Should you learn French or Spanish? We can help you decide

November 10, 2023

The first step to embarking on your language-learning journey? Picking a language. In this case, we’re assuming you may be considering learning either French or Spanish

While it’s a personal choice, we’ve put together some thoughts to help you make up your mind as to whether you – yes, you – should start learning French or Spanish.

French or Spanish? Spanish or French? Here are 5 things to consider when making up your mind 

1. Motivation for learning

First and perhaps most importantly, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What’s my motivation?” Well, what is it, pal?

It matters a great deal why you want to spend time learning a language. What are you hoping to get out of this whole deal? Better cultural experiences? Living like a local on your travels? 

Whatever your motivation, it might help you pick, based on the things or places you’d like to see, for example. 

Want to keep your motivation front of mind? Busuu, the language-learning app, has a feature that could help.

The Study Plan not only helps you keep a record of your reason for learning: it also helps you achieve your goals, by organising your studying time for you.

Consider where and how you see yourself using your brand new language skills, and choose the language that better fits your motivation. 

So, for instance, if you’re learning because you’re a culture nerd, ask yourself: are you more into tapas or baguettes? Rioja or Cabernet? Paella or yassa? Celine or Shakira? Honestly, these are all really tough choices.

2. Language background

Your second consideration should be how you personally can relate to the two languages.

If you already speak Portuguese, for example, Spanish might come a little easier to you. 

If you speak Creole, first off, cool! In which case, you may find French easier to pick up.

That said, if you already speak a language with similarities to one of these languages, you may want to choose the language further from what you already know, so you can expand your knowledge base. 

Really, though, you can’t make a bad choice between these two languages, so it’s just about choosing which one works best for what you need. 

Plus, since both French and Spanish are Romance languages, learning one can only help feed your understanding of the other. It’s a win-win situation.

3. Difficulty level  

Now, let’s say that your language background is that you don’t speak any other languages. 

Bilingualism is something you aspire to, but right now you’re monoglot. Presumably of English, all things considered. 

That’s ok, too! So to make things less difficult, Your question then is probably going to be, and rightly so, which is easier, Spanish or French?  

Strictly speaking, both get pretty tricky when you go all the way down the grammar hole, but if you’re looking for one to get started with, learning how to speak Spanish is going to be easier from the get-go. 

So there’s an answer for you. Congratulations, we did it – time to learn Spanish! 

If, when we said that, you thought, “Rats! I wanted French!” Good news – now you know that you have more motivation to learn French. French it is! Again, you can’t go wrong here.

If you haven’t been swayed one way or the other yet, you could also consider the other factors on this list. 

4. ‘Universal’ factor

More good news (unless you were learning a language so you could speak to fewer  people): 

French and Spanish are both among the most widely spoken languages in the world

While Spanish is the fourth most spoken language, spoken by approximately 534 million people, French is the fifth most spoken language in the world, at 280 million speakers. 

You may notice that the gap between fourth and fifth is about 250 million people. But we can personally assure you that 280 million people is still more than enough to put together a decent French dinner party, if you’re looking to show off your sparkling personality and the odd funny French phrase or two

The big difference is where the languages are spoken. Spanish is spoken in Spain, of course, but also in Mexico and Central and South America. 

French is spoken in France, Canada, and Luxembourg (amongst others), but also in much of Africa, plus Haiti and Lebanon. 

Both are incredibly handy. The real question is just, where are you now, and where are you going?

5. Location, location, location 

Speaking of which, one last thing to consider is your current location. 

Your travel plans are important, but so is where in the world you live. Depending on where you are, you may have more access to either French or Spanish native speakers. So, learning the language you’re exposed to most may have more immediate effects on your life. 

If you’re in Canada, for example, learning French could open up job opportunities. If you’re in the United States, you’re more likely to see Spanish speakers on a regular basis. 

Not only does being around native speakers help you practise your language skills, but it can help keep you motivated – even on your off days. 

And there you have it. Those are all the factors you should consider when deciding whether to learn French or Spanish.

So think it over. Close your eyes. Open them. Do you know which one you would pick? 

Good. Now click.

Psst: we’re Busuu, a language-learning app. Click on one of the buttons, and you’ll start learning with us for free!

Side note: did you know French and Spanish are incredibly similar? Watch the video, where the two languages go head to head…

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