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Old 05-15-2007, 11:13 AM
 
6,351 posts, read 21,552,839 times
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As others above have posted, it all depends on what you want to do other than speak a foreign language. I'd agree that Chinese and Arabic would make the list (Have you thought about Government service as a translator or in law enforcement...?) If you want to live/work/do business in Western Europe, I would suggest German or French. Spanish is not widely used outside of Spain in Europe. It would be more helpful if you focused on the Americas. Russian would be another possibility, especially if Eastern Europe holds your interest. Good luck! Bonne Chance! Viel Glück!
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Old 05-15-2007, 11:59 AM
 
Location: Gulfport, MS
469 posts, read 2,738,242 times
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Excellent suggestion on the Russian, Crew Chief. Learning Russian would also give you a head's up on learning the other Slavic languages of the region. Likewise, learning Spanish would make learning Italian, Portuguese, and the other Romance languages easier. Arabic is a must-have for the Middle East (even in Iran and Turkey, non-Arab countries, educated people will at least know Classical Arabic, the language of the Quran). There's a good list of different languages and their assets here: http://how-to-learn-any-language.com...ges/index.html
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Old 05-16-2007, 06:44 AM
 
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Thanks, Mississippienne! As a G.I. I've learned to corrupt several World languages, but sure wish I'd learned to speak one of them beyond "Pidgen Tourist" fluency I did make a serious attempt to learn German but didn't learn the articles with the nouns...DOH! Sigh, I still enjoy what little smattering of other languages I've retained and truly believe learning a foreign language will put anyone still in school in a very good position. And learn about the culture that goes along with the language!
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Old 05-29-2007, 05:15 PM
 
Location: Middle East,Studying in UK
1 posts, read 7,156 times
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i would suggest learning Arabic... Middle east is by far the best place to be except one or two places...anyone can use it these days... but if thats not your cup of tea then there is always spanish...Happy to help with either one.
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:04 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 14,403,961 times
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As others have said, it all depends on your interests, profession, and the country in which you are now living. In my personal opinion, using a vague formula in my mind that takes into account a language's number of speakers, geographic distribution, potential for business opportunities and growth and a few other things, I'd rank the most useful languages in the world to learn as follows:

1. English
2. Spanish
3. Arabic
4. Mandarin
5. German
6. French
7. Russian
8. Japanese
9. Cantonese
10. Italian
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Old 05-31-2007, 01:19 PM
 
Location: Longueuil, Quebec/Brooklyn, NY
59 posts, read 155,533 times
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Depends on where you are.

I think Mandarin or Hindi is an obvious choice for the next few decades. French is beneficial for doing business in continental Europe, Canada, Africa, parts of the Middle East and the Pacific. Spanish and Portuguese for Latin America.
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Old 06-02-2007, 03:51 PM
 
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Spanish and Mandarin are now the big two since China is in the process of eclipsing Japan. I speak and read Japanese and wish I had time to learn Mandarin.

On the Chinese learning english, part of the reason you will want to learn Chinese anyway is that every language has a mindset and set of presumptions behind it that reflect the society. You get a feel for that when you learn any language and your body language will actually change when you begin speaking a foreign language compared to how you speak english.

This has diplomatic benefits, not the least of which is that by knowing their language you are coming to THEM and not being just another neo-imperialist American who expects Chinese to cater to him. The Chinese believe anyone not Chinese is a barbarian and thus there is some xenophobia involved here, even with the Chinese diaspora to places such as Vietnam, the Phillipines and Indonesia. So by making it easier on them by speaking their language is better at lubricating social relations in a country where that is paramount. It's often not how smart you are or what abilities you have, it's who you know so that they can be a kind of guarantor as to your trustworthy character.

The other thing to consider is that the Chinese business style is extremely rugged. Even the Japanese think it is over the top. Knowing Chinese gives you an edge over U.S. competitors who think they can just send one of their west coast salesmen to get the job done since humans are creatures of convenience. I would rather talk to people who can speak my language rather than requiring the intercession of an interpreter and all humans are like that.

Besides, other than the tonal issue, Chinese is structurally closer to english than Japanese or Korean. You have to know a ton of kanji to read Chinese, but in some ways their system is easier than the one Japan kind of jerryrigged together . And dude, Chinese women are kick ass!
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Old 06-06-2007, 10:59 PM
 
Location: California
143 posts, read 415,643 times
Reputation: 65
1. English
2. Spanish
3. Arabic
4. Mandarin
5. German
6. French
7. Russian
8. Japanese
9. Cantonese
10. Italian


While this may be true overall, the FBI pay scale for translation places Arabic and Farsi on the top (right under $50, Russian in the second tier (and still well at $28 an hour) with Spanish dead last at barely over $10 an hour. I learned fluent Russian when I lived there and married an Oil industry translator and brought her back.

Russian DOES give you a big head start when learning or hearing other slavic languages.
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Old 06-08-2007, 01:02 AM
 
Location: Hell
606 posts, read 700,444 times
Reputation: 85
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobE View Post
The Chinese believe anyone not Chinese is a barbarian and thus there is some xenophobia involved here, even with the Chinese diaspora to places such as Vietnam, the Phillipines and Indonesia.
it sounds funny....who told you that chinese believe non-chinese are barbarian?
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Old 06-13-2007, 08:08 AM
 
Location: Georgia
1,258 posts, read 2,314,489 times
Reputation: 675
It really depends, do you have a specific plan in mind for what to do with it? Is it for business? Do you want to get into a specific business sector? If so then some cases Arabic will be best, or Mandarin may be.

Just as a generic blanket answer, all things being equal, IMHO Spanish would be best. It is second most widely spoken behind English. It is spoken by most of our southern neighbors.
I'm working towards an International Business degree, and I chose Spanish. <not that i really had many choices>. But I don't have a real targeted plan for where I am going to work, etc., so I figured in a general sense Spanish would be most useful.
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