According to Forbes, more than 90 percent of high schools require students to take a foreign language. Since most colleges also require foreign language credits, choose a language that you are passionate about learning. French and Spanish are the most commonly offered classes, and for many students, deciding between the two Romance languages can be difficult. To make the right choice, students must think ahead and assess their interests.
Find Your Fascination
When you learn a foreign language, you also learn about the cultures where that language is spoken. In deciding whether to take French or Spanish, take a look at what culture interests you more. Are you interested in the architecture of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or Notre Dame in Paris? Do you want to read the adventure writings of the Frenchman Alexandre Dumas or the magical surrealism of Argentinean Jorge Luis Borges? Do you prefer the taste of Spanish rice and the seafood dish paella or those famous French croissants? If you find a passion for the culture you study, learning the language will come even easier.
George Weber, former writer for "Language Today," found that 23 countries speak French and 20 speak Spanish. If you want to go past the classroom and use your foreign language skills in the real world, take a look at where you want to travel. Think beyond the obvious countries -- for the adventurous, Spanish is spoken in the Western Sahara desert, and if you want to travel to a more tropical area, Tahiti would be a great place to practice French. Submersing yourself in a language is also a great way to increase fluency and confidence and to meet new people from around the world.
Another thing to look at while deciding to choose between learning French or Spanish is what you want to study in college. Potential business majors might be better off learning French, the language that has been traditionally used for diplomacy because of its formality, clarity and precision. Those students who are considering teaching would benefit from learning Spanish. The U.S. Department of Education says that foreign language, bilingual education and English language acquisition teachers are currently in high demand, especially in schools that serve low-income students. Many colleges offer study abroad programs to encourage the study of languages, making the decision to speak French or Spanish reliant on where your interests lie.
If you are living in California, it would make sense to pursue Spanish, as it is commonly spoken in the state. If you live in Louisiana and are from a Creole background, you might want to take French to communicate better with your grandparents. Look also at where you would like to live when considering which language to speak and what you would like to pursue as a career. Those who wish to work with immigrants might consider learning Spanish, as the majority of immigrants to the U.S. today are either Hispanic or Asian. Though Spanish is the second most-spoken language in the United States, French is common for international business professionals to use in their travels.
Kelsey Westenberg has been a writer/editor since 2009, when she had a journalism internship with Archant Life, a regional magazine publishing company in London. Creative case studies, scholarship overviews, feature entertainment articles, poetry, and more have all added to her experience. An English major with a passion for writing, she won the Calliope Award for Creative Writing at Central College in 2011.