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Useful languages to learn in college

  1. Jul 23, 2010 #1
    Hey everyone. I'm a freshman starting college this fall, and I was just wondering what the most useful language to learn in college would be. I'm not required to take a language with the degree plan I have, but I was thinking it might be useful to learn one anyways. Another reason I thought it might be useful would be for study abroad, where knowing another language would open up options. I was thinking Chinese probably would be good to learn. I plan on being a researcher of physics or biology, so I'm thinking that might be a useful tool if I ever go overseas, on top of just the general China is a big world power thing. Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2010 #2
    If you are in the U.S. and happen to be in an area with a sizable Latino population, then Spanish is THE way to go, as it is a WIIIIIIIDELY spoken language throughout the world, and is easily the most relevant second language in the U.S., as well as many other places.

    Simply being fluent in Spanish will lead to better careers and more open doors. Where I live (Oregon) the Latino population is immense, and being able to speak Spanish is a great way to set yourself above the competition.

    Now, this may not apply you too much since you plan on being a researcher, so it would depend more on where you would want to do research at. If, for some reason, you decided that Spain's ecosystem is perfect for some soil sampling and animal research, then learn Spanish. On the other hand, if doing experiments on gravity up high on the Tibetan Mountains sounds like a better deal to you, learn Mandarin :)

    Basically, unless you are particularly partial to a language, learn what will BENEFIT you most, and not, to put it callously, what you like the most.

    For example, I have chosen to study Spanish over either French or Italian, simply because Spanish is MUCH more relevant where I live. And since its more practical, I have grown to appreciate it much more than what were once my "preferred" languages of study.

    One thing to take note of though is, learning a language is ridiculously difficult if you do not have opportunities to speak it regularly with others. Be sure you have the resources necessary to immerse yourself in a language if you plan on being fluent at all. Learning a language is much different than learning other things, such as math or science.

    Good luck in college!!! By the way, may I ask which one you are attending?
  4. Jul 23, 2010 #3
    Thanks for your response.
    I actually live in Texas, so I've definitely heard people talk about how useful Spanish is. But yeah, I was thinking it might not necessarily be the most useful in my profession. Learning Chinese probably wouldn't be too bad, as one of my parents and relatives on their side are Chinese and speak it regularly. But on the other hand, I probably could practice Spanish too in college (I'm going to UT).
  5. Jul 23, 2010 #4
    Chinese and Spanish seem to be the top choices for you so far, since you'll be able to practice. Also consider other "in demand" languages such as any from the Middle East or Asia.

    You don't really know where you'll be in ~4 years and knowing one of these languages could land you a nice government job.
  6. Jul 23, 2010 #5
    In my opinion, Spanish, Mandarin, Russian, Farsi, Arabic, Hebrew, Korean, Portuguese, and Hindi.
  7. Jul 23, 2010 #6
    Spanish will be easy for you to learn because of the alphabet and because its just an easy language to learn. Chinese would be almost the exact opposite. It doesn't even use the same alphabet.. but I suppose if you're hearts in it then do whatever you want. Also German is a good language to learn since Germany's a pretty big fish in Europe and a lot of countries surrounding it speak similar languages (Belgium, Holland, Switzerland).
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