mxx454
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#1
I’m interested in joining the language society at my uni so i’m curious as to what you’d recommend me to learn. I’ll probably start easier with French/Spanish/German but i was wondering which of these are the most useful?
I’m doing a life science degree if that counts for anything.
Last edited by mxx454; 1 month ago
0
reply
salma.elk
Badges: 7
Rep:
?
#2
Report 1 month ago
#2
(Original post by mxx454)
I’m interested in joining the language society at my uni so i’m curious as to what you’d recommend me to learn. I’ll probably start easier with French/Spanish/German but i was wondering which of these are the most useful?
I’m doing a life science degree if that counts for anything.
I think spanish would be a great one since its one of the most spoken languages
1
reply
Vapordave
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#3
Report 1 month ago
#3
(Original post by salma.elk)
I think spanish would be a great one since its one of the most spoken languages
It's usefulness is diminished outside of the Americas. French or German are more useful in Europe.
Last edited by Vapordave; 1 month ago
1
reply
The Joker ~
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#4
Report 1 month ago
#4
The language of compassion ~
2
reply
mxx454
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#5
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#5
(Original post by salma.elk)
I think spanish would be a great one since its one of the most spoken languages
I like the sound of Spanish, a lot easier for me to pronounce then French.
0
reply
salma.elk
Badges: 7
Rep:
?
#6
Report 1 month ago
#6
(Original post by Vapordave)
It's usefulness is diminished outside of the Americas. French or German are more useful in Europe.
Thats not necessarily true, Spain exists and so do Spanish and south american migrants. Plus it's not just these that speak Spanish many people have spanish as a second language
1
reply
RatLadyy
Badges: 9
Rep:
?
#7
Report 1 month ago
#7
Unpopular opinion: sign language is the best in my opinion. It isn’t a foreign language, but it is a language that can help Deaf people integrate into society and feel more included.
2
reply
Old Skool Freak
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#8
Report 1 month ago
#8
(Original post by mxx454)
I’m interested in joining the language society at my uni so i’m curious as to what you’d recommend me to learn. I’ll probably start easier with French/Spanish/German but i was wondering which of these are the most useful?
I’m doing a life science degree if that counts for anything.
Personally, I think there are 5 primary languages throughout the world.

1) English:- Pretty much considered a universal language across the planet
2) French:- As well as France itself, it's the official language of about 30 countries across the world, ranging from much of sub-Saharan Africa (and islands in the Indian Ocean) to the Caribean and Canada
3) Spanish:- As well as Spain itself (and the Spanish Islands), you've got almost the entire continent of Central / South America that speak Spanish. In fact, there are actually more people who speak Spanish in the world than English.
4) Chinese (Mandarin):- China is on the verge of becoming a super-power to rival America... and there are more Chinese people in the world than any other ethnic group.
5) Arabic:- Spoken throughout the Islamic world; from Morocco to Bangladesh, you'll be able to get by (in theory).

IMHO, anyone who can master those 5 languages is pretty much sorted, and can go literally anywhere in the world.

Having said that, I think as a native English speaker (assuming you are), German is probably the easiest to get to grips with (English is classed as a Germanic language). IMHO, Spanish is probably slightly easier than French, as it's not got as many formal rules
3
reply
artful_lounger
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#9
Report 1 month ago
#9
(Original post by Old Skool Freak)
Personally, I think there are 5 primary languages throughout the world.

1) English:- Pretty much considered a universal language across the planet
2) French:- As well as France itself, it's the official language of about 30 countries across the world, ranging from much of sub-Saharan Africa (and islands in the Indian Ocean) to the Caribean and Canada
3) Spanish:- As well as Spain itself (and the Spanish Islands), you've got almost the entire continent of Central / South America that speak Spanish. In fact, there are actually more people who speak Spanish in the world than English.
4) Chinese (Mandarin):- China is on the verge of becoming a super-power to rival America... and there are more Chinese people in the world than any other ethnic group.
5) Arabic:- Spoken throughout the Islamic world; from Morocco to Bangladesh, you'll be able to get by (in theory).

IMHO, anyone who can master those 5 languages is pretty much sorted, and can go literally anywhere in the world.

Having said that, I think as a native English speaker (assuming you are), German is probably the easiest to get to grips with (English is classed as a Germanic language). IMHO, Spanish is probably slightly easier than French, as it's not got as many formal rules
Arabic has many dialects and so learning MSA won't necessarily help you in all areas speaking Arabic. Likewise China has a large number of "dialects" that are in fact not mutually intelligible with Mandarin and by all accounts are separate languages. So knowing Mandarin would not even let you freely converse with anyone you meet within China, much less outside of it..

Also according to Ethnologue, while there are more L1 Spanish speakers than L1 English speakers, there are far more L2 English speakers and than L2 Spanish speakers and thus more English speakers in total in the world. For that matter, Hindi and Urdu have more speakers than Spanish, or French and MSA combined.

Anyway as alluded to by previous posters learning a language because of how many people speak it isn't necessarily a helpful way to approach things because while there are a lot of e.g. Spanish speakers in the world, if you are living and working mainly in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia or East Asia you are much less likely to encounter Spanish speakers (excluding Spain within Europe of course). Also such an approach sort of strips away the cultural value of the language and the entire act of language learning which is not great.
1
reply
HedgePig
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#10
Report 1 month ago
#10
It is true that many dialects are spoken in China (and these dialects really are separate languages) but it is not true that you can’t use Mandarin freely in China. Everyone is taught Mandarin at school - not only are they taught Mandarin, but they are taught in Mandarin. So it is extremely widely understood and spoken. It really is the common language within China.

On a slightly different topic, be aware that languages like Mandarin are regarded as much more difficult to learn than Western European languages for native English speakers. The Foreign Service Department in the US, which trains diplomatic staff, has graded languages into 4 levels of difficulty. They estimate that Level 1 languages (like Spanish, Italian and French) take around 600 hours of instruction to reach functional fluency, while Level 4 languages (which include Mandarin, Arabic, Korean and Japanese) take around 2200 hours to reach the same level. If I recall correctly, German is estimated at 900 hours and Russia. At 1200. This is by no means meant to steer you away from these more difficult languages as I think they can be extremely rewarding but just be aware of how much more time is required.
3
reply
tinygirl96
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#11
Report 1 month ago
#11
Spanish and French to start off. Also German is good.
1
reply
gjd800
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#12
Report 1 month ago
#12
Vy'keen
1
reply
Old Skool Freak
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#13
Report 1 month ago
#13
(Original post by artful_lounger)
Arabic has many dialects and so learning MSA won't necessarily help you in all areas speaking Arabic. Likewise China has a large number of "dialects" that are in fact not mutually intelligible with Mandarin and by all accounts are separate languages. So knowing Mandarin would not even let you freely converse with anyone you meet within China, much less outside of it..
I see what you're saying, and I'm not claiming to be an expert (as I said, it's just my opinion). However, I would have thought that Mandarin would have been spoken in many of the major cities / large towns in China, and most of the places the OP would likely visit (assuming they're interested in learning Mandarin). Yes, they'll have their local dialects, but things like TV shows, periodicals etc. would all be done in Mandarin, so there would still be people who'll speak it. If they were to travel for business / work purposes, it would be useful, no?

Ditto with Arabic; I could be wrong, but I'm assuming Al Jazera is broadcast across the majority of those country's


Also according to Ethnologue, while there are more L1 Spanish speakers than L1 English speakers, there are far more L2 English speakers and than L2 Spanish speakers and thus more English speakers in total in the world. For that matter, Hindi and Urdu have more speakers than Spanish, or French and MSA combined.
Well personally, I hate the British / American attitude towards foreign languages a la "Everyone speaks English, so why bother learning another language?" And the other thing I've discovered (with foreign people in general), if you're seen to make the effort to learn their language, they'll look at you in a completely different manner; i.e. you'll be seen as "one of them", and you see the real person, rather than this façade you sometimes get.

Even learning a few token phrases helps.

Anyway as alluded to by previous posters learning a language because of how many people speak it isn't necessarily a helpful way to approach things because while there are a lot of e.g. Spanish speakers in the world, if you are living and working mainly in Europe, the Middle East, South Asia or East Asia you are much less likely to encounter Spanish speakers (excluding Spain within Europe of course). Also such an approach sort of strips away the cultural value of the language and the entire act of language learning which is not great.
But knowing Spanish language still gives you "Carte Blanche" to travel around almost an entire continent; it's very popular to go there for, say a gap year. Also, given how popular Spain is for a holiday destination (as well as all the Spanish Islands), a knowledge of the Spanish language means you're less likely to get into a bad situation with local people (e.g. ripped off, or otherwise targeted for malicious reasons)

I think the OP really needs to have a think about the bigger picture (what she wants in life, where she might travel to etc. ) to choose the best language to learn
Last edited by Old Skool Freak; 1 month ago
0
reply
mxx454
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#14
Report Thread starter 1 month ago
#14
(Original post by HedgePig)
It is true that many dialects are spoken in China (and these dialects really are separate languages) but it is not true that you can’t use Mandarin freely in China. Everyone is taught Mandarin at school - not only are they taught Mandarin, but they are taught in Mandarin. So it is extremely widely understood and spoken. It really is the common language within China.

On a slightly different topic, be aware that languages like Mandarin are regarded as much more difficult to learn than Western European languages for native English speakers. The Foreign Service Department in the US, which trains diplomatic staff, has graded languages into 4 levels of difficulty. They estimate that Level 1 languages (like Spanish, Italian and French) take around 600 hours of instruction to reach functional fluency, while Level 4 languages (which include Mandarin, Arabic, Korean and Japanese) take around 2200 hours to reach the same level. If I recall correctly, German is estimated at 900 hours and Russia. At 1200. This is by no means meant to steer you away from these more difficult languages as I think they can be extremely rewarding but just be aware of how much more time is required.
I tried to learn German a few years ago, found it much easier than French tbh. I think i’ll start with Spanish and also learn Korean later on, always been interested in learning it.
0
reply
irismcnab
Badges: 16
Rep:
?
#15
Report 1 month ago
#15
latin as many ppl from across the world learn latin
1
reply
HedgePig
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#16
Report 1 month ago
#16
(Original post by mxx454)
I tried to learn German a few years ago, found it much easier than French tbh. I think i’ll start with Spanish and also learn Korean later on, always been interested in learning it.
I think interest is the key! Then the time spent learning isn’t a slog but rather, something enjoyable. Maybe hard work at times, but rewarding hard work.
0
reply
Old Skool Freak
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#17
Report 1 month ago
#17
(Original post by HedgePig)
I think interest is the key! Then the time spent learning isn’t a slog but rather, something enjoyable. Maybe hard work at times, but rewarding hard work.
PRSOM

Agreed!
0
reply
Old Skool Freak
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#18
Report 1 month ago
#18
(Original post by HedgePig)
On a slightly different topic, be aware that languages like Mandarin are regarded as much more difficult to learn than Western European languages for native English speakers. The Foreign Service Department in the US, which trains diplomatic staff, has graded languages into 4 levels of difficulty. They estimate that Level 1 languages (like Spanish, Italian and French) take around 600 hours of instruction to reach functional fluency, while Level 4 languages (which include Mandarin, Arabic, Korean and Japanese) take around 2200 hours to reach the same level. If I recall correctly, German is estimated at 900 hours and Russia. At 1200. This is by no means meant to steer you away from these more difficult languages as I think they can be extremely rewarding but just be aware of how much more time is required.
I've never thought about it, but I found the bits in bold particularly interesting. Here are some of my initial thoughts:-

1) I'm surprised that they've put German as harder to learn than the Romance languages; especially as English is considered a Germanic language. I wonder if it's because Spanish is spoken in many US communities (e.g. Mexican, Puerto Rican etc.) . Maybe they're not used to hearing German as much as Spanish or Italian?

2) I've noticed that the so-called Level 4 Languages, are all written in a completely different alphabet from the Latin based one we use in the west, and I wonder if the reading / writing components contribute significantly to the allocated difficulty?

Fun Fact:- Despite how it initially appears, the Arabic alphabet is surprisingly similar to the traditional Latin alphabet we use (as well as Greek and Cyrillic). For instance, All 4 alphabets start with their equivalents of "A" and "B" ( Arabic = Alif (أ) Baa (ب) Cyrillic =Ah (А) Be (Б); Greek = Alpha, Beta... all sounds a bit like ABC lol), As well as their equivalent letters K, L, M, & N are all grouped together.
Last edited by Old Skool Freak; 1 month ago
0
reply
brjf
Badges: 18
Rep:
?
#19
Report 1 month ago
#19
German
1
reply
HedgePig
Badges: 13
Rep:
?
#20
Report 1 month ago
#20
(Original post by Old Skool Freak)

1) I'm surprised that they've put German as harder to learn than the Romance languages; especially as English is considered a Germanic language. I wonder if it's because Spanish is spoken in many US communities (e.g. Mexican, Puerto Rican etc.) . Maybe they're not used to hearing German as much as Spanish or Italian?

2) I've noticed that the so-called Level 4 Languages, are all written in a completely different alphabet from the Latin based one we use in the west, and I wonder if the reading / writing components contribute significantly to the allocated difficulty?
I’m no linguist at all and don’t know how they arrived at those figures - but presumably it was based on actual experience of teaching. For the Level 4 languages, I think the reasons vary and isn’t simply because the script is not Latin. I think the writing difficulty is a major one for Chinese and Japanese but shouldn’t be a factor for Korean which is alphabetic. Japanese I believe has a complex grammar and system of honourifics which adds to the difficulty. Mandarin on the other hand is a tonal language which is tough for most westerners since we tend to use tones to express emotion. Mandarin also has a very limited range of phonetic sounds, which adds to the difficulty - and is why the tones are important (they help distinguish otherwise identical sounding words) On the other hand Mandarin grammar is supposed to be a lot simpler than Japanese.

I think one of the things that makes a language difficult to learn is how much carry-over there is from English. For the Level 4 languages, there is almost nothing whereas for French or Spanish there is a lot (relatively!)

I think the classifications are also general and each person’s own experience will vary.

Edit: I’ve found a link to the FSI classification which I’ve added below. https://www.state.gov/foreign-language-training/
Last edited by HedgePig; 1 month ago
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Back
to top
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

Has your education been disrupted this academic year due to the pandemic?

Yes (69)
85.19%
No (12)
14.81%

Watched Threads

View All