Many people come to a point in their education when they question if they should learn French and Spanish. While I am obviously a bit biased, I truly believe that in most cases, you should learn Spanish since it makes more sense. Here are some of my arguments as to why.
1. The Spanish pronunciation is simpler
In Spanish, you pronounce all the letters, so once you know what sounds each letter makes, you can pronounce any written word, or any word you know how to spell. Conversely, if you know how to pronounce a word, you also know how to spell it. French is notorious for it’s “extra” or “silent” letters. Sometimes words will be spelled the same way, but pronounced differently.
2. Spanish starts out easier
While I have spoken to many people who have studied both French and Spanish who have the opinion that Spanish is harder to master than French, everyone I have spoken to is in agreement that in the first 2-3 years, Spanish is much easier to learn. Due to the simpler pronunciation and grammar rules in the beginning, you are more likely to get a firm grasp on the basics. Once you have those down, you will have more confidence and a better foundation for the more difficult concepts to come.
3. You get more exposure to Spanish
If you live in the US, you are going to be exposed to Spanish much more often than French. If you live in even a moderately sized city in the US, you are bound to find at least a small Spanish speaking community. You will have more opportunities to sign up for volunteering gigs, language exchanges, or even just casual exchanges with people you meet while out and about. All that exposure will allow you to practice more and maintain your skills. French, however, is not widely spoken in the US, so it’s all too easy to learn it in school and quickly forget it since you won’t be using it in your everyday life.
4. There are more traveling options
While it is true that there are a wide variety of countries that speak French, not many of them speak solely French. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo declares French as their national language, but only 6,080,000 people out of their population of 66,514,506 are estimated to speak French fluently. (Data from 2005).
However, the 21 countries that declare Spanish as their national language have a much higher percentage of fluent Spanish speakers. If you travel through Central or South America, you will be able to speak Spanish all the way through most every country. You cannot say the same about French.
Of course, if you have the chance to learn both, I would say go for it, but if you have to make the choice, I’d say Spanish is your best bet!
How other bloggers compare Spanish with other languages:
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Featured photo credit: Qué gran torero en la plaza by maesejose, on Flickr