquer. It involves getting rid of your fears of ridicule and learning to be more understanding and patient with yourself and others. It also involves a major overhaul in your brain architecture. All these things lead to frustration and many times giving up, people tend to have great excuses about their age, their temperament and their intelligence to get out of the challenge of learning. Here are some facts about Spanish that may motivate you to keep going.

  1. Learning a language is like a vitamin for your brain. There is no better way to maintain a healthy brain than to continue learning everything and anything. All learning is great but language, music and math learning have been found to keep the brain young and free of neurological disorders. So while you eat your apple a day, learn Spanish.
  2. Over 400 million people speak Spanish. Spanish comes only after Chinese when it comes to the number of native speakers; it even beats out English by 50 million. That is a lot of possible friends and experiences that can be had by simply learning Spanish.
  3. There are 21 countries that have Spanish as the official language. That is a lot of places to go, to try new foods and to meet people. Knowing Spanish opens the doors to a more authentic and memorable experience, since native speakers appreciate and cherish those that try to speak the local language instead of expecting them to speak English.
  4. Spanish is a phonetic language. This is the one fact that makes Spanish much easier than English. In Spanish the vowels only have one sound each and there are no vowel blends, which is to say that when two vowels are together, it does not change their sound, each letter is always pronounced. There are only a handful of pronunciation rules to keep track of. Unlike English, which is a pronunciational crap shoot, Spanish is steadfast and true in its simplicity in pronouncing words.
  5. Spanish culture is rich and varied. It doesn’t matter what you like; music, theater, movies or art, Spanish culture is rich and ever expanding. Surrounding yourself with the language has never been easier, the internet can guide you in learning more about Spanish language culture and there is no better way to get rid of your accent than singing along to songs in Spanish. You can look up artists on YouTube and sing along with the lyrics (letra) guiding you. You can watch movies in Spanish with Spanish subtitles and watch your vocabulary and comprehension evolve very quickly.
  6. You don’t need to conjugate. Everyone’s biggest fear with Spanish is dealing with all the verb changes. At first they seem daunting and impossible to overcome. The thing is, you don’t need to conjugate to be understood. You can simply use the verb in its infinitive form and keep trucking. In the beginning speaking is much less about correctness than getting your point across. Learn verbs and start using them. Just don’t worry about all their changes at first; conjugation will come naturally as you speak, read, sing and live in Spanish.
  7. Costa Ricans are the friendliest teachers. You are in the right place to learn Spanish; the local Tico population is very warm and welcoming to outsiders who try to speak Spanish. They see it as a show of respect and tend to shower the speaker with help and respect in return. So go out to the store or local business, try out your words and phrases and see how locals will open up to you. You will also find that locals have the time and patience to teach you words and phrases and they will feel comfortable enough to try out their English.

There is no better time to learn than now and no better place to start doing it. You have many helpers and guides to learn Spanish in Costa Rica; it is just a matter of coming to terms with being a fool for a while. It is much, much more about attitude than aptitude. If you start laughing at yourself and joining in on the joke, you’ll find out what Pura Vida is really all about.