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Economics and Foreign Language

  1. Jul 28, 2008 #1
    I'm an economics major. I am trying to decide what foreign language I should take next year. I am already fluent in Spanish, and I would like my language choice to be a nice complement to my major.

    Any suggestions?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2008 #2


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    I personally don't know enough to advise you. Possibly your post will be moved to the education and career forum. Many experienced people there, often very helpful.

    I will tell you my reaction, for what it's worth. I think you have to tell us more about your goals.

    If you plan to go into BUSINESS with emphasis on international trade and the globalization of manufacturing and sales, or into international investment banking, then I think you might consider PORTUGUESE for several reasons.

    If you are fluent in Spanish then it ought to be very easy to learn. Plus the Brazil economy has been growing and is very important to the world economy.

    A lot of economic growth and investment opportunity is centered in the BRIC nations Brazil, Russia, India, China. But Russian and Chinese are difficult languages to learn. with Chinese there is the strange system of writing. Russian alphabet is comparatively easy but the language is highly inflected, you conjugate verbs, decline nouns, quite a bit worse than German, for example. Also many educated Russians know English so you can talk with them. Many in India also speak English. So I see a definite payoff to Portuguese.

    But your goals make a big difference. Suppose you plan to work in Africa, maybe you want to work for a DEVELOPMENT agency, in some developing countries. then I wouldn't know what to suggest. Portuguese wouldn't be especially advantageous. French? Swahili? one of the Bantu group?

    There is always a shortage of people who know Arabic, I believe. There is going to be that Middle East puzzle for years to come, made of Resentment, Blunders, and Oil. If you like challenges you might try Arabic.

    But the other people doubtless have ideas more to the point. I will just suggest Portuguese and leave it at that.
  4. Jul 28, 2008 #3


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    Arabic (Middle East and North Africa) and French (Middle East and parts of Africa) come to mind.

    Chinese and Russian would probably also be useful, too given their economic clout these days.
  5. Jul 28, 2008 #4


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    French is still used in numerous countries outside of France, and might be the easiest to learn since you already know Spanish (if you don 't opt for Portuguese, then)
  6. Jul 30, 2008 #5
    My first thought was french aswell and another romance language, like Arildno pointed out, would be easier. It's also more commonly known but will look good on a resume. Chinese and Japanese are good for business/economics though most chinese or japanese that you will deal with will likely know english and probably better than you know their language, they will stand out on a resume though.
    Astro's Suggestion of Arabic is a very interesting idea. I have no idea how much necessity for it exists. It may look quite good on a resume and may get you involved in some interesting projects. At the same time if the demand is limited there may be a preference for native speakers.
    Portuguese was historically a good language for trade. I have no idea about its use in modern times though.

    http://marriottschool.byu.edu/gmc/programs/language_c.cfm [Broken]
    There's a list of 'business language' courses. It'll probably give you an idea of which ones are more common. And it does include portuguese. ;-)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  7. Jul 30, 2008 #6


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  8. Jul 30, 2008 #7
    I double posted it because someone suggested that I do that. GOSH.
  9. Jul 30, 2008 #8


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    My bad, Ranger, sorry I got you into some flack. I didn't think about the no-double-posting business. It just occurred to me that the Education and Career advice forum would be the ideal place to get suggestions.

    I hope you do get some responses though, in that other forum. As I recall the regulars there are usually a very helpful bunch, and they share their collective experience.
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