French or Spanish?

How useful is a second language in getting a better job? I speak four, but the other three are not very useful. Italian is spoken by Italians, Farsi by Iranians, and the other is spoken by still fewer people in a region of Iran. On the other hand some languages are either useful or relevant, depending on where you are. For example, French is Canada’s second official language and speaking it would open doors to employment in the French-speaking part of Canada or just companies that do business all over the country. Many communications positions require French bilingualism.

And well Spanish is the language of one of the other colonial powers of the world—there are tons of countries where Spanish will get you by. So of course that’s useful, and many businesses that have branches in south America, or just that do business there, will consider Spanish an asset. I have yet to see it as a requirement on a job posting, but I’m sure speaking it when you apply to a technology or mining company that does a significant portion of their dealings in south America will make your resume stand out.

Speaking Italian gives me an advantage in learning Spanish, but because I felt French would get me farther, I signed up for the French Rosetta Stone last month. I got a three-month membership, planning to finish the programme and after that expand my knowledge through movies, in-person meetups or clubs, one-on-one tutoring, etc. More immersion type stuff.

I have to say that being a complete beginner and following Rosetta Stone is often really difficult. It’s really boring and difficult to engage in it because you walk away each day feeling like you’ve made such little progress that it wasn’t worth the time it took. On the other hand, I do trust the method and as someone who’s learned three languages from scratch, I can attest that it is as near to an immersion experience as possible. Except that it’s in a vacuum, and you’ll need to be very, very good at motivating yourself in order to do it.

There are 20 units and I am only on unit 2 so in this month I’m ashamed to say I have done quite little. I used to do an hour a day, repeating certain parts I wasn’t sure about (this wasn’t necessary in the end because there is a ton of repetition and overlap, so you’re covered going through each lesson just once).

I’m going to update you on my Rosetta Stone progress when I get to the intermediate level of French. Have you tried to learn a second language to increase your employment prospects in the past and how did you do it? What language did you learn and was it as beneficial as you anticipated?


5 thoughts on “French or Spanish?”

  1. I never learned a language to improve my odds of getting a job, but I learned several at various levels in school and college. I am French so my first second language was English – then came German, Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Russian and American Sign Language. I only studied the last 4 at a very basic level and can’t use any of them today.

    German and Spanish are actually the reason I am writing this comment. You wrote about learning “in a vacuum” and I just wanted to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. In college, I was serious about learning German, but I was only taught how to write it, and whenever I reluctantly opened my mouth it was a disaster. So after I left college, I found German people online who were learning French and started a few language exchanges. For over a year, we had weekly Skype calls when we would speak German for 30 minutes, then French. I did the same with Spanish later on.

    These conversations gave me a reason to learn German and the opportunity to use it on a regular basis. I bonded with my learning partners so I really wanted to talk to them and understand them. It gave me motivation, confidence and really helped me improve. So if you don’t want to learn in a vacuum, I highly recommend you find yourself some learning partners! If you don’t know where to get started, let me know, I’ll be happy to help.

    By the way, congratulations on learning Spanish AND Italian! I learned Spanish, then Italian, then Spanish again, and in the last two instances, I often remembered Spanish words instead of Italian words and vice versa, which made it very hard. So I’ve had to “bury” what little knowledge of Italian I had so that I could learn Spanish, and now I can’t understand any Italian – so weird! Have you had a similar problem?

    Good luck with Spanish 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, this comment is such a surprise! Thank you! I wasn’t expecting a comment (or any readers). That is what I love about this platform: sometimes somebody finds their way to your post and tells you exactly what you need to hear!

      Thank you for the encouragement. You have learned an impressive number of languages! This is the first time I learn one without being immersed, so it’s a little different than the rest for me. The Skype idea sounds exactly like what I will need in a little bit.

      Currently, I am focusing all of my resources on learning French and leaving Spanish for later. For French, there are many jobs here in Canada that say “must be bilingual” or “French considered an asset,” just because it is a bilingual country, after all, haha. So I am trying hard to learn that!

      After I finish the first few Rosetta Stone levels, I would love to find a conversation partner. I think I would be too slow/not able to carry a good conversation with my current knowledge. But maybe in a month? And absolutely, I would love your help to do that.

      It’s funny you say that about Spanish and Italian. I haven’t experienced that exactly, but I wonder if it is actually something specific to Italian and Spanish. They are such very similar languages that maybe your brain just needed to stop thinking about the other one and think about Italian alone.

      Because of my background in Italian (I lived in Italy for years so I speak it well/fluently—there is of course some “forgetting” because I don’t speak it regularly) but because of that I want to learn Spanish. Just because they are so similar, you know? And I think maybe Spanish is a more international language than Italian, even if Italian is beautiful and it connects you to one of the most beautiful cultures.

      Thank you for dropping by, my new friend!


      1. If you’re in Canada I understand all the more why you want to learn French! But then, I suppose you can find French speakers locally and won’t need Skype that much 🙂 Here are two websites I used to find learning partners:

        Don’t worry about not knowing enough or being too slow. Some “celebrity” language learners recommend speaking as soon as you can, even if you don’t know much – I’m not sure I could but it seems to work for them! I know I needed a lot of time to form a sentence when I started out, but my partners were patient as long as I showed the same patience when they struggled with my language. Knowing that the other person is going through the same thing helps.

        It’s so great that you got to live in Italy! Well, it’s only great if you enjoyed your time there, of course – I just mean it’s awesome to be able to learn a foreign language in the country where it is spoken 🙂 Can I ask in which city or cities you lived?

        You know what? Just reading your post and message makes me want to dive into Spanish again! Hopefully next year 🙂


      2. Thank you for the site! It’s true. Even in Toronto, which is English speaking, there are cafes downtown where you need to speak strictly French and also groups from for practicing French. But thank you for the websites nonetheless. I may still give them a try!

        Absolutely, I loved living in Italy. Great people/culture/food. I lived in the suburbs of Rome: a very beautiful place that I have fond memories of. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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