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Old 06-03-2010, 07:38 AM
 
Location: classified
1,678 posts, read 3,738,188 times
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Depends on where you wan to work for the most part but:

Spanish
Mandarin
Portuguese
Arabic
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:17 AM
 
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Learn languages spoken by most people and/or in most countries.

Other than English, of course, French (700 million speakers) Spanish (more than 400 million speakers), and an Asian language (Japanese or Chinese).

Also, once you learn French or Spanish, Italian (125 million speakers) and Portuguese (240 million speakers, and also spoken in areas of China and India) will be quite easy to learn as well.


My 2 cents here.

Last edited by Miaiam; 06-03-2010 at 08:28 AM..
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Old 06-04-2010, 04:36 AM
 
Location: all over the world
88 posts, read 302,537 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pigeonhole View Post
@ reinici : I don't share your views.
1) Mandarin is right now a craze among the elite and their children, but I'm old enough to remember a time (30 years ago) where it was "in" for everyone in those circles to learn Japanese; it seems to me it was only a fashionable thing to do but I remember that everybody back then said it was necessary to learn that language to enhance a business career, same with Mandarin today
@ pigeonhole:
I appreciate your different POV.

Actually Japanese was "in" to learn when I was younger too and I took Japanese courses for 5 years (highschool & uni) and considered doing a second major in Japanese. It's totally different. Chinese is more than a fad.

Let's first look at the numbers:

Mandarin: 1.05 billion (Native: 873 million, 2nd: 178 million)
English: 510 million (Native: 340 million; 2nd: 57 million)
Spanish: 420 million (Native: 350 million, 2nd: 70 million)
Japanese: 127 million(Native: 126 million; 2nd: 1 million)

And Korean? 71 million speakers

Massive difference.

(Top 30 Language Spoken in the World by Number of Speakers)

And it's a number's game. It's not just for people who want to go into International Business.....in our Internet Age, EVERYTHING is international business. Doesn't matter what field you go into. You always need a "buyer" who buys your product or your service. You make food or beverages, you need buyers. You paint paintings or make art work, you need people who "pay" you money OR appreciation. You are a musician, you need "fans" who "buy" your music (with money or appreciation). You are a performer, you need audience members. You are in the IT industry, you definitely need buyers. Doesn't matter what field of profession you go into, the more "buyers" the better. And if you can all of a sudden have access to an extra 1 billion potential buyers who buy your product, your food, your software, your invention, your service, your art, your performance, your ideas... why not? With the internet, you don't have to fly to Asia to make use of that market, you just need a way to communicate to them.

When I was in France last year, we were dealing with wine chateaux owners. These people are not in International business, they grow grapes their entire lives. They see Chinese buyers visiting their competitors who now make 10x the profit. They know that they need to change or they'll get bought out & swallowed up. You have no idea how many small estates have been swallowed up already. They don't even step out of their tiny town in Bordeaux--let alone flying to Asia. But Chinese people will travel to come to them--or their competitor.
That's why our French teammate said "The word 'Chinese' is like the words 'Open Sesame'." And we are talking about the most narcissistic, xenophobic country (I know cuz I've lived & worked there)!

Chinese now and Japanese then are totally different. Japanese people were powerful, for sure, but their number's just too small. When every one spends a dollar, it adds up.

1 billion vs 127 million.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pigeonhole View Post
(and what of Cantonese? the Chinese don't speak only Mandarin, and I guess in Taiwan it's a different brand of Chinese too).
I speak fluent Cantonese too (I've actually acted in Cantonese hahaha). I picked it up in highschool cuz I thought one day it'll be useful. Well, not really. It's more of a "cool" factor. Sometimes I whip it out and show off a few sentences of Cantonese in front of Cantonese-speakers, but apart from impressing them there's very little practical value. Almost all Cantonese-speakers speak Mandarin, or at least understand Mandarin. Well, except the octagenarians from the country side.

In Taiwan people also speak Mandarin (I've spent the past half a year in Taiwan, flying home in 2 days, yay!). Yea it's kinda different. Taiwan's Mandarin to Mainland China's Mandarin is like Canadian English to American English. People notice small differences (what do you mean you call it a beanie? It's a TOQUE! ), but everyone understands each other.


Quote:
Originally Posted by pigeonhole View Post
2)the economy shouldn't be the only reason to learn a language,
I totally agree with you that the economy shouldn't be the only reason to learn a language. I LOVE languages! I've even learned BISLAMA cuz I volunteered & lived in the South Pacific for a summer and many villagers only spoke Bislama so I had to speak it. Bislama has gotta be like...the least practical and most useless language to learn in the world...but I HAD A BLAST! I had so much fun learning & speaking it plus I love the island culture in Polynesia.

But....don't forget the OP asked "What language is the most beneficial to learn in the global context." So.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pigeonhole View Post
because for one thing, the economic successes of China, for many reasons, will not last forever probably, and another country could become one day the "leader of the band" and besides, people don't like it when you learn their language just to make a fast buck instead of having a genuine interest in their culture,
Yea...the economic successes of China will probably not last FOREVER like till the end of time....but I think for the next few decades if not century it's here to stay......Have you visited Shanghai or Beijing? If not, you should. Everyone should.
I have traveled to almost 50 countries around the world and every single continent (except Antarctica) and I've never seen anything like China.

My dad visited Shanghai TEN YEARS ago and said, "It's more Manhattan than Manhattan." And that was 10 years ago, and Shanghai is a city that changes every 2 months. I have a friend who flies to Shanghai for business a few times a year and he said every time he goes back it's different.

And I used to be super anti-China. I had this terribly condescending, indignant, sneering attitude towards China, which probably stemmed from years of painful weekend Chinese school my parents forced me to do and my rebellious nature as a teenager that antagonized everything my parents mildly represented, including the Chinese culture.

But in the past year, after understanding China more, I've completely changed my view. You don't even know half of it if you haven't seen it. Like I said.... almost 50 countries and nothing remotely like China.

Right...Japan's Tokyo's very impressive too, but how many Tokyo's are there in Japan? How many Tokyos is Japan capable of having due to physical limitations?
I said that Shanghai's impressive....but there are many, MANY more major cities in China that are just as impressive.
Heck! Even the "secondary cities" that nobody has heard of will make you drop your jaws. It's like coming to this random corner of China, a "smaller" city that nobody outside of China really knows about...and you are like.....HOLY SHXT! THIS "random small secondary city nobody has heard of" is a jumping super capitalist MEGA METROPOLIS!! The power really lies in China's size. It's a number's game.
It has the kind of power & resources that Japanese people could never even dream of. And the scariest thing... they know how to best put their resources and power to use.

ANd yea....people don't like it when you learn their language to make money. But it's CHINESE PEOPLE we are talking about! CHINESE people!! Who LOVE to make money! You learning their language just because you want to make money will impress them. It'll be seen as a very positive, highly-valued quality. I know cuz I don't have that quality. hahaha.

Last edited by reneici; 06-04-2010 at 05:00 AM..
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:13 AM
 
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German is the mother-tongue in more European countries than English, French, Spanish or Italian. After English, German is the second most important language worldwide for business, tourism and diplomacy. In central and Eastern Europe, German is the most important foreign language.
With German as a foreign language, you can improve your career chances. In particular, German is, after English, the most important language for youth qualifications in the fields of biology, chemistry, pharmacy, electrical and electronic engineering, mechanical engineering, vehicle manufacture, finance, diplomacy, sports, tourism and the whole area of training.
Worldwide there are about 130 million people who speak German as their mother tongue and about 15-18 millions who are learning German.
According to a study in 1994 by the German-American Chamber of Commerce, around 65 % of the firms asked said that they treated English-German bilingualism as an important factor in selecting new employees.
This applies equally to many technical developments, their names and their explanations.

German is the most important business language in the European Union and a bridge to the emerging economies of Central and Eastern Europe.
Here are some key figures that clarify the global position of the German-speaking market:
  • Germany's external trade volume of about 2,145 billion US$ (2006) is the second largest in the world after the USA and, per capita, Germany is the largest.
  • Germany's imports with almost 82 million inhabitants are 966 billion US$ (2006) and almost half as much as the US with 270 million inhabitants.
  • When looking at the exports, the importance of Germany on international trade markets is even more clear. The export volume of Germany with 894 billion US$ (2006) reached 117 % of the US volume, even though the population is under one third the size. Still it reached 125% of the volume of the fast growing economy of China.
  • Germany occupied the first place for global exports in the following sectors (1998 figures):
    • automotives: 19 % before Japan with 15 % and the USA with 12 %
    • chemicals: 13.8 % equal with the USA before France with 7.7 %
    • iron and steel: 11% before Japan with 10.5 % and Belgium/Luxembourg
      with 7 %
    • textiles: 8,8 % before Italy with 8.6 and China with 8. 5%
  • Note: In this statistics the volumes of the two other German-speaking countries Austria and Switzerland are not included.
    Source: www.destatis.de and www.amcham.de
    last update, based on official data in March 2007. Exchange rate for 2006 in an average: 1 Euro = 1,320 US$.
Moreover, high investments in foreign countries and the number of joint ventures between German and foreign companies show the importance of German in the business world.
German speakers are the biggest group of potential business partners in the European Union, forming around one third of the population.
Also, the German language often plays a more important role than English in the developing markets in Central and Eastern Europe: German is an important language in many parts of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Russia, the Ukraine, the Baltic states and the Czech Republic.
It should also be mentioned that the knowledge of foreign languages is valued highly in Germany. Being able to speak the language of the target group can have a big influence on successful marketing. Although roughly 50 % of all Germans can make themselves understood in at least one foreign language, when it comes to selling goods and services, most of them are lost. But: every customer expects the product to be presented in his own language.
The advantage of bilingual employees to an export-oriented firm is obvious. Any company seeing a target market in Europe will be working to improve the bilingual ability of its employees ... and German is the language behind the biggest group of buyers!
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Old 06-04-2010, 12:32 PM
 
Location: Monterey Bay, California -- watching the sea lions, whales and otters! :D
1,918 posts, read 6,784,224 times
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Quote:
reneici: And I used to be super anti-China. I had this terribly condescending, indignant, sneering attitude towards China, which probably stemmed from years of painful weekend Chinese school my parents forced me to do and my rebellious nature as a teenager that antagonized everything my parents mildly represented, including the Chinese culture.
I know this comment is not about the global economy, but it made me laugh. My daughter took Mandarin in college last year (her boyfriend's first language is Cantonese, second Mandarin, then English). She was the only "Caucasion" in the class, as the Chinese teacher noted.....

But my daughter said it was funny because so many kids were taking Mandarin because their parents said they had to (this is in San Jose, CA). She said one kid walked out after a test and commented, "My mother will kill me if I don't pass this class!" My kid was like, "Whoa, that's intense..."

My daughter is super into languages, too, although I'm not sure how it's going to help her -- I hope it does. She's only fluent in English and Spanish, right now (and the little Mandarin she knows, and some Japanese from taking it at a community college while in high school). She is planning on going to Japan this spring for six months, though, and hopes to pick it up there. I wish she'd learn more Chinese (Mandarin), but she is soured on it because the teacher moved very quickly (and continually noted she was the only white person there!) because it was mostly Chinese kids whose parents were making them take the class and they already had some familiarity with it....

Her next language, I think, is maybe French or Portuguese -- because she knows Spanish already, so it will be easy for her. Although she's also teaching herself some Korean because she has a pen pal in South Korea. Oh, yeah, and Russian is on that list, too! She can't make up her mind!! There are not enough hours in a day to learn all those languages she wants to learn! She's like you in that way -- she adores languages!

Anyway, I just thought it funny that you are now into Chinese things, and had to be forced into Chinese language classes. My daughter's boyfriend is now at that point saying, "I hate Chinese people...." and stuff like that. He's been here 11 years, but has not fully assimilated, and now he's getting interested in American things....

My hat's off to you, though -- sounds like you are truly a go-getter in many ways and your fascination with languages will carry you far! Good luck to you, and great post!
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Old 06-04-2010, 01:35 PM
 
Location: all over the world
88 posts, read 302,537 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wisteria View Post
I know this comment is not about the global economy, but it made me laugh. My daughter took Mandarin in college last year (her boyfriend's first language is Cantonese, second Mandarin, then English). She was the only "Caucasion" in the class, as the Chinese teacher noted.....

But my daughter said it was funny because so many kids were taking Mandarin because their parents said they had to (this is in San Jose, CA). She said one kid walked out after a test and commented, "My mother will kill me if I don't pass this class!" My kid was like, "Whoa, that's intense..."

My daughter is super into languages, too, although I'm not sure how it's going to help her -- I hope it does. She's only fluent in English and Spanish, right now (and the little Mandarin she knows, and some Japanese from taking it at a community college while in high school). She is planning on going to Japan this spring for six months, though, and hopes to pick it up there. I wish she'd learn more Chinese (Mandarin), but she is soured on it because the teacher moved very quickly (and continually noted she was the only white person there!) because it was mostly Chinese kids whose parents were making them take the class and they already had some familiarity with it....

Her next language, I think, is maybe French or Portuguese -- because she knows Spanish already, so it will be easy for her. Although she's also teaching herself some Korean because she has a pen pal in South Korea. Oh, yeah, and Russian is on that list, too! She can't make up her mind!! There are not enough hours in a day to learn all those languages she wants to learn! She's like you in that way -- she adores languages!

Anyway, I just thought it funny that you are now into Chinese things, and had to be forced into Chinese language classes. My daughter's boyfriend is now at that point saying, "I hate Chinese people...." and stuff like that. He's been here 11 years, but has not fully assimilated, and now he's getting interested in American things....

My hat's off to you, though -- sounds like you are truly a go-getter in many ways and your fascination with languages will carry you far! Good luck to you, and great post!
Thanks for the comment!

HAHA yea chinese parents are intense. GOOD FOR YOUR DAUGHTER! Languages will definitely help. I used to say it all the time but I had always secretly wondered...but now I know for sure. When I was in school my mom was always skeptical about me learning dif languages. When I learned French she thought it was totally useless. Well, I got paid to wine and dine my way through France...who would've thought? You just never know.

I say encourage her to follow her passion in languages. If she has the passion it's a bonus--and sounds like she does. Like I said...this world is becoming smaller with Internet and tele-communication. More and more different countries are working together and WANT to work together. They have to. Doesn't matter what she goes into, languages will open doors. It can only be an advantage for her!

HAHAHA yea she does sound like me, esp the whole not being able to make up her mind part...It sounds like she's sampling now. It's great because a basic knowledge of different languages is very beneficial...let her have fun and go crazy with trying different languages now.
But it's best if she can choose two and get REALLY GOOD at those two. Honestly what she has chosen so far (Spanish & Mandarin) are really excellent choices. If she speaks Eng, Spanish, AND Mandarin she'll be dynamite in the workforce in the future. Japanese is fun and she'll have a great time spending 6 months in Japan.
But yea Mandarin is much more useful. I don't know...maybe she and her boyfriend can spend a semester in China or backpack through China or something. It's more fun to learn chinese that way. Chinese teachers/profs at university or highschool usually are BIXCHES. I don't know why but they always are. I have NOT met one pleasant Chinese teacher....actually there was ONE, but he was a Russian guy. Go figure.

haha yea i can totally see her boyfriend hating Chinese people... it's prolly still part of the whole antagonize parents thingy...like when we get into fights with our parents or when our parents disagree or doesn't support what we want to do, we'll blame it on the Chinese culture (which in a weird way allows us to forgive our parents--our parents are good people, it's the influence of the Chinese culture that has corrupted their minds). It's totally healthy. Good luck to your daughter!
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Old 06-04-2010, 05:24 PM
 
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Hindi. It's a risky long term play, but there's a large chance that India will supplant the US in its leadership role among the world's free nations. Obviously this requires India to open up its economy a lot more than it has since independence which is no sure thing, and it assumes the US will be unable to right the course it has been on for a very long time.
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Old 06-04-2010, 06:58 PM
 
Location: Fairfax
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AuburnAL View Post
Hindi. It's a risky long term play, but there's a large chance that India will supplant the US in its leadership role among the world's free nations. Obviously this requires India to open up its economy a lot more than it has since independence which is no sure thing, and it assumes the US will be unable to right the course it has been on for a very long time.
I'd love to learn Hindi but this reasoning is pretty unlikely! First of all I think the term "free nation" and the leader of them is becoming more meaningless as the world becomes more interconnected. It's not as if there's separate runnings for important free nations and important authoritarian/mixed countries. Although they've yet to embrace their position as a global leader, China is more important than India and is not considered a free country. The G20 or G2 for that matter has little concern for the freedom of their citizens in making global decisions.

Besides, although India may be a democracy it does not have the social mobility that makes the US so dynamic. Instead you have mass confusion and little progress under their coalition government system. So they have the worse qualities of democracy combined with a caste system which promotes massive inequalities. Did you know that the literacy rate for Indian women is 55%? Also, even though they graduate many more engineers than America does, a study done estimated that over 90% are not qualified to work for an American or international-quality engineering firm. To make matters worse, many of those from the top Indian unis DO go abroad to work for Western corporations!

Overall I'd put the "large" chance at well under 5% this century. India is still becoming more important though and the situation seems to be improving on all fronts. Hindi would certainly be a smart language to learn. Just not quite with the functionality for business worldwide that Mandarin or German has.
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Old 06-04-2010, 07:49 PM
 
Location: Monterey Bay, California -- watching the sea lions, whales and otters! :D
1,918 posts, read 6,784,224 times
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Quote:
reneici: HAHAHA yea she does sound like me, esp the whole not being able to make up her mind part...It sounds like she's sampling now. It's great because a basic knowledge of different languages is very beneficial...let her have fun and go crazy with trying different languages now.
....Chinese teachers/profs at university or highschool usually are BIXCHES. I don't know why but they always are. I have NOT met one pleasant Chinese teacher....actually there was ONE, but he was a Russian guy. Go figure.
It's fun to hear your point of view because it's so much like what's been happening with her. My daughter said her boyfriend, who is from Southern China, told her NOT to EVER take any class with a Chinese teacher!!! Ha ha! And she's had a couple, and they were terrible! So, she is taking his words to heart and not signing up with anymore Chinese teachers (for any subject). Her last teacher (Accounting) was Chinese and for some weird reason he showed a video of himself singing Karaoke in Chinese and then he asked, "Does anyone know what I'm saying here??" And she and one Chinese kid raised their hands, and he shockingly looked at her and said, "YOU understand Chinese???" That was kind of funny -- but he was a horrible teacher, unfortunately.

Her boyfriend is not exactly the athletic type, so I don't think hiking in China will be the next thing. Although we DID host a Chinese high school student a few years ago who is at Beijing University now, and we still stay in contact.

The whole Japanese thing - honestly has to do with anime and manga.... What can I say?? Although she's really into Korean guys and K-pop! Ha ha! She's a trip!

Well, we'll see which language is next. I think her boyfriend kind of discouraged her from more Mandarin, but if she could get a non-Chinese teacher, and not be the only white kid in the class, it might be better....time will tell.

I guess some people are just truly into languages. I know she wants to be a polyglot, and I do believe she will be! She lived in Chile for awhile, and that's how her Spanish fluency came about. Now it's Japan -- she just HAS to see the home of anime and manga!!

I like your feedback! Thanks so much -- you two sound very similar. Thanks again!
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Old 06-05-2010, 09:46 AM
 
Location: all over the world
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@ Wisteria,

Haha no worries! I love sharing my 2-cents with parents who are open-minded and I really appreciate parents who let their kids follow their passions--it's a real gift to unconventional kids like us that some might call "impractical" or "crazy."

Yea your daughter's boyfriend is RIGHT about Chinese teachers haha....Yea...bad teachers can really affect your interest in a language. Maybe just forget the whole school thing... Maybe a semester in Taiwan or China? Like what she did with Chile & now Japan?

I actually did a year in Taiwan as an exchange student in university (wow it seems so long ago now...) and lived in the international students dorm with a bunch of Westerners who wanted to learn Chinese. My dorm-mates had a blast and improved SO MUCH in a short period of time it was very impressive. Actually I met up with one a few months ago. He lives in LA now and said he's the youngest manager (import/export company) and gets paid something $20k extra than what he would've gotten ONLY because he speaks Mandarin.

Really it's the fastest way to pick up the language--live in the country. Esp for Mandarin cuz it's not the easiest to learn. Plus her class will be full of white kids who go to Asia ALL BECAUSE they want to learn Mandarin. AND she can read mangas in Chinese when she's there. Knowing Japanese will help Chinese too because of the "kan-ji" in Japanese.

Your daughter does sound like a trip!! She sounds really smart and knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go for it!! Good for her, you must be really proud of your little girl!
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