Learning a second language

  • Thread starter Jeff Ford
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  • #1
Jeff Ford
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I've noticed that many of the graduate programs I've looked at in mathematics require mastery of a second language. I'm currently studying Mandarin, but have noticed most of them prefer French, German, or Russian. Is there a language other than English that is more useful than others in math and physics?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
neurocomp2003
1,366
3
alot of the european ones probably...but if you learn mandarin maybe you can tap into the asian papers...I wonder why the call it the chinese remainder theorm and not
name it after the guy like Euler Phi Fx.

btw are you learning through {"b" "p" "m" "f"} or pinyin or actual chinese characters?
 
  • #3
Jeff Ford
155
2
Currently I'm just working on the characters, reading and writing only. I've been told by a few friends that learning the pronounciation on your own is a bad idea, as the tones are something that has to be taught through extensive repetition and correction.
 
  • #4
Genecks
135
0
Seeing as I've studied Asian languages for a hella time, I rather just move to the other country and study it there. Takes way too long if you don't live next door.

If you want to be lazy, choose your neighboring countries language.
This would be french and spanish for americans. Some Canadian speak french, some mexicans spanish.

These two languages can be brought over seas also.

Mandarin Chinese is probably isolated somewhat, except in America cause we have tons of different people here. However for those who don't live in melting pot cities, learning a language without the speakers of the language around you is hard and will often cause one to fail quickly when they go to the destination where the language is mainly used. A thing with Asian languages is that sometimes people create slang and their areas will use the language differently. It's very complex learning Asian languages, that's why I stopped and decided to go back to just learning Science for now.

By the way, I studied Nihongo.


-- update --

The tones can become annoying. That's why I spent a lot of time watching videos, anime, online T.V.

jref.com and japantoday.com have a whole forum built on learning the Japanese language (Nihongo) Supposedly Mandarin is more difficult than Japanese and if that's the case, I would move to China, but people can't move to china because they have too many people, so moving next door might help. Heck, learning russian might not be a bad idea.

Last I remember China took over part of russia so if you learn russian, you could move over near China and learn Chinese while you're in russia.

However Russia itself is a difficult language because of the characters, however they are somewhat closely related to english and probably takes less time to work out than Japanese.
 
Last edited:
  • #5
Jimmy Snyder
1,095
20
Jeff Ford said:
Currently I'm just working on the characters, reading and writing only. I've been told by a few friends that learning the pronounciation on your own is a bad idea, as the tones are something that has to be taught through extensive repetition and correction.
If you are learning Mandarin simply in order to satisfy a graduate math or science program, then spending time learning the writing and the tones will not help you that much. The program probably just requires that you be able to read and translate.

I doubt that Mandarin is the best choice for a second language though. When I was in the Math program at Temple U., French, German, and Russian were the only choices, and we had to choose two. The test consisted of translating a few pages of a textbook written in that language.
 
  • #6
Jeff Ford
155
2
Hmmm, perhaps French would be a better choice. My wife is fluent and could help me practice. From a standpoint of usefullness Spanish would be good since we have so many non-English speaking Mexicans in the US these days. I just liked Mandarin becuase it was non-alphabetic and had simple grammar. Oh well, I've got time to figure it out anyway.
 
  • #7
Lisa!
Gold Member
639
97
What about German esp. if you're interested in Philosophy.
 
  • #8
Andre
4,509
74
Ich glaube, daß die Deutsche Sprache viel zu viel unausprechliche Vokalen für die Angelsachsen hat.

La langue Française avec une instructrice personnelle aura la préférence

Hoewel, Nederlands mag natuurlijk ook
 
  • #9
neurocomp2003
1,366
3
llol you don't need to move to china to learn mandarin...toronto/vancouver are very populated with mandarin/cantonese.

As for the tones...you just have to learn the examples of one sound like "b" and then as a student practice over the other sounds. Then when you meet your teacher you practice with them on the new sounds with tones and then the teahcer should be able to correct you.
 
  • #10
Jeff Ford
155
2
Andre said:
Ich glaube, daß die Deutsche Sprache viel zu viel unausprechliche Vokalen für die Angelsachsen hat.
The German language is difficult to pronounce vowels without what?

Andre said:
La langue Française avec une instructrice personnelle aura la préférence
French is best with personal instruction?

Andre said:
Hoewel, Nederlands mag natuurlijk ook
I'm guessing this one is Dutch, but I could be wrong
 
  • #11
Serbian.matematika
64
0
Serbian is very easy, simple language to learn and that will give you a basic knowledge of Russian, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Slovak, and Croatian. I speak all those languages plus German too. Go bro you can do it.
 
  • #12
Genecks
135
0
neurocomp2003 said:
llol you don't need to move to china to learn mandarin...toronto/vancouver are very populated with mandarin/cantonese.

As I had stated with being in an area where melting with other cultures/languages occur in the U.S.. I live very close to Chicago and hope to move there once obtaining my A.A.S

Chicago is a land where the majority are minorities. Great place to learn languages. Even L.A. or NY
 
  • #13
Serbian.matematika
64
0
One more thing about Serbian; your Serbian is going to be like my english, i am sure ppl will understand you:-)
 
  • #14
Tony11235
255
0
Serbian.matematika said:
Serbian is very easy, simple language to learn and that will give you a basic knowledge of Russian, Ukrainian, Macedonian, Slovak, and Croatian. I speak all those languages plus German too. Go bro you can do it.

Once you learn one slavic language, the others come so easy. Although that can be said for any language. Studying languages is a hobby of mine. I can speak Spanish, who can't, Italian, some Brazilian Portuguese, some Russian, Chinese, Greek, what else..., very little Farsi and Thai, the others are not event worth saying. I would have hard time choosing a language to stick with.
 
  • #15
Genecks
135
0
I would really like to go into Latin.
 
  • #16
phreak
142
1
I'm learning Japanese. Everyone seems to think that it's difficult, but if you have a somewhat flexible mind, it's quite simple. I covered the BSU curricula for Japanese I and II in 3 days... it really doesn't take that much time either.
 
  • #17
Tony11235
255
0
I got to learn japanese some day. I've studied the kana, and I know the meaning of a fair amount of characters from my chinese, not how to pronouce them of course. BTW, has anybody here ever studied hieroglyphics? Sort of off topic I guess, what good would hieroglyphics be anyway.
 
  • #18
Jimmy Snyder
1,095
20
Tony11235 said:
BTW, has anybody here ever studied hieroglyphics?
I have. The development of hieroglyphics was similar in many ways to the development of the Chinese characters. As with Chinese characters, hieroglyphs are a fusion of phonetic and semantic elements, with strong emphasis on the phonetic. There are several inexpensive books that teach basic hieroglyphs. Cuneiform is also heavily phonetic though I have only learned a few characters. For some reason, I haven't seen any books that teach them. There is a short, but excellent introduction to the similarities of the Chinese, Egyptian, and Sumerian/Babylonian, writing systems in the book 'The Origin and Early Development of the Chinese Writing System' by William Boltz. He also mentions that the Mayan writing system is also of the same type, but does not go into any detail. Besides the sheer enjoyment of the effort, one reason for studying hieroglyphs might be that the Latin alphabet has its roots there.

I am literate in Japanese, but my conversational ability is only fair. As my wife is Taiwanese, I would like to learn Chinese. It's kind of embarassing that I can only speak a few words. I can read some simple Chinese because I can read Japanese and have studied a little Chinese grammar. It seems we are mirror images in this regard.
 
  • #19
leon1127
486
0
Bio-Hazard said:
Seeing as I've studied Asian languages for a hella time, I rather just move to the other country and study it there. Takes way too long if you don't live next door.

If you want to be lazy, choose your neighboring countries language.
This would be french and spanish for americans. Some Canadian speak french, some mexicans spanish.

These two languages can be brought over seas also.

Mandarin Chinese is probably isolated somewhat, except in America cause we have tons of different people here. However for those who don't live in melting pot cities, learning a language without the speakers of the language around you is hard and will often cause one to fail quickly when they go to the destination where the language is mainly used. A thing with Asian languages is that sometimes people create slang and their areas will use the language differently. It's very complex learning Asian languages, that's why I stopped and decided to go back to just learning Science for now.

By the way, I studied Nihongo.


-- update --

The tones can become annoying. That's why I spent a lot of time watching videos, anime, online T.V.

jref.com and japantoday.com have a whole forum built on learning the Japanese language (Nihongo) Supposedly Mandarin is more difficult than Japanese and if that's the case, I would move to China, but people can't move to china because they have too many people, so moving next door might help. Heck, learning russian might not be a bad idea.

Last I remember China took over part of russia so if you learn russian, you could move over near China and learn Chinese while you're in russia.

However Russia itself is a difficult language because of the characters, however they are somewhat closely related to english and probably takes less time to work out than Japanese.


Some russian dude was teaching chinese on chinese channel...
A fair amount of russians who live close to chinese border speak well mandarin. If you live in Cali/NY/ Van Couver, chinese will be right for you.

But my opinion is that if you live in US and planning to stay in US, learn spanish~~~ Reserch said that spanish only takes about 800 hours to learn, and chinese is about 2000 hours. chinese was like the most difficult language in the world (not considering dialect like Cantonese... even harder to speak,lol)
 
  • #20
Emieno
96
0
Jeff Ford said:
I've noticed that many of the graduate programs I've looked at in mathematics require mastery of a second language. I'm currently studying Mandarin, but have noticed most of them prefer French, German, or Russian. Is there a language other than English that is more useful than others in math and physics?

Choosing a language i think is not really a matter of what you percieve. A certain language becomes useful always in accordance with the increase of population it tries to satisfy. English has always been the first choice for which I think the first reason is business strength. Plus, some of the languages you mentioned are originated from Latin or they are similar to it in the learners's eyes, and become easier to grasp than Chinese, Japanese, etc. This, say, phenomenon, of choosing a language to learn is pretty similar to the meaning of self-organization, in that each species only observe his/her next doors to make a move not the whole community.

Japanese, French, Spanish, German, Chinese(Mandarin and Cantonese), and a bit of Russian...I can speak all of them but am good at none :biggrin:
 
  • #21
rain.w
7
0
jimmysnyder said:
If you are learning Mandarin simply in order to satisfy a graduate math or science program, then spending time learning the writing and the tones will not help you that much. The program probably just requires that you be able to read and translate.

I doubt that Mandarin is the best choice for a second language though. When I was in the Math program at Temple U., French, German, and Russian were the only choices, and we had to choose two. The test consisted of translating a few pages of a textbook written in that language.

agree with you although I'm a chinese, and I don't know why jeff prefer chinese for his second language also. for most of scientific documents are written in those languages not chiese besides english. only if you're interested in chinese history or culture, I think, you really need mandarin...
 
  • #22
Jeff Ford
155
2
I just enjoy Mandarin. I'm fascinated by the characters. It will probably be something I take on later in life. For now one of the basic romance languages will probably be more useful.
 
  • #23
djeipa
46
0
Oooooohhhhh, I learn Russian because I like Russ.
 
  • #24
Poop-Loops
721
0
Do you need to "learn" one, or just "know" one? I know Polish, but I'm not taking any college classes on it or anything, my parents are from there and I went to school there for 5th, 6th, and 7th grade. So I won't have any credits showing that I know it...

PL
 
  • #25
brudally
8
0
i think he needs to learn it, really needs it.
 
  • #26
Gott_ist_tot
52
0
Just pick a language that you are interested in. I personally suggest German. It's my favorite that I have studied. Plus it is the language for Stanford's motto. Die Luft der Freiheit weht. But it is whatever you have an interest in. Don't pick a language you make yourself learn.
 
  • #27
loseyourname
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
1,802
5
leon1127 said:
But my opinion is that if you live in US and planning to stay in US, learn spanish~~~ Reserch said that spanish only takes about 800 hours to learn, and chinese is about 2000 hours. chinese was like the most difficult language in the world (not considering dialect like Cantonese... even harder to speak,lol)

No dialect of Chinese can hold a candle to Iroquoian languages like Navajo and Cherokee, at least for people that are not already fluent in another agglutinative language. The phonetics are much simpler, granted, but the grammar is impossibly difficult (hence the "unbreakable codes of WWII), whereas Chinese grammar is fairly simple. I've been trying to learn Cherokee for a while now and still know almost nothing and probably never will until I have the opportunity to take an actual course, which are not easy to find. Comharthaím foghlaimíonn tú Gaeilge (I suggest you learn Irish). Once you get past the broad/slender consonant distinction and barely explicable spelling, it's not too hard. It isn't very practical, because almost nobody speaks it; to be honest, though, that's exactly why I think you should learn it.

German/French will be easy, especially if you only have to read it. Half the words in each language are cognates of English words.
 
  • #28
cefarix
78
0
You could try learning Arabic...I've learned some and its not very hard. Or you could give a shot at hindi/urdu (my mother tongue)...
 
  • #29
erok81
464
0
How hard is Russian to learn?

I have always wanted to try that. I took almost seven years of French and have forgotten most of it already. So I figured it's time to start on another one. I really don't want to learn French, and Russian seems like a good one.

Anyone on here know much Russian?
 
  • #30
moose
547
0
erok81 said:
How hard is Russian to learn?
It is said to be one of the hardest languages to learn in the world...
 
  • #31
noppakhuns
12
0
I'm studying Japanese and I can understand simple chinese sentenese, korean (if chinese characters are used). It's really enjoyable to study the characters. If I have time, I want to know about 10,000 characters.
 
  • #32
Gott_ist_tot
52
0
Irish is a really fun language to learn. Starting Irish will be very tough. However it gets a lot easier. You can even listen to pronunciation on RTE's internet radio.

LostYourName, you have to be one of the only other people I know who learned Cherokee. As a child I grew up around Tahlequah OK so my school was about 80% Cherokee. I had Cherokee lessons from 3rd grade until Jr. High. I personally did not like the language. I was really young so any second language probably seemed pointless to me. I can't say I suggest Cherokee though.

Irish would be the easiest language to learn, with correct pronunciation, for bragging rights. However it is not too dead. On the islands just off of western Ireland the traffic signs are pure Irish. However it is dead enough to rock. And in my opinion the coolest sounding language.
 
  • #33
lost
5
0
latin and greek ..
well math and physics has a lot of it i know for med school they prefer latin ..
 
  • #34
marlon
3,777
11
Andre said:
Ich glaube, daß die Deutsche Sprache viel zu viel unausprechliche Vokalen für die Angelsachsen hat.
Das stimmt...

La langue Française avec une instructrice personnelle aura la préférence

Bon, mais je voudrais voir cette instructrice avant de commencer.

Hoewel, Nederlands mag natuurlijk ook
Mooi zo, zo hoor ik het graag. Nederlands is echter vrij moeilijk aan te leren, vergeet dat niet


marlon
 
  • #35
djeipa
46
0
Oooooohhhh, that isn't about learning second langugea but third language :wink:
 

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