Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

I have to take a foreign language!

  1. Jan 21, 2012 #1
    I am an undergraduate physics student, and it is required at my school to take and pass a 200 level course in a foreign language. I need to start taking a foreign language either this summer or fall. It will take at least four semesters to finish with my language requirement. My options are as follows: French, Spanish, German, or Japanese. There is also a possibility of Portuguese or Chinese, but they are scheduled oddly. I have talked to my adviser about which one would be the most helpful to me. She said all I need to know is English. However, language is a requirement for me. Which language do you think would be best?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2012 #2


    User Avatar

    Just get the language requirement out of the way. Take the easiest one; probably Spanish or French.
  4. Jan 23, 2012 #3
    Ya, I would go with Spanish most likely. There are many resources available for help learning Spanish. You could also consider fulfilling your requirement online so you can work at your own pace.
  5. Jan 23, 2012 #4
    If you're in the US, I guess Spanish is probably the most useful. If you intend to work in Europe I'd say pick the biggest economies like German (which is spoken in germany, switzerland and Austria) or French.

    As a native English speaker maybe German would be easier for you. I don't know how hard Spanish would be but I do know that in a beginners class people who don't speak any latin language tipically progress much slower. My brother is studying in the UK and he got instantly put in a level 3 class after a few lessons (he is portuguese) even though he'd never had a spanish lesson before.
  6. Jan 23, 2012 #5
    I can say as a native english speaker there's less learning curve with French and Spanish (what I learnt) but speaking to others who did German, once you get past the initial learning curve of it, you'll find its just as natural as French or Spanish just takes a bit of getting used to it.
  7. Jan 23, 2012 #6


    User Avatar

    Do you have plans for any specific type of physics, say, in graduate school? If you want to do astrophysics, specifically observational, then Spanish would come in useful - many of the big telescopes are located in South America. I traveled down there a lot while working on my PhD, but never did take any Spanish courses (didn't manage to pick up much either, but I wish I had, especially when traveling around). Some fields, like particle physics, might be better off learning French or German (although I did spend a good amount of time in Germany working with collaborators - I took one semester of German, and I'm glad I did).
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook