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ETpro's avatar

Will previous French make learning Spanish easier/faster?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) January 8th, 2012

I took 3 years of high-school French but that was 40 years ago. Since then I’ve made two trips to France, one to Belgium and two to Montreal. Outside those brief stays, I’ve had no opportunity to use my French, so it is terribly rusty now. I’m wondering if anyone else has tried to learn a second Romance language after learning a first. Does it tend to get confused and make the third language more difficult than the second, or are their Latin roots similar enough that one builds on the other.

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21 Answers

2davidc8's avatar

Yes, absolutely. And vice versa. The languages are related.

zenvelo's avatar

Un petit peu. My high school French helped with Italian a little, but mostly in decoding signs

marinelife's avatar

That is what I was going to say. My French helped me read Spanish signs.

muppetish's avatar

Definitely. The pronunciation is the biggest difference since the French accent is massively opposite (softer, rounder, more silent words compared to the always-pronounced syllables and trilled Rs in Spanish.) I don’t really know Spanish, but I can still infer some conversation based on my French studies.

AstroChuck's avatar

Less so than other romance languages because French pronunciations are so f***ed up compared to other Latin-based tongues. But still, yes.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Only in a very minimal way, but it would help. Knowing French would make learning Catalan much easier, and catalan would make Spanish much easier to learn, but French will only help a little bit when it comes to learning Spanish. Catalan is almost a kind of link between Spanish and French, just as it is a kind of link between Spain and France.

ETpro's avatar

@2davidc8 Thanks, That whas what I was hoping. In my freshman year, I took Latin I. That should help too. At least I hope it does.

@zenvelo D’accord. Merci beaucoup.

@marinelife Reakky? Gool. That’s better than I had expected. Thanks for the real estate notes.

@muppetish Thanks. Pronunciation is pretty es

JLeslie's avatar

Spanish doesn’t help me much with French. It does help with the grammar and verb conjugation I think, but the spoken word is so very different. I do think it helps no matter what knowing another language though, I think the brain is simply more open to new languages if you already know more than one.

deedee18's avatar

Oh definitely. My native language is creole which is broken french . when i did took french or even spanish it was not difficult. there are lots of similarites i realized. especially when it came to conjugating and so on

mattbrowne's avatar

Yes. I had 7 years of French in high school. I only needed 1 year each to learn Italian and Spanish to be able to have simple conversations. And advanced English helps too because of all the sophisticated vocabulary rooted in Latin.

And it’s easier to pronounce Spanish than French.

deedee18's avatar

not for me. it is harder for me to pronounce some spanish words.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Even that would be a head start.

@deedee18 Thanks. Good input. Here in Boston I should get plenty of opportunity to work on pronunciation.

@mattbrowne That’s very encouraging. Our system is divided into Middle School (usually grades 6–8) and High School which is virtually always grades 9–12. so 4 years is the max in High School here. But fortunately, in the 9th grade, I took a year of Latin before beginning French in the 10th grade. Hopefully, that will help.

JLeslie's avatar

Spanish is much easier to pronounce in my opinion, and knowing how to pronounce a word just by looking at it is fairly simple. Spanish spelling is almost perfect for how a word is pronounced, as opposed to English that is much more tricky. French I am not as familiar with, maybe once you know the rules in French well it is simple also? I never took a formal class for French, just picked up some and have a Berlitz book and CD.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie Thanks for the additional info. It sounds like it will be a fun learning experience.

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro FYI I don’t remember if you said how you are going to go about learning Spanish, but the ease of reading and pronouncing is simplified if you either read or someone instructs you on how the vowels are pronounced (much simpler than English):

A is always ah, taco
E is always eh, Celia is sel-lia
I is always ee, Tina
O is always oh, Cola
U is oo, except for when after q, then it is silent. The word tú is like the name Sue, but quince is keen-say

Exceptions are extremely rare. Even when vowels are combined you say each vowel. Idea is ee-deh-ah. And yes, idea is idea in Spanish, just pronounced totally differently.

And, a few tricky differences for certain consonants.

Double L is similar to y (some countries almost a j).
J is pronounced H. Like La Jolla is La hoy-ya.
H at the beginning of a word is silent. Hola is oh-la.
Ñ the n with the tilde, I don’t know how to write out, but it is similar to gn in Italian if that means anything to you? Like the town of Bologna.

There are never double consonants, except for double L (and people’s names brought from other countries and languages).

I think that covers it. Now you are an expert.

AstroChuck's avatar

@JLeslie- U is oo, except after q and g.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t say how I planned to study, because I haven’t yet decided that.

Whether it’s in distance, weights, or pronunciation rules, the English seem able to make a very simple subject incredibly difficult. Thanks for the input, ,

@AstroChuck Thank goodness there are some :exceptions. I’d be lost without them.

JLeslie's avatar

@AstroChuck Good catch. Yes, after g also.

Sigue, see-gay

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro What do you mean by the English seem able to make a very simple subject incredibly difficult. the English, meaning the English vs the Americans? Or, the English language has so many rules and rules broken that it is more confusing? I’m not clear.

The reason I think knowing the basics about pronouncing the language from the written word is important is because many times pronounciation is made easier when we see how a word is written, even in English. People have a lot of trouble with my last name, but if I write it out and say it, and then have them say it while reading it, they never get it wrong again, it cements the word for them in their mind. My name sounds very foreign to most Americans. And, in discussion on fluther we have talked about dialects in America, and the ones we find the most far removed from standard English are usually in communities who historically have low literacy. I think the correlation is note worthy, and makes perfect sense.

ETpro's avatar

@JLeslie The English and the AMericans. Water here freezes at 32° F, not 0° C. It biold at 212° F, not 100° C.

There are inches are divided into multiples of 4, so we have ¼ inch increments, 1/16. ⅓2, 1/64th and so on. There are 12 inches in a foot, 3 feet in a ear, 5,280— feet (or 1760 years in a mile)/ We have fluid ounces and avoirdupois ounces, which are not the same. None of the measures are on the base 10. Get the picture?

JLeslie's avatar

@ETpro Well, England has adopted metric for the most part. Holding onto to using the old system, America’s current system, for certain circumstances. But, I do get your point.

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