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amjam441
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Hi all. I'm considering learning a language in my spare time and was wondering what language could potentially be the most beneficial for someone working in the medical profession. I wanted to learn arabic since I love the language and culture and so many countries speak it, but it's a lot harder and requires more time than I can give at the moment, so I've put it on hold for the time being.

So I thought about learning a language that's more accessible (has a good wealth of resources and isn't traditionally too difficult for an english speaker to learn). I was considering french or spanish since they are slightly easier (I also studied french at gcse level but have forgotten most of it but it provides a nice starting point) and I have family friends who speak french whom I can practice with. At the same time spanish seems really cool and sounds really nice but I have almost no experience with it (although my french background could help I've been told as they are quite similar?).

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how these languages (or any other for that matter as I'm open to suggestions) could be useful in the medical profession. If you wanted context, I live in the UK and have no current plans on moving at any point (although, Canada/Australia seem really nice lol but that's a ways away for now). If you guys could think which (relatively simple) language would be most useful to the medical profession now or in the future, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
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allie.moe
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I was thinking of learning sign language in my gap year. btw I'm also hoping to apply to medicine
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amjam441
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(Original post by allie.moe)
I was thinking of learning sign language in my gap year. btw I'm also hoping to apply to medicine
Yeah I did consider it but I honestly wanted to learn a new language where it opens doors to things like new cultures, literature etc (as I also need to be interested in the language itself as I learn otherwise I'll probably lose motivation) although I appreciate that sign language could be very useful to doctors
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bulgylau
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if you're looking at ease of reading and writing, I could see why arabic/mandarin/hindi (and it's many dialects) aren't that appealing.

slavonic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbian) are useful, the Cyrillic alphabet takes maybe a couple of days to get used to but has notoriously difficult grammar concepts.

hellenic languages (greek) may not be as useful in the medicine profession.

a Romance language is a good idea, French opens the door to work in ex French colonies, as does Spanish.

Germanic languages (German, Swedish) may also be very easy to learn due to the similarities with English.

If I was in your position I'd go for a germanic language or possibly french.
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amjam441
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(Original post by bulgylau)
if you're looking at ease of reading and writing, I could see why arabic/mandarin/hindi (and it's many dialects) aren't that appealing.

slavonic languages (Russian, Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Serbian) are useful, the Cyrillic alphabet takes maybe a couple of days to get used to but has notoriously difficult grammar concepts.

hellenic languages (greek) may not be as useful in the medicine profession.

a Romance language is a good idea, French opens the door to work in ex French colonies, as does Spanish.

Germanic languages (German, Swedish) may also be very easy to learn due to the similarities with English.

If I was in your position I'd go for a germanic language or possibly french.
Wow thanks for the response. Honestly I do really want to learn arabic but I just don't have the time atm to get my head around it. It's my goal this summer to spend some time each day working on it.

German seems like a really cool language (I love the long words for some odd reason). Is there any reason as to why you would think it would be beneficial for a Dr to learn German? Honestly, I'm not sure but is it a popular destination healthcare professionals go to in the future (I know Australia and Canada are notorious for this)? Also is there a particular reason as to why you'd say I should choose French over Spanish (open question to anyone btw)
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allie.moe
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(Original post by amjam441)
Wow thanks for the response. Honestly I do really want to learn arabic but I just don't have the time atm to get my head around it. It's my goal this summer to spend some time each day working on it.

German seems like a really cool language (I love the long words for some odd reason). Is there any reason as to why you would think it would be beneficial for a Dr to learn German? Honestly, I'm not sure but is it a popular destination healthcare professionals go to in the future (I know Australia and Canada are notorious for this)? Also is there a particular reason as to why you'd say I should choose French over Spanish (open question to anyone btw)
The thing with arabic is that you get the opportunity to work in 22 different countries, of course not all of them are economically stable , but a few are. But if you were to study arabic, I don't think summer will be enough. The language is really really complicated. I say this as someone who is fluent in arabic.
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nexttime
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I'm a bit confused by what you mean in terms of usefulness as a doctor if you have no plans to move/work abroad? The only other way its gonna be useful then is if you are wanting to talk to non-English speaking patients here in the UK, in which case Polish or Punjabi are probably your best bets, although even then there is local variation.

Putting aside the work thing/assuming you may do some work abroad one day, i would suggest sticking to French. Learning a language is a lot of work and requires regular speaking practice so the resources you have available make it more likely you'll actually follow through. Its also useful in parts of Africa and the Caribbean. other parts of the world.
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Nobody101
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(Original post by allie.moe)
The thing with arabic is that you get the opportunity to work in 22 different countries, of course not all of them are economically stable , but a few are. But if you were to study arabic, I don't think summer will be enough. The language is really really complicated. I say this as someone who is fluent in arabic.
I agree, I'm Arab and I've been learning Arabic my whole life, I'm getting there but still not as fluent
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HateOCR
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(Original post by amjam441)
Hi all. I'm considering learning a language in my spare time and was wondering what language could potentially be the most beneficial for someone working in the medical profession. I wanted to learn arabic since I love the language and culture and so many countries speak it, but it's a lot harder and requires more time than I can give at the moment, so I've put it on hold for the time being.

So I thought about learning a language that's more accessible (has a good wealth of resources and isn't traditionally too difficult for an english speaker to learn). I was considering french or spanish since they are slightly easier (I also studied french at gcse level but have forgotten most of it but it provides a nice starting point) and I have family friends who speak french whom I can practice with. At the same time spanish seems really cool and sounds really nice but I have almost no experience with it (although my french background could help I've been told as they are quite similar?).

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how these languages (or any other for that matter as I'm open to suggestions) could be useful in the medical profession. If you wanted context, I live in the UK and have no current plans on moving at any point (although, Canada/Australia seem really nice lol but that's a ways away for now). If you guys could think which (relatively simple) language would be most useful to the medical profession now or in the future, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
Apparently people who are bilingual have a slightly different brain structure. That might interest you if you dont like the shape of your brain.
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junior.doctor
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I speak fluent French, and frankly, I've rarely used it at work in the UK. (Ironically, one of the times I used it, I was asked by a colleague because there was no French interpreter available - apparently there are lots of interpreters for the languages commonly required, but French is not one of those!)

In my current inner-city setting, we have a huge Romanian population and also a large Polish population. Also lots of need for Southeast Asian languages - Bengali in particular, Punjabi, HIndi, Pashto...

For most things, we use "language line" - an interpreter on the end of the phone, and you pass the phone between you and the patient. Annoying, and things take longer, but generally works for the basic emergency stuff. I've also used google translate in ED, bringing the patient to the computer screen - again lots of limitations but can be helpful.

When I do baby checks, we have a list of the "important questions" you have to ask, in various common languages ("has your baby had a poo yet, is there a family history of heart problems..." etc) - would take too long to use language line for every baby check!

I love languages and have often thought about trying to learn Romanian as that would be useful - but have never had the time, and frankly, for it to be truly useful, you'd have to learn it to a pretty decent level.

In summary, it does depend somewhat on where in the UK you plan to work, and what the common languages in that area are.
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amjam441
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Hi all, thanks for the responses. I think im just gonna stick with french as i read that its a language that doctors without borders really appreciate due to those countries where they work tend to have people speaking those languages. I live in east London atm and would like to stay I guess. I know parts of my mother tongue (gujarati) which helps me understand some patients. I thibk im just going to learn french for fun though as i do enjoy it (love duolingo). I also understand arabic is very hard to learn and will take way longer than one summer but I'm going to use this summer as a chance to sort of jump start my learning (I have the alphabet nailed but the grammar is hard to get my head around and duolingo don't offer it atm). Anyway thanks again for your responses!
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allie.moe
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(Original post by amjam441)
Hi all, thanks for the responses. I think im just gonna stick with french as i read that its a language that doctors without borders really appreciate due to those countries where they work tend to have people speaking those languages. I live in east London atm and would like to stay I guess. I know parts of my mother tongue (gujarati) which helps me understand some patients. I thibk im just going to learn french for fun though as i do enjoy it (love duolingo). I also understand arabic is very hard to learn and will take way longer than one summer but I'm going to use this summer as a chance to sort of jump start my learning (I have the alphabet nailed but the grammar is hard to get my head around and duolingo don't offer it atm). Anyway thanks again for your responses!
All the best of luck!
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navarre
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Why would you learn a language for medicine? Work life balance, much? If you're going to learn a language, do it for the fun of it, to enjoy it- not because you perceive it'll somehow help you in your career ambitions.

I'm currently approaching intermediacy in Spanish. It's a vastly more useful (and beautiful) language than most others, including French, and its proximity to Latin does help with the occasional medical vocab.

There's also the relative ease of Spanish. Its grammar is relatively close to that of English (as they are both rather similar tongues of the Indo-European family), and we share a huge amount of vocabulary- probably approaching 40% of Spanish words have a similar English equivalent.
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nexttime
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(Original post by navarre)
There's also the relative ease of Spanish. Its grammar is relatively close to that of English (as they are both rather similar tongues of the Indo-European family), and we share a huge amount of vocabulary- probably approaching 40% of Spanish words have a similar English equivalent.
I always thought of German as the language most similar to English (excepting perhaps Dutch). But i am told by someone who learned both German and Spanish to a high level that actually for an English speaker, Spanish has far more similarities and is the easier one to learn.

Not sure how French compares.
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LeapingLucy
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(Original post by nexttime)
I'm a bit confused by what you mean in terms of usefulness as a doctor if you have no plans to move/work abroad? The only other way its gonna be useful then is if you are wanting to talk to non-English speaking patients here in the UK, in which case Polish or Punjabi are probably your best bets, although even then there is local variation.

Putting aside the work thing/assuming you may do some work abroad one day, i would suggest sticking to French. Learning a language is a lot of work and requires regular speaking practice so the resources you have available make it more likely you'll actually follow through. Its also useful in parts of Africa and the Caribbean. other parts of the world.
I agree with the above. Most French/German people living in the UK will be able to speak English, so if you want to learn a language that would benefit you as a doctor in terms of communicating with patients, I would recommend Polish, Bengali or Punjabi.
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DrStress
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I study Arabic, french and Spanish myself, and I'm now fluent with french and definitely with Arabic but I have just began Spanish.

I studied Arabic for about 3-4 years and I've only just got the hang of it, I will warn you that learning the grammar and all the vocabulary is much more complicated than both french and Spanish. I feel that this is because VERY few of the words in Arabic have some sort of link to words in English, of that makes sense. Like it's much harder to learn vocabulary. Whereas learning french has only taken me about 2 years maximum to learn it full on.

However now that I have learned Arabic fluently I definitely do not regret it. It is a language you can use for many different cultures, e.g. North Africans, with people from the UAE. Although it may not be their first language you can still easily communicate with them and I have realised this myself. Another thing that I have experienced is that Arabic looks much more sophisticated on a CV compared to French and Spanish. Therefore it has helped me to look more 'unique' in a way.

As a result I would definitely recommend you to learn Arabic at some time when you do have that time to focus on it, but at the same time you should also keep in mind that it is relatively difficult. Other languages I may recommend is possibly Mandarin (as I know this also looks better on a CV compared to French and Spanish seeing as it is generally less common), also french and Spanish I have actually found very useful, these languages are spoken in many areas which makes it easier to communicate, so I would definitely recommend learning them both for your own benefit!!
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navarre
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(Original post by nexttime)
I always thought of German as the language most similar to English (excepting perhaps Dutch). But i am told by someone who learned both German and Spanish to a high level that actually for an English speaker, Spanish has far more similarities and is the easier one to learn.

Not sure how French compares.
German and English are both Germanic languages, but German is actually harder for native English speakers than any of the other Germanic languages (which are outrageously easy) and all of the Romance languages (which are slightly harder). German grammar is very difficult to master.

English is a basterd dialectal product of Norman French, old Germanic and medieval Norse.
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Shiny000
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(Original post by amjam441)
Wow thanks for the response. Honestly I do really want to learn arabic but I just don't have the time atm to get my head around it. It's my goal this summer to spend some time each day working on it. German seems like a really cool language (I love the long words for some odd reason). Is there any reason as to why you would think it would be beneficial for a Dr to learn German? Honestly, I'm not sure but is it a popular destination healthcare professionals go to in the future (I know Australia and Canada are notorious for this)? Also is there a particular reason as to why you'd say I should choose French over Spanish (open question to anyone btw)
I recommend persian(farsi) It's close to arabic If you want to learn about history culture or poems it's the best Just try it The poet roumi(molana) ,hafez and lots of famous writers and poets speaks farsi and by learning this language you could read their books and enjoy
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Shiny000
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(Original post by amjam441)
Hi all. I'm considering learning a language in my spare time and was wondering what language could potentially be the most beneficial for someone working in the medical profession. I wanted to learn arabic since I love the language and culture and so many countries speak it, but it's a lot harder and requires more time than I can give at the moment, so I've put it on hold for the time being.

So I thought about learning a language that's more accessible (has a good wealth of resources and isn't traditionally too difficult for an english speaker to learn). I was considering french or spanish since they are slightly easier (I also studied french at gcse level but have forgotten most of it but it provides a nice starting point) and I have family friends who speak french whom I can practice with. At the same time spanish seems really cool and sounds really nice but I have almost no experience with it (although my french background could help I've been told as they are quite similar?).

I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on how these languages (or any other for that matter as I'm open to suggestions) could be useful in the medical profession. If you wanted context, I live in the UK and have no current plans on moving at any point (although, Canada/Australia seem really nice lol but that's a ways away for now). If you guys could think which (relatively simple) language would be most useful to the medical profession now or in the future, I'd really appreciate it.

Thanks!
If you want to enjoy the new world of history and culture i recommend you farsi(persian)

It's close to arabic.they have same alphabets but it's easier in my oppinion

You could also reading famous poems or writers works .poets such as roumi(molana), hafez , saAdi ,ferdousi

If you don't know them just search their names and it will be interesting for you
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artful_lounger
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(Original post by amjam441)
Yeah I did consider it but I honestly wanted to learn a new language where it opens doors to things like new cultures, literature etc (as I also need to be interested in the language itself as I learn otherwise I'll probably lose motivation) although I appreciate that sign language could be very useful to doctors
I know this might be hard to believe for you but HoH have their own culture, as do most minorities. Perhaps you should learn sign language, and actually engage with HoH people, and you might develop an appreciation for that...
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