1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Most useful (spoken) language to learn for a Nuclear Engineer?

  1. Sep 20, 2008 #1

    I'm a Nuclear Engineering undergrad at Penn State. Right now I'm considering to learn a foreign language so I will be able to communicate to other countries which have a considerable amount of nuclear resources (personnel and infrastructure). I have a few questions in regards to learning a second language:

    1) Which foreign language would be the most useful for an English speaking Nuclear Engineer to learn?

    2) How typically would someone go about learning a second language through a university?

    3) What type of curriculum could I expect?

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 20, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    Korean (North) good job opportunities, not much of a pension - same applies to Iran.

    French - probably going to be making most of the reactors in Europe in the next couple of decades. Very nice place to work, the problem is that however well you speak french, the french won't speak to you - this is nothing personal, the same applies to anyone from Paris.

    Japanese - the other big maker of reactors. Tricky language, they don't even have proper letters, fortunately everyone speaks English!

    Most universities have language classes, either for credit or just for interest. Science/engineerign deps often have technicla langauge course, German+Russian are most common, these focus on translating technical papers rather than asking the way to the station or discussing literature.
  4. Sep 21, 2008 #3
    LMAO @ Korean and Farsi suggestion ;)
  5. Sep 21, 2008 #4
    Chinese! China's economy is growing rapidly as well as it's energy need and from what I have heard reactor interest is sparking.

    Additionally, if you can master Chinese, many other East Asian languages are pretty easy to pick up. 8 weeks of Chinese (in an intensive course of 4hrs a day 4 days a week) and you will have a good start; however, to really learn Chinese it takes between 5 to 6 years (according to my Chinese prof.) unless you live in china for a few months.

    If you want to stay in the "West" French or German would be pretty good bets.
  6. Sep 21, 2008 #5
    Russian language is also good.
  7. Sep 21, 2008 #6
    I recommend French, German or Russian language. It depends which country suits you best. I think that Germany is the best to live in...
    EDIT: For communication only, I would pick Russian.
  8. Sep 21, 2008 #7
    I'd say Mandarin. The amount of growth that is going on there is huge. Also, not many Chinese people can speak English, but lots of Europeans do. My brother is currently studying it.
  9. Sep 28, 2008 #8
    Id say French, Mandarin, Spanish or German. If i were to learn another language, I would take Mandarin, although i know English and French already :)
  10. Sep 28, 2008 #9
    Thanks for your advice everyone. I must say, I had never even heard about Mandarin before I posted my question. Now it's one of the languages I am considering to learn. Also, I just found a great source of information concerning the nuclear infrastructure of various countries. In case someone else is wondering the same questions I am, I'm posting the link:

    http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/info.html#countries" [Broken]

    That site should help greatly with determining the most useful language for a nuclear engineer to learn.

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  11. Sep 28, 2008 #10
    A little bit off topic, but I'm curious as to how any of you guys have learned foreign languages? I'm a native English speaker, have studied Spanish for over 4 years, and have started to learn Mandarin Chinese in the past month. I'd like to get a hold of Rosetta Stone, but that is rather costly. So instead, I've been browsing around language learning websites, and have found livemocha.com to be quite beneficial.
  12. Sep 30, 2008 #11

    I 100% reccomend the Assimil courses. They are books, which you just read along to passages of text, with the CD. The left page is the text, the right page is the English translation. You do that every day, and you assimilate the language without studying lessons, doing any drills etc. It sounds too far fetched to be true, but it works wonders. Look at any language learning forum, advanced linguists always reccomend them above everything else. I have no idea why they aren't more well known, or why more courses don't offer the same method. They are miracles. This isn't my video, but is a good review of them.


    They don't have every language, but have the most popular languages from Europe and Asia. Sadly, not Russian, so right now I'm churning through drill based methods. Nothing compares!

    Hope that helps. Go look at reviews on the internet!
  13. Sep 30, 2008 #12
    In my opinion, for languages, it's best to pick up one that's part of a family - like French is close to Italian and Spanish, and Dutch is close to Flemish and German - unfortunately for us native Anglos, English isn't really close to anything so we can often have a hard time picking up languages, especially when they use a different alphabet.

    I'd recommend Mandarin - I learnt a bit a couple of years back and it seems to keep coming in handy even though I'm back in NZ. Also, after learning how to speak it, the written form of Mandarin is fairly logical, with only one alphabet.

    And that way you know they're talking about you when they go on about the guailo.
  14. Sep 30, 2008 #13
  15. Sep 30, 2008 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    English is very close to German and Dutch.
    The difficulty for English is that there is no real pressure to learn another language and no 'obvious' language to choose.
  16. Oct 18, 2008 #15
    Any language is good, but if you have no background in any, I would probably go with French, they are very pro-nuclear, so if you work in France, or do some sort of work on the international level from the US, it will be useful. As someone stated, Japanese can be good also, but I think the gap is kinda wide...
  17. Oct 18, 2008 #16
    They certainly are very pro-nuclear...

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook