Choosing a second language to learn is something that you should not take lightly, otherwise, you will be discouraged and will abandon your learning quest. But how do you make your choice when there are so many options available to you?
Two of the most popular choices for a second language to learn are Spanish and Portuguese. While they are both Latin languages, there are many substantial differences between them and many reasons to choose to learn one language over the other. In this article, we speak about these different reasons.
Portuguese or Spanish: which one is the preferred choice of most students?
Of the two, Spanish is the most popular when it comes to people studying it. At every academic level, Spanish is usually taught more frequently than Portuguese. In college, Spanish is frequently chosen over Portuguese as well. Statistics say that over 50% of the students in the United States opt to learn Spanish over any other language. So… is Portuguese the second most studied language? The answer is… no. According to the statistics and studies, that is French. In college, Portuguese is not even in the top 10 languages that students choose to learn.
But this seems to be changing recently. As more schools and colleges are offering Portuguese programs, the language is getting traction. With Brazil being an economic powerhouse in Latin America, there is a spike in the demand for Portuguese-speaking employees.
So… should you learn Portuguese or Spanish?
Spanish and Portuguese: side by side
One of the most important aspects of living today is that you can learn everything online at your own rhythm. Learning Spanish online is an excellent alternative if you are on a tight schedule and if you find it hard to commit to regular classes. Since Spanish is a popular language to learn, you can find options to study the language online and in a more regular way: in a language center.
On the other hand, when it comes to Portuguese, your options are more limited. Chances to find regular Portuguese classes near you might not be that high. So learning Portuguese online will probably be your best option.
So, should you learn Portuguese or Spanish? In order to make the right choice between these two languages, you need to check different criteria and decide what would be more ideal for you including number of speakers around the world, job and employment opportunities, personal reasons, etc. Both languages are good options to the point that it could be hard to pick one of those.
So… how can I decide to learn Portuguese or Spanish?
In order to decide whether you should learn Portuguese or Spanish, you need to consider the place of each language when it comes to the number of native speakers, uses when traveling, relevance in world economic trade, language popularity, and how easy it is to learn it.
Spanish is one of the most popular languages around the world, and it keeps getting more popular every day. More than 500 million people in the world have some degree of proficiency in Spanish. It is expected that by 2060, more than 750 million people in the world will speak Spanish.
Moreover, 44 countries speak Spanish, and after English is the second most spoken language in the world. Spanish is a major economic partner of the UK and Mexico does the same for the United States. So, having proficiency in Spanish can open you the doors to better employment opportunities.
If you want to travel, Spanish is a language that will help you navigate through a lot of different countries such as Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela. And this is just half of the countries that use Spanish as an official language.
Also, Spanish is one of the easiest languages to learn for English speakers. Spanish has half of the vowel sounds that English has. When it comes to orthography, it is spoken as it is written. Sentences have a similar structure to the English language as well.
And that’s not all! Spanish is so popular around the world, that you can find more Spanish speaking in the USA than in Spain… and by 2050, it is expected that the Spanish speaking community of the United States will grow up so much that it will be the biggest Spanish speaking country in the world… surpassing even Mexico.
Portuguese has a lot of similarities with Spanish, even when it comes to pros and cons. However, the learning process can be quite different. And there are some notorious differences between Spanish and Portuguese. There are some changes of the alphabet and the pronunciation is quite different. Vowels are also used differently and there are a lot of false cognates between them.
But also, one of the biggest key points is that Portuguese can be harder to learn if you already know Spanish. This is because both languages share concepts and terminology that have small differences and might take you out of balance.
Portuguese is another one of the so-called romantic languages, or those that are derived from Vulgar Latin is considered easy to learn. When comparing the language to English, Portuguese has fewer prepositions and certain structures are simpler and are not that complicated for English speakers. Also, grammar is easier than English.
As for the alphabet, the Portuguese alphabet has 23 letters most of them common with English, and they don’t include the letters K, W, Y. Due to the fact that there are fewer consonants, beginner Portuguese students might have some pronunciation difficulties.
When it comes to traveling, there is a huge misconception… people associate Portuguese only with Portugal and Brazil… but it’s actually the official language of many other countries: Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, East Timor, Equatorial Guinea, Macau, Cape Verde, and São Tomé and Príncipe.
And here is a fact that you probably didn’t know: Portuguese is the sixth most spoken language in the world. When it comes to working, Brazil is one of the most powerful economies in Latin America, and having proficiency in Portuguese will open many doors for your professional career.
So… Spanish or Portuguese?
To determine which one we should choose, you need to weigh the pros and cons of each one of these. When it comes to Spanish, it is easier to learn, and you will be able to speak with more people around the world because Spanish is more widely spoken. Portuguese, on the other hand, can be considered as a more specialized language skill that can be especially valuable for certain work applications.
However, whether you choose Spanish or Portuguese as your language to learn, you will be learning more than just a language… you will be exposing yourself to culture and different ways to speak the same language. So, the best way to see which language is better for you is to make a list of the pros and cons of how every language will improve your life… or if you have the courage… go for both of them!
If you have decided to learn another language, this is a perfect time. You can book a free trial lesson with one of our Spanish or Portuguese teachers, and experience firsthand how you can improve your language skills with top-notch professional tutors.