Is Spanish Hard to Learn? We Reveal the Facts + Guide

July 7, 2023
7 min read

Is Spanish hard to learn? How long will it take to learn? Can you learn it on your own? All of these questions and more will be answered in this guide!

Whether to earn foreign language credits, become bilingual or make traveling more interesting, learning a new language is a popular goal for students. 

One of the most common languages students choose to learn is Spanish! Not only is Spanish the second most widely used language in the States, but it is also spoken by millions worldwide. Read on to learn more.

How Hard Is It to Learn Spanish?

Based on the average time it takes to learn Spanish, its grammar, pronunciation, and linguistic distance from English, Spanish is not considered particularly difficult to learn. On the language difficulty scale that ranks from Category I to IV, Spanish falls into Category I

It takes about 24–30 weeks of consistent practice to reach professional proficiency in Spanish. 

And with Foundation Learning's personalized approach, finding your learning style can make those weeks even more productive. Take our quiz today and make mastering Spanish a breeze. 

5 Tips to Make Learning Spanish More Fun

To make Spanish learning more fun, start by surrounding yourself with the language at home by changing your device settings to Spanish. You can also listen to Spanish music or podcasts and engage with Spanish-speaking communities online. 

You can also try reading books you enjoy in Spanish, listening to conversations in Spanish, participating in language exchanges, and watching Spanish TV shows or movies with subtitles. Keep reading to learn more.

Read What You Like

Reading in Spanish can actually be quite enjoyable. Begin by picking materials that genuinely interest you. The key is to make reading feel like a fun pastime rather than a task. 

Children's books are perfect for beginners because they usually feature simpler language and captivating stories. And as you advance, don't hesitate to venture into other genres to spice things up.

Eavesdrop and People Watch

Listening to Spanish conversations can be a helpful way to learn. Find a café or park nearby and tune in to what people are saying. Try your best to pay attention to how the words sound and to any new ones you catch. 

Observing people and guessing what they're talking about based on their expressions can also be a fun exercise. Just remember to be polite and respectful and not to interrupt their privacy while you're listening in.

Attend Language Exchanges

Language exchanges offer great chances to practice speaking Spanish with native speakers. You can find these events in your local community or join online platforms. These exchanges let you talk with native speakers who are also learning your native language. 

Make sure to stay open-minded and patient, and don't stress about making mistakes. The main aim is to communicate and learn together.

Watch TV Shows Dubbed in Spanish

Watching TV shows or movies in Spanish is a fun and effective way to boost your listening skills. Begin by tuning into your favorite shows with Spanish dubbing. Because you already know the plot, following along in Spanish will feel natural. 

Use Spanish subtitles to catch any unfamiliar words or phrases, and feel free to pause or rewind as needed. As you gain confidence, explore content originally made in Spanish to expose yourself to diverse accents and dialects.

Immerse Yourself at Home

To boost your Spanish learning, make your home Spanish-friendly. Switch device settings to Spanish, listen to Spanish music or podcasts, label household items in Spanish, cook Spanish recipes for both culture and vocabulary, and engage with Spanish-speaking communities online. Surrounding yourself with Spanish in these ways will enhance your learning experience.

Similarities Between Spanish and English

Spanish and English are quite similar in their alphabet, cognates, punctuation, capitalization, sentence structures, and pluralization rules, which makes it slightly easier for English speakers to grasp Spanish due to the shared sounds and patterns between the two languages.

Shared Alphabet

Spanish and English share most of the same letters. For example, "A/a" sounds the same in both languages, like in "apple" in English and "manzana" (apple) in Spanish. 

They also share the letter "O/o," pronounced similarly in words like "octopus" in English and "oso" (bear) in Spanish. The only difference is the Spanish letter "Ñ/ñ," which sounds like "gn" in English words like "lasagna."


Spanish is often easier for English speakers to pick up because many words sound similar and mean the same in both languages. Take "hotel," "doctor," "radio," and "fantastic" for example; they're identical in English and Spanish. Take a look at the table below to see more examples of cognates between English and Spanish. 

English Spanish Pronunciation
Actor Actor ahc-toor
Adorable Adorable ah-door-ah-bleh
Alcohol Alcohol all-call
Animal Animal ah-nee-mal
Bank Banco bahn-coh
Car Carro cah-ro
Climate Clima clee-mah
Color Color coh-lore
Education Educación eh-doo-cah-see-ohn
Emotions Emociones eh-moh-see-oh-ness
Event Evento eh-vehn-toe
Family Familia fah-me-lee-ah
Fruit Fruta froo-tah
Global Global gloh-balll
Group Grupo groo-poe
Hospital Hospital os-pee-tall
Ideal Ideal e-deh-all
Insect Insecto in-sec-toe
Internacional Internacional in-tehr-nah-see-oh-nall
Legal Legal leh-gall
Music Música moo-see-cah
National Nacional nah-see-oh-nall
Ocean Océano oh-seh-ah-no
Original Original oh-re-he-nall
Part Parte par-teh
Plant Planta plahn-tah
Poem Poema poh-eh-mah
President Presidente preh-see-dehn-teh
Problem Problema pro-bleh-mah
Radio Radio rah-dee-oh
Religion Religión reh-lee-he-ohn
Secret Secreto seh-creh-toe
Silence Silencio see-lehn-see-oh
Special Especial ess-peh-see-all
Temperature Temperatura tem-peh-rah-too-rah
Total Total toe-tall
Tropical Tropical tro-pee-call
Apartment Apartamento ah-pahr-tah-men-toe
Bicycle Bicicleta bee-see-clay-tah
Camera Cámara kah-mah-rah
Chocolate Chocolate cho-coh-lah-tay
Computer Computadora com-poo-tah-doh-rah
Elephant Elefante eh-leh-fahn-tay
Garden Jardín har-deen
History Historia ees-toh-ree-ah
Island Isla ees-lah
Jacket Chaqueta chah-keh-tah
Language Idioma ee-dio-mah
Mountain Montaña mohn-tah-nyah
Newspaper Periódico peh-ree-oh-dee-koh
Problem Problema pro-bleh-mah
Restaurant Restaurante res-tah-oo-rahn-tay
Telephone Teléfono teh-leh-foh-noe
University Universidad oo-nee-vehr-see-dah
Vegetable Verdura vair-doo-rah
Window Ventana ben-tah-nah
Zoo Zoológico soh-loh-hee-koh

Punctuation and Capitalization

English and Spanish use punctuation and capitalization similarly. Names of people and places are capitalized, and punctuation rules are almost the same. Spanish uses upside-down questions and exclamation marks at the beginning of sentences for questions and exclamations.

Sentence Structures

In both languages, sentences often follow the pattern of Subject-Verb-Object (SVO). This makes it simpler for English speakers to understand Spanish grammar. For example, "El niño come helado" (The child eats ice cream) is structured similarly to English sentences.

Language Subject Verb Object
Spanish El niño come helado
English The child eats ice cream
Spanish El perro muerde la pelota
English The dog bites the ball
Spanish Los pasajeros abordaron el avión
English The passengers boarded the airplane

Pluralization Rules

In both English and Spanish, adding "-s" or "-es" to nouns makes them plural, which aids English speakers in learning Spanish. However, unlike English, where "the" stays the same, Spanish articles change when nouns are pluralized. For instance, "El árbol" (The tree) becomes "Los árboles" (The trees) in Spanish.

Factors That Can Make Spanish Hard to Learn

Knowing that Spanish ranks so low on the language difficulty scale may make you more inclined to learn it, but you should be aware that this doesn’t mean it will be easy to learn Spanish! Learning any foreign language requires dedication, patience, and persistence! 

Aside from the general challenges people face when learning a new language, Spanish poses the following specific difficulties:

It’s Gendered

Spanish, like French, is a gendered language. This means nouns are assigned genders, and you must ensure their articles and adjectives match the gender. This can be challenging because English words are not gendered. 

While there are some patterns to determine which words are masculine and feminine, most of their genders must be memorized!

It Has Various Irregular Verbs

Spanish can be challenging for learners due to its irregular verbs. Unlike regular verbs that follow predictable patterns, irregular verbs in Spanish have unique conjugations that need to be memorized. 

The numerous verb forms, irregular stem changes, and variations across different verb tenses can overwhelm English speakers, but understanding them is necessary to become fluent in Spanish!

It Has Challenging Verb Tenses

Spanish has numerous verb tenses, including the present, preterite, imperfect, future, conditional, and subjunctive, each with specific usage and conjugation patterns. 

Learners must memorize these tenses and know which context to use them in. Distinguishing between tenses when speaking to someone in Spanish can be particularly perplexing, as many of these tenses can sound the same when heard at the fast pace Spanish is spoken.

The Pronunciation Is Difficult to Master

Spanish has distinct sounds and pronunciation rules. Its phonetic characteristics include rolled "r" sounds, vowel sounds that differ from English, and subtle variations in consonant pronunciation. Pronouncing these sounds accurately requires consistent practice, and even then, it can be difficult to master.

Additionally, Spanish has different stress patterns and syllable emphasis than English, making it crucial to understand and apply the correct word stress to convey meaning accurately.

It Shares Many Words With English

Although Spanish and English sharing numerous words may make it easier to learn the vocabulary, it can also confuse learners! You may see a Spanish word that looks similar to an English one and misuse it thinking they have the same meaning. These words are often called “false friends” and can lead to confusion and misunderstanding. 

It Requires Significant Oral Practice and Exposure

Learning any language does not only entail memorizing vocabulary and perfecting your written communication! You must learn to speak Spanish; to do so, you’ll need to converse with a Spanish speaker.

Having consistent access to a Spanish speaker can be difficult if you do not have someone within your family or friend group who is a native speaker. You should also be exposed to Spanish outside your regular lessons or study periods.

Some students do this by listening to Spanish podcasts, music, or TV shows, but having limited exposure to the language can slow down your progress.

It Can Be Difficult to Stay Motivated

As you learn a language, it is easy to get discouraged. You may fail your first Spanish test, find it frustrating when you can’t string together a complete sentence, or feel utterly lost when listening to your Spanish teacher speak. 

All of this is normal and simply part of the language-learning process! Although, these challenges tend to make students give up!  To become fluent in Spanish, you need to remain motivated and disciplined!

Fortunately, you can overcome your lack of motivation! Setting clear goals, finding personal reasons to learn Spanish, celebrating small milestones, and incorporating enjoyable activities into the learning process can help reignite your motivation and make the learning experience more enjoyable!

And, if you need help with your Spanish homework, Foundation Learning has your back. Our top tutors are here to make conquering conjugations and mastering vocabulary a breeze. 

Tailored content and strategy tutoring ensure you're not just memorizing, but understanding. Plus, you'll pick up valuable time management skills to ace those tests and exams. Just take a look at how our tutors helped out Zhu:

​​“Foundation Learning’s homework help programs are truly unique – my child received the personalized attention she needed to understand difficult topics I wasn’t fully prepared to help them with in an ever-changing curriculum.”

You can get the same results. So, say adiós to homework stress and hola to success. 

FAQs: Is Spanish Hard to Learn?

In this guide, we’ve gone over the main question, “is Spanish hard to learn?” and related questions, such as “What makes Spanish difficult?” 

For any other questions about learning this language, read on to find your answers!

1. How Long Does It Take to Learn Spanish?

Although Rosetta Stone claims it takes 24-30 weeks to learn Spanish, the timeline depends entirely on the time you dedicate to studying and practicing, your learning style, and your immersion in the language. Languages come easier to some people than others, so you shouldn’t set a rigid timeline for yourself!

Plus, learning a language is an ongoing process! It requires life-long practice to maintain and continue to improve your proficiency. 

2. How Hard Is It Really to Learn Spanish?

Spanish is considered to be one of the easier languages to learn, but it still has its fair share of challenges! Among difficult and irregular verbs, tricky tenses, and “false friends,” mastering Spanish will take time, persistence, and consistent practice.

3. Is Spanish Easy to Learn for English Speakers?

Spanish is often regarded as one of the more accessible languages for English speakers to learn. Spanish and English share a significant number of cognates, which are words that have similar meanings and spellings in both languages.

This linguistic similarity allows English speakers to recognize and understand many Spanish words from the start. Furthermore, the basic sentence structure in Spanish is similar to English, which provides a familiar framework for constructing sentences. 

While there are still grammatical differences and new vocabulary to learn, the overall structural resemblance is helpful for English speakers.

However, it's important to note that while Spanish may be relatively easier than other languages, fluency still requires time and effort!

4. Is French or Spanish Easier to Learn?

French and Spanish are Category I languages, meaning they generally take the same time to learn. As such, they are typically regarded as being equally difficult to learn. However, many speakers argue Spanish is easier to learn because of its similarity to English and more consistent pronunciation and grammar rules.

The good news is that if you know one of these languages, it will be much easier to learn the other since both are Romance languages!

5. Can I Learn Spanish on My Own?

Absolutely!  Many resources are available for self-study, such as textbooks, online courses, language apps, and language exchange platforms. However, joining a class or finding a language partner can provide additional support and opportunities for oral practice.

If you do choose to self-study, try to find platforms or online groups that allow you to converse with native speakers or other Spanish learners!

Final Thoughts

So, as a final answer to the question, “is Spanish hard to learn?” It will be the most difficult initially. You may stumble over some verb conjugations or struggle with pronunciation at first, but by keeping consistent and motivated, you’ll master Spanish in no time! 

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