|The Decision to take French
or Spanish Lessons
The amount of
students choosing modern languages as a subject in UK schools has been on the decline for
several years. In fact, it is only compulsory in just over a quarter of schools for under
14s. A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said the
government is committed to improving the nation's language skills" and All
seven to 11-year-olds will be entitled to learn at least one foreign language by
2010." Perhaps this is progress. However, an increasing number of parents now pay for
additional language lessons at
their childs school; this is particularly prevalent in primary schools.
There is often debate as to the merits of the chosen
language. Main languages taught in secondary schools in the UK are French, German and
Spanish, plus a few more obscure languages taught in public schools. Of the parents who
pay for extra French lessons,
many of them cite the fact that they would like their child be able to speak another
language, in order to increase their career prospects. Many in the UK are more enamoured
with French as they view it as more useful. Border proximity may play a part in this.
However, those whose child was taking Spanish lessons said that
it was an easier language to learn. There is some truth in this fact; it is largely
individual preference though. Those taking Spanish lessons cite that it is easy at first
but becomes increasingly difficult as it gets more in-depth. For those taking French
lessons the difficulty arises when learning tenses, as it is a stumbling block for some.
Again, though, sometimes individual differences feature heavily.
Amongst adult learners however it is a very different story.
In colleges at least French lessons are now more popular than ever, perhaps accredited to
recognition of the decline and the usefulness of a second language. Spanish lessons have
stayed steady, with numbers level in recent years. If usefulness is a reason cited in
polls then, in terms of popularity, Spanish is the second most popular language in the
world, with 350 million native speakers. French is the eleventh most popular language,
with 175 million speakers.
Within this proportion of adult learners, Spanish is
questionably rather easier for the beginners who may struggle rather less with their
pronunciation than their French-studying contemporaries. Beginners in Spanish have to try
and cope with dropped subject pronouns and many different English words for a singular
Spanish one. Additionally, Spanish grammar becomes increasingly more complex with ongoing
learning, and some aspects are without doubt more tricky than French. Overall, neither of
these languages is definitively more or less complicated than the other.
Bear in mind, however, that any language new to someone will tend to get increasingly
easier the more you practice. This ultimately is the key to success.
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