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Spanish vs Arabic


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 Hi everyone.  I am new here and deciding between learning Spanish and Arabic.  I wanted to get some opinions from you all who have already mastered a second language so I can make a realistic decision.  The primary reason I want to learn one of these languages is to get a broader understanding of the cultures and be able to volunteer in programs to help native speakers of either language establish themselves here.  There is a relatively large Spanish speaking population local to me, and I would definitely have more local Spanish speakers to converse with while learning.  I also cannot afford formal instruction, and the independent study resources are far greater for Spanish than Arabic (specifically Levant).  That being said, though I appreciate both cultures, I feel more connected to Arabic and there is a local refugee center that could use Arabic speakers.  But the usefulness of Spanish in America is obvious as is it being the easier language to learn.  Would it be unrealistic to choose Arabic then?  Arabic speakers (especially Levant), do you find the language very useful in America, especially from a outreach standpoint? Would Skype conversation exchanges be able to replace the lack of a local speaker as far as Arabic goes?  And is it realistic to think I could learn Arabic without formal instruction?  And in what time frame?  Your opinions are greatly appreciated!

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You're looking at 2,200 hours of learning for Arabic compared to 600 hours for Spanish (the time it's supposed to take for an average native English speaker to be fluent in those languages). Probably something worth taking into account.

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Thanks K-Barry!  I knew there was a difference in difficulty, but those numbers make it much easier to understand just how different.  Are those hours formal instruction/speaking with a native speaker?  In your opinion, can the needed hours be achieved with independent study of Arabic?

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Haven't learnt any Arabic personally, but I don't see why not.

I'm learning Manx independently, and whilst it's supposed to be a difficult language to learn, I'm finding it quite easy. If you're as focused and intersted in both languages as you say, I don't see why that wouldn't play to your advantage - however you went about learning it.

Big tip though: don't trust Google/Bing to give you accurate translations (particularly with Spanish).

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  • 2 weeks later...

Well to be honest I think I would go with Spanish. I feel like it is a lot easier to learn and there are also more people who speak it, so they could possible help you out. I'm not sure where you are from, but if you live in the United States, Spanish is a great language to learn since there are a lot of people who speak it natively or they learned it in school. Learning Arabic sounds pretty cool but I think learning Spanish would be much more useful and easy.

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All I can tell you is that Spanish is a way better, easier and more enjoyable language to learn, believe me, I speak both Spanish and English and I really feel done with them, however, if you're planning on moving to any Arabic country or region, then you probably should go ahead and study Arabic languages. I wouldn't recommend you to learn Arabic since the majority of the companies hosted there can communicate in English, but Spanish will be way more useful for you.

Happy learning.

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Right now with terrorism and all the immigration tension out there from the middle-east. Is a controversial choice of language, but a valid one nevertheless. I suggest to list the reason which one you are going to learn first, and learn the another afterwards. Don't attempt to learn both languages until you reach a reasonable level of fluency on one first, Spanish is the ideal first choice, since you'll learn it faster given your interest over the language is the same as arabic.

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It's a difficult question but this all boils down to your motivation or what you want to accomplish with language learning. Opportunity-wise, learning Arabic might open up a whole new horizon for you as there probably would be less English speakers who can speak  Arabic and that could put you in a unique, favorable position. Arabic is not easy, of course. When you learn a language that doesn't use the Latin alphabet, that makes it doubly difficult. But that shouldn't discourage you if your mind is fixed on your goal. Just look at the pot at the end of the rainbow and if that is really worth it, then go for it.

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Reading the whole post, it's kind of obvious that you're way more interested in learning Arabic than Spanish, and I think that you definitely need to go for it. I mean, there is a lot of online resources nowadays and that's a huge advantage when it comes to language learning in general, and a lot of those resources are free, so I think that you should do your research about it and choose whatever you think it's the best for you. 

Good luck! 

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Well, you seem to have some concrete reasons for learning both languages, so that's a good start. If it were my choice to make, I'd go with Spanish, being one of the more broadly spoken languages. I'm not speaking from experience, and may well be wrong, but I would imagine Spanish would be the easier language to learn. I'm not at all familiar with Arabic, but I have many Muslim friends who speak it, and out of curiosity have asked them just how easy it is to learn, and the answer I keep getting is that it's HARD. Based on that, I don't think you'd have much luck learning Arabic without any formal instruction, especially if you have no basic knowledge of it. Overall, I'd opt for Spanish because it's one of the languages of the moment, through which you can secure very lucrative work.

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Personally, I think you should decide what you really want to do and where you want to go with it?  Just because it's easier to learn, if you have no real interest in Spanish, you'll have a hard time with it even if it takes less hours to master.  Arabic is very beautiful, I haven't learned it personally but I have a friend who tried to teach me some phrases in Farsi and it's interesting.  You can probably find someone to Skype with you, and exchange with them helping you with Levant and you helping them with English. 

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