Why I Love To Learn Spanish

60 Second Summary:

Why do I love to learn Spanish?

The Music

  • Salsa music
  • Bachata music
  • Kizomba music 

The Dancing

  • Salsa dancing
  • Bachata dancing
  • Kizomba dancing

I just love learning languages!

Why do you love Spanish?

The Long Story: My Spanish Language Learning Journey

There are so many reasons why I love learning Spanish.

At first it was because I simply just wanted to understand what my Mexican American friends were saying.

Now, I love dancing while listening to salsa and bachata music.

But Spanish wasn't always a love of mine. 

And to see why, let's go back to the beginning.

Home Is Where The Corazón Is

I've grown up hearing Spanish my whole life. 

Growing up in Southern California, I was surrounded by Mexican restaurants, Mexican-American friends, Mexican-American people, Mexican everything.

It's impossible not to hear it. It's all around you. 

At the taquerias.

At the convenience stores.

At El Super.

You hear Spanish on TV.

Even at Korean bbq restaurants and Vietnamese Banh Mi shops you can hear Spanish, since a lot of Mexicans work there!

You just simply can't avoid it. It's just part of Los Angeles.

Spanish is just one of the languages of L.A. It might as well be one of the official languages.

But just because I grew up hearing Spanish all the time doesn't mean that I knew how to speak it.

In fact, the first chance I got to learn a language in school (High School), I chose not to learn Spanish.

Those next four years of my life would be full of Latin. 

All Roads Lead to Rome

Why the heck did I choose to learn Latin?

That's actually a good question. I'm not entirely sure myself, except that my older brother chose to study Latin, so I decided to study Latin too.

I think my parents had something to do with that, especially my mother. Like all Asian-American parents, she wanted me to become a doctor or lawyer or something, I think she suggested that I learn Latin, since it's a useful language to know for law, medicine, and science. 

Anyway, while most of my friends were studying Spanish, I and a small group of people studied Latin.

Flash forward 4 years later. 

After 4 years of studying tables of Latin grammar and even doing class readings of the Aeneid, I still couldn't put together a single sentence in Latin.

Even now, years later, I still can't put together a sentence in Latin.

But I do remember something I said years ago when I started to finally learn Spanish at my University. 

Spanish: Retarded Latin

I stopped studying Latin in 2007, and finally started learning Spanish in 2009 at my University. 

Although it had been years since I had studied Latin, I remember so clearly something I said when I was getting started learning Spanish:

"Wow, Spanish is just retarded Latin."

Yeah, I know, it's a pretty crass and inappropriate thing to say, but hey, I was just a young 19 year old kid back then.

I remember thinking to myself:

"Oh my god! Spanish is so easy compared to Latin!"

But just because Spanish was easier than Latin didn't mean that I could speak Spanish.

University Spanish, Pimsleur, and The Beginning of my Love of Language Learning 

During my final year of college, I studied Spanish. And during that time also I finished the entire Pimsleur Spanish audio course.

(I would have learned Spanish much more quickly if I had decided to use Michel Thomas' audio courses instead of Pimsleur's)

At the time, I was also working at my old high school tutoring students, and I would just sometimes practice speaking Spanish with them.

But let's be honest, I wasn't that good at Spanish. But it was fun.

It was the first time I was able to talk to my friends and other people in a language other than English.

Finally, at the age of 20, after 4 years of trying to learn Latin in High School, I discovered the joy of language learning through Spanish.

I guess you could say it was my first love.

Even though I only studied Spanish for one year, my life had changed. It was the beginning of my language learning journey.

But although it was the beginning of my language learning journey, it would be an abrupt end for my Spanish language learning for a while.

Adiós, Español ~ Annyeong Korean!

Although I was enjoying learning Spanish, I had a more pressing issue at the time:

"What the heck was I going to do after college?"

I knew what I wanted to do (travel outside the USA and earn money), but I didn't know exactly what to do.

After doing research, and reading two of the most influential books in my life, 'Vagabonding' by Rolf Potts and 'The Four Hour Work Week' by Tim Ferriss, I decided to teach English in South Korea. 

So I started to study Korean at the same I studied Spanish.

However, as time went by, I ended up spending most of my time and effort studying and practicing Korean.

Spanish: Forgotten, but not Completely Lost, and Michel Thomas

So for a few years I didn't really practice Spanish that much, if at all.

Sometime in the middle of my Korean studies, I don't remember exactly when, but I managed to complete all of Michel Thomas' Spanish courses: 

  • Michel Thomas' Total Spanish (which includes Spanish Foundation, Spanish Foundation Review, and the first half of the Spanish Vocabulary Builder course)

  • Michel Thomas' Perfect Spanish (which includes Advanced Spanish,  Advanced Spanish Review, and the second half of the Spanish Vocabulary Builder course)

  • Michel Thomas' Spanish MasterClass

Looking back, I wish I had studied Michel Thomas' audio course instead of Pimsleur's Spanish course.

Pimsleur is just way too slow! And you don't really learn how to "think" in longer structures in Spanish, you just learn lots of short words and phrases.

Anyway, as time went on I didn't really spend much time with Spanish. I spent most of my time on Korean, and then Japanese for a bit.

It wasn't until a pretty embarrassing and shameful moment that started me back on the road back to Spanish

"Can You Dance Salsa?"

During the summer of 2014, 4 years after I had studied Spanish in college, one of my Mexican American friends invited me to his sister's birthday party.

If you've never been to a Mexican backyard birthday party, let me tell you, it's pretty fun. And loud.

You know there's a Mexican party when you can hear the ridiculously loud bass thumping to reggaeton or merengue music.

I always wondered how often neighbors complained about the loud music.

Anyway, so my friends and I arrive, there's cerveza, delicious Mexican food, kids and grandmothers running around, and some pretty tipsy friends of friends.

I went to the party with some of my friends (most of them were not Mexican). My friends and I stood around shyly and nervously as the obnoxiously loud salsa music blasted on in the backyard.

One of my friend's female friends was quite tipsy, and asked me to dance salsa.

At the time, I didn't know how to dance at all, and I nervously replied "I don't know how to dance."

She was quite drunk and grabbed my hands and said "it's easy, just do this" while doing some simple dance steps.

Well, in hindsight they were simple steps, but at that moment they felt like a blur of motion.

After dancing with this one girl, I somehow ended up dancing with her drunk friend.

My friends stood to the side with their hands in their pockets quite shyly while I tried to do the best best bad salsa dancing I could muster up.

Those two drunk girls probably don't remember dancing with me at all, but if I ever see them again, I would thank them.

They not only sparked my love of dancing, but they rekindled my love for Spanish.

1, 2, 3 ... 5, 6, 7: How To Count in the Language of Salsa

After that particularly shameful but memorable night at my friend's birthday party, I decided that I would learn how to dance salsa.

So for about 2 months straight, I took salsa lessons and danced salsa for 1-5 hours every day.

(This would also be one of my first and most memorable experiences with skill-hacking: learning a skill at an incredibly fast pace and getting to a very high level that would normally take most people years to achieve at a slower pace)

2 months later, after hundreds of hours practicing salsa, I got to a pretty high level of skill. 

What was more surprising to me though, was that even though I got good at salsa, it wasn't actually salsa itself that made me fall in love with the Spanish language again.

1, 2, 3, tap, 5, 6, 7 tap: How To Count in the Language of Bachata

Bachata. Oh bachata. I had no idea that I would love you so much.

Even though I found salsa music fun to dance to with friends, I never really found myself listening to salsa music by myself at home.

But bachata? Oh yes. I absolutely love bachata.

The lyrics are full of love, heartbreak, longing, desire, passion!

I love learning the lyrics of bachata songs and learning how to sing them.

And then I love dancing along to the music. It's simply phenomenal.

Somewhere along the way during my dancing journey, I also fell in love with another music and dance whose music is mostly written in Portuguese.  

¡Kizomba en Español! Wait, what's Kizomba?

It's a dance originally from Angola and most songs are sung in Portuguese. However, Kizomba is getting quite popular in Europe and around the world so now there are Kizomba songs in Spanish as well like "Lento" by Daniel Santacruz.

I think I just really love the music and dance.

A Linguistic Perspective: Why Do I Love Spanish?

Spanish and the Romance languages are all so fascinating to me.

I studied Latin before I studied any modern Romance languages so it's fascinating to me to see how the modern languages have changed compared to Latin.

How's My Spanish Now?

My Spanish is all right. Of course, I would like to get better, but speaking isn't a big priority for me right now. I really enjoy just listening to Spanish music and reading and listening to the lyrics.

Now it's your turn!

Why do you love Spanish?

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