“Learning another language is like becoming another person.” - Haruki Murakami

It’s a common misconception that Catalan is just a dialect of Spanish. Catalan is a Romance language with unique grammar and vocabulary.

With nearly 10 million speakers, Catalan isn’t even just spoken in Catalonia. 40% of the Valencian Community speak Catalan (though they call it Valencian), 73% of those in the Balearic Islands, and 34% of Andorra. There are even 6% of those in the Languedoc-Rousillon area of France speaking it.

Would you like to take Catalan lessons?

Here are our top 10 reasons to learn Catalan.

Learn Catalan to visit the Catalan Countries

Learning to speak the language is always a benefit when you visit the places where it’s spoken. People learn French to go to French-speaking countries after all.

So why not learn Catalan to go to Catalan-speaking countries?

Catalonia makes up most of the land where Catalan is spoken and is home to 65% of the Catalan-speaking population.

The region stretches from the Pyrenees to the Mediterranean.

What should you visit in Catalonia?
Catalan could be your gateway to lots of great places. (Source: SofiLayla)

Catalan cities are among some of Spain’s most visited: Barcelona, Girona, and Lleida. They include plenty of popular tourist attractions:

  • Gaudi monuments (Barcelona)
  • Delta de l'Ebre Natural Park
  • Cap de Creus (Cadaqués)
  • Monasteries at Montserrat and Sant Pere de Rodes.
  • The Roman ruins in Tarragona
  • The historic city of Girona
  • The creeks and coves along the Costa Brava
  • Park Güell and Casa Batllo

Even if your Spanish or Catalan is of a low level, you can always practise once you're there. Practise speaking to locals when you’re in Catalonia. They’ll certainly be happy that you’re learning their language.

The Catalan Countries extend beyond Catalonia. You can visit the Balearic Islands, Rousillon in the French Pyrénées-Orientales Region, and the Valencian Community.

Whether you’re going to Valencia, Majorca, Minorca, or Barcelona, it won’t hurt to learn a few words of the language.

Speak Catalan to Learn More about a New Romance Language

Learning Catalan is a way to learn more about foreign languages.

If you have any experience with Romance languages, Catalan will be easier to learn as a result. After all, Catalan is also a Romance language that evolved from Vulgar Latin during the Roman Empire.

Latin was introduced to the region in the 2nd century BCE by soldiers from the Roman Republic.
They occupied the south of Gallia Narbonensis (now Rousillon) and the local populations were very quickly Latinised.

Over the centuries, the Latin spoken in Gotholonia (the “Land of the Goths”) became a language in its own right. You’ll probably notice a lot of similarities with French or Spanish if you already speak either of those languages.

Many of the Romance languages came about during the Middle Ages. They include French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and Portuguese.

Most of the languages spoken in Spain are also Romance languages, except for Basque, which is a language isolate.

If you speak any Spanish, Italian, or French, it’ll probably help.

Learn Catalan to Discover Catalan Culture

Catalan lessons are a good way to learn more about a European culture with a strong identity despite the lack of a sovereign state.

What is Catalan culture?
You can learn a lot about a culture by speaking the language. (Source: tiburi)

If people have heard of Catalonia, it’s either because they’ve visited or because it’s been in the news. Catalonia held a referendum on independence in 2017.

In the broader sense, Catalan identity extends beyond the borders of Catalonia into Andorra, Roussillon, the Vermillion Coast, the Valencian Community, the Balearic Islands, and Alghero in Sardinia. Few peoples can boast such a rich and vibrant culture.

There are around 10 million Catalan speakers across an area of 65,000km2. That’s 13% of the Spanish territory!

The Valencian Community is home to 5 million inhabitants and is the 4th largest autonomous community in Spain by population.

Catalonia is the 2nd largest autonomous community after Andalusia with 7.32 million inhabitants.

Learn Catalan to Speak a Second Language

Why not choose Catalan as your second language?

It would be an original experience. After all, most people learn a language like French, German, or Spanish at GCSE.

Catalan is a language without a sovereign state. That said, there are schools in Spain and France where classes are taught in Catalan.

Students in these regions will get to learn Catalan as their mother tongue.

Discover Catalan Art through the Language

The Catalan Countries cover some beautiful parts of the world and have inspired artists for millennia. The architecture is also inspired. Catalan art has preserved its heritage.

Which is the best Catalan art?
There's lots of amazing Catalan art for you to discover. (Source: nikolaus_bader)

In Tarragona, for example, you can’t miss the Roman ruins that remind us of the Pax Romana or the splendour of the Roman Empire under Augustus.

Catalan art also has centuries of history. More recently, Catalan modernism during the 19th century became a shining example for art in the region.

Many artists such as Rusiñol, Casas, Riquer, and Graner proudly represented Catalan culture. Joan Fuster described Catalan modernism as the transformation from a “traditionalist regional culture to modern national culture”.

Learn Catalan to Discover Catalan History

Learning a language can help you learn more about a place, its culture, and its history.

Are you familiar with the history of the Catalan language?

It became a language in its own right around the end of the 7th century and the start of the 8th century.

What is the history of Catalonia?
A language and the history of where it's spoken are naturally intertwined. (Source: ALcp)

After the fall of the Roman Empire in 476, the Iberian peninsula was invaded by Visigoths. They didn’t impose their language and adopted the Vulgar Latin being spoken there. Latin became Catalan whilst under the rule of the Carolingian Empire and part of Francia Occidentalis (West Francia). The Iberian peninsula was also colonised by the Umayyad Dynasty for several centuries.

Roman, Visigoth, Frankish, Arab, Aragonese, Castillian, and French rule over Catalonia helped forge the strong cultural identity of the Catalans and following repeated losses of their independence, a strong drive for it.

Learn Catalan to Learn an Interesting Romance Language

Learning Catalan can be really enjoyable, especially if you already speak French or Spanish.
A knowledge of these other Romance languages will certainly help you more than they will help you learn a language like Russian or Chinese. Furthermore, it’s usually very easy to get to Catalan-speaking parts of the world from the UK.

Catalan is also spoken in the French Pyrénées-Orientales. The only problem is that if you do speak French or Spanish, you might confuse a few of the words.

Catalan is Similar to the Romance Languages We Learn in School

As we mentioned, speaking French or Spanish will be helpful. However, even if you don’t speak the languages, it can help if you studied them a bit in school. When you read Catalan words, you can see where a lot of them originated from.

To the untrained ear, you might even mistake it for another language. Catalan has a lexical similarity with French and Spanish of 85%! After all, it was influenced by Frankish, Vulgar Latin, and Castilian.

You should be aware, however, that Catalan arose before French and Spanish. With 50% of English vocabulary coming from French or Latin, you might also be surprised at how many Catalan words look similar.

Catalan is an Important Language in the Mediterranean

Catalan wasn’t the language that the conquistadors brought with them to the Americas so unlike Spanish, it never really left its Mediterranean home.

Nearly 500 million people speak Spanish around the world in comparison to the 10 million people who speak it in Europe.

That said, it’s spoken from Perpignan to Murcia and even in the city of Alghero in Sardinia. If you go on holiday to any of these places in the Mediterranean, don’t be surprised to hear Catalan accents and Catalan being spoken in the streets.

A lot of people in Barcelona will be happy to hear you speaking Catalan rather than Spanish.

If you've decided that private tutorials are how you want to learn to speak Catalan, just search for Catalan tutors on Superprof. A private tutor can tailor the lessons to you and exactly what you want to learn be it Catalan for your holidays or business Catalan to help you further your career.

If you can't seem to find any Catalan speakers near you, don't forget that you can learn languages remotely through online private tutorials. As long as you have a webcam and a decent internet connection, you can use videoconferencing software to learn Catalan from native Catalan speakers in the Països Catalans!

A lot of tutors on the website offer the first hour for free so try a few different ones out before choosing who's right for you.

Need a teacher?

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Joseph

Joseph is a French and Spanish to English translator, language enthusiast, and blogger.