The Catalan language is spoken in three regions of Spain: Catalonia, Valencia, and the Balearic Islands. Outside Spain, it is the official language of Andorra. It is also spoken in some parts of France and Italy.
These are great areas for traveling, with breathtaking nature and rich culture. While traveling does not necessarily require knowledge of the local language, some knowledge of Catalan will dramatically enhance your experience.
If you make some effort to learn their native language, native speakers of Catalan will greatly appreciate it. There probably are plenty of people who won’t mind speaking to you in Spanish or English, but others will certainly have a more positive attitude to you if they notice you are making an effort to communicate with them in their native language. You will be able to make some good friends.
If you are thinking about studying in Barcelona or other cities in Catalonia and other Catalan-speaking regions during a full year or even just a semester, you may have to deal with Catalan on a daily basis. It varies depending on the university, and sometimes even depending on the lecturers, but it is quite possible that at least part of your classes will be in Catalan.
Also, a lot of information in Catalonia is written in Catalan which means you will get more out of your experience if you understand it. Moreover, many presentations and workshops are in Catalan, not to mention music, theatre, and other entertainment.
Languages and cultures are usually closely connected. This means that the better you understand the Catalan language, its nuances, its expressions, its idioms, or its vocabulary, the better you will understand the culture that is connected with it.
Although Catalan is sometimes mistaken for a dialect of Spanish or French, it is a separate language with its own unique history and culture. It may be not as popular as Spanish or French, which can be an advantage in itself - learning Catalan can definitely help you stand out.
Catalan will also make you better at tongue twisters. Learning Catalan means you will learn how to decipher and pronounce lexical specimens like xiuxiueig, emmagatzematge, fal·laç, nyèbit, xitxarel·lo, Llull, zitzània, and pampalluguejar. That’s a talent not everyone can boast!
Learning a foreign language is an exercise for your brain - and our brains need such exercise the same way our bodies need physical exercise. By leaning Catalan, you will not only learn a fun language and immerse yourself in a rich culture - you will also help your brain stay sharp much longer as you get older.
It may be a reason to take up a foreign language all by itself, but as Catalan offers some other great benefits, why not start here?