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Best foreign language for aerospace industry

  1. Aug 24, 2011 #1
    Hey everyone...I am poised in which foreign language would be best since I want to work in the aerospace industry when I eventually get my doctorate (research aspect, such as space exploration)

    I have heard many good suggesions, such as: French, Russian, German, Portugues

    I already speak spanish, and would not learn chinese because i just cannot stand that language. Plus from what I know, most if not all important chinese people will have some knowledge of english, especially on an international level. It is more of a diplomatic/business language.

    Any suggestions would be great! I have always thought russian would be the best answer(besides english of course), but feel free to comment/criticize.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 24, 2011 #2
    You should French, because Airbus is stay in France.
  4. Aug 24, 2011 #3
    It's true that most educated Chinese can speak/read English It's a required language for college, and I know people in China that have essentially native English ability since they have been taught the language since kindergarten if not earlier (i.e. there is a huge market in China for English-speaking nannies).

    But that's one reason to learn Chinese. The problem here is that in a poker game, you end up being in a really bad disadvantage, if they can read your cards, but you can't read theirs.
  5. Aug 25, 2011 #4
    This. Even in their UK sites they seek French-speakers.
  6. Aug 25, 2011 #5
    Chinese, because they will be the next superpower.
  7. Aug 25, 2011 #6
    Despite English being a compulsory subject in China, you would be surprised at just how low the level of fluency of most of its students in China is.

    Take the top scorers on the English portion of the national college entrance exam and sit them down to have a conversation with a native English speaker. Beyond the simplest of speaking tasks, many, if not most, simply wouldn't be able to understand you and contribute to the conversation. Bring up a news article that they themselves have just read and have them summarize it in English. Again, a large number of them would simply fail at the task.

    Their English skills, in order of highest to lowest proficiency, are reading, writing(composition), listening, and speaking.

    The Chinese who attain high levels of English fluency at the various skills(reading, listening, speaking) generally do so only after spending a significant amount of time in an English speaking country. i.e., most only learn any type of functional English after attending university in a country foreign to theirs.

    I think there may be an illusion that China is full of fantastic English speakers. The truth is, percentage wise, there just aren't many that are very good at all, even after years and years of forced study. The illusion comes from the fact that there are just so darn many Chinese, so of course some of them will develop excellent English skills. And the ones you see in America, Britain, Australia, etc. will be the ones with the best English. That leaves you seeing only an unrepresentative sample.

    As far as the poker analogy, it is a very good reason why people should be learning Chinese. I just don't think it is at all a compelling reason for the OP to learn it.

    The time commitment required for learning Chinese is, by itself, a good reason to rule out learning it. That is, assuming you want to learn it within the next few years. It simply won't happen unless you can sacrifice many, many hours per week for years on end. Stick with a language close to what you already know. It will come with significantly less effort.

    Oh, and even if we can make the prediction that Chinese is the next superpower, that does not necessarily mean anything in regards to the best language for working in the aerospace industry.
  8. Aug 25, 2011 #7

    -This is definately true...i have been to china before and I do understand the low level of fluency among the average population....but among the elite most do speak english...and since i have a family member who is american speaks fluent chinese....i understand how much time it takes compared to learning russian or french

    Is Russian even useful at all anymore? For math majors at my school they are suggested to learn either french, german or russian. I already know a decent amount of russian so it wouldn't take me too long to learn it more, and plus im interested in it. But at the same time, i already know spanish so french shouldn't be too difficult as well.

    I just want to make sure whatever foreign language i learn will be useful to me in the long run. BTW im a physics/math major
  9. Aug 25, 2011 #8
    French men, C'est la langue de l'amour.
  10. Aug 25, 2011 #9
    I'm not. You have 1.3 billion people, and not enough teachers.

    That's because the English portion of the national college entrance exam doesn't really test English fluency and comprehension. It is multiple choice test that is structured like the SAT, and a lot of it involves testing "grammar trivia." Also, since the Chinese educational system is so heavily test based, you do have people that are excellent at passing tests without much comprehension.

    Also one thing that I've noticed is that I know a decent number of Chinese that can't *speak* well but are pretty decent at writing e-mails or written communication.

    The other thing is that the socio-linguistics of English and Chinese are very different. Basically to be able to have a "high level of formal Chinese" you have to memorize a ton of idioms and classical phrases that no one uses in standard conversation.

    I've come across people that have excellent English fluency that haven't been outside of China. These are usually younger people from wealthy families that have spent $$$$ to make sure that they have had an English speaking environment since birth.

    Also that's one reason the National College Exam doesn't measure English fluency is that if you are poor, you can memorize the test questions, learn some basic grammar rules, pass the tests, and then get yourself in an environment where you can actually speak English. If they changed the test to test actual fluency, then people from families with a lot of $$$$ have an overwhelming advantage.

    It depends on what you want to learn the language for. For example, in the case of the fields I'm familiar with, the important thing is to get background information. In that case, it's just enough to be able to read enough so that you can scan a newspaper for something interesting, and once you find an article that is interesting, you can put it into google translate.

    It can take years to be able to speak Chinese like a native. However, with a year of work, you can probably learn enough to identify the major characters so that you can do google (or baidu) searches.
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