Learning a foreign language has always appealed to you. But choosing a language that suits you the best can be thrilling and tricky at the same time.
After weighing all your options, you filtered out and came down to picking from German and Spanish.
And why not? These are two of the most beautiful, popular, and beneficial languages. But selecting the right one is, of course, an arduous task.
So, if you’re still unsure which one to pick and need some solid reasons, you are in the right place.
To make things easier for you, I have put together a list of everything you should consider when deciding which European language to learn next — Spanish or German.
It’s time to get started!
- German or Spanish — Here are 6 things to consider!
- How much time does it take to be fluent?
- Final Words — Spanish or German?
German or Spanish — Here are 6 things to consider!
Learning a new language is no longer only a leisure activity. Instead, it has become necessary in both personal and professional life.
While there are tons of benefits associated with languages. Still, every tongue comes with its unique set of difficulties and obstacles.
Some, like Russian and Korean, need you to study a new character. Others have the perplexing problem of being too similar to another language you already know.
Other issues include lengthy grammar, complex vocabularies, different dialects, tricky sounds, and insufficient resources. And the list is endless.
This may cause a weird mix in your brain (and out of your mouth) that no one understands.
I have narrowed the search to two languages for this topic: Spanish and German.
Before you settle on which language to choose, check various aspects, reasons to study, advantages, and drawbacks linked with two European languages.
You can pick between two based on many factors. This includes, but is not restricted to, the features and criteria mentioned below.
1. Similarities based on your native language
A language that is easy to understand and speak is one of the primary factors that motivate people to learn it.
How close your mother tongue is to either German or Spanish determines how quickly you can comprehend it. This is because your native language is linguistically comparable to it.
Spanish is a Romance language that emerged from colloquial spoken Latin on the Iberian Peninsula of Europe. German origin is the same, but it is a member of a distinct branch, i.e., the West Germanic.
While they belong to different sub-branches, they share the same Latin root. As an effect, there is a lot of overlap in vocabulary, grammar, and other vital elements of the language.
If you’re a native English speaker or a Latin-based lingo like Portuguese, French, or Italian, both are ideal. They are also close to Indian languages to some extent, as all are part of broad Indo-European languages.
For Portuguese and Italian speakers, Spanish appears more familiar to you in that case. This is because they all share the same phonetic base.
Likewise, French also shares likenesses with Spanish regarding words and grammar rules. But both vary wildly in pronunciation, and many sounds in French are not even present in Spanish and other tongues.
German is close to English, Dutch, and Scandinavian languages, as all are part of the Germanic language branch. It also resembles the Romance branch because of its shared origin. But they all vary in how they sound.
Despite German and Spanish belonging to the same source, they are far apart in pronunciation. Both also differ in various language characteristics.
You require specific articulation and accent when speaking German. On the other hand, Spanish is more relaxed with spelling and sounds for an average speaker of English and European languages.
2. Where is it spoken? — The Geographic Spread & Speakers
One incentive to learn a language is the sheer amount of people who speak it.
More speakers mean more opportunities to practice with natives and learners. It also offers more benefits to travel, study abroad, work in overseas markets, and various language-related careers.
The number of native Spanish speakers worldwide has been estimated at 493 million by Cervantes. If we include those who speak it as a foreign language or reasonably well, the total number increases to 591 million.
Spanish is widespread in North and South America and Spain. It is the third most spoken behind Mandarin and Hindi, as well as 3rd most taught language globally.
Spanish is the official language of 20 countries like Spain, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, and Puerto Rico, a US territory.
There are also 42 million Spanish speakers in the United States, and over 20 million are learning it in some form worldwide. In short, Spanish is a popular language among learners in terms of the number of speakers.
In contrast, German has only around 150 million speakers compared to Spanish. About 100 million are natives; the rest are L2, L3, and learners.
German is the de jure language of Austria, Germany, and Liechtenstein. It is also the co-official language of Luxembourg, Switzerland, Belgium, and Italy’s South Tyrol. Plus, it is the national language of Namibia.
Compared with 21 Spanish-speaking countries, German has legal status in only 6 nations.
It is primarily spoken in Central Europe. Yet, there is a sizeable number of German speakers in many countries like the USA, Russia, the Netherlands, Brazil, France, France, Poland, the UK, etc.
With over 150 million German-speaking population comprising natives or as a second or third language, it is the 12th most spoken language in the world. It is also one of the 24 official languages of the European Union.
So if we compare the total number of speakers and countries where the two languages are widely used or official, Spanish has a noteworthy edge.
It’s plausible to believe that learning Spanish expands your knowledge of countries, making you a more global citizen. So, in this battle of German vs. Spanish, the latter would be the higher inclination for education.
But refrain from letting the number of speakers deter you. In contrast, knowing who and where the language is spoken is more important than the total population that speaks it!
3. Ease of learning between German and Spanish
Spanish and German have many things in common since both are part of the Indo-European language family with Latin roots. But both differ in many ways.
Spanish would win if you chose between two based on how easy each one is to learn. This is primarily true for speakers of English and one of the romance languages.
It is simpler to understand and write in Spanish than in German. Spanish is also phonetic, and orthography is like pronunciation rules.
Most learners can learn Spanish online at least the basic level and on their own using useful websites and Spanish language apps.
Conversely, learning grammar concepts needs effort from most students. It uses the standard alphabet. But as you study more, you will notice unique sounds, symbols, and grammar rules, like complex cases.
Nouns and adjectives are written with suffixes in both languages. This shows their grammatical gender, with a few exceptions. In Spanish, that’s masculine and feminine. It’s both and also neutral in German.
The German verb pattern is like English, with a few subtle variances. Yet, most words have their own pronunciation, which differs from English.
This is confusing for beginners and makes it harder to master. This is odd, given that both English and German are Germanic languages.
Overall, Spanish is, without a doubt, the easier of the two languages to master.
It is more straightforward than German at the initial stage. But as you move ahead, Spanish becomes more complicated due to complex tenses, expressions, idioms, exceptions, and different dialects.
On the other hand, German grammar is complex at the beginning because of verbs, prepositions, and cases. But as you advance and become familiar with it, it becomes more manageable and consistent.
As the classic phrase says, “Nothing truly wonderful ever came easy.”
4. Global demand and recognition
Germany’s economy is the world’s fourth biggest, accounting for one-fifth of the European Union’s GDP. Germany’s “social market” economy runs on market principles but with many government regulations and social help programs.
With a population of 84 million people, Germany is the largest consumer market in the European Union. The impact of the German market is felt far beyond its boundaries.
Because of the rising intensity of engagement between Hispanic nations countries and the rest of the world, Spanish is an essential language in commerce and economics.
Economy-wise, Argentina, Spain, and Mexico are the top 3 Hispanic nations. All are doing fine, but not as good as German-speaking Europe.
Being the powerhouse of Europe, German has the edge over the Spanish.
Language learning and interacting across cultures are vital in today’s civilized and complex world. The cultural aspect is where Spanish offers more benefits. And it has a big fanbase across all digital media platforms.
The youth has always been drawn to Flamenco music, songs, art, wine, movies, dance, bullfights, festivals, foods, and other aspects of Spanish and Latin American culture.
The German-speaking places have unique cultural forms, like Oktoberfest to carnivals. Still, they are less diverse and vivid than the Hispanic region.
5. Study, jobs, and career opportunities
Some of the most well-known worldwide firms, such as Volkswagen, SAP, BMW, Allianz, Audi, Mercedes, Siemens, and Bosch, are headquartered in Germany.
Studying German might help you stand out and make you more attractive to companies. It indeed opens plenty of jobs involving German.
Germany is home to some of the world’s most prominent universities. The country has the third-largest international student population.
Berlin, the country’s capital, was recently named one of the world’s most outstanding student cities. That is only one of many reasons you should learn German quickly!
Compared to German-speaking Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, Spain and South American academic institutions do not have the same prestige.
Germany is home to several of the world’s most meaningful innovations. It includes the bicycle, power, computers, machinery, electronics, chemical, engines, and automobiles.
So if you want to be an inventor, researcher, or looking for employment in such industries, studying German will vastly help you.
While Spanish-speaking regions are less influential than German from a job standpoint, it offers plenty of career possibilities.
Modern organizations always look for candidates who can help them with international commerce and global business. And Spanish is instrumental in the current context. So employers can benefit from knowing Spanish.
Companies may tap into a large community of Spanish speakers. Some research also reveals that some places in the Hispanic world offer excellent business opportunities.
According to Forbes, the Latin American market currently has $1.5 trillion in purchasing power, making the Spanish language more crucial than ever to businesses.
While travel is fascinating in itself, learning Spanish offers the potential to work in a Spanish-speaking nation or study in an academic institution in those area.
6. Purpose of learning Spanish and German
One of the essential factors is why you are learning the language in the first place.
If you are considering learning a language, you need to identify your purpose before you begin. Personal or professional reasons for learning can help you learn more effectively.
You may have to pursue higher studies in Germany for various reasons. Or try jobs in Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, or Cologne. In addition, Spanish culture and music are something you may adore.
Identify your purpose and work toward it.
Self-motivation is undoubtedly more effective when we choose to do something. For example, learning a language is nothing more important than inspiration.
It will help if you choose a language with a more personal appeal when deciding between Spanish and German.
How much time does it take to be fluent?
The FSI estimates that learning German for English speakers will take about 36 weeks (900 class hours). It falls under category II. This means it is neither easy nor a difficult language but a moderate one.
These total hours are to become proficient in German. And if your only goal is elementary and intermediate, you can achieve the same in 200-250 and 450-500 hours.
Adding a recommended 1:1 ratio of class and self-study would mean 1800 total hours to gain an advanced level, like C1/C2 of Goethe-Zertifikat.
If you’re driven and ready to put in 15-20 hours each week, you can become fluent in German in 2 years. And, of course, the time frame will change depending on more intensive and slow-paced studies.
Spanish falls under category-I. Again, this category comprises some of the easiest languages for English speakers.
Of course, it will take significantly longer or less time if you spend more or fewer hours per week. That is why for some, 1-year suffices to speak well. And for some, even a decade is not enough for conversational skills.
The duration is just a hint and depends on many factors. For example, how you learn, style, approach, method, dedication, etc.
Between Spanish and German, the former takes less time than the latter to gain beginner and intermediate levels regardless of your target level, how, and where you study. And when your goal is advanced, like near-native C2, it will take more or less simultaneously.
Final Words — Spanish or German?
Both German and Spanish are great languages to learn for different reasons. Yet, the extent of both languages distinguishes them. So, in the end, it comes down to your personal interests and goals.
German institutions are among the greatest in the world; learning German gives fantastic chances and opens many doors for students.
The economy of German-speaking Europe is more prosperous. Further, because Germany is a prominent player in international trade, German is more beneficial for business or professional reasons.
Germany’s culture, history, and arts are other motivations for studying this language.
If you want to learn a widely spoken language, like to travel more, and the cultural aspects of the Spanish region interest you, Spanish has an edge.
Spanish allows you to connect with the large Hispanic community in Europe, South and Central America, and the USA. It also benefits jobs in outsourcing, export, entertainment, tourism, and international sales.
Thus, Spanish and German have pros and cons, so pick what suits you best.
Regardless of which language you choose, picking a language, you are genuinely interested in and will enjoy learning is crucial. This will make the language learning process more enjoyable and rewarding.
Do you have any questions or want to share your thoughts? Write in the comments below!