Research shows that it is feasible to learn two languages simultaneously and retain knowledge in the long term. Since both Spanish and Italian are Romance languages, they make a great pair.
Question is: which one to start with? I’ll help you decide with this blog article. Let’s start with the basics.
1.Focus On One First
My suggestion is to focus on one at first and then slowly get into the other one. Otherwise, at the beginning, it will just be confusing. Once you establish a solid beginner level in one, give it a try with the other one.
This is also important to keep the two languages distinct. Especially with Italian and Spanish, as there are multiple similarities between these two. Even though they’re more challenging to study together, it can actually be helpful to know one in order to learn the other one after.
2.Establish a routine
You must establish your own regimen for language study and stick to it. Consistency is key, so you need to discover a way to integrate a bit of language learning to your day, especially for the first couple of months. First step to create your routine is deciding on your main fluency goals.
- What level are you at now?
- Do you need to be able to speak in one (or even both) languages within X amount of months?
- Do you want to go beyond being able to speak the basics with natives?
Now that we have established what to do for whichever language you choose to start with. Let’s look at HOW to choose the focus language right for you.
3.Which culture are you more drawn to?
Learning a language also means diving into that country’s customs, food, communities, and history.
Both Italian and Spanish will open doors to a range of famous scholars, artists, and intellectuals.
With Spanish you can understand more the context around Picasso, Frida Kahlo, Allende, Güell, Goya, Cervantes and so on. With Italian you can travel through Galileo’s times, Renaissance to Fellini.
Both cultures have had a significant impact on Western society through their history and arts.’
4.How difficult is it to learn?
These two Latin languages have comparable difficulties in pronunciation, verb construction and gendered nouns. They also both roll the ‘r’.
Nevertheless, researching around the internet and in the English-speaking communities, the general verdict is that Spanish is relatively easier to learn for an English speaker.
5.What matches your plans?’
You may love a language and that’s the main reason to learn it, which is great. But another aspect of choosing a language can be its ‘usefulness.’
There are around 65 million native Italian speakers around the globe. Spanish is spoken by around 559 million people globally and it is considered a second language in the U.S. In the last decade, the number of Spanish speakers worldwide has increased by 30%. When all its speakers are included, it ranks as the world’s fourth most widely spoken language.
As a result, Spanish is an excellent option if you’re seeking a language that you can use more vastly, for work or vacation. You can go to Europe to Spain, or travel Mexico, and most of South and Central America. In contrast, Italian is spoken mainly in Italy, and in smaller communities in Switzerland, Croatia, and Romania.
However, if you’re employed by an Italian firm or consider relocating to to Italy, learning Italian will be necessary.
6. Where are you now?
While the prospect of a future vacation might be a powerful motivator, you may also want to consider who is just outside your front door.
Having a sense of belonging to a community where many people speak that language (other than English) may serve as a powerful source of inspiration and motivation when you don’t feel like learning.
7. What is your WHY for learning a new language?
You must ask yourself the essential question: what is your WHY for learning a new language? You will be more likely to stick with your studies if you have a specific reason for doing so, even when things get rough.
In the end, learning a new language is a decision that is up to the individual. You can learn whatever language you want if you put your mind to it. This includes Hungarian, one of the most challenging languages to master.
Now let’s look at what happens once you have decided to onboard on this language journey:
8. Practice Speaking in Each Language You Learn
Practicing your Italian & Spanish daily is the only way to master them. In the beginning, the goal is to communicate, make mistakes and learn from those.
You’ll be able to speak your language, slowly. Be gentle with yourself, progress is in small steps with languages. It’s a marathon, it’s climbing a mountain, not a rushed Black Friday Sales afternoon.
Expose yourself to the language by creating your routine, finding a course, going travelling, accessing communities who use the target language. It is far more fun when you can engage in meaningful dialogue with native speakers and learn about their culture.