French or German? Which is more useful as a second language? Watch

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i-love-coffee
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Hi Basically, I'm starting my Law degree this September and have the option to start a language (beginners level) alongside it. Having a second language is obviously beneficial, especially with globalisation but which one should I choose?

The options are basically French or German as I won't have the time to also learn a whole new alphabet for Mandarin. I already have basic French skills and was thinking to continue as it will just be easier, but perhaps I'm missing an opportunity here? Germany has such a strong economy and a growing legal sector; this is unlikely to slow and thus will bring more firms to their country. Also, whilst I like both France and Germany, I think I could see myself in Germany for longer periods of time.

What do you think? The only thing is, I have basic French and it will be an easier transition whereas in German I have no knowledge at all. But perhaps it's still worth the extra effort? I have also found summer Law schools in Germany that I'm very interested in and this is also why I'm considering German. Or do I just stick with French?
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navarre
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French isn't all that useful to learn these days. German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe, and is official in the EU's powerhouse of Germany, although more young Germans speak fluent English.
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username917703
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German is horrendously difficult. It'd be easier to do French as that's a Romance language.

Is Spanish an option? If so I'd go with that.
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i-love-coffee
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(Original post by navarre)
French isn't all that useful to learn these days. German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe, and is official in the EU's powerhouse of Germany, although more young Germans speak fluent English.
Interesting point about being the most widely spoken tongue in Europe, I had no idea. German seems like the most logical option.

(Original post by Wilfred Little)
German is horrendously difficult. It'd be easier to do French as that's a Romance language.

Is Spanish an option? If so I'd go with that.
What makes it so much more difficult? And Spanish is an option but I'm not sure if I see a benefit to learning it over the others as theres no emerging markets there, particularly within the legal sector.
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John Stuart Mill
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(Original post by navarre)
French isn't all that useful to learn these days. German is the most widely spoken mother tongue in Europe, and is official in the EU's powerhouse of Germany, although more young Germans speak fluent English.
French isn't all that useful? Tell that to the UN who didn't even bother including German on their list of 6 official languages
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suzylemonade
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(Original post by Wilfred Little)
German is horrendously difficult. It'd be easier to do French as that's a Romance language.

Is Spanish an option? If so I'd go with that.
German isn't too bad (if you ignore the word order things and the many different cases)

OP, I do both French and German (okay, it's only at GCSE ) and they're not much different to each other in terms of difficulty. I'd recommend German though because it's a bit more useful If Spanish is an option, go with that.
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blackrose1234567
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French if you're doing it to impress someone, German if you're doing it for productive reasons.
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JindleBrey
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(Original post by i-love-coffee)


What makes it so much more difficult? And Spanish is an option but I'm not sure if I see a benefit to learning it over the others as theres no emerging markets there, particularly within the legal sector.
But think how big the Spanish speaking world is. And the sexy Spanish people.
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iheartdjokovic
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(Original post by i-love-coffee)
Hi Basically, I'm starting my Law degree this September and have the option to start a language (beginners level) alongside it. Having a second language is obviously beneficial, especially with globalisation but which one should I choose?

The options are basically French or German as I won't have the time to also learn a whole new alphabet for Mandarin. I already have basic French skills and was thinking to continue as it will just be easier, but perhaps I'm missing an opportunity here? Germany has such a strong economy and a growing legal sector; this is unlikely to slow and thus will bring more firms to their country. Also, whilst I like both France and Germany, I think I could see myself in Germany for longer periods of time.

What do you think? The only thing is, I have basic French and it will be an easier transition whereas in German I have no knowledge at all. But perhaps it's still worth the extra effort? I have also found summer Law schools in Germany that I'm very interested in and this is also why I'm considering German. Or do I just stick with French?

(Original post by Wilfred Little)
German is horrendously difficult. It'd be easier to do French as that's a Romance language.

Is Spanish an option? If so I'd go with that.
German isn't that bad! Once you've got your head round the cases, word order etc. then it's reasonably logical
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John Stuart Mill
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(Original post by i-love-coffee)
What makes it so much more difficult? And Spanish is an option but I'm not sure if I see a benefit to learning it over the others as theres no emerging markets there, particularly within the legal sector.
German word lengths makes me want to kill myself.
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IlexBlue
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(Original post by iheartdjokovic)
German isn't that bad! Once you've got your head round the cases, word order etc. then it's reasonably logical
Ah. The cases.

If you can conquer those, you're home free. But they're really not fun in my experience.

German is harder than French (which if you study it in school really only becomes clear once you begin A Level) but it's nowhere near impossibly difficult. French is far more similar to English though, which makes it easier.

I prefer German. I think it's a beautiful language in its own right and learning French is almost cliche these days. Knowing German gives you a bit of an edge IMO.
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John Stuart Mill
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(Original post by IlexBlue)
Ah. The cases.

If you can conquer those, you're home free. But they're really not fun in my experience.

German is harder than French (which if you study it in school really only becomes clear once you begin A Level) but it's nowhere near impossibly difficult. French is far more similar to English though, which makes it easier.

I prefer German. I think it's a beautiful language in its own right and learning French is almost cliche these days. Knowing German gives you a bit of an edge IMO.
French is more similar? Since both English and German are west germanic I was always under the impression it was the other way around.
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John Stuart Mill
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Another problem of learning German is the way it's spoken in different countries, Austria and Switzerland has a different style for instance.
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chickenonsteroids
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I doubt it'd make much of a difference on the large scale of things. Being able to speak a second language already makes you more valuable to a company because of international work. It's not like you're comparing French and a dying language.

German is sexy tho and some parisians make me want to cut my arm off and slap myself with it. I'm not biased at all.
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Octopus_Garden
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The most useful is the one you can become fluent in. It is pretty much irrelevant to you if fluency in language A opens up more opportunities than language B, if you cannot get your head around language A.

The ease of French versus German is one of those hotly debated topics, and the truth is: there is no truth. The language you find easiest tends to magically be also the one in which you had more interest to start with. There are exceptions to that, of course.

In the main, people have preferences. Some people find French easier. Some find German easier. I happen to be one of the "German is fun- how does French even work" lot, but other people are the exact opposite. I and other linguists occasionally stare at each other in bewilderment at each other's difficulties. I just don't get the problems people have with German, and they don't get my problems with French!

I do continue to learn French for cold-blooded business reasons (if you can call my whinging "learning") , despite my difficulties, but I manage this because I have an underlying love of all things linguistic, even though I'm not really sure I like French for itself.

You should perhaps come over to the Foreign Languages sub-forum in Study Help to find more advice.
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i-love-coffee
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(Original post by suzylemonade)
German isn't too bad (if you ignore the word order things and the many different cases)

OP, I do both French and German (okay, it's only at GCSE ) and they're not much different to each other in terms of difficulty. I'd recommend German though because it's a bit more useful If Spanish is an option, go with that.
Thanks for comparing as that's useful . Why Spanish over French/German? Another user suggested that earlier, but like I said, Spanish legal sector at the moment isn't doing well in the recession.

(Original post by shuheb789)
French if you're doing it to impress someone, German if you're doing it for productive reasons.
(Original post by IlexBlue)

I prefer German. I think it's a beautiful language in its own right and learning French is almost cliche these days. Knowing German gives you a bit of an edge IMO.
^^ Interesting points and I think I agree. So many people want to learn French simply because it "sounds attractive". I really don't care about that, I just care about my C.V/career.
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IlexBlue
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(Original post by John Stuart Mill)
French is more similar? Since both English and German are west germanic I was always under the impression it was the other way around.
You would think.

Certainly German and English have some similarities, but nowhere near as much as French and English. Even ignoring the word order and grammar (which is vastly different in German) they share so many similar words or at the very least similarly spelled/ sounding words that once you've reached a certain point, my theory is you could get by saying words you don't know with a French accent and be correct 70% of the time.
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IlexBlue
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(Original post by Octopus_Garden)
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Interesting. What is it about French that you find difficult?
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Octopus_Garden
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(Original post by IlexBlue)
Interesting. What is it about French that you find difficult?
The pronunciation, replicating the accents, understanding when listening to native speakers, the grammatical vagaries (I asked my A-level tutor why it was "trop" instead of "trop de" in one sentence last night. She thought about it, and said she'll try and find me an explanation for next lesson). If I construct a sentence grammatically, I generally find out that "it's grammatical, but we wouldn't say it that way" far more often than in German. The sentence structure is far more fluid in French, it seems, which sounds good, but in practice, that means unspoken rules that I won't get until I've had a period of solid sustained immersion.

I suppose a comparison is how no native English speaker would say the "old little lady", unless they were talking about a woman with restricted growth- it's always "little old lady", but "old green door". The rules are nebulous and difficult to define; we just know what sounds right.
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rockrunride
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Do the one you're most interested in, not the one that is putatively the most 'useful'. All languages are both useful (as they provide social opportunities) and no use at all (because most people speak English).
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