When it comes to learning any language, there’s a large variety of aspects that are important regardless of whatever language you’re studying. Whether you’re trying to study French, German, Russian or Norwegian, you have to first and foremost perfect your grammar and your syntax in order to be able to communicate properly. And, of course, either after that, or preferably during the same time as you’re learning all of this stuff, you need to enlarge your vocabulary as much as possible since knowing all of the rules and principles of the language doesn’t add up to much if you do not possess a large enough vocabulary that would allow you to talk about a broad spectrum of subjects without grasping for words.
But one of the things that makes Spanish distinguishable from a plethora of other languages, even among its very own Romanic/Latin family, is the fact that simply knowing all of the rules and having a considerable vocabulary is not enough if your goal is to become so fluent in Spanish that your speech would be indistinguishable from a native Spaniard or somebody who was born and raised in one of the Latin American countries (outside of Brazil, of course, since we all know they speak Portuguese over there and a couple of smaller nations like Suriname or French Guyana). Sure, you may have Spanish figured out to a tee, but while you are communicating, what are you doing with your hands? Are your upper limbs still gesticulating as if they belong to somebody who primarily speaks English? Or, and that may be even worse, are your hands just hanging there stuck in the same motionless position? There’s a good chance you’re familiar with a well-known stereotype of emotional and expressive Spaniards engaging in vivid and energetic dialogues at the absolute top volume, while enhancing their every word and expression with a movement of the hands. Well, this is one of those cases where there’s no smoke without a fire meaning that this stereotype is fairly accurate. It is far from uncommon to see groups of people gesticulating fiercely while having a conversation. When native Spanish speakers communicate, they employ their mouths, sure, but also their shoulders, arms, hands, and eyes just as much, if not more. And although a part of these gestures could be boiled down to some of the more general hand-waving used for emphasis in the majority of languages out there, you will be able to find a multitude of Spanish hand signals with very specific meanings that are somewhat or entirely unique to that language.