The Latin or Romance languages are also known as Romanic languages. They are the modern languages which developed from spoken Latin somewhere around the 7th century AD in southern and western Europe.
The Latin or Romance languages include Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Romanian. There are currently about 330 million native-first-language Spanish speakers in the world, 76 million native French speakers, 64 million native Italian speakers, 200 million native Portuguese speakers, and 25 million native Romanian speakers.
As of this year, 2015, Spanish is the third most widely spoken language by native speakers after English (380 million) and Chinese (1,200 million).
Spanish is the most spoken of the Latin or Romance languages. It is the primary language of twenty countries around the world with the majority of native Spanish speakers in Hispanic America.
Spanish, therefore, is certainly a useful foreign language to learn. There are plenty of opportunities all around the world to speak it, listen to it, read it, and write it.
And there is the additional bonus of getting a foothold in the family of the Latin or Romance languages. If you manage to become a bilingual Spanish speaker you will have a distinct head start if you decide to branch out and try learning, say, Italian or French as well.
There are many similarities between the Latin or Romance languages, but it is certainly not a given that native speakers of different Latin can understand one another.
All of the Latin or Romance languages have a clear similarity to Latin and can be traced back to the language spoken by the Roman Empire. They share a lot of the same basic vocabulary and various similar grammar structures, although with phonological changes.
If you are familiar with the grammar and vocabulary of one of the Latin or Romance languages you will have a pretty good feel for another. You will better spot similarities and be able to make more accurate predictions than someone who is totally new to them.
The same, of course, is true with the Germanic languages which include English (380 million native speakers worldwide), German (100 million), Dutch (23 million). Native speakers will notice parallels between the languages and very likely find learning a second Germanic language easier than learning a new Latin language. Although this is not necessarily the case.
If you are a native English speaker and you fancy learning a second language, you might want to plump for a Germanic language in the hope that you will find more similarities. You might, on the other hand, want to enter the family of the Latin or Romance languages to open your mind, broaden your horizons, and challenge your perceptions.
At the end of the day you should choose whichever language is most useful or attractive to you. Learning any second language will be one of the most amazing things you will ever do.
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