Which 2 languages would be most useful to learn at uni? Watch

IzzyWizzy
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#41
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#41
Spanish is easy? I have never heard that uttered by anyone who didn't speak atrocious Spanish. It's a really useful language. I've studied Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Japanese and the Spanish comes in useful all the time.
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Anatheme
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#42
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(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
Spanish is easy? I have never heard that uttered by anyone who didn't speak atrocious Spanish. It's a really useful language. I've studied Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Japanese and the Spanish comes in useful all the time.
Spanish is easy. That is, if you compare it to stuff like Mandarin, Russian, Arabic. If you tell me it's harder than Japanese, I really won't believe you :nah:. And tbh, it's easier than French, might be harder than Italian, not sure, but that's about it.
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Butterflyleg
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#43
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(Original post by Anatheme)
You know, I've read some of your posts and I really like you, haha, you totally share my opinions :five:
It's great that we share the same opinions! :five:

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Oh, so I guess I like you too :fan:


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IzzyWizzy
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#44
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(Original post by Anatheme)
Spanish is easy. That is, if you compare it to stuff like Mandarin, Russian, Arabic. If you tell me it's harder than Japanese, I really won't believe you :nah:. And tbh, it's easier than French, might be harder than Italian, not sure, but that's about it.
I have never heard anyone who spoke it well say it was easy. It's easy to pick up, but becoming totally fluent is surprisingly difficult. I find it more difficult than French.
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Barton1
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#45
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Chinese because, a 6th of the population speaks it, and erm, polish because they all speak it here in england. RACIST OMG!!!!!

Though i hear polish is pretty damn hard to learn
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Anatheme
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#46
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#46
(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
I have never heard anyone who spoke it well say it was easy. It's easy to pick up, but becoming totally fluent is surprisingly difficult. I find it more difficult than French.
I don't. But then again, French isn't exactly a problem for me, I guess :holmes:. More seriously, I have lots of friends who told me it was easier than French, and I don't think there's as much difference between the Spanish you learn and the one you speak as there is a difference between the French you learn and the one you speak. I guess it depends on where your strength are, but you're seriously the first person I ever hear saying that Spanish was harder than French. It's pronounced as it's written, the grammar is pretty logical and it's probably more straightforward than French, but that's my opinion, after all, and fair enough if yours differ.
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IzzyWizzy
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#47
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#47
(Original post by Anatheme)
I don't. But then again, French isn't exactly a problem for me, I guess :holmes:. More seriously, I have lots of friends who told me it was easier than French, and I don't think there's as much difference between the Spanish you learn and the one you speak as there is a difference between the French you learn and the one you speak. I guess it depends on where your strength are, but you're seriously the first person I ever hear saying that Spanish was harder than French. It's pronounced as it's written, the grammar is pretty logical and it's probably more straightforward than French, but that's my opinion, after all, and fair enough if yours differ.
Well, I too learned French at a young age, but many of my friends who did French and Spanish at uni found Spanish quite difficult to master. I think it's much easier to grasp than French, but not many people get really good at it. It's not exactly pronounced as it's written either, unless you're actually Spanish! It has sounds that don't exist in English.

Anyway, the point is, it's not a competition to see which language is the most difficult. Difficult doesn't equal useful. One of my friends mocked me for choosing French and Spanish, telling me they were Mickey Mouse languages and that Arabic and Russian were much more useful. He now has a first class degree in Arabic and Russian that he can't use, because he can't actually speak them fluently. What's the point in that? The graduate of Romance languages is much more likely to actually speak the languages and be able to use them at work.
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Fen
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#48
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#48
Russian, Arabic, Asian languages, etc. Are completely useless.

Don't get me wrong, if you start learning them when young, or in highschool then yeah, they're awesome. But if you only start learning them in Uni they're useless. It takes YEARS to get to a basic level, so by the time you're good enough to do translations or work in that language you're most likely around 30. And you have to practice them constantly. And study constantly. And as you can see with your older friends, parents or hey, even yourself, the older you get the harder it is to learn. Also with certain languages(such as Japanese) you also need to work on nuances, learn the culture just so you can make basic sentences(e.g. know which level of formality to use).
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Piers-
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#49
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#49
(Original post by Anatheme)
I still believe you'd get a much better level in another language such as Russian or Arabic as you'd have in Mandarin after the same amount of work, tbh.
The the point of my post was not to argue the various merits of learning one language over another. My point was that it's not a great idea to spread inaccuracies, however well-intentioned, about something you don't know much about.

Now, it may be true that you'd get a better level in Russian than Chinese with the same amount of study time. This is an important point for someone considering which language to study. All I'm saying is that it would be better to base it on some sort of evidence!
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CatatonicStupor
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#50
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On a career-prospects level: Spanish and Mandarin. But that's a lame way of looking at what languages you should choose to do at Degree level. Always, always, always follow your heart in your degree, never follow your wallet, otherwise you'll end up doing four years of something you potentially hate, to go into a job you'll potentially hate.

I started out doing a degree in Spanish and Politics. I dropped the politics in favour of Italian and Ancient History, so I could enjoy my first year. I dropped Ancient History in favour of my two languages, and picked up modules in Catalan. Currently, aside from feeling like I'm not pushing myself to learn the languages fully, I'm actually happy with my choices - of course Spanish "opens up the world" for me in terms of where I can work, because of how widely it is spoken, but, the other two are really limited in their scope: Italian is hardly spoken on a huge level outside of Italy, and Catalan is really limited to the Paisos Catalans and a few embassies and organizations promoting Catalan culture.

Honestly - whichever one you have the most interest and passion in, even if it doesn't include Mandarin, Russian, Spanish or whatever, do those. Sure, take one language you know will get you a foot on the ladder, especially if you have an interest in it; but don't feel like you should take the second because it'll get you a cushy job somewhere. [Personally, if I had the chance right now, I'd probably be taking modules in Galician too, just to complete my languages I have a passion for - where I'll be able to use them after Uni isn't my concern at all just yet. Live for the here and now, etc etc]
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Piers-
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#51
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#51
(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
Anyway, the point is, it's not a competition to see which language is the most difficult. Difficult doesn't equal useful. One of my friends mocked me for choosing French and Spanish, telling me they were Mickey Mouse languages and that Arabic and Russian were much more useful. He now has a first class degree in Arabic and Russian that he can't use, because he can't actually speak them fluently. What's the point in that? The graduate of Romance languages is much more likely to actually speak the languages and be able to use them at work.
This is definitely an issue for students studying difficult languages at university - they often aren't fluent by the time they graduate. But is that really the point of all 'language' degrees? I study Chinese at university, and it's not even classified as a language degree by the Chinese department; it might be better classified as "area" or "cultural" studies, with a heavy language component. Through the course I have touched on other disciplines (either as separate courses or as part of the Chinese courses) such as history, literature, linguistics, philosophy and religion. These could all be taken as respectable degrees in their own right, without a language element. This is not because they impart a particular skill (like law, medicine or engineering), but rather because they teach you how to think logically and effectively, and also help develop all the 'soft skills' such as discipline, people skills, and so on.

The same could be said of many language degrees, but just with the added bonus of being able to speak another language. If someone's only goal really was just to learn a particular language, it would be far faster and cheaper to enrol on a language course in a country that speaks it. The main problem with that, though, is that simply being able to speak a language will seldom qualify one for a job: they want to see that you've taken an academic course because it proves you can do all the things I mentioned above. The other option is to study an academic subject at university here, and then go for pure language study in another country, getting the best of both worlds.
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oodalallyoodalally
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#52
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#52
(Original post by El Gennaro)
Arabic is very hard, yet very useful, and seeing as I'm an Arabic speaker who has started to learn Spanish, grammar in Arabic in Spanish is very similar.
Do tell sir. How is the grammar similar? I'm a native spanish speaker and i started learning arabic last year but i haven't really noticed any notable similarities. Not yet at least.
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IzzyWizzy
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#53
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#53
(Original post by Piers-)
This is definitely an issue for students studying difficult languages at university - they often aren't fluent by the time they graduate. But is that really the point of all 'language' degrees? I study Chinese at university, and it's not even classified as a language degree by the Chinese department; it might be better classified as "area" or "cultural" studies, with a heavy language component. Through the course I have touched on other disciplines (either as separate courses or as part of the Chinese courses) such as history, literature, linguistics, philosophy and religion. These could all be taken as respectable degrees in their own right, without a language element. This is not because they impart a particular skill (like law, medicine or engineering), but rather because they teach you how to think logically and effectively, and also help develop all the 'soft skills' such as discipline, people skills, and so on.

The same could be said of many language degrees, but just with the added bonus of being able to speak another language. If someone's only goal really was just to learn a particular language, it would be far faster and cheaper to enrol on a language course in a country that speaks it. The main problem with that, though, is that simply being able to speak a language will seldom qualify one for a job: they want to see that you've taken an academic course because it proves you can do all the things I mentioned above. The other option is to study an academic subject at university here, and then go for pure language study in another country, getting the best of both worlds.
Indeed. I feel that my degree was extremely well rounded, including history, literature, politics, philosophy, linguistics and obviously two languages. I have no idea why language degrees aren't more respected.

Having said that, most people study languages because they want a job where they can use them. A lot of people pick Russian or Chinese, thinking it will be useful for business or translation, completely ignorant of the fact that the level attained by most students in final year is a long, long way off being fluent. Someone who studies Spanish, Italian or French would be quite capable of doing their job in that language or translating out of that language - you cannot say the same of your average student of Arabic or Japanese. When people go on about how much harder those languages are, they conveniently forget that the level expected is nowhere near as high. What is the point in doing a degree in a language you can't really speak, unless you don't intend to actually use it?
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Anatheme
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#54
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#54
(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
Indeed. I feel that my degree was extremely well rounded, including history, literature, politics, philosophy, linguistics and obviously two languages. I have no idea why language degrees aren't more respected.

Having said that, most people study languages because they want a job where they can use them. A lot of people pick Russian or Chinese, thinking it will be useful for business or translation, completely ignorant of the fact that the level attained by most students in final year is a long, long way off being fluent. Someone who studies Spanish, Italian or French would be quite capable of doing their job in that language or translating out of that language - you cannot say the same of your average student of Arabic or Japanese. When people go on about how much harder those languages are, they conveniently forget that the level expected is nowhere near as high. What is the point in doing a degree in a language you can't really speak, unless you don't intend to actually use it?
Simply because if you know what you want to do with those languages, then you also know that they indeed require more than just a degree and that you're committed enough to learning them a lot more in-depth even after your degree. I find people doing "harder" languages a hell of a lot more passionate about their degree than people doing "easier" ones, and this may be a massive generalisation, but I'm still surprised to see that happen.
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Piers-
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#55
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#55
(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
Indeed. I feel that my degree was extremely well rounded, including history, literature, politics, philosophy, linguistics and obviously two languages. I have no idea why language degrees aren't more respected.

Having said that, most people study languages because they want a job where they can use them. A lot of people pick Russian or Chinese, thinking it will be useful for business or translation, completely ignorant of the fact that the level attained by most students in final year is a long, long way off being fluent. Someone who studies Spanish, Italian or French would be quite capable of doing their job in that language or translating out of that language - you cannot say the same of your average student of Arabic or Japanese. When people go on about how much harder those languages are, they conveniently forget that the level expected is nowhere near as high. What is the point in doing a degree in a language you can't really speak, unless you don't intend to actually use it?
I don't think you can look at someone's language proficiency in such a black and white way as being either "fluent" or "not fluent".

You can start to really use the language you're learning well before you're actually fluent in it! Like I said earlier, many of my friends have already started using Chinese in professional environments, and we haven't even graduated yet. This may not be the case for easier languages, because there are so many people already fluent in them; but for the more difficult languages, the pool of people is much smaller, and there really are very few people with "good" Chinese, let alone fluent. Also, as Anatheme said above, most people are aware that it takes much more than a degree to become fluent in some languages.
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IzzyWizzy
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#56
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(Original post by Piers-)
I don't think you can look at someone's language proficiency in such a black and white way as being either "fluent" or "not fluent".

You can start to really use the language you're learning well before you're actually fluent in it! Like I said earlier, many of my friends have already started using Chinese in professional environments, and we haven't even graduated yet. This may not be the case for easier languages, because there are so many people already fluent in them; but for the more difficult languages, the pool of people is much smaller, and there really are very few people with "good" Chinese, let alone fluent. Also, as Anatheme said above, most people are aware that it takes much more than a degree to become fluent in some languages.
Fluent doesn't mean 'native level'. Fluent means being able to carry on a conversation without constant hesitation and mistakes. If your friends are using Chinese in a professional environment, they are fluent. From what I can see, most people who take Asian languages are far from fluent by the time they finish their degree. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think a lot of people do overestimate how good they're going to be at the end. I know a few people who got really disheartened when they realised they couldn't use the language without another ten years work. My friend with the First in Russian and Arabic is a very smart guy, but he still can't understand 'real' spoken Russian or Arabic (from the TV, for example) which makes them pretty useless in terms of getting a job. So I just don't understand some of the language snobbery that goes on - why does finishing up your degree with pre-intermediate level Chinese make you smarter and better than someone finishing with advanced level Spanish? Who is going to be able to actually use their skill upon graduating?
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El Gennaro
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#57
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#57
(Original post by oodalallyoodalally)
Do tell sir. How is the grammar similar? I'm a native spanish speaker and i started learning arabic last year but i haven't really noticed any notable similarities. Not yet at least.
I'm a native Arabic speaker and I started learning Spanish last year, and I found many similarities, such as sentence structures.
In fact, our teacher would encourage us to think of how we would say a sentence in Arabic and then translate it into Spanish, because of the grammar similarities.
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Piers-
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#58
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(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
Fluent doesn't mean 'native level'. Fluent means being able to carry on a conversation without constant hesitation and mistakes. If your friends are using Chinese in a professional environment, they are fluent. From what I can see, most people who take Asian languages are far from fluent by the time they finish their degree. There's nothing wrong with that, but I think a lot of people do overestimate how good they're going to be at the end. I know a few people who got really disheartened when they realised they couldn't use the language without another ten years work. My friend with the First in Russian and Arabic is a very smart guy, but he still can't understand 'real' spoken Russian or Arabic (from the TV, for example) which makes them pretty useless in terms of getting a job. So I just don't understand some of the language snobbery that goes on - why does finishing up your degree with pre-intermediate level Chinese make you smarter and better than someone finishing with advanced level Spanish? Who is going to be able to actually use their skill upon graduating?
I agree that being 'fluent' doesn't mean native-level; but they (nor I) am fluent yet. We still struggle to watch certain Chinese TV programmes (without subtitles) too, yet we can still have a conversation in Chinese about just pretty much anything.

That's my point: You don't have to be fluent in order to put your language to good use, especially if it's a difficult one. There are far less Westerners that can speak good Chinese than, say, French. It might at first appear that Chinese is now so popular that every other person can speak it, but in reality the vast majority of people never study it past the elementary level, because progress is so slow.

That said, I don't think it's reasonable to describe graduates of Chinese (or other difficult languages) as "pre-intermediate". According to the official Chinese language proficiency test (the HSK), we are at a level where we can apply for university courses (for native Chinese) and jobs in China and Taiwan. This is a pretty respectable level to be at, if still far from fluent. Perhaps your friend overloaded himself by choosing two really hard languages at uni? By doing so he has effectively halved his proficiency in both.

Lastly, I completely agree that there should be no place for language snobbery. I'm in no way trying to downplay the difficulties of studying Spanish and French. That said, neither should you overemphasise the difficulties in learning languages like Chinese: you can get to a respectable level by the end of your degree.
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IzzyWizzy
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#59
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(Original post by Piers-)
I agree that being 'fluent' doesn't mean native-level; but they (nor I) am fluent yet. We still struggle to watch certain Chinese TV programmes (without subtitles) too, yet we can still have a conversation in Chinese about just pretty much anything.

That's my point: You don't have to be fluent in order to put your language to good use, especially if it's a difficult one. There are far less Westerners that can speak good Chinese than, say, French. It might at first appear that Chinese is now so popular that every other person can speak it, but in reality the vast majority of people never study it past the elementary level, because progress is so slow.
But surely there are far more Chinese who speak good English than Westerners who speak good Chinese? Perhaps my view is skewed because I went to school and university with scores of bilingual Chinese people. I never learned it for the same reason I never learned Swedish or Dutch, I figured that I'd never be as good at those languages as they were at English, whereas I hardly ever meet a Spaniard who speaks English as well as I speak Spanish.

That said, I don't think it's reasonable to describe graduates of Chinese (or other difficult languages) as "pre-intermediate". According to the official Chinese language proficiency test (the HSK), we are at a level where we can apply for university courses (for native Chinese) and jobs in China and Taiwan. This is a pretty respectable level to be at, if still far from fluent. Perhaps your friend overloaded himself by choosing two really hard languages at uni? By doing so he has effectively halved his proficiency in both.

Lastly, I completely agree that there should be no place for language snobbery. I'm in no way trying to downplay the difficulties of studying Spanish and French. That said, neither should you overemphasise the difficulties in learning languages like Chinese: you can get to a respectable level by the end of your degree.
Pre-intermediate isn't as low as it sounds. I teach EFL and my pre-intermediate class can hold a fairly decent conversation, use most of the tenses and understand most TV programmes. I was talking about people doing two 'hard' languages so you're right in saying that it's probably much more realistic to aim to be fluent in just one.
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nearlyheadlessian
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#60
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(Original post by IzzyWizzy)
I never learned it for the same reason I never learned Swedish or Dutch, I figured that I'd never be as good at those languages as they were at English, whereas I hardly ever meet a Spaniard who speaks English as well as I speak Spanish.
This is always a view that interests me (as someone who studies Scandinavian Studies and contemplated a degree in Dutch). There is often a very sweeping view (even amongst reasonably informed people) that "everyone speaks English" in certain countries. While it's invariably true that a lot of Swedes and a lot of Dutch understand/speak at least some English, they are not nations full of fluent English speakers. There are still a lot of advantages to be had as a native speaker of English learning those languages. From the narrow minded point of view of being a translator, you have to be a native speaker of English to translate into English. Therefore by learning niche languages such as Swedish or Dutch you immediately reduce the competition. But in terms of business, while a lot of business with those countries is conducted in English, a lot of it is also still conducted in Swedish and Dutch. China might be the country for the future (but then again, so perhaps is India), but the UK has extensive interests in Sweden and the Netherlands here and now. And they are a lot closer geographically and culturally. A qualified speaker can expect to do well because they've made the effort to learn a niche language.

Anyway, this thread is bringing up some good points of discussion
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