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Learn French or German language for physicist?

  1. Jun 30, 2017 #1
    I am planning on learning a new language in the upcoming year. I already have a B1 level of french and had thought about perfecting it. However, I was told that German was more useful as a physicist as it would open career paths in Germany and postgrad opportunities after undergrad, the only problem is that I have no knowledge of the language which is why I would have to start from 0. I have to choose only one of the languages as I have a limited amount of time and my goal is to learn as much as I can over the course of year (with intensive courses). Do the benefits of German for a physicist outweigh the fact that I already know some french? What language is better for a physicist career wise and for postgrad studies?
     
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  3. Jun 30, 2017 #2

    fresh_42

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    German is closer to English, which I think equals the starting conditions. I would ask what kind of physics you're specialized in. I mean CERN e.g. is in Geneva, the French part of Switzerland. On the other hand there are several MPI in Germany in various parts of natural sciences and especially physics. France has ITER and Kourou. In Germany is the GSI. If you want to read original papers (Einstein, Noether, Planck, Schrödinger), then German is your choice. With respect to universities, I don't think there are major differences. But I don't know the specific landscapes. I guess Berlin is significantly cheaper than Paris, but there are other places in France. In former times, students have chosen their place of study by the person they wanted to learn from.
     
  4. Jul 1, 2017 #3

    DrDu

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    It is never a bad idea to learn a new language, especially when you are interested to study or work in Europe. German is not easy, but on the other hand you don't have to write poems like Goethe but be able to follow your classes with a relatively restricted technical vocabulary and master everyday life, when you plan to study in Germany.
     
  5. Jul 1, 2017 #4

    DrDu

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    I doubt that Berlin is significantly cheaper than Paris, but while France is quite a centralistic country with also the most renowned universities being located in its capital, this is not so in Germany. Especially the universities in former East Germany offer now excellent conditions for students and living is quite cheap there as compared to metropolitan areas.
     
  6. Jul 1, 2017 #5

    symbolipoint

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    Easy or not easy -
    How easy one finds a language to learn depends on how it is taught, the effort the student gives, and just how well the student naturally develops when learning the language. Nicolas might really find learning German is hard,... OR he might find that it is 'easy' (although still requires effort).
     
  7. Jul 1, 2017 #6
    I forgot to mention that I am not an english native speaker. My native language is actually Spanish, so it is actually closer to french. So for grad school the differences are almost negligible? I mean, price quality etc ... If not which one is better? Because otherwise I would learn french I think
     
  8. Jul 1, 2017 #7

    DrDu

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    For a spanish native speaker, French doesn't count as a foreign language!
     
  9. Jul 1, 2017 #8
    You really don't need to speak good German to work as a scientist in Germany. It helps of corse for daily life, but if you don't speak a word of German that's not at all detrimental for a master or PhD student. At the university, everyone is fluent in English. French is therefore basically as good as German, and it might be even smarter to skip the language and learn something sciency instead.
     
  10. Jul 1, 2017 #9

    fresh_42

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  11. Jul 1, 2017 #10

    WWGD

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    Ultimately, if you choose to learn, this worked for me, for foreign language reqs : the Wikipediacht : https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Hauptseite Learn a few Physics terms in German, look them up, and follow the links. The context will help narrow down the possibilities. Good luck!
     
  12. Jul 1, 2017 #11

    symbolipoint

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    Whichever you choose, either might be fun. You should not worry about the differences between German or French regarding how well you believe you'd be able to learn.
     
  13. Jul 3, 2017 #12

    f95toli

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    One thing worth considering is that it is (usually) better to speak ONE language well than two languages badly.
    My point is that learning French to a level where it is actually useful (i.e. you can have a conversation and read books) is going to be better than to try to learn yet another language but never getting beyond the "tourist" level.
    Moreover, if you learn a language "properly" you are also more likely to actually use it and you won't forget it so quickly.
     
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