Learning a second language can be time-consuming and challenging, but in the end, it is completely worth it. For starters, learning a new language can get you to connect with people from different cultures more easily; you’ll be able to communicate with them in their own language and thus, develop a long-lasting relationship. It will also help you advance your career, which is the second main reason why you should consider learning a new language. The demand for bilingual professionals has risen exponentially between 2010 and 2015, according to a New American Economy report. The more languages you know, the more valuable you become for global employers.
French and German are both a great choice
Two of the most popular languages to learn today are German and French. That is because most international or remote jobs in the business or IT field *which are the most demanded jobs on the global market right now* require employees to speak one of these two languages besides English. So not only will you gain a new perspective by learning a new language, but you’ll also boost your chances of becoming an international hire. So, let’s look at which language you should focus on and why. Today’s open question is, is German or French easier to apprehend?
Studies at the U.S. Foreign Service Institute or FSI are suggesting that German and French are both easier languages to learn for English speaking individuals. To create a proper list of languages that are easier to learn for English natives, the FSI conducted a study where they selected English speakers between 30 and 40 years old to see how much it would take them to apprehend a new language. At the end of the study, the average amount of time in which these individuals learned this new skill consisted of 25 hours of class weekly on top of 3 independent-study hours each week. It is worth mentioning that the class size was no larger than 6 students.
To draw a more coherent conclusion: the subjects learned a new language the fastest when presented with Category 1 languages, which were the ones most similar to English. This category includes Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Romanian, French, German, Dutch, Swedish, Afrikaans, Danish, and Norwegian. It took participants between 23 and 30 weeks of practice to learn proficient language skills in this category, which consisted of 550 to 750 classroom hours in total.
Which language should I learn?
The problem now becomes, which one of these languages is the easiest to learn and why? Let’s look at both French and German separately and see the stats behind why learning each one of them over the other would be smarter; then, let’s draw a conclusion based on the results.
Today, there are over 280 million French speakers in the entire world, with 71 million of this number being partial speakers or speakers of French dialects and creoles. French is an official, de facto national, and the co-official language of 33 countries in the world, according to study at FERDI in 2013. French is taught in more than 50 countries around the world and it is one of the few most preferred languages in the United Nations. Moreover, French is also the 4th most used language on the Internet, the 3rd most used in business environments, and the 2nd most used in general information and the media. Tip: most of the best essays on Business or IT will be written in French, since this language is quite popular within employers in these fields.
Why is it easy to learn French?
French is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers regardless of its verbal forms, pronunciation patterns, nouns, and quite tricky silent letters. That is because French is derived from Latin, with this language having a tremendous impact and influence on our English language. Historically, the Norman invasion of England is considered an important factor in the formation of today’s English language. The words ‘film noir,’ ‘entrepreneur,’ ‘etiquette,’ or ‘dentist’ are all of French origin. In fact, about 30% of English words come from French, making this language way easier to apprehend for native English speakers.
Pro: the French language is closer to English in its vocabulary. According to the FSI study presented above, a native English speaker could learn French in anywhere between 23 to 24 weeks of constant practice *no less than 600 hours total*.
Cons: the word pronunciation & verb conjugations are difficult to master. French people can talk really fast so the ability to be part of the conversation drops significantly, at least the first weeks of learning the language.
Based on recent statistics, German is the 11th most spoken language of the entire world. There are over 132 million German speakers in the world, with 79 million of this number actually living in Germany. About 56 million people in the world speak German as a second, third, or fourth language. The countries in which German is spoken are, of course, Germany, Austria, and parts of Switzerland. German is also a common language in various parts of the United States and Canada.
Why is it easy to learn German?
German is easy to learn for native English speakers for the following reasons. First, German nouns are easy to build if you are a native speaker of English because many times, they are similar to those in English. For example, the noun “beer” is spelled “bier” in German – not quite different, right? Second, when you will be reading road signs, street names, or words in German, you will have a pretty good idea of what the spelling of that word means by making instant connections to the English language; quite useful, right? Rules that form German words are generally valid, meaning most of the words in German are formed using the same principles. This makes the language easier to apprehend.
You should also know that German has only one present tense *compared to French* and only one past tense (past perfect), which makes learning this language quite easy again. So, when you will be talking about actions in the past, you won’t get tangled up in different meanings and misconnections between past tenses.
Pro: simple to comprehend tenses and verb conjugations. German is structured and many words are formed using the same techniques.
Con: German is not as widely and often spoken. It is used in three countries mostly, apart from parts of the United States and Canada. The English vocabulary is not as close to German as it is to French.
So, French or German?
Now that you know the stats and variables, you can draw a conclusion for yourself, depending on your needs. French can be more complicated to learn because of its verb conjugations and pronunciation tricks. However, it could be more useful if you are looking to live almost anywhere in the world. German, on the other hand, might be less complicated to learn and it could be extremely useful if you are looking at countries such as Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. In the end, it’s all about you and your needs. I hope this article helped you make a decision!
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