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What Languages would be Helpful for Physics majors to learn?

  1. Aug 9, 2012 #1
    A foreign language is a major requirement at my college for physics majors, and I was wondering what languages would be best to learn for Physics majors. I know I won't study French or Spanish again, because I was horrible at it in high school and middle school, so I thought it'd just be best to study a new language, and I was wondering what would be a useful language to learn. I'm highly interested in learning Japanese, but not sure how that will be useful in Physics. My college offers Most European languages and Chinese.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 9, 2012 #2
    If you're interested in Japanese, that gets my recommendation.
  4. Aug 9, 2012 #3
    How would that help?
  5. Aug 10, 2012 #4
    Do you really think it will make a practical difference in his physics marketability/ability to network by learning a particularly useful language? We have visiting professors and scholars all the time and they come from all over the world speaking chinese, spanish, german, japanese, etc and of course, English.

    Maybe I am wrong and a more experienced scientists can speak otherwise, but I just don't really think it matters.
  6. Aug 10, 2012 #5
    Maybe. The trouble with language is that learning a few phrases is not going to help you deal with other scientists (who usually have some fluency in English). If you get to the point where you are fluent this will help quite a bit, but this requires a *lot* of work.
  7. Aug 10, 2012 #6
    If you were horrible at French or Spanish, then you're likely to have *much* more trouble with Japanese or Chinese, assuming your native language is English.

    Stick to whichever language is offered that is generally considered easiest to learn for the speakers of your native language. Especially if your primary motivation is to fulfill the major requirement.
  8. Aug 10, 2012 #7
    The language of love is universal
  9. Aug 10, 2012 #8


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    I studied Russian in college, and that never came in useful. I wish I had studied Spanish (as I ended up spending almost a year in South America gathering data for my research in astrophysics) or German (several months spent working in Germany as well).
  10. Aug 10, 2012 #9
    I wasn't saying knowing a language won't help. But that there is not a 'best' language for physics.
  11. Aug 10, 2012 #10
    You know English already. That's the most important in science.
  12. Aug 10, 2012 #11
    I've said this before on these forums and I'll say it again.

    Learn whatever language is associated with whatever culture you can see yourself living and working in one day. The only reason you will actually need another language is if you are living/working in another country. Thus, if you can't see yourself living/working there, then there is no point.

    If you want to do physics abroad, many countries are heavily involved in physics particularly Germany, France, Switzerland, Japan etc. Therefore, German, French and Japanese would all be very good choices.

    For me, I am learning German. The reason being that Germany has so much to offer in terms of both education and future careers in physics. Japan also has a lot to offer for physics, but I can't see myself ever living there due to the cultural differences. French I am less interested in than German, but if I ever become fluent in German I will probably begin learning French.

    So ask yourself this, where do you want to live/work one day? If you don't know, then maybe do a little research.
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