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Amman’s Instituto Cervantes offers gateway to Spanish language, culture

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Feb 19,2022 - Last updated at Feb 19,2022

A view of the Instituto Cervantes’ library in Amman (By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa)

AMMAN — With over half a billion speakers worldwide, the Spanish language is becoming more popular in Jordan according to director of the Instituto Cervantes, Juan Vicente Piqueras. 

The institute receives around 700 students a year, according to Piqueras.

He noted that the “sympathy and the brotherhood” between Spaniards and Arabs, including Jordanians, is a main reason for the popularity of the Spanish language in Jordan.

“By learning Spanish, Jordanians enter a new world of culture and music that they feel a proximity to,” Piqueras told The Jordan Times.

“Spain owes a lot to the Andalusian era in astronomy, agriculture, architecture, music and culture,” he added, noting the “rich” Arab influence on Flamenco.

Jordanians learning Spanish shared their myriad of reasons for favouring the language with The Jordan Times.

Hamza, who preferred to go by his first name only, is completing a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and English at the University of Jordan (UJ), drawn by the possibility of better career prospects.

“I am hoping that learning such a widely spoken language will open up good job opportunities for me, maybe in journalism or so,” he said.

Mohammed Bargoothy is taking Spanish classes at the Instituto Cervantes as he is planning on going to business school in Madrid, Spain, and noted that one of his favourite things about Spain is “its vibrant culture”.

For others, the lexical proximity was a main factor in spurring their interest, as roughly 5,000 words in the Spanish language come directly from the Arabic language.

“I like that the language is very close to Arabic and English,” Bashar Almu’mar, who is also studying Spanish and English, told The Jordan Times.

“I am hoping it will open up the chance for me to work in the Spanish football industry or sports media,” added Almu’mar, who has interests in Spanish sports.

UJ student Mayar Hammad said the main reason which led her to study Spanish “is the great cultural diversity, as it’s the mother tongue of roughly half a billion people and it’s the official language of 21 countries”.

The cultural allure was also one of the main reasons which led another UJ student, Sara Odeh, to learn the language.

She noted that Spanish traditions and festivals are “the most intriguing” part of the culture.

Instituto Cervantes student Yasmeen Khalif said: “I love that learning Spanish will allow me to communicate with people from so many different countries”.

The Instituto Cervantes was established in Amman in 1994, with Piqueras noting that “the cultural action, because of the brotherhood between Jordan and Spain, began long before that”.

Through music, dance, exhibitions, conferences, and encounters with writers, artists, filmmakers, and musicians, the institute introduces Jordanians to the Spanish culture, “not only of Spain, but of all Hispanic countries,” said Piqueras.

“We do not only exhibit what we have or do,” he added, noting that the institute also focuses on cultural exchange by collaborating with local cultural institutions and Jordanian artists, musicians, dancers, and so on.

He also noted that the Instituto Cervantes offers Spanish enthusiasts a free space on Tuesday afternoons, where they can come and discuss any topic they want, in order to practise their Spanish.

“This building welcomes anyone who wants to know more about the Spanish language and culture,” Piqueras said, adding that the institute houses the “richest” library of Spanish literature in the Middle East.


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