Should You Learn French Or Spanish? – Justlearn

If you are thinking of traveling or doing business in the European Union, it would be a good idea to learn one of the major languages of the region.

Two languages that would be particularly useful to learn in that regard would be French or Spanish. Not only are they commonly spoken in the EU, but they are also major world languages. 

So, now, you are probably wondering: Should I learn French or Spanish?

French and Spanish, what do they have in common?

Both French and Spanish originated in the European continent, specifically in the regions that became France and Spain respectively.

Both these languages are currently one of the six official languages of the European Union. This means that they are both used in the day to day lives of many people who live and work in the EU. 

They are also used in an official capacity by both the EU and by national governments.

Both the French and Spanish language belong to the family of Romance languages

“Romance” in this case means derived from Rome, meaning that they are languages that evolved from Latin. They are among the five most common Romance languages in the world in terms of the number of native speakers.

How common is French?

As we mentioned, French is a common Romance language that is spoken all over the world. 

It is actually the third most widely spoken Romance language, coming after Spanish and Portuguese with around 77 million native speakers all over the world.

French is the 15th most common language in the world, by number of native speakers. 

However, if we count people who speak French as an additional language, it is the fifth most common language in the world with 276.6 million speakers.

French is the third most common second language in the world, with English being the first and Spanish being the second. 

French spread throughout the world because of France’s history of colonization. 

If a country or a territory was a former colony of France, there is a good chance that there will still be a lot of French speakers there.

France is an official language in 29 countries all over the world. Outside of Europe, you can find sizable populations of French speakers in sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

As we mentioned, French is an official language of the EU and considered a working language. 

It is the second most taught foreign language in the EU, meaning that if a European is bilingual, there’s a good chance that one of the languages they understand is French.

How common is Spanish?

Spanish is the most widely spoken Romance language in the world, with around 480 million native speakers. 

It is also the second most common spoken language in the world by number of native speakers. Only Chinese has more native language speakers.

If we take into account the number of people who count Spanish as an additional language, it is the fourth most common language in the world with 537.9 million speakers. 

It is also the second most common second language in the world after English.

Spain was also a colonial power and this is how Spanish spread across the globe. As of today, it is the primary language of 20 countries around the world, many who were former colonies of the Spanish empire.

Outside of Europe and beyond Spain, Spanish is also a common language in the Americas. Mexico is actually the country with the most number of Spanish speakers in the world. 

Spanish is also widespread in the United States where it is the most common second language. An estimated 50 million Spanish speakers are found in the US.

Africa, Asia, and Oceania also have big populations of Spanish speakers. 

French vs. Spanish, Difficulty?

One factor that many people take into consideration when thinking about what language they want to learn is how difficult it is to learn. So, which is easier to learn French or Spanish?

Spanish is actually considered an easy language to learn because of the fact that a lot of Spanish words are phonetic. This means that the words are read as they are spelled. 

Because Spanish is phonetic, it makes it a little easier to pick up Spanish words. So this makes learning Spanish vocabulary and pronunciation relatively easy. What can often trip people up are the tenses and verb irregularities. 

If you are a speaker of another Romance language, like Portuguese or Italian, we have good news for you.  It is relatively easy for speakers of other Romance languages to learn both French and Spanish. 

As they are all derived from Latin, the similarities in grammar and sentence construction and even some of the word meanings will make it easier for you to pick up either of the languages.

If you speak English, it will also be relatively easy for you to pick up French. While there are some differences in pronunciation you will have to grapple with, there’s actually a lot of shared vocabulary. The difficulty will lie in the grammar rules.

Spanish is also considered an easy language for English speakers to learn. Not only is there a shared vocabulary, the spelling systems and the pronunciation of the vowel sounds are similar in Spanish and English. 

Is French or Spanish more useful?

Though ease of learning may be a factor that people consider when deciding on learning a particular language, it’s not actually that important.

What is more important to consider is, how useful that language will be for you. 

A language is useful to learn if it will allow you to communicate with a wide range of people. So, when thinking about learning a language, you need to consider how many people speak it. More specifically, what are the chances that you will encounter people who speak that particular language?

So, if you are thinking of learning a language because you are traveling to a certain area of the world, make sure to learn a language that is commonly spoken there.

In terms of deciding if you should learn Spanish or French, you need to ask yourself how “useful” one language will be for you.

If you are traveling to the EU it is definitely a good idea to learn French or Spanish for business. If you’re thinking of traveling to Africa or the Caribbean, do some research first on whether your travels will take you through places where more people speak French or Spanish before making your final decision about whether you should learn French or Spanish first.

The decision to study French or Spanish first boils down to personal choice. Which of the two languages will personally be more useful to you? More suited to your reasons for learning a language.

Once you have decided which of these languages you need to learn, your best course of action is to find a good native language tutor who can help you learn the basics and develop your fluency. Who knows, after you’ve learned one language, you might feel inspired to learn the other as well.

This content was originally published here.

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