Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Ser » Sun Mar 03, 2019 10:34 am

Cèid Donn wrote:As for "whenever you speak with English speakers"....maybe this is colored by the English speakers you've personally encountered, Ser, but us Americans who live closer to Mexico know better because we live in a region of North America where people will gladly give you a geography lesson if you go and say something that ignorant.

If what I said is wrong because my personal experience doesn't reflect common English usage, then I'm actually happy to hear that. :D
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Saim » Sun Mar 03, 2019 11:59 am

Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but I don't think there is a "second place" to be won: the middle points of the ladder are being sawed out. Either we destroy linguistic hierarchies altogether or we will end up with a hierarchy that has much less rungs and increasingly more languages being squeezed into the lower rungs, and with those currently on the lower rungs dying out.

In the long term the future of French and Spanish is going to be essentially the same as that of Polish or Romanian -- either random points in a celebrated cacophony of human diversity (where English would also be another point), or little ethnic languages completely subordinated to English.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Jean-Luc » Mon Mar 04, 2019 8:53 am

By the way, can we please stop saying "South America" when we mean "Latin America" (the countries that speak Spanish or Portuguese). The largest Spanish speaking country in the world by at least a factor of 3 is in North America. And at least 30% of the Spanish speaking population in the Americas is in the northern continent.
True!

South America and Central America and without Brazil, Guyana and Falklands, French Guina or Belize when speaking of Spanish native speakers...
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Cavesa » Mon Mar 04, 2019 12:03 pm

romeo.alpha wrote:
Cavesa wrote:The difficulty of French is a myth. People believe it, because it has been repeated to them enough times.


It's far from a myth. The FSI ranks French as the most difficult Category 1 language. It is much harder to speak properly, and learners run up against that problem all the time.


The FSI classification applies only to the English natives. Not universally.



If Spanish or Italian were so much easier, people would get to a high level more often. Do they?


They do. There are more German-Swiss who speak Italian well than who speak French well. This is despite French being a more useful language and more widely spoken in Switzerland.

That sounds interesting, would you happen to have a link to some data on this, please?

Also,following this logic, why are there so few high level Spanish second langauge speakers, if it is so widely learnt and so much easier, as you say?

So far, my reasoning seems to be much more based on the reality of language learning than yours.


Not at all. You think that only people who know what prosody is would run into difficulties with it. That's absurd.


That's not what I wrote at all. I wrote about people not caring about prosody at all while choosing the language, I didn't write anything at all about anyone struggling with it or not while learning

People do not choose based on prosody. What people fear (and what makes them not choose a particular language) and the real problems the learners face are two absolutely different things.


Yes, lots of money is being spent even in the less rich countries. But that doesn't mean the people are getting the same quality for the same money. For example I could write a long post about why I am convinced that the less popular countries get native ESL teachers of significantly inferior quality, compared to the popular countries. Really, money is not a universal guarantee, despite being important.


Whatever reasons you can think of that impact the quality of EFL education in a given country, the effect will be more pronounced for FFL.

Not really. We were talking about countries with an already established FLE tradition. Those have already invested time, money, and efforts in the last decades (or centuries) and are profiting from it. The expensive ESL business simply cannot outweight that so fast.

The only instances, in which your statement will be definitely true, will be the countries with no continuous tradition in either language. For example the Czech Republic. In the 90's it was starting from zero in both, with the language learning tradition almost completely severed. But that is simply not true about the north african countries, those already have a tradition in either French (more of them) or English, or both.

And it is not just about that. France accepts tons of international students for exchanges. And not only from Europe. The UK is significantly less open, unless we're talking about the Commonwealth. France has a lot of bilateral exchange agreements with various countries in its traditional sphere of influence.


There's also Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and India among dozens of other countries where English is the official language. You're again making a mistake of being Eurocentric.

Please, reread the topic of the discussion. This is about language learning. Whether the anglophone countries are making tons of exchanges among themselves has zero effect on the amount of language learners.

And as the thread is primarily about French vs Spanish, not French vs English, you might also note that the Spanish speaking countries also have a lot of such ties among themselves, and that doesn't affect Spanish learning by others at all either. There are actually rather few purely francophone countries (which has been noted in the thread at various points), so they interact more with the rest and that does affect French learning.

Yes, the people learn because they have to. And they learn in spite of the schools, not primarily thanks to them. Years of experience are not irrational ire, and you might notice that most people criticising this teaching approach on this forum have got the experience (some of them much more than me). I don't think the English natives with zero experience with ESL teaching should dismiss the view of people who have actually got the experience learning this language.


I don't see why I shouldn't dismiss the opinions of someone who dismisses the experience of others who have successfully learned the language. All that tells me is that they have a bias they don't know how to reign in.


Your profile states that English is your native language. If your profile is correct, it is impossible for you to have first hand experience with learning English as a second language.
Really, do you think it is such a success that millions of people speak B1ish Broken English after ten or more years of studying and lots of invested money? I don't. It is actually a pitiful result. Given how much time and money is being sunk into the ESL industry, the average level should be at least C1.


Many people speak far better than B1ish Broken English. If you need a straw man to make your argument, that's a sign you don't actually have one.


The Broken English is unfortunately prevailing. Not in all the countries, there are exceptions like Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway. But in vast majority of countries, the Broken English is the standard in the international companies (it is absolutely normal for a team of people with various languages to understand each other well and struggle a lot with a native), in tourism, and so on.

This is no straw man, this is the reality, also discussed on this forum at various occassions. Just travel a bit, or widen your social sphere, and you'll see it too.

If you need to divert the discussion to other subjects than the original one, it is a clear sigh you have little to say about it.

zjones wrote:I think you're spot-on about the status of French and Spanish in America. When choosing languages for school, the advice I hear the most often in Western America is "Choose Spanish, it's more useful". However, if you choose to learn Spanish, nobody cares because they assume you're just learning it for the utility aspect. If you choose French, German or Italian, people will be impressed and ask you questions about it. (In fact, I think there's a widespread belief in the US that French is much more difficult than Spanish.) Spanish is low-brow, French is high-brow. I think it has everything to do with the history of Spanish-speakers in the United States. I'm really glad to hear that the situation is changing.

FYI my sister says that you are much more likely to be hired in Portland, OR for entry-level jobs if you speak Spanish in addition to English.

Yes, this seems to be a common attitude among the americans. It is nice to see any foreign language becoming the norm for job hunting!

It is a question, whether French could improve its "score" by losing the image of being "high-brow", or perhaps rather by keeping it. Yes, there is a lot the francophone countries could do to widen the spectrum of potential learners. But perhaps reassuring the old target audience, the intellectuals (I am using the word for lack of a better one, I mean people who identify as such, who value education, and who are likely to pick among the higbrow languages) that French is still a good choice, would be great.

Saim wrote:Maybe I'm just pessimistic, but I don't think there is a "second place" to be won: the middle points of the ladder are being sawed out. Either we destroy linguistic hierarchies altogether or we will end up with a hierarchy that has much less rungs and increasingly more languages being squeezed into the lower rungs, and with those currently on the lower rungs dying out.

In the long term the future of French and Spanish is going to be essentially the same as that of Polish or Romanian -- either random points in a celebrated cacophony of human diversity (where English would also be another point), or little ethnic languages completely subordinated to English.


The ladder under attack looks like a precise picture of what is happening. I suppose French is falling down this ladder.

Edit: the crazy quotes
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby romeo.alpha » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:44 pm

Cavesa wrote:
The FSI classification applies only to the English natives. Not universally.


And? Do you somehow think only English native speakers then have objective difficulties in learning languages?



That sounds interesting, would you happen to have a link to some data on this, please?


I live in Switzerland. East of the Röstigraben I've only met a few German-Swiss who can speak French well, and they're hotel and restaurant managers. Meanwhile I randomly run into people who speak Italian well. At the hotel I work now, I'm the only waiter who speaks French well, not counting the Galicians. When I worked in a nursing home I was the only person out of over 200 employees who could communicate with patients who had forgotten all their other languages except French.

Also,following this logic, why are there so few high level Spanish second langauge speakers, if it is so widely learnt and so much easier, as you say?


It's not an official language in Switzerland. In addition to English you usually need to learn another official language. The choices are French and Spanish for German speakers.

That's not what I wrote at all. I wrote about people not caring about prosody at all while choosing the language, I didn't write anything at all about anyone struggling with it or not while learning


It doesn't matter if they care about it or not. They'll run into difficulty with it when they start learning it. Then they'll stop French and move on to another language.


Not really. We were talking about countries with an already established FLE tradition. Those have already invested time, money, and efforts in the last decades (or centuries) and are profiting from it. The expensive ESL business simply cannot outweight that so fast.


Any established French learning tradition is limited to the upper class. They would hire personal tutors for their kids. Mass teaching of languages in schools, for everyone to learn, is a new phenomenon. And English has a longer established tradition, to the extent that it matters, in Iraq, yet the Iraqi Arabic speaker I know also speaks French better than German or English.

Please, reread the topic of the discussion. This is about language learning. Whether the anglophone countries are making tons of exchanges among themselves has zero effect on the amount of language learners.


Do it yourself, before asking others to. You're bringing in immigrant speakers of a language as if they were somehow relevant to a language as a global language.

Your profile states that English is your native language. If your profile is correct, it is impossible for you to have first hand experience with learning English as a second language.


Weren't you just being snarky about this topic being Spanish and French, and not English? What relevance is first hand experience of learning English as a second language in a topic about Spanish and French?
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Cavesa » Thu Mar 07, 2019 5:03 pm

romeo.alpha wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
The FSI classification applies only to the English natives. Not universally.


And? Do you somehow think only English native speakers then have objective difficulties in learning languages?


Do you think the natives of other languages perceive the difficulties the same way and would order the languages by difficulty the same way as the FSI? That is the point.


That sounds interesting, would you happen to have a link to some data on this, please?


I live in Switzerland. East of the Röstigraben I've only met a few German-Swiss who can speak French well, and they're hotel and restaurant managers. Meanwhile I randomly run into people who speak Italian well. At the hotel I work now, I'm the only waiter who speaks French well, not counting the Galicians. When I worked in a nursing home I was the only person out of over 200 employees who could communicate with patients who had forgotten all their other languages except French.

Yes, that is interesting experience and shows a bit about the situation in the Switzerland, but it still says little about the issue of French vs Spanish, and also about this situation being due to the difficulty of French, that you are so adamant about. Were those 200 employes learning French and unable to speak it? Or had they never tried? That is an important difference.

That's not what I wrote at all. I wrote about people not caring about prosody at all while choosing the language, I didn't write anything at all about anyone struggling with it or not while learning


It doesn't matter if they care about it or not. They'll run into difficulty with it when they start learning it. Then they'll stop French and move on to another language.


It does matter, when they choose. And no, people don't generally switch languages that much.
1.Most people learning languages are at school. When you choose a language at school, you don't usually get an option to switch later.
2.People out of school often stick to the language they had chosen at school. It is the most obvious option for them.
3.When you fail to learn a language and decide to give up, people from this forum are likely to pick another one instead. The learners outside of this forum tend to give up completely, with the reason "I am not good at languages".

And really, I don't know a single person, who has switched from French to Spanish due to the problems with prosody. I know a few people, who decided to learn Spanish despite having previous experience with French, yes. But the usual reason is a previous bad experience with teachers or with the school classes. Not the language itself.


Not really. We were talking about countries with an already established FLE tradition. Those have already invested time, money, and efforts in the last decades (or centuries) and are profiting from it. The expensive ESL business simply cannot outweight that so fast.


Any established French learning tradition is limited to the upper class. They would hire personal tutors for their kids. Mass teaching of languages in schools, for everyone to learn, is a new phenomenon. And English has a longer established tradition, to the extent that it matters, in Iraq, yet the Iraqi Arabic speaker I know also speaks French better than German or English.

That is not true. A foreign language teaching at school is as old as the schools themselves. So, in most countries, we are speaking about like 100, 150 years of public schools. And learning a foreign language predates the schools. It has never been just for the rich people. The non-essencial langauges may have been just for the rich. But the langauges of collonial countries, occupants, a richer ethnic within a country, or a very important business partner have been spoken by wider public since forever. And such a tradition matters. And as was said, French can profit from such a tradition in many places.

I think the idea that some countries started learning languages just twenty or so years ago, and it was mostly thanks to the glorious English teaching industry, is rather naive.



Please, reread the topic of the discussion. This is about language learning. Whether the anglophone countries are making tons of exchanges among themselves has zero effect on the amount of language learners.


Do it yourself, before asking others to. You're bringing in immigrant speakers of a language as if they were somehow relevant to a language as a global language.

? You may notice others have been talking about immigrants too. And it is definitely an important subject. In some countries, the immigrants are making their language more visible and important.

Really, this thread is about Spanish and French. Natives of both these langauges move to other countries. In varying numbers, and with varying effects on the local language balance. Saying they are unimportant for the spread of the languages on the planet is simply wrong.


Your profile states that English is your native language. If your profile is correct, it is impossible for you to have first hand experience with learning English as a second language.


Weren't you just being snarky about this topic being Spanish and French, and not English? What relevance is first hand experience of learning English as a second language in a topic about Spanish and French?


You've spoken about English in this thread and you were making arguments comparing the English and French teaching, without having the experience. That's the connection. If you cannot remember it, just read the thread again, that's what we all do in such cases.
.............
I think this topic has served the purpose and been very informative (thanks to everyone participating, I've added a lot of topics on my "to read about" list). You (romeo.alpha) have been redirecting it to other subjects and I am out of the discussion, because you just want to argue and it is not even clear what do you want to argue about anymore. You haven't come to discuss, just to present your opinions (often based on no experience), and just dislike that anyone disagrees with you. Really, perhaps you should think about yourself.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby romeo.alpha » Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:45 pm

Cavesa wrote:Do you think the natives of other languages perceive the difficulties the same way and would order the languages by difficulty the same way as the FSI? That is the point.


No, the point is that languages that are more distant from that of the native speaker are more difficult to learn, and languages that are closer are easier to learn. These differences objectively make it easier or harder to learn, and it has nothing to do with people being told that a language is difficult or easy and believing it, as you had claimed.

Yes, that is interesting experience and shows a bit about the situation in the Switzerland, but it still says little about the issue of French vs Spanish, and also about this situation being due to the difficulty of French, that you are so adamant about. Were those 200 employes learning French and unable to speak it? Or had they never tried? That is an important difference.


Most of them had French in school, which they had learned before Italian, usually they had a 3 year head start (but it's different in every canton).

It does matter, when they choose. And no, people don't generally switch languages that much.
1.Most people learning languages are at school. When you choose a language at school, you don't usually get an option to switch later.


Only if it's the only language offered. If you have languages to choose from you absolutely have the option to switch. I had the choice between Spanish (by DE) and French in school in Canada. Most people in Switzerland have the choice between Italian and French if their school is large enough. My friend from Syria had the choice betweeen English, French and German. So that's examples from 3 countries in 3 continents, with at least 2 very different cultures. I don't believe your claim is reflective of reality.

And really, I don't know a single person, who has switched from French to Spanish due to the problems with prosody. I know a few people, who decided to learn Spanish despite having previous experience with French, yes. But the usual reason is a previous bad experience with teachers or with the school classes. Not the language itself.


It doesn't matter why they think they have difficulty with it. If they weren't taught prosody properly of course they wouldn't know that that's what they're having problems with. But they will notice they're unable to communicate. Prosody is the reason that French is hard for English (and German) speakers to learn. And why French is easy for Arabic speakers to learn.

That is not true. A foreign language teaching at school is as old as the schools themselves.


No, it's not. Language teaching has changed so much even in the past 50 years, that what was going on before that is completely irrelevant.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Ser » Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:09 pm

romeo.alpha wrote:It doesn't matter why they think they have difficulty with it. If they weren't taught prosody properly of course they wouldn't know that that's what they're having problems with. But they will notice they're unable to communicate. Prosody is the reason that French is hard for English (and German) speakers to learn. And why French is easy for Arabic speakers to learn.

Honestly I think you're exaggerating the influence prosody exerts in being understood. All aspects of pronunciation matter a lot.

To give you some more anecdotal examples, I sometimes go to meet-ups for language learners, and I've witnessed English-speaking Mandarin learners having trouble being understood because they have a hard time pronouncing all those Mandarin rising diphthongs like po [pʰwɔ], xuan [ɕɥan], liang [ljɑŋ] or jiu [tɕjoʊ] (which should be distinct from zhou [ʈʂoʊ]). This is vowel trouble.

Or witness my dad, who, as a Spanish speaker, English speakers sometimes don't understand because of his difficulty with plosive aspiration (so his p t k ch sound like b d g j) and consonant clusters. It's happened various times that he spells our last name only for an English-speaking customer representative to write d instead of t, much to his frustration.

Also, here in Canada, I've heard far more complaints about the archaizing and finicky spelling of French as a reason French is more difficult to learn than Spanish. And I agree, especially because writing things correctly is strongly emphasized when you take French classes.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby Speakeasy » Mon Mar 11, 2019 10:23 pm

Ser wrote: … here in Canada, I've heard far more complaints about the archaizing and finicky spelling of French as a reason French is more difficult to learn than Spanish. And I agree, especially because writing things correctly is strongly emphasized when you take French classes.
I would imagine that you are referring to native speakers of English who are blissfully unaware that English spelling is far more erratic than that of French. :)

As a Canadian Anglophone who has learned both French and Spanish to a high level, I would say that both languages are relatively easy to learn owing to the enormous number of cognates and near-cognates that derive principally from French as well as to many similar structural features. French orthography is vastly more consistent than that of English and should come as a relief to speakers of the latter!

Spanish orthography may “seem” more regular than that of French to some people. However, I doubt that the anecdotal claims of a handful of my fellow citizens can explain any “apparent” ease of learning one of these two languages over the other. I suspect that any purported ease of learning Spanish over French by Canadian Anglophones has more to do with how the two languages are pronounced and, unique to Canada, a very palpable political/cultural resistance to learning French (viz., the “Two Solitudes”) which may have an undue influence over a student’s perception of the relative difficulties of learning either language.

Another factor which might unduly influence Anglo-Canadians would be that those wishing to flee the cold winter temperatures are far more likely to spend a few weeks’ vacation in Central America, where they will be complimented on their “flawless accents” by Hispanic waiters and waitresses desirous of making a money-making good impression, than in Quebec, where, regardless of the season, the reception might seem a little chillier depending on whom they happen to bump into.

To be put it more bluntly, our complaining fellow Canadians have a distorted, and thoroughly unreliable, view of the relative difficulties of learning Spanish versus French.
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Re: Spanish against French: the fight to be the second global language

Postby FyrsteSumarenINoreg » Sat Mar 16, 2019 10:13 am

Guadeloupe, Martinique and other French-speaking islands are even closer. :roll:
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