With almost 200 countries on Earth, it’s hard to imagine just how many languages are spoken worldwide.
Several people believe English is the language that dominates. However, according to Ethnologue, English is not the most commonly spoken language. English ranks third worldwide, while Mandarin is first and Spanish is second.
It’s safe to say that if people want to live a global lifestyle and want to connect to more cultures, it’s essential to learn a different language.
For 21-year-old Peyton Deal, the journey of learning Spanish began in high school. Deal acknowledged that she didn’t take her classes seriously until she had an interaction with someone who didn’t know English very well.
“I remember when I was working at Plato’s Closet, an older woman and her daughter were shopping and they didn’t know much English. I wasn’t able to help them because I didn’t know enough Spanish and I was frustrated with myself because I couldn’t communicate with them,” she said.
This moment changed Deal’s life forever. She began putting forth more effort in her Spanish classes and eventually decided to study the language in Spain in order to apply everything she’s learned.
However, moving to a new country to continue to learn a new language wasn’t so easy.
“It feels like there’s barriers that you’ll never pass. When you’re learning a language that’s not your native language there’s always going to be a disconnect,” Deal said.
This disconnect occurs when native Spanish speakers don’t follow the ‘rules’ she’s been taught. Deal said sometimes people can’t explain why something is said a certain way, so she just has to memorize the way something is said.
Although there were cons to the move, Deal said that it’s the best decision she’s made. Through the move, she’s been able to understand the struggle others face when learning a new language and she’s been able to learn more about another part of the world.
For example, Deal said that one of the major differences she’s noticed in Spain is that everyone uses Whatsapp. Whatsapp is a messaging app that lets you communicate with anyone in the world as long as you have Wi-Fi.
“Everyone in Spain uses Whatsapp because so many people have friends and family in other countries. People here are used to living an international lifestyle,” she said.
In fact, Deal had to download the messaging app and begin using it because of its popularity.
Living in Spain has brought Deal new friends, new experiences, and has reinforced the idea that learning a new language is vital as we become a more global society.
“Every single culture and every single country has their own way of life. You are able to learn a lot when you open your eyes to that idea. I think we would be a lot more compassionate and understanding of one another if we were able to understand one another’s diversity.”