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(I hope this is on-topic.)

I am deciding which language to learn next. I am a native Spanish and fluent English speaker. My three options are Latin, Italian, and French. I would like to receive your insights on which option is the optimal, given my current knowledge, and the following criteria:

  1. efficacy: how well I can learn it, primarily in reading and writing, but ideally in speaking too;
  2. speed: how quickly I can learn it;
  3. stepping stone to learning a further language.

If you think there is another criteria of relevance, please mention it. Surely, the "usefulness" is also important, but that is a much more personal aspect, which I am not including, as it might disqualify this as primarily opinion based.

Important: Assume I would allocate the same level of time to whatever option I take, and that I have access to the required books, videos, and other online tools. Notice that I plan to learn the language by myself, and I do not live in countries where these languages are spoken, nor plan to move to learn them (not that Latin is spoken anywhere on a regular basis anyway).

  • I assume you want to learn to a very high level of fluency? – Anthony Pham May 8 '17 at 22:45
  • @AnthonyPham Yes. Not to stop half way. Enough to read novels, newspapers, watch movies and ideally have a decent conversation with another speaker. – luchonacho May 9 '17 at 8:05
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Efficacy: Italian is the way to go here, if you are Spanish speaking. I speak Portuguese myself and it is one of the most natural languages to understand, after Spanish.

Speed: Italian as well, for the same reasons as cited before. It is just so much more like Spanish that will make the faster among the three.

Stepping Stone: Inside the group, Italian as well, it will be much easier to first learn Italian and then learn Latin, they are closer than Spanish and Latin. Outside the group, French will probably give you a broader idea of how a language might work differently from your own. Knowing English in addition to a original mother language gives you a faint idea, but languages in general are very different from one another, in things like structure which are very hard to grasp until you just "know" how to do it.

As for the usefulness, you gotta consider that for the things you said you would be doing, like reading etc, there is just a lot more content in French than there is in Italian. You gotta take in account that not long ago, the global language wasn't English, but French.

Another thing, it sounds like this will be your first language after English, so you WILL feel like it is harder, people use English all the time, we are exposed to it all the time, even people that never studied it end up learning a little bit. With another language, that is mostly not the case, as in, your learning curve will not be aided by a storm of information in that language.

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    "Italian as well, for the same reasons as cited before. It is just so much more like spanish that will make the faster among the three." Could you elaborate on what sources were cited? – Anthony Pham May 9 '17 at 23:26
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    The source is me. I am portuguese speaking person which was born in a heavy italian dialect speaking part of brazil, and you basically just can't get much closer to spanish than portuguese. I can, to an extent, comprehend what stuff means when it is written in Italian, and in the italian dialect, but I can't in french, and so should he, if his mother tongue is spanish. You might say that I find italian easier because of the area I was born, but that is not true, even my parents, who migrated from other areas there, have an easy time understanding the language at a basic level. – Walther Wennholz Johnson May 10 '17 at 10:32
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I agree about Italian and Spanish being closer than French and Spanish. Italian immigrants usually learn Spanish very fast. On the other hand if you intend to travel in Africa or other places like Quebec, Martinique etc. French has a much wider use than Italian. Downsides are the difficult orthography and a lot of difficult to grasp gramatical quirks.

Wish I was as good in Spanish as in French 😊

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