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Good idea to do a language module in my MEng degree?

  1. Jul 16, 2009 #1
    I'm soon starting my 3rd year of my degree. Were allowed to select our modules now, and basically decide what we want to go into, i.e. fluids/thermo, materials, stress analysis etc. Were also given the opportunity to choose one module that is not engineering related. I was thinking about doing a language module such as Spanish. Would it be a mistake giving up a module that could be engineering related with one that is not? Would engineering employers prefer if i had stuck to all my modules being based on engineering?

    Also, i have never studied Spanish, so would it distract me from my other modules because i would have to work on it more? If anyone has done a language with an engineering degree could you let me know about your experiences. Would be very helpful!
    Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2009 #2
    A second language is becoming as increasingly useful skill to have. I wish I could speak one.

    Unfortuantely the truth is you can't learn a language in a module, taking just one in the third year (thst is likely to be at a high level and im surprised doesnt require prerequisites) will be a slight waste of time.

    There are other options for learning a language however, nightschool is one of them.
  4. Jul 16, 2009 #3


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    Agreed, I had taken 3 years of Spanish in high school, was just in the Dominican Republic and could hardly communicate.
  5. Jul 17, 2009 #4
    I studied German at high school from 13 to 18, with high GCSE and A level qualifications. As a result, I chose that as my elective courses in the third and fourth year instead of project management, entrepreneurship or innovation management etc. As a result I found that my technical and conversational German was improved and polished, to the point where I can refer to German technical publications and journals in my subject area. I could have carried on with French (similar standard) or learnt more Spanish or Italian than I know just from travelling but I felt that as an engineer, German would be pretty useful :)

    I had a lot of coursework in those electives, and whilst the load may be less for a starter course you may find that, as previous posters have said, you don't make enough progress in one year to justify the extra work load. But, it's interesting and good for rounding out your abilities, plus if you can learn the language to a high level it's a useful skill to have.
  6. Jul 17, 2009 #5
    it depends where you want to work and what you want to do. If you work in an environment with another language that is used consistently, then it would be extremely useful to at least get some grounding (a semester or more) in that language before you go to work. But just choosing a random language with no intent of using it in the future is nearsighted. I would rather spend time on an engineering course.

    languages are things that you can learn a little about, but then to be useful in them, you have to practise them and almost every day. I learned German in a short course and then got to use it in Germany for 9 months (where it improved considerably, it has to if you want to understand what's going on). But now, my german is realy lousy and I would dread to have to use it again, because I haven't used it in a year and it's really rusty.

    On the other hand, i work now in an almost 90% dutch environment and my dutch went from zero, last year, to hero now, because I use it every day. The course work (cd's in the car and a little book) I did in it before hand helped for the first week, then the rest came from practice. If i didn't practice, the course work would have been worth diddly squat.
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