Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

French or Spanish, which should I focus on?

Hi guys,

I'm new to duolingo, still trying to wrap my head around the app.

Recently I've been wanting to study languages, but because I'm still in college I don't have enough time on hand to take full immersion courses in a foreign country.

I took introductory French for two semesters in my freshman year, but for some reason I didn't go on taking the intermediate courses (basically follow-up courses to the introductory ones).

Now I'm gonna to be a senior next year, and I realize I haven't really studied a language in depth yet. I won't have enough time to take language courses at my college next year, since I gotta finish my degree first. So I'm wondering: should I get back to French, brush up on it and take it to the next level? Or should I take on a new language, like Spanish?

I'm planning on to take a full immersion class in either France or Spain after graduation next year. Because of my limited budget, I can only go with either French or Spanish for the immersion. So which one first?

I want to eventually be fluent (or at least passable, whatever that means) in both French and Spanish tho.

Any thought on this?

3 years ago

28 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
Mod
  • 25
  • 25
  • 8
  • 8
  • 699

Which language tugs at your heart strings? Study that one.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

I absolutely love French, but some people tell me it's not as useful/in demand as Spanish. I regret not having studied Spanish in high school, since basically everyone in the states knows Spanish and it's like i'm put at a disadvantage for not learning it.

Also, cuz I'm 20 this year, wouldn't it be too late for me to start learning Spanish after I become fluent in French (assuming it will take at least two years)?

Sorry for asking all these dumb questions. As you can tell, i'm not that experienced in learning languages. And I'm desperately trying to not remain monolingual for the rest of my life.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
Mod
  • 25
  • 25
  • 8
  • 8
  • 699

French won't be as useful in the US as Spanish, but if you love French then you should study French. Especially while college is making demands on your time and brain.

Good heavens I hope you're not too old. I started learning French last year from scratch and I am more than twice your age.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

True. I guess I'll go with French then and pick up Spanish somewhere down the road.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SimoneBa
SimoneBa
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10

Too late to start learning a new language in YOUR EARLY TWENTIES??? Are you nuts?! Honestly, man...! Some friends of mine have just started learning Spanish in their sixties, and they are doing fine. It helps, of course, that they are already multilingual and have been learning languages throughout their lives. Which is the way to go:)

Stick to French for now. You love it, and that will always win out over "I should...", especially when you're pressed for time. Also, if you live in the US, an immersion semester in France may be your only real opportunity to get some proper in-country exposure to this language, you can't possibly let yourself miss out on this opportunity. With Spanish, you can get exposure at home much more easily, so you can leave that one for later.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

Yes the Spanish-immersion-at-home part is spot on. All I need to do is just go and live in Texas, Florida or Southern California for a few months :) Thank you.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SimoneBa
SimoneBa
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10

Sounds like a plan :) ...I love New Mexico...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cameron_r

I was debating between french or german for a new one to start and even though french might be more useful i'm going with german. Go with what speaks to you.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
Ilmarien
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12

I'd say French, because I think it's better to maintain focus on one thing than start over with a second from scratch. You should have enough background in French to be able to more effectively study it by yourself, and if you intend to learn both anyway, you'd be better off maintaining your French throughout instead of dropping it and then having to unlearn bad habits from Spanish later on.

If you're thinking immersion classes, though, and have a limited budget, programs in Spain are a lot cheaper than in France, so that might be an issue.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

Yep. The cost of immersion is a major concern. Factoring that in, Spain seems to cost on the lower side compared to France, where cost of living/tuition can be unreasonably high in some parts.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
Ilmarien
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12

Are you planning a full year or what? Because there's a whole industry out there and tons of options available. And there's really no expiration date on it - programs in the other country will still be there once you've saved up what you need to afford a visit. =)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

That's reassuring to hear. At what point do you recommend that I start studying Spanish? Should I reach at least advanced in French first, that is, if I don't want to mix up the langs?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ilmarien
Ilmarien
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 13
  • 12

Hard to say, as it'll depend entirely on you. I think the year you already have could be enough to have set the foundations, so you might be okay working on them both already. I'd recommend brushing up on your French before starting the Spanish, though.

Confusing languages is an interesting thing, and you're never really safe from it. The more advanced you are, the better off you are, yes, but the moment you say, "My French is good enough now to learn Spanish for a year and ignore French entirely," is the moment that Spanish starts creeping into your French. I think the key, in as much as I've ever found one, is to make sure you're not neglecting one language in favor of the other. Balance is hard, but I think the only way to keep the primary language from bleeding into the secondary one.

On the other hand, I don't think it's the end of the world if you do start mixing one language into the other a bit.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/ReVelArmy

Depends on how immersed in the language. If you only took the intro then you might be able to do Spanish. You have to be willing to "give up" French for while and focus on Spanish.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vcel10
vcel10
  • 25
  • 22
  • 12
  • 6
  • 4
  • Stick to French . . . "you'd be better off maintaining your French throughout" - llmarien
  • You don't need a full-immersion class. You're fortunate to be online, you have the world at your fingertips. You can immerse yourself at home.

WAIT! . . . Which language tugs at your heart strings? - Lrtward

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

What's a good way of maintaining/improving French on my own, beside keeping up with the duolingo app? I don't think my French is good enough for me to be able to learn French by watching French movies or tv shows.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vcel10
vcel10
  • 25
  • 22
  • 12
  • 6
  • 4

I would suggest beginning with light stuff. There are plenty of cartoons, and children movies in French that are fairly easy to understand. As you study the language, expose yourself to new words and expressions continue to listen to the language daily.

Even when you're tired or frustrating from studying the language, you can certainly enjoy the music. Most of the sappy Disney songs like Frozen's Let it Snow has been translated in French. Fortunately French, like Spanish, has a wealth of music throughout the world to enjoy.

Here's a better way to approach your language learning goal. Tie your studies, or hobbies into French. If you're a math major, seek mathematics resources in French. If your hobby is collecting stamps, seek resources in French.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lrtward
Lrtward
Mod
  • 25
  • 25
  • 8
  • 8
  • 699

French in Action For people outside the USA and Canada, search for it on YouTube (video is of lower quality on YouTube)

Coffee Break French podcast.

Extr@ en Fran├žais

Listen to music in French; see if your library (college or public) has a subscription to Freegal. If they do, you (as a patron - get a card) are allowed to download 3 MP3 songs for free each week. Check out Zaz. Incroyable !

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/1848emilyb
1848emilyb
  • 15
  • 12
  • 10
  • 6
  • 6

I know it's not exactly advisable to try to learn multiple languages at once, but I personally focus mainly on french while studying spanish (in less detail) at the same time. The two languages are pretty similar so I find it interesting to study them in a compare/contrast mindset. (For example, the verb "to absorb" is "absorber" in both languages.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

But how do you avoid getting the two languages mixed up, since they're pretty similar? Do you have like a separate schedule or something to keep the study sessions apart?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/1848emilyb
1848emilyb
  • 15
  • 12
  • 10
  • 6
  • 6

I was taught spanish from a pretty young age (7) so I already had a decent grasp of the language. I try to find a balance between compartmentalizing the language I'm studying so that it doesn't leak into the other language while noticing similarities at the same time. If I don't know a word in french I tend to think about what it is in english or spanish and it usually helps me come up with it. Having a strong knowledge of one of the languages helps with learning the other. The biggest problem I've noticed myself having is that sometimes (especially when I'm tired) I speak french with a spanish accent.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

I know that feeling! When I was taking French and got physically exhausted at studying, I noticed that my English started to leak into my spoken French.

By the way, do you know if it's true that French speakers have an easier time learning Spanish but not the other way around? I assume French is slightly harder to learn for an English speaker than Spanish. Correct me if I'm wrong:) Language learning is obviously not my expertise.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/1848emilyb
1848emilyb
  • 15
  • 12
  • 10
  • 6
  • 6

I find spanish is easier because there are fewer sounds to learn. French has a lot of sounds that we just don't make in English. In spanish there is typically only one pronunciation per letter so it's easier to remember what it's supposed to sound like - basically if you know how to say the alphabet in spanish then you can read any written spanish piece out loud.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AdonKing
AdonKing
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

Hello Gavin! Let me answer your question. As you might guess by seeing my profile photo I'm a Spanish-native speaker. I live in Florida. I know how useful Spanish is. Let me tell you something. Just learn the language you prefer. There's no a better stimulus than motivation. Trust, if you want to learn any language, just do it. And you have an advantage. If you learn French you'll be able to learn Spanish easier. Trust me, I wanted to learn French before and I was getting it well (But I stopped for some reason). So I would like you to learn Spanish. BUT, I can't force you to do it. Learn everything you want first, then you learn Spanish if you want :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

Thanks for the advice!! That's definitely a boost to my confidence learning languages =) I've heard people say that learning French makes it's easier to learn Spanish but not necessarily the other way around. Is it true?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/AdonKing
AdonKing
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

It depends. If you English and Spanish you can learn French so fast. Because French has a lot of things from Spanish and English. In fact, French and Spanish has 75% of things in common. Well, technically French is harder than Spanish in many ways, Pronunciation, Grammar (But sometimes Spanish is more difficult, trust me, I was trying to learn French and I wasn't hard). Spanish is harder than French in many other ways as well. But yes, technically it's true but not at all. I've met a lot of French people who still have problems at speaking Spanish and vice versa. It just depends on the person. But in your case, you already know English, whichever you learn will make easier learning the other language :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/josephkt

choose the one you like the most I don't study Spanish because I am not interested in the language and it is very useful where I live

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Gavin_G

I know right. But there's just TONS of peer pressure in college where everyone is studying Spanish and speaks it to some level.

3 years ago