Is there any point learning another language?

Recently had a discussion with my friends on whether to learn another language. Some think that there is no point unless you can reach almost native fluency. Some think that it will not hurt to learn one during the weekends.

What are your opinions on this? What languages would you suggest me to learn? Are French/Spainish the easier ones to pick up?

Comments (56)

Nov 12, 2022 - 9:11pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Don't learn French, and Spainish isn't a language.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

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Funniest
Nov 13, 2022 - 6:41am
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Incoming WSO Chimp

Any suggestions? Why do you dislike Spanish?

I like Spanish. I have a degree in it. "Spainish" isn't a language.

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 6
Nov 12, 2022 - 9:57pm
theAudiophile, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Learn Latin. Root of Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, half of English, etc. I don't speak any of them (outside of some kitchen Spanish). But thanks to the Latin roots I can read the others and at least know what the gist is. Not to mention it's the language of law, and I read enough legal docs I should know what it actually means.

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Nov 13, 2022 - 12:07am
Incoming WSO Chimp, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for the reply.

I am a PhD student and I can actually take a few courses a year for free, and Intro to Latin is on the list...Β I might actually consider that.

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Nov 14, 2022 - 10:15am
Iko_, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I personally think this is ridiculous. Would you rather learn a useful language, or learn a useless language that allows you to learn a useful language ?
Β 

You know what also helps you learn a Roman language ? Another Roman language

Creds: I speak multiple Roman languages and also took Latin in school which was completely useless in the endΒ 

Nov 13, 2022 - 3:25am
Claradaisy3, what's your opinion? Comment below:


I believe there are like a hundred and ten ways for a hundred people to study a language and everybody needs to find their own way. I'd argue, though, that a) consistency (even if just a couple of minutes on busy days or so) and b) interest in the target language, are pretty much necessary to gain a higher level of fluency.

Nov 14, 2022 - 7:06pm
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas, what's your opinion? Comment below:

What's the most effortless & efficient way?Β 

My understanding is that back when Rosetta Stone was a new thing like 20+ years ago, it took off because it was a completely different brain process compared to classroom.Β  It was designed for you to learn the way toddlers learn their native language, which is much more intuitive than in a classroom.

So let's call that a move from 1.0 (classroom) to 2.0.Β  Has there been another leg up (3.0) since then or is everything sort of incremental from there.

Nov 17, 2022 - 12:22pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Dr. Rahma Dikhinmahas

So let's call that a move from 1.0 (classroom) to 2.0.Β  Has there been another leg up (3.0) since then or is everything sort of incremental from there.

where does immersion fit into this?

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Nov 13, 2022 - 4:53am
Gucci Loafers, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you're in the US, nope - all business is carried out in English + foreigners usually speak English. If you're in UE or are planning to live there, yes.Β 

I'm fluent in 5 languages, basic in a 6th one. In total, with studies and internships, I've lived (6+ months) in 6 different countries. So in UE having fluency in other languages opens many doors. More so on jobs where having fluency in the local language is a minimum requirement.

But that's just a professional opinion. Now, if you truly enjoy a language and would love to immerse yourself in another culture, then do so. How I see it, when you have fluency in another language you start to become more curious about other cultures: You may grab some of their local literature, you can build better relationships with people who share the same language, you have the option to move there and integrate, etc. so generally having fluency in foreign languages helps one to be more adaptable and interesting.

I'm going to study again in Madrid next semester, so I may be biasedΒ 

Nov 13, 2022 - 8:51am
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:
trying_my_best

I learnt Martian, it helped a lot

Did you live in Port Louis in Mauritius learning the language?

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

  • 1
Nov 13, 2022 - 6:59am
ababshsksjs, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There is a difference between being fluent and being a native speaker. While fluency can be achieved through a few years of hard work, you can only truly become a native speaker if you did not grow up with that language if you move to a country that speaks and it pick up slang, phrases etc. that are more local/dialects etc. It is always worth learning another language. Personally, learning one of Mandarin/Spanish/Hindi/Urdu is cool because those have the most speakers after English

Nov 13, 2022 - 7:32am
cousinviti, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Learning language in US is equivalent of a Stupid Pet Trick. Complete waste of time that we still often require for graduation under the guise that it " makes you more worldly or well rounded. "

99.9% of people will never need or use it. SpendingΒ  time becoming more highly skilled at Math or Stem subjects would pay much bigger dividends. It should solely be an elective option in our education system. Having kids take two years of a tech class ( basic electrical, carpentry, automotive.or whatever) would actually serve them of better value in life then knowing how to conjugate a verb in fucking German . Maybe they would save $50Β  one day because they know how to change a car battery for themselves..an actual applied life skill.

Nov 13, 2022 - 12:28pm
thevillage, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Ah, the old "they should teach how to do taxes in school instead of geometry" argument. As if little Johnny would be more interested in taxes than Pythagoras' theorem.

β€”
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Nov 13, 2022 - 9:46am
Waterfalldown, what's your opinion? Comment below:

My mom is from Germany, and I grew up learning German. I also took HS classes and my mom would talk to me German as a kid. Whenever I went to Germany to meet family, they literally never spoke German with me, I couldn't practice it because everyone speaks English there. Imo, I think if you have the extra time, maybe it could be a good thing to do but utility of it isn't going to be there.Β 

Nov 13, 2022 - 9:51am
matteo_moravezzi, what's your opinion? Comment below:

EU here

English is essential, native language is cool i guess

I learned german and it is helping me a lot when analyzing their GAP, screening the market etc. Germany is fugin huge.

I am learning ukrainian as i think the region will have a significant potential after the war and i want to be as close to the investors and owners in the region as possible.

Nov 17, 2022 - 12:24pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
matteo_moravezzi

I am learning ukrainian as i think the region will have a significant potential after the war and i want to be as close to the investors and owners in the region as possible.

why Ukrainian and not Polish? More developed country with probably better business prospects

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Most Helpful
Nov 13, 2022 - 3:42pm
Angus Macgyver, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Top reasons to learn another language:

  1. You will have a much easier time vacationing in countries where the language is primarily spoken, even with only pretty basic proficiency. Top candidates here are Spanish (unlocks a lot of Latin America obviously), Japanese (because Japan is a great place to visit and a lot of Japanese people have little to no understanding of English), and maybe French (for some former French colonies).
  2. Opens up a large swathe of potential romantic partners. Best language candidates here are subjective, pick your poison. You'll have to get properly comfortable with the language for this to really pay off, but even a little bit can help unless you are specifically planning to marry someone who only speaks some other language.
  3. There is so much content out there that can really only be properly appreciated in its native language, and with knowledge of that language's context. I can't speak to languages I am not familiar with, but with the two that I am most comfortable in, translations of one to the other are not necessarily always able to properly capture the full depth, the complete set of layers, that can be found in the original piece. This does not apply only to "deep" literature or film; it is an issue even when literally comparing memes to their translations. I don't know if I would say it is worth learning a language just for this reason, since you're going to need a lot of time studying the language itself and also learning about history and culture. But you would be amazed at, say, how some Chinese NBA memes reference thousand-year-old texts about strategic mistakes made by some historical generals.
Nov 13, 2022 - 11:22pm
prospectivepe, what's your opinion? Comment below:

learning japanese just to vacation there is a terrible idea. unless youre willing to dedicate hundreds of hours to learning kindergarten level skills you are better off just speaking english when visiting

Nov 14, 2022 - 3:25am
Kevin25, what's your opinion? Comment below:

the big question is how easy is it for you to learn languages? I know people who studied a foreign language for a couple of semesters many years ago and are comfortable speaking it whenever needed. and I know people who lived in US for 30, 40 years and are unable to speak basic English. everybody has their own abilities. if you're from the 1st category, go ahead, pick up Spanish, then French, then German. if you're from the 2nd category, don't waste time, focus on something else or spend spare time on hobbies.

Nov 14, 2022 - 11:50am
johnny-mnemonic, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Only worth it if you can study abroad. I took an Asian language in college but couldn't study abroad because of COVID. Dropped it and haven't kept up with it. I liked the linguistic aspect of it but you can only get so much in a classroom. I would like to pick it back up but it's tough to carve out time at this point.

Nov 15, 2022 - 3:21am
dolphhh, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Learn french and spanish if youre an English speaker. they are the easiest to learn and have hundreds of millions of speakers. if you know french, Spanish, and English you can pretty much speak to half the world.Β 

Nov 15, 2022 - 9:34am
WolfofWSO, what's your opinion? Comment below:

I've traveled the world in my career. Europe and Asia residents know the language of business is English. I've never had an issue or needed to know another language while on business trips.

That said, I believe it would be enriching to know another language.

Array

Nov 15, 2022 - 10:02am
pineapplechipmunk, what's your opinion? Comment below:

If you're learning a language for general business prospects IMO it's probably not worth it. I remember growing up hearing from parents that learning Mandarin was essential for a future career in business, which in retrospect seems a little silly. There are definitely niche roles / specific situations that require or would benefit from fluency in a different language, but I feel that knowing a different language won't give you a competitive edge for 99%+ of roles out there. Depending on the language it could take hundreds if not thousands of hours to become proficient - it'd be far better to put that time elsewhere if you want to go further in your career (e.g., networking, learning how to use specific software, etc.).

That being said there are still various benefits for learning a language. IMO the most important one is for cultural purposes. My wife and my inlaws are Korean and I've been learning it for the past few years. Yes, they speak English or are familiar with English, but to me it was an important thing to learn as the language is a part of her cultural identity and our kids will be part Korean as well. Practically speaking, me being somewhat conversational doesn't really add much to day to day life, but the hours I put into learning the language definitely has given me a greater appreciation for my wife's and future children's backgrounds. Also, it's kind of cool that we have a secretish way of communicating with each other in public.

Nov 15, 2022 - 11:39am
Daemon145, what's your opinion? Comment below:

As someone who speaks 3-4 languages fluently:

I wouldn't bother with any unless they were Spanish or French.Β  From a business perspective, you need to have native fluency, which won't be achieved unless you speak your intended language intensively everyday.Β  Many FO finance professionals I've met in London who do speak multiple languages, were from those very countries.Β  An italian with good english whose' responsible for Italian coverage, and Spaniards, French and so on.Β  Rarely do I see a native brit/English speaker who has learned a foreign language, actually utilize it in a professional standing, since the nuances of discourse are not taught when a language is learned academically.Β Β 

From a pleasure, or self-improvement angle, I'd def encourage it.Β  Do realize that you won't be near native fluency unless you immerse yourself in your chosen language and culture.Β  Language is really one of those things where you learn if you need to, but otherwise don't.Β Β 

Now, if you're of immigrant background, and are trying to learn your parent language, I wholeheartedly recommend that.Β Β 

Nov 17, 2022 - 12:29pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:
Daemon145

Now, if you're of immigrant background, and are trying to learn your parent language, I wholeheartedly recommend that.Β Β 

probably a controversial statement, but personally I'm sad that many non-British European people in the US don't speak their native languages anymore. I get that historically this is for integration reasons among others, but it would be cool if more people spoke Dutch, German, Swedish, on top of English obviously.

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

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Nov 17, 2022 - 10:08pm
Daemon145, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Eh, not sure, but I understand what you mean.Β  I'm surprised with how open the US is in comparison to other countries, and that results from the incredible diversity here, and not just racial/ethnic diversity, but of all kinds.Β  If the US was divided among its 'multi-generational' population, by language, I'm not sure if the social structure of this country would last.Β  It's already flimsy, as is.Β 

Nov 15, 2022 - 1:12pm
Lester Freamon, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Not everything in life has to be a bullet on your resume, dude. If you're not interested in the language, then yeah, there's not much point learning about it. For me, I love Spanish Music, the culture, the countries, etc. and therefore try to dedicate some effort to learning Spanish. You're absolutely correct that I probably won't get a job in Latin America because there's millions of native speakers who'll always be better than me at it, but that doesn't matter because it's still allowed me to:

1. Enjoy the music/movies that I mentioned attracted me to the language

2. Feel more at ease when traveling through Latin America because I can at least communicate what I need to say, even though I have trouble understanding what natives are saying unless they speak slowly

3. I'm good enough now at Spanish that I can connect with Latino-Americans pretty quickly because they can see that I am actually interested in the culture and am making an honest attempt at learning about them and am not just some weirdo red piller who's learning it to pick up girls or something

If you want to learn a language - I say do it and forget about how "useful" it is or whatever. Some languages are definitely harder, but that just means you need to be committed to tackling that challenge up front. I think there's always benefits to learning something you're interested in even if it's not something you can monetize or list on your HSW application.

Nov 15, 2022 - 2:44pm
Liam Gallagher, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Almost everyone in this thread is missing the point. Unless you NEED to learn another language due to circumstance etc., then the only realΒ point of learning one is because you enjoy it,Β If you don't then don't, you'll never get good enough and will end up quitting anyway. It's just like any other hobby, you're never going to get anywhere if you don't actually enjoy it. So do it because you want to, not because there is aΒ pointΒ to it.

Nov 17, 2022 - 12:26pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

frfr

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Nov 15, 2022 - 5:35pm
neink, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Started learning a fourth language. I need to warn humanity about the liberal problem in as many languages as possible.

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

Nov 17, 2022 - 11:29am
neink, what's your opinion? Comment below:

una lingua difficile e proibita

Never discuss with idiots, first they drag you at their level, then they beat you with experience.

Nov 16, 2022 - 7:58am
Griddy, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Learning a second language also has so many different cognitive benefits that alone might make it worth it to you to learn another language (improved memory, multitasking, and delaying the onset of dementia, to name a few)

Nov 17, 2022 - 12:26pm
Pierogi Equities, what's your opinion? Comment below:

This is part of the reason I'd want to travel more internationally for work than just vacation traveling. Can't do that at my current role, but could move to Montreal in the future and learn French once and for all.

Quant (ˈkwÀnt) n: An expert, someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know everything about nothing.

Nov 18, 2022 - 4:15am
armadillo999, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Learn latin and you get to understand the origin/ structure of many european languages

Nov 18, 2022 - 7:17am
Deo et Patriae, what's your opinion? Comment below:

In addition to English, I speak three foreign languages - two at a native or near-native level. Incidentally, both ofΒ these are Category IV languages (the hardest category of languages for a native English speaker to develop proficiency) according to the US Foreign Service Institute. The other foreign language I have (which is much easier) is at a passable level even though I've been "learning" it (or more accurately, had exposure to it) much earlier than the other two harder languages. I have also recently started to learn a 5th language (started in the summer) which has been fun but a bit slow.Β 

I have not worked outside of the US, so the foreign languages have not benefited me in any way professionally - they have pretty much been relegated to neat "cocktail party trick"-status. Obviously very useful when traveling to countries that speak the language... Not useful for dating (I'm married), but I suppose they have opened up the occasional fun with flirting?

I think you need to evaluate this decision of learning a foreign language based on what your alternative activity would be?

For example, if its between: A) learn a foreign language vs. B) play video games? I personally would pick foreign language in a heartbeat (and I think most people should too).

but if it's something like: A) learn a foreign language vs. B) learn web development / programming / [insert useful skill here], then the answer is much less clear.

Nov 18, 2022 - 10:46am
Deo et Patriae, what's your opinion? Comment below:

There are only five (or four, depending on if you consider Cantonese a language or a dialect) Category IV languages: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), Chinese (Cantonese), Japanese, and Korean. Don't want to reveal too much specific information that could lend myself to being doxed, so I'll just repeat that I am native / near-native in two of the above and leave it at that.

I had an unfair advantage growing up abroad as the child of expats in a country (or countries... πŸ˜‰) that had the target language. Unlike 99% of expat kids; however, my parents opted to enroll me in local schools instead of the fancy English-speaking international school. My dad thought it would "build character." Talk about total immersion! It was sink or swim, but I am forever grateful for my parents deciding to do so. I'm White, but I have an accent that is indistinguishable from a native - or at least so I'm told. I think it's legit, because I've lost count of the number of times I've talked to a stranger who is a native speaker of one of the languages over the phone (e.g. to make reservations, etc.), and then when I show up, the person is astonished to see a White guy!

My third foreign language (the one that is "passable") is a Romance language - this one I had exposure to the earliest from an immersion / bilingual pre-school, kindergarten, and the first couple years of elementary/primary school (before my parents expatriated abroad), and then picked it up again in high school / secondary school as well as a few study abroad trips.

In terms of maintaining, I ended up marrying an amazing woman who just so happened to be a native speaker of one of my Category IV languages - and from the moment we started dating we used that language to communicate, and that is how we communicate to this day whether it be through speaking, text messaging, etc.

The other Category IV language, I mostly watch movies, shows, and YouTube. Also read (mostly fiction, occasionally non-fiction - which is the opposite of my English reading habits!) I am also fortunate to have a sizeable number of friends who are native speakers of that language, so whenever I catch up with them, we will speak in that language.

The "passable" Romance language - again, most movies, shows, and YouTube. Decidedly less friends who are native speakers of this language, so mostly just passive maintenance (listening, reading) as opposed to active (speaking)

I forgot to mention in my original message, I also was required to learn Latin in high school / secondary school.

Nov 18, 2022 - 9:10am
Bossdogfrog, what's your opinion? Comment below:

All of a sudden multiple people in this thread speak more than 3 languages "fluently". Yet in real life I have met not more than five people who are what I consider "fluent" in more than 2 (including English). Funny how that works.Β 

The only reason to learn a language is because you enjoy learning it. And the best way to learn is to move to a city that speaks this language. All else is a waste of your time.

Nov 19, 2022 - 6:03pm
Isaiah_53_5 πŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’ŽπŸ™ŒπŸ’Ž, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." - Bruce Lee

Nov 18, 2022 - 10:22am
SalemKring, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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Nov 19, 2022 - 12:15pm
odog808, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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