Which language should I learn — French or Spanish? Which is better and more useful? Easier to study? This guide will help you choose between two popular European languages.
Choosing Between Spanish and French
I have come across this question many times as someone who is overly interested in languages. Learning any language is not like bread and butter. It is an endeavor that takes time and resources to accomplish, and when it comes to choosing which foreign language to learn, the decision can be like climbing up Mount Everest.
Fortunately for us, we have narrowed down the search to just two languages: French or Spanish. Now, before you decide on which of these languages to learn, there is something you must understand.
Choosing what language to learn depends on a number of parameters and personal intended goals.
Talking about personal intended goals, we mean inward reflections such as asking yourself;
- What are my interests in the language I want to learn?
- What am I drawn to?
- Why am I learning a new language, to begin with?
The parameters that will help you decide on what language should you learn, depend on, but not limited to the followings:
One of the primary forces that spur people to select and learn a language above another is because it is easier to understand and speak as a result of being linguistically similar to your native language. Looking at French and Spanish, we see that they are part of the Romance Language, which have a direct link from Latin, and share a common vocabulary. So if you’re a native English speaker (especially one that resides in India), both languages are ideal as a second language.
However, take note that while the two languages share the same family root and vocabulary, they are miles apart in pronunciation.
French and English do not share a common phonetic base. French demands that you must be specific in pronunciation, whereas, Spanish is more comfortable both in spelling and pronunciation for an average English speaker.
Again, if you speak Portuguese or Italian, Spanish will appear more familiar to you, the same way it shares a common phonetic base with Indian languages. There are many sounds in French that are not present in Indian languages. Therefore, how close your native language is to either language will determine how quickly you can understand it.
2) Location — Where is it spoken? And Places You’d Like to Visit or Study or Work
While the numbers of speakers may not be much of an incentive, it is crucial to know how diversified is the language. French and Spanish are highly diversified and widely spoken languages. Each has a specific region where it dominates, and it is left for you to decide whether you have an inclination or a bias towards a particular region, such as a place of work, a dream destination, cultural aspect, job opportunities for language learners, etc.
With 20 Spanish-speaking nations in the world, It is the official language of Spain and most countries in Central and South America including USA, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Ecuador, Bolivia, just to name a few. There are over 500 million Hispanic populations in the world whereas with over 270 million French-speaking populations worldwide, there are 29 Francophone countries such as France, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, just to name a few.
For instance, in Western Europe, some countries like Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, etc., speaks French as an official language, whereas, Spanish is only spoken in Spain. If, as an Indian, you want to travel to any of the American continents, Spanish dominates, with more than half-a-billion speakers, of which, roughly 40 to 50 million lives in the US.
On the other hand, French is spoken in Canada, France and other parts of Europe and dominates in the West and North African regions. If you wish to immigrate to Canada, then ability to speak French can add extra points in the Canada and Quebec PR Point System. Depending on the requirements, you have to appear one of the TCF or TEF exam in India. In addition, France is an excellent study abroad destination. Thus, learning French in India makes sense!
So depending on what your plans are, the spread of either language can inform your decision on which to choose.
Now, we’re moving over to the next crucial decision-base consideration: Appeal Factor and Personal Interest.
3) Appeal factor and personal Interest
Let’s be honest; you just don’t wake up in the morning and shout to the ceiling. “Hey, I’m learning Spanish today!” People learn a language because it appeals to them, and the same holds true for you. After all, learning the language that you love is best way to remain motivated and achieve higher language competency level.
Compared to Spanish in general terms, French has a higher appeal, and it’s known as the language of love and class. There are many books in history, architecture, and arts that are written only in French. Nothing beat the art, cuisine and fashion as portrayed by the French culture.
French, without any doubt very influential on the international scene. But again, these are just limited perspectives, considering that what constitute an appeal factor to you may not be the same to someone else. This brings us back to the issue of personal goals and interests.
4) Career and Job opportunities after learning Spanish or French
You want more job opportunities in Foreign languages? Although both French and Spanish are top foreign languages to learn as far as language job scope is concerned. The choice depends on your career objectives and long-term goals.
For example, if you are interested or qualified in areas like aeronautics, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, and energy production, then French as a career should appeal to you the most. Again, if you want to contribute to the universal initiatives or want to work in any international organization to help develop impoverished areas like some places in Africa, French holds the key.
On the other hand, if you have plans to move to the US or setup investments or deal with clients in Latin America, you will need to learn Spanish to get easy access to markets or be at a good advantage for a career job.
The career scope in Spanish is on the rise in India, and it can be an asset in any business activities or jobs in BPO and KPO sectors, since the majority of the companies that operate in these sectors come from the United States, with Spanish backgrounds. The job opportunities after learning Spanish is infinite!
Since Africa and South America are two big untapped market for Indian companies and MNCs. Thus, there is ever-growing jobs in export-import sector for French and Spanish specialist. After learning one of these languages, you can find a job in foreign embassies, or work as a foreign language teachers, or enhance career prospect in travel and tourism, or apply for a high-paying job as a translator or interpreter.
So, whichever way you look at it, it all winds down to what you love about that particular language.
Read — (i) Reasons to Learn Spanish (ii) Why study Spanish in India? (iii) Benefits of Learning German (iv) Advantages of Learning Japanese (v) Scope of Chinese Language (vi) Career Scope after Learning Korean (vii) French Language in India (viii) French or Spanish or German? (ix) Korean Vs Japanese Vs Mandarin?
5) Difficulty level
Spanish is not a very difficult language to master. Spanish is a phonetic language, meaning that the rules of orthography are very close to the rules of pronunciation.
While there are some complicated letters like silent H, J, G, similar B and V, but all in all Spanish pronunciation and spelling are pretty straightforward. Once you’ve memorized the Spanish rules of pronunciation, you can pronounce most of the new words with almost no hesitation.
Additionally, There are thousands of cognates like English – words that have the same meanings. Even though the grammar is quite lengthy and difficult, you can have meaningful communication after only a few weeks. There are of course number of Spanish dialects around the world which feature major differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and some minor grammatical differences. Overall, Spanish is definitely easier to study than French.
How long does it take to learn a Spanish? With the right methods for language learning, proper guidance, regular practice, one can clear Spanish proficiency test i.e. B2 of DELE test or SIELE exam in 2-3 years.
On the contrary, French probably got its reputation as a “difficult” language among Romance languages because it is certainly not a phonetic language. The French pronunciation and spelling are quite tricky. The words are not pronounced exactly how it’s spelled.
While mastering the French pronunciation and accents due to invariable rules and French dialects and accents might take few years, the elementary-level grammar is simple enough that you can have a meaningful conversation within few months.
Like Spanish, French and English also share thousands of cognates – some identical and others very closely related. Grammatically speaking, French is more or less has the same difficulty level like Spanish and other romance languages.
It is not a common language learning myth that French is more difficult than Spanish. Like any other language, One needs to devote lots of time to practice listening, reading and of course speaking. According to FSI studies and Depending on ones’ intellectual level, if you study 15 hours per week, you can pass a French language proficiency test i.e. DELF B2 or DALF C1 exam in 3 years!
If your intention is to study both european languages then it may be more desirable to start with French since it is comparatively easier to learn Spanish from French than the other way precisely because the former is more difficult.
Final thought (French or Spanish?)
Should I learn French or Spanish? Well, French and Spanish are two widely spoken and very popular language you can learn as an English speaker or Indian. While it would be nice if you take the decision based on future planning, career objectivity, your interests and what motivates you should be the basis of your selection if you decide to choose one.
LanguageNext – The foreign language institute in Noida offers a variety of French language and Spanish language courses in Noida. All our language courses are designed as per international language proficiency test. We can help you if you have any questions. Just leave a comment. Thanks.