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Linguistic Family Tree

When linguists talk about the historical relationship between languages, they use a tree metaphor. An ancient source (say, Indo-European) has various branches (e.g., Romance, Germanic), which themselves have branches (West Germanic, North Germanic), which feed into specific languages (Swedish, Danish, Norwegian). Lessons on language families are often illustrated with a simple tree diagram that has all the information but lacks imagination. There’s no reason linguistics has to be so visually uninspiring. Minna Sundberg, creator of the webcomic Stand Still. Stay Silent, a story set in a lushly imagined post-apocalyptic Nordic world, has drawn the antidote to the boring linguistic tree diagram.

Also worth checking out is the page before the tree, where she gives a comparison chart of words in the Nordic languages, and illustrates what an outlier Finnish is with the concept of “meow.”

Mobile language learing

And One More Thing…

If you like learning Spanish, then you’ll love FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos like music videos, commercials, news, and inspiring talks and turns them into Spanish learning experiences. Other sites use scripted content. FluentU uses a natural approach that helps you ease into the Spanish language and culture over time. You’ll learn Spanish as it’s actually spoken by real people.

FluentU has a wide variety of videos – topics like soccer, TV shows, business, movies, and even magical realism, as you can see here:

Great App for Learning Spanish

FluentU App Browse Screen

FluentU brings native videos within reach with interactive transcripts. You can tap on any word to look it up instantly. Every definition has examples that have been written to help you understand how the word is used. If you see an interesting word you don’t know, you can add it to a vocab list.

Top Apps for Learning Spanish

Interactive transcript for Carlos Baute song.

Learn all the vocabulary in any video with FluentU’s Learn Mode. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

Top Spanish Learning Apps

Quiz for a popular soccer commercial.

The best part is that FluentU keeps track of the vocabulary that you’re learning, and it recommends you examples and videos based on the words you’ve already learned. Every learner has a truly personalized experience, even if they’re learning the same video. 

Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Play store.

8 Awesome Spanish Blogs for Spanish Learners

1. PeppyBurro

So, you’re passionate about the Spanish language and want to spread your enthusiasm to the rest of the non-Spanish speaking world.  What do you do?

Well, if you’re Amit Schandillia, whose love for the language has no limits, you set up a blog to inspire other learners.  Amit has turned his enthusiasm for Spanish into a valuable learning resource that’s as infectious as it is educative.

Although Amit is not a native Spanish speaker, he is a deep well of information with a blog that includes tips and tricks on fluency, cultural information and examples of regional variations.  Amit’s posts are categorized into eight helpful sections: vocabulary, immersion, music, tips and tricks, street Spanish, deconstruction, movies and shows, and finally, resources.  There is a lot of excellent information here that is of use to all levels of Spanish language learners.

2. My Spanish Adventure

“My Spanish Adventure” is a wonderful idea for a blog.  Will Peach did something that many people dream of, and that’s to leave the 9-5 and go traveling.  He followed his heart to Spain to become fluent in Spanish and learn more about the country.  His blog posts read like a close friend sending you notes from abroad, but each one has something valuable about the country and the language.  He shares stories about his experiences and some of the joys and challenges of learning a foreign tongue, some of which will be familiar to readers.

Blog posts are categorized into four sections: immersion in Spain, what to see in Spain, save money in Spain and is Spanish hard to learn?  As you can imagine with someone who’s traveling through the country, the range of topics is immense, everything from tourist information such as great places to surf to essential how-to guides.  Will is an engaging and entertaining writer and some of the posts are in Spanish. 

3. Spanish Obsessed

For the Spanish learner who wants to push themselves ever further, this series of posts will give the language center of the brain a thorough workout.  “Spanish Obsessed” is a comprehensive Spanish learning website run by English native and fluent Spanish speaker Rob and his Colombian partner Liz.

One of the really neat aspects about their blog posts is that they are written in both languages.  Rob writes in English and Liz in Spanish.   Their posts explore many aspects of the language from basic, intermediate and advanced vocabulary and phrases to insightful articles about its structure and how best to go about learning the language. Rob’s posts cover topics such as getting to grips with the subjunctive, memory tricks to help you learn, and a guide to ser and estar(Spanish language learners will know how tricky it is to master the two forms of the verb “to be”). Liz’s posts are on anything and everything, such as vacations and following the peace process in Colombia.  They provide the Spanish language learner with a lot of good reading practice.

4. Speaking Latino

You’ve probably heard it a million times before, but it’s always worth repeating.  The Spanish you learn in the classroom, while being supremely useful of course, is not the language of the street.  To sound even more Spanish you must familiarize yourself with everyday words and phrases, and that is the intent behind “Speaking Latino”.

The blog is all about Spanish slang and speaking Spanish in the real world.  And whether you will be traveling to or working in Argentina, Chile, Spain or another Spanish-speaking country, there’s a series of blog posts for you.  The articles are categorized according to countries, so there’s Ecuadorian Spanish, Peruvian Spanish, Mexican Spanish and so on.  In all, the Spanish of 12 countries is featured, as well as a section on general Spanish. The posts are short, sharp, to the point and are stuffed with everyday Spanish used in the country of your choice.  They cover a multitude of topics such as politics, slang expressions from different regions of a country, and even expressions used to insult someone!

5. Notes in Spanish

In addition to all the great videos and audios, “Notes in Spanish” also runs a blog for the Spanish learner of all levels. This comprehensive website is run by a Madrid-based couple: Ben who’s an Englishman and Marina Diez a native Spanish speaker. The posts are typically based on a single topic and include the key words and phrases you are likely to hear in conjunction with the post’s theme. Each post is well constructed, informative and nicely presented. The blog also promotes the couple’s excellent podcast and video series.

6. Let’s Go Spanish

“Let’s Go Spanish” is a mixed bag of language learning goodies, a series of blog post/lessons that get under the skin of the Spanish tongue to provide an all-embracing immersion into its construction and how it is spoken. A lot of time and effort goes into providing thoughtful articles that highlight plenty of useful phrases and key vocabulary. The large photographs are a nice and occasionally whimsical touch that makes reading these blogs an even more pleasurable and valuable experience.

7. How to Learn Spanish

Learn Spanish without breaking the bank.  That’s the basic premise of “How to Learn Spanish”, which is designed to point the reader to a huge pile of internet-based learning resources that cost little or no money.  The blog is run by Andrew Tracey who taught himself Spanish via the internet.  Now he’s acting like your personal language learning detective who scours the far reaches of the web to find good and inexpensive means of learning Spanish. His posts talk about and point to videos, books, music, audio, TV shows and so on that are useful for all levels of Spanish language learner. “How to learn Spanish” is a good starting point that will save the student hours of their own time. Within just a few minutes of reading Andrew’s posts you’ll have a handful of links to great resources to continue your immersive journey into the language.

8. KeRapido.com

This site is run by native Spanish teacher Maria Fernandez, who provides a regularly updated series of lessons that explore the language in some detail. She previously ran a site called “Spanish Bites,” but now KeRapido.com focuses more on audio and video listening lessons. Learners can use the free parts of the site or pay a small fee for a complete Spanish course.

Spanish speaking countries

At Baselang, we have helped thousands of students learn Spanish.

Many of our students share the same motivation for learning Spanish:

Travel. 

Whether you already have the travel bug, or you’re dreaming of one day buying a plane ticket and scratching that travel itch, learning Spanish is a no-brainer.

Not only will you be able to immerse yourself in a new culture and connect with Spanish speaking locals, but you’ll also have a list of 21 official Spanish speaking countries to add to your travel bucket list.

(Ok, we’re not recommending that you should travel to each country on the list, but you get the point.)

How Many People Speak Spanish?

According to Instituto Cervantes, 437 million people speak Spanish as a native language, making it the second most spoken language in the world behind Chinese which has 1.2 billion speakers, and ahead of English which has approximately 360 million native speakers.

Not to mention the fact that Spanish is continuing to grow in traditionally non-Spanish speaking countries.

Let’s take the United States, for example, where Hispanics account for 18% of America’s population, and are projected to make up 28% by 2060, according to the United States Census Bureau.

Today more than 41 million people in the USA speak Spanish as a first language, which means that there are more Spanish speakers in the United states than there are in Spain.

In fact, experts predict that by 2050, the United States will overtake Mexico and become the number one Spanish speaking country in the world.

Ay caramba.

List Of Spanish Speaking Countries

If you are planning to learn Spanish, or have already nailed down some of the basics, then there are tons of attractive options for putting your Español to the test.

To be exact, 21 countries have Spanish as their official language.

  1. Mexico
  2. Colombia
  3. Spain
  4. Argentina
  5. Perú
  6. Venezuela
  7. Chile
  8. Ecuador
  9. Guatemala
  10. Cuba
  11. Bolivia
  12. Dominican Republic
  13. Honduras
  14. Paraguay
  15. El Salvador
  16. Nicaragua
  17. Costa Rica
  18. Panama
  19. Uruguay
  20. Puerto Rico
  21. Equatorial Guinea

All population stats from worldometers.com.

1. Mexico

Mexico

Population: 130,759,074.

Highlights: “Day of the Dead” festival on November 1st & 2nd each year, postcard Caribbean beaches, delicious street tacos for 60 cents, historic ruins of Chichen Itza and Teotihuacán.

2. Colombia

Colombia

Population: 49,464,683.

Highlights: Caribbean flavor of Cartagena, Parque Tayrona national park, Medellin nightlife, learning salsa in Cali, touring a coffee farm in the Zona Cafetera.

3. Spain

Spain

Population: 46,397,452.

Highlights: Barcelona & Real Madrid battling it out in “El Clasico”, eating tapas, architectural masterpieces such as Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia and the fortress/palace Alhambra, heading south for some beach hopping.

Related: Read about the differences between Spain Spanish & Latin American Spanish.

4. Argentina

Argentina

Population: 44,688,864.

Highlights: Iguazu Falls, Tango in Buenos Aires, vineyards of Mendoza, hiking in Patagonia, and visiting Ushuaia (claimed to be the most southernmost city in the world).

5. Perú

Peru

Population: 32,551,815.

Highlights: Peruvian cuisine, Machu Picchu ruins, bustling city of Lima, Nazca Lines, visiting the Amazon, Lake Titicaca and surfing in Mancora.

6. Venezuela

Venezuela

Population: 32,381,221

Highlights: Angel Falls (the highest waterfall in the world at 3230 feet) beachtime in Margarita Island, sand dunes of Médanos De Coro National Park.

Sidenote: Unfortunately traveling to Venezuela at this moment is pretty unsafe, and so we cannot advise visiting there right now.

7. Chile

Chile

Population: 18,197,209

Highlights: Easter Island, Punta Arenas (also claimed to be the southernmost city in the world), adventure sports in Pucón, Valparaiso street art, and sandboarding in the Atacama desert.

8. Ecuador

Ecuador

Population: 16,863,425.

Highlights: Montañita beach town, Cotopaxi National Park, the Galápagos Islands (which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution), and Quito, the highest capital city in the world (prepare for the altitude).

9. Guatemala

Guatemala

Population: 17,245,346.

Highlights: Ancient Mayan city of Tikal, sunrise hike in Lake Atitlán, and adventure sports in Semuc Champey,

10. Cuba

Cuba

Population: 11,489,082.

Highlights: Cruising around Havana in a car from the 1950s, cigar farms in Viñales, Cuba Libres & salsa in Trinidad, and beach time in Varadero.

11. Bolivia

Boliva

Population: 11,215,674.

Highlights: Salt flats of Salar de Uyuni, infamous “death road” bicycle trail in La Paz, Lake Titicaca, and Amazon rainforest.

12. Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic

Population: 10,882,996.

Highlights: Cordillera Central trek, learning bachata in Santo Domingo, whale watching in Samaná Bay, and chilling at “Playa Las Ballenas” beach.

13. Honduras

Honduras

Population: 9,417,167.

Highlights: Ancient ruins of Copán, Roatán and Utila if surfing or water activities is your thing.

14. Paraguay

Paraguay

Population: 6,896,908.

Highlights: Iguazu Falls, which border Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, and for good reason is one the top tourist attractions in South America.

15. El Salvador

El Salvador

Population: 6,411,558

Highlights: Joya de Cerén Archaeological Site, a pre-Columbian Maya farming village somehome incredibly intact under layers of volcanic ash. Playa El Tunco beach for catching some waves and relaxing for a few days.

16. Nicaragua

Nicaragua

Population: 6,284,757.

Highlights: Colonial vibes of Granada, nightlife in San Juan del Sur, surfing down the active “Cerro Negro” volcano at 93 km/hr in León.

17. Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Population: 4,953,199.

Highlights: Arenal Volcano national park, secluded beaches of Guanacaste, and the diversity of Corcovado National Park, an 11,000-acre rainforest.

18. Panama

Panama

Population: 4,162,618

Highlights: The Panama Canal, which connects the Caribbean and Pacific, Casco Viejo district in Panama city, hit the coast for surfing, scuba diving, snorkeling or simply chilling by a Caribbean beach.

19. Uruguay

Uruguay

Population: 3,469,551.

Highlights: Surfing in Punta del Diablo, strolling around the quaint Colonia del Sacramento, whale watching from the beaches of Piriápolis.

20. Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico

Population: 3,659,007.

As of right now (May 2018), Puerto Rico is still recovering from the chaos and trail of destruction left behind by Hurricane Maria. We’re hopeful that this Caribbean paradise will be back to it’s best sooner rather than later.

21. Equatorial Guinea

Population: 1,313,894.

The final Spanish-speaking country is located in….…AFRICA.

(Yes, it also took us by surprise.)

67.6% of the population in Equatorial Guinea speak Spanish, while French, Fang and Bubi are also spoken. It’s situated on the Atlantic Coast in central Africa.

Despite boasting a terrain that features plains, valleys, rainforests and volcanoes, it seems like tourism hasn’t quite taken off, with Equatorial Guinea said to be 6th least visited country in the world.

While there isn’t a whole pile of available information on traveling there, Equatorial Guinea is currently categorized as Level 1 (ie. exercise normal precautions) by the US Travel Advisory, which means it pretty safe to travel.

Additionally, this travel post offers useful tips on staying safe if you decide to visit.

Finally, here is a clip of an Equatorial Guinea local speaking (in Spanish, of course) about art and culture in her country.

Bonus Country: Philippines

Philippines

Population: 106,512,074.

Ok, while the Philippines isn’t officially a Spanish speaking country these days, this wasn’t always the case.

Up until 1987, Spanish was a co-official language of the Philippines, along with English.

Although the language is on the decline since the change, Philippine Spanish (a variant of standard Spanish) is still popular with many locals continuing to speak it, and schools continuing to teach it.

Which means you may find pockets of Spanish speakers if you ever travel around the Philippines.

And if not, just hit the beaches.

Hola!

¡Hola! Meeting and greeting in Spanish

Spanish Hello 1186382992

Posted by Collins Language @ Wednesday 27 March 2019

Conversational Spanish

In our next few blog articles, we’re going to be looking at some very common words and phrases which will help you to improve the Spanish you use on a day-to-day basis, making you sound more natural. Each blog article will look at a different area of conversation, so make sure you read each one to build up your vocabulary to ensure that you have the right words and phrases at hand, no matter the situation!

Meeting and greeting

Creating a good first impression is important, so you’ll want to be able to say hello to people properly. It’s not just about what you say, though, it’s making sure you are familiar with the correct etiquette when meeting people.

Spanish people usually shake hands upon meeting and parting in formal meetings, although friends and relatives will normally greet each other with a kiss on each cheek.
You can simply use hola (hello or hi) on its own. You can also use buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon or good evening – provided it’s still light) and buenas noches (good evening – once it’s dark). Spanish speakers often use both together, as in hola, buenos días and hola, buenas tardes.

Buenas noches means both good evening and good night. So you use it both when arriving at and leaving somewhere in the evening. When saying goodbye to someone you know you’ll see tomorrow, such as a colleague, you say hasta mañana (see you tomorrow).

When you pass friends and acquaintances in the street and don’t stop to talk, rather than saying hola you say hasta luego or adiós.

When you’re introduced to someone, you need to know what to say. The traditional encantado de conocerte and mucho gusto are only used in formal or business situations these days, and very often people just say encantado or even ¡Hola! ¿Qué tal?.

Remember to use encantada rather than encantado if you’re female!

Now you’ve overcome the first steps, come back for the next blog post to help you continue with the conversation!

Spanish is fun!