How much Spanish do you think you know?
I don’t know any Spanish!
That is the first expression of some students who are going to start our level 1 course.
I’m level 0!
That is the second expression.
But this is not the case, they are not level 0, and they do not know anything.
I immediately ask him: How do you say important in Spanish?
I do not know!
Importante, is my answer.
How do you say extraordinary?
I don’t know! He repeats.
Extraordinario, is my answer.
And how do you say artistic?
Mmmm… artistique? It is his possible answer with face of doubt, and at the same time of imaginary challenge.
And my answer: Almost … artistico!
Finally, I can ask him: And how do you think is said excellent?
And almost always the answer is: Excelente!
Yes, it is excelente, the word is excelente and the answer is excelente!
By now you know that learning Spanish will be easier than you imagined. And perhaps it is not true, perhaps it has the same difficulty as he imagined, but what is true is that he realized that it is not true he knows nothing.
When you think you don’t know anything you know much more than 100 words.
This does not only apply to those who speak English, but also to those who speak Arabic, French, German, and Portuguese.
Many languages share the same origins as others, they can even share origins or different sources of nutrition.
Spanish is nothing more than a variety of Latin, which has evolved over 1500 years. However, throughout that time, it has suffered the most varied influences, from the Germanic peoples, from the Arabs and even from the native American languages.
And further behind this language is another linguistic history.
The same Latin, along with the Osco and the Umbrian, belong to the Italic branch of the Indo-European, a hypothetical prehistoric language spoken four thousand years ago. Two thousand years later, through migrations, this language reached Brittany and Hispania on one hand and, on the other, India, for what they were called Indo-Europeans. All Indo-European languages are related.
Language is that, a relationship of kinship. And the word kinship has two uses: family relationships and common characteristics.
It is like our family tree. Without knowing it, we can look very similar to some of our grandparents’ aunt.
In linguistics, we use the term cognate to name a kindship word in its structure and origin, but in language teaching we speak of friends.
Of course, there are also false cognates or friends. Those who mask themselves to complicate us, but that’s a separate topic, let’s focus on the true friends.
Let’s see the specific case between Spanish and English.
I dare you.
Here you have 100 Spanish words here that are cognate between English and Spanish. How many of them do you recognize?
You see it? You know much more than you thought. And if today you do not consider that you are in that dreaded level 0 but in any other basic, intermediate or advanced, I assure you that you know more than you think.
Sometimes we ignore what we know.
Support on your own language to learn another. Just as an aunt or a cousin can help you in difficult times. Remember Spanish and English, or even another language you speak, are relatives and relatives are there to help each other.