There are things  you can do to become fluent in Spanish quickly, if you have taken French classes, you may find it easier to learn French.   Spanish and French share a common Latin root, so this is one of the reasons you may be easier to learn Spanish.

Learning a foreign language is not always an easy endeavour, but for students who have already studied French, they will  definitely be at an advantage in learning Spanish.  French and Spanish have many similarities, for example the vocabulary (Spanish expressions, words and phrases) and also some grammar ( adverb, written expression, syntax ...)

Therefore if you want to learn Spanish as a professional and you have already studied French, you can be assured that you will find learning Spanish easier. Since Spanish is a phonetic language, meaning it's pronounced as it is written, it will make learning the language that much easier.

Spanish is a language that is spoken by over 440 million native speakers, as well as being an official language in 20 different countries it is one of the most taught languages in the world. What's more, Spanish is used by many international organisations in an official capacity such as the European Union,  the World Trade Organisation, the World Health Organisation, and of course the United Nations.

Let's take a look at the similarities between Spanish and French, that may help you learn the language quicker.

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Spanish and French: Sharing A Common Latin Culture

If you are an ex-French student and wish to start learning Spanish online, or with a private Spanish tutor, take a look at the common origins between the two languages before you start. Why are they similar you may ask?

Simply,  the two languages (as well as others: Italian or Dutch) are similar because they come from a common origin: Latin.

Looking back in history, after the fall of the Roman Empire many variants of Latin began to emerge in Europe. And more precisely, spreading between the sixth and the ninth century, the period during which French and Spanish spread throughout the world via colonisation.

The origins of French and Spanish mean that they have some similarities
"Carpe diem, Grosso modo, De facto" Latin is found in the French and the Spanish language!

Mastering Spanish is also facilitated by the alphabet since both languages share the same 26-letter alphabet. Therefore they also share the same writing system. A factor that makes learning Spanish faster for students.

There is a Spanish alphabet, however, which includes the famous "tilde" (ñ) that you can find on the "n" as well as in the sound of the double "ll" of "Como se llama?"

Imagine learning Chinese, Russian, Arabic or Japanese--a lot more time learning would be required because you would also need to learn a new alphabet, its pronunciation, a different grammatical construction of words, sentences, and phrases.

French and Spanish also a share lexical similarity between the two languages. This similarity corresponds to the formation of groups of words used in a sentence. The famous subject-verb-complement.

Similar grammatical features also exist between the two Romance languages:

The use of:

  • Several forms of the past tense.
  • The subjunctive mood in similar scenarios
  • Adjectives often being found after the noun
  • The "you" having multiple functions

These similarities help students who have previously studied French learn to speak Spanish more easily whether it be through at a Spanish language school, Spanish university degree program,  or a study abroad or a Spanish immersion trip (courses in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina or in almost every single other country in Latin America, for example).

Another point that they have in common: the distinctive accents. As with French and their regional accents,  the Hispanic language has 5 different accents.

All these similarities help facilitate learning Spanish for those students who have already learned some French!

How Similar are French and Spanish: Common Vocabulary

English speaking students who have studied French previously, will quickly realise that they already know some of the words they are being taught in Spanish lessons!

Learning Spanish: With Knowledge of French

Having knowledge of the French language will make taking a trip to a Spanish-speaking country that much easier. You will be pleasantly surprised by your understanding of some common words that you will hear in the local everyday vocabulary.

Spanish can also be found in the French language for geographical reasons, due to their close neighbourly proximity.

Spain and France share a common border and region: the Basque Country! Therefore, the cross over in cultures found in parts of Spain and parts of France are close to identical.  Although the Basque country has its own unique language, the French and Spanish languages still managed to infiltrate into both sides of the Pyrenees.

In a historical context,  throughout the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Spaniards migrated to France in search of better living conditions, for better work and to flee from the dictatorship of Franco.  This legacy can still be found in the French vocabulary, sprinkled with Spanish influence.

Therefore, if you want to learn Spanish quickly, someone who has some knowledge of French, will definitely find it easier to learn Spanish, rather than Chinese, Russian, or Japanese for example.

Here are a few Spanish words present in the "lengua francesa" or French language:

  • La fiesta
  • Les tapas
  • La paëlla
  • Le guacamole
  • Le chorizo
  • Les churros
  • Le flamenco
  • Le tango
  • Le patio
  • Cafétéria
  • Embargo
  • Canyon
  • Rodéo
The culture of Spain is intrinsically linked with the language
The Spanish cuisine will definitely be an enjoyable part of your learning experience!

Beware of False Friends!

Similar words that are found in both languages allow students who have have studied the French language to understand and progress more easily in Spanish. It's closeness in certain words, allow these students to easily guess the meaning of a word like this for example:

  • Un accident = un accidente
  • Vendre = vender

Nevertheless, students who speak some French are sometimes tempted to invent Spanish words by adding an "o" or an "a" at the end. Unfortunately this does not always work!

"A village" does not translate into "a villagio" in the Spanish Language! 

There may also be some pitfalls in learning the Spanish language if you already speak French. As in other foreign languages, even words that strangely resemble each other do not necessarily have the same meaning.

For example these are some false cognates between French and Spanish:

  • Cama in Spanish = chambre in French
  • Debil = fragile
  • Caramelo = un bonbon
  • Figura = forme

You must also be careful  when it comes to English too, for example "actual" in the Spanish text but the translation of the word in English would be "current" , or likewise with the English word "pretender" doesn't actually mean "to pretend",  in Spanish it means "to attempt".

Spanish Expressions That Stem from French

The Spanish vocabulary however, also took a couple things from Molière's language...The French-Spanish language similarities work in both directions!

Knowledge of French can give you a head start when it comes to Spanish
Learning Spanish doesn't necessarily have to feel like starting with a totally clean slate

Here's some French words that take on an accent from Spanish root:

  • menú
  • avión
  • camión
  • cliché

Learning the Spanish language is one thing, but in fact the Spanish culture is inseparable from learning the language and luckily so because it's a fascinating culture!

Hispanic culture can be found all over the world, from Europe to South America.  Most cities have a Spanish speaking population that proudly promote their language and culture especially when celebrating all their different events and festivals throughout the year. What fun and enjoyable opportunities to learn all about the different and exciting Hispanic countries from all around the world. 

What better way to experience the language than to get on a plane and travel to a Spanish speaking country!  You will have no trouble finding a Spanish speaking community because the whole country will be speaking Spanish!

Check out Spanish classes here on Superprof.

Just by going on holiday to a Spanish speaking country you could learn some of the language
Your Spanish speaking adventure is merely a plane ride away!

More than likely you will meet someone who has some Spanish heritage in their family.  They are very proud of their Hispanic heritage and would be more than willing and excited to teach you a few Spanish words!

Conversing with Spanish speakers could help you to:

  • Practice Spanish daily
  • Learn Spanish more easily
  • Progress quicker 
  • Master the subtleties of the language 
  • Discover the Hispanic culture.
  • Travel easier throughout the country

If you have taken French classes at school and are looking to tackle Spanish lessons for work or professional reasons, then spending some time where Spanish is spoken could be a solution for you!  Consider finding a job where both the language skills are needed, what better way to become fluent in both!

There is so much to learn and discover about the Hispanic culture and all its riches, so why not have a look at taking a Spanish courses online before planning a little trip to Spain. What better way of  helping your chances of landing that dream job when you come back!

Although there is not an easy answer to how long it takes to learn Spanish, if you take advantage of all of the many  possibilities and options available, you will be well on your way to learning Spanish easily and in no time!

Why not find out how you can learn Spanish online or search the web for Spanish lessons in Toronto!

Check out Spanish lessons Toronto here on Superprof.

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Yvette

Yvette is a freelance Canadian writer living in Paris. She spends her time between Toronto and Paris and likes to travel and learn. She's the proud mom of two strong minded women and enjoys her free time giving back to her communities.