ISO Code: spa
Native name: español
Family: Indo-European
Est. L1 speakers: 480,000,000
Est. L2 speakers: 90,000,000
Est. total speakers: 570,000,000
(Co-)official in:
  1. European Union
  2. Mercosur
  3. United Nations
  4. World Trade Organization


For most Americans, Spanish is the quintessential "foreign" language (though widely – and increasingly – spoken in the US) and the obvious first choice as a language to study. Nowadays, Brits often follow suit, choosing Spanish over their old-time favorite, French.

Spanish offers its learners many advantages: practicality, a global reach, an abundance of study materials and courses, a great body of literature and music, and a vocabulary that includes a large number English cognates (words that are similar in both languages). It is also considered one of the easiest foreign languages to learn for native English speakers.

Studying Spanish

Where Spanish Is Spoken


Spanish-Language Literature

Spanish-language writers' contributions to literature are too numerous to list, but some of the best-known authors include Miguel de Cervantes, Gabriel García Márquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortázar, Octavio Paz, Isabel Allende, Pablo Neruda, Roberto Bolaño, Mario Vargas Llosa, and José Luis Sampedro.

Well-Known L2 Speakers in North America and Europe

The list of those who learned Spanish as a foreign language well enough to give interviews in it includes such media, film, and entertainment personalities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Monica Bellucci, Ben Affleck (well… he's almost there!), and Romina Power, as well as several politicians, including, for example, Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida and one-time US presidential candidate.

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