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Best Language to Learn for Finance?

MB34
Rank: Senior Monkey | banana points 67

Hey WSO,

Rising high school senior here looking to go into finance one day after college. Though I'm interested in finance, I am also highly interested in international business and learning a new language. I've always wanted to do business in Hong Kong and China, but I have heard that learning Mandarin as an English speaker is insanely difficult to become good at. What would you guys suggest as a language for someone to learn for international business / international finance?

The schools I'll probably be applying to:
Babson College (Match)
Bentley University (Match)
Boston College (CSOM) (Reach)
Bryant University (Safety)
Cornell University (Reach)
Fordham University (Match)
Harvard College (Super-Reach)
Northeastern University (Match)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (Safety)
University of New Hampshire (Safety)
University of Pennsylvania (Super-Reach)
Villanova University (Reach)

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Comments (263)

Aug 20, 2016

C++ / Python

    • 4
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Aug 22, 2016

Seconded

Aug 20, 2016

I have heard that learning Mandarin as an English speaker is insanely difficult to become good at.

This is false.

I am a native English speaker who studied Mandarin for four years in college (including a stint studying abroad in Beijing) and have kept up with the language to the point that my Chinese proficiency is sufficient enough to operate in a professional capacity. During my time in Beijing I passed the second highest (level 5) proficiency test (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanyu_Shuiping_Kaoshi).The result on the test meant that, at least on paper, I was eligible to study at a Chinese university in a program/field of study in which the language of instruction was Chinese. I only had a year of intensive study under my belt when I passed this exam, and though it boosted my ego, I am doubtful I could have actually kept up with the coursework at a Chinese university (competing against native Chinese speakers, no less...) Since then, my Chinese has improved exponentially. I also spent some significant stretches of time in Taiwan. Being honest with myself, I could easily sit in a lecture hall and listen to a Chinese professor lecture on a complex topic, understand 99% and can write a paper on it in a reasonable amount of time. There was even one time In the past where I was called on to serve as a simultaneous Chinese/English interpreter in a formal, professional setting. My accent in Chinese has naturally reached the point that I get mistaken for a native Chinese speaker when I speak on the phone.

For most people, my honest advice would be to not bother with Chinese if the goal is to do business in Hong Kong or China. This is not like the early 1980s in Japan where Westerners could come to Japan (the language, in many cases, being optional) and have successful careers. In China and Hong Kong, there are millions of native Chinese speakers who are completely fluent in English (in many cases, they went to college and even high school in the US or UK)

More and more, multinationals would prefer to hire people from the latter rather than install an expat since they innately understand the local culture and have a much easier time building relationships. No to mention, locally hired guys are much cheaper than their Western expat counterparts who traditionally received cushy packages that paid for housing, kid's education, club memberships, airfare twice a year to return home, etc.

For Chinese companies, the same holds true except for cases in which the person has some specialized technical knowledge. I know of some native English speakers (who have studied Chinese and are reasonably proficient in the language) in engineering roles who are working in China. In most cases, their Chinese language skills have not been put to much use. They have told me the only time it is useful is for ordering take out food or dealing with locals who don't speak English (e.g. taxi drivers)

    • 2
Aug 20, 2016

How did you keep up with and improve your Chinese outside of school?

Aug 20, 2016

Just a conscious effort to set aside time each day to read (articles written in Chinese), listen (news and occasionally TV shows) and speak Chinese (friends and sometimes even colleagues who were native Chinese speakers, random waiters/waitresses in Chinese restaurants, etc.)

Aug 20, 2016

Congratulations on being able to keep up with it given your IB hours! I've been doing similar things with French -- chatting with Uber drivers, reading newspapers online, etc. Do you usually read/watch business news or do you read on other topics of interest, too (e.g., Chinese version of Foreign Affairs, sports, etc)?

Aug 20, 2016

So if not Mandarin, is there a language you would suggest that would be beneficial in international business / finance?

Aug 20, 2016

I did not mean to discourage you from learning Chinese. It's a lot of fun (or, at least it was for me, for a number of reasons such as the writing system, the fact that it's a tonal language, etc.) and it has a certain chic factor because of its perceived difficulty (especially if you are Caucasian, e.g. no one will ever question your intelligence if you are a White guy who speaks fluent Mandarin).

All I am saying is don't learn the language with the intention of trying to work in China. It's very difficult for a foreigner to work in China because there are millions of native Chinese speakers who studied abroad in the US/UK and later wish to return to China for work.

The reality is that most non-US markets prefer to hire local candidates who are also proficient in English. However, this might hold less true for non-Asian markets... there may be some markets in which a native English speaker could conceivably land a job by learning the local language(s)... two that immediately come to mind are Europe and Latin America.

If you had any desire to work in Europe (specifically London) then having knowledge of a European language (e.g. French, German, Italian, etc.) would probably boost your chances. Most kids targeting finance who are coming out of universities in continental Europe probably speak a European language besides English. Anecdotally, a friend of mine who is a native English speaker learned German to an advanced level (he started in high school and continued it through college) and he said it helped him in landing a finance job in London.

The same goes for Latin America. If you want to do anything involving Latin America then it is pretty much essential to learn Spanish. Anecdotally, I knew a handful of native English speakers who were total Hispanophiles and they used their language skills to land jobs in finance involving Latin America. As a side note, some of these people have recently lost their jobs through layoffs and are currently looking for new positions...

Aug 20, 2016

Thank you for the great advice, Deo. I think the top 3 languages I would be interested in studying would be Mandarin, German, or Spanish. I took 4 semesters of Spanish in high school so I have a base, but I think I'd like to pursue something different.

Regarding actual career paths, I would not want to move and work full time in a foreign country. I was just wondering whether having German or Mandarin as a language could help with a finance job in perhaps business trips, meeting with foreign clients who don't speak the language, etc. What do you think about that?

Aug 20, 2016

I can chime in as a German speaker. While German is nice to have, you won't be dealing with German bankers/clients on a regular basis in finance. On the rare occasions you do deal with them, their English is usually top notch and is the lingua franca going forward. If anything, you'll end up chatting with them in German about casual things between meetings (e.g., the weather, comments like "Wow, your German is great!" and so forth), if at all. Deo is right -- study the language because it's fun or because you find value in it through intrinsic motivation, not because it will yield you a job.

Aug 20, 2016

English.

"I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing. "
-GG

Aug 22, 2016

Dmitry Pushkin, Zhang Chuan, and Manuel de Jesus step onto a container ship.

Manuel has both hands up, palms empty.

Zhang has two briefcases.

Dmitry opens a crate to reveal a cache of zeecrit ezpecial gooties.

What language do they speak in?

    • 1
Aug 22, 2016

Language of attraction

Absolute truths don't exist... celebrated opinions do.

Aug 27, 2016

Too late, kid. To learn Mandarin you should have been in classes last few years, at least. Never gonna have the time moving forward.

Aug 27, 2016

No because it takes time away from work and requires constant practice.

Aug 27, 2016

There's nothing wrong with listing it. Matter of fact, if you had something to back it up (i.e. "Conversational Spanish" in your Skills section or a studyabroad entry in your Education) then it would be even stronger.

Most people do things to add days to their life. I do things to add life to my days.

Browse my blog as a WSO contributing author

Aug 27, 2016

I say screw Rosetta Stone. The best way to do it is to memorize the few hundred most used words, the conjugations, and then actually talk to people who've spoken the language fluently from birth.

Also, duolingo I hear is solid. Still, speaking to people who speak the language is the closest thing you'll get to immersion (which is the best way to learn a language).

"You stop being an asshole when it sucks to be you." -IlliniProgrammer
"Your grammar made me wish I'd been aborted." -happypantsmcgee

Aug 27, 2016

Depending on your level, this may or may not be applicable: every morning I try to read a finance/industry-related article in the foreign language to see how much I can comprehend, and then read the English version.

Trust me, the college classes you took do NOT prepare you for actual intelligent writing. WSJ Japan is a bitch.

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

    • 1
Aug 27, 2016

Thanks for the advice. DuoLingo is surprisingly good for being free.Do you guys self-study or take a class in your spare time?

Aug 27, 2016

Self study. I wish I could take classes but they're usually in the early evening when - surprise - I'm still in the office :(

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

Aug 27, 2016

LetsGoSpanish.com. That's what I use. Prices are dirt cheap ... as low or lower than $10/hour for 1on1 lessons. Everything is done via Skype and you can schedule them whenever you'd like ... as many or as few hours per week with extreme flexibility to cancel last minute.

I paid $2,500+ for 40 hours with Berlitz. Worst use of money ever. I also have Rosetta Stone 1-5 for Spanish and a couple other languages. Rosetta Stone isn't so bad, but you definitely need to supplement it. There is nothing better than just having a conversation with a native speaker, and you get to talk about subjects you're interested in so the things you are learning are actually relevant.

CompBanker

Aug 27, 2016

I would say consistency is the best - you should set aside some time, even a few minutes a day before bed or something, to go over vocab, listen to audio, etc. ; there's a reason why full immersion is the best way to learn :p

speed boost blaze

Aug 27, 2016

HelloTalk is another app I'd recommend. You get to actually talk to someone in that language that you want to learn and they will respond in the language they want to learn (I'd assume you'd help them learn English).

Aug 27, 2016

Personally I'd prefer Spanish. Spanish is in the top three globally in terms of number of native speakers. French is number 18 or so depending how you count non-native speakers. I get the sense that Spanish will also be easier to reach fluency in if you already speak Italian, they seem very similar.

I don't know how well that ties into finance jobs in particular though. Would you be more excited about being able to do business with France and parts of Africa, or Spain and most of South America? Will you be studying this language long enough to reach business-level proficiency, or is it just going to be fun to know a little when you take a vacation, and where would you rather travel?

Aug 27, 2016

Thanks for your answer!
I think I will be able to reach a fairly good level and I plan in the future to reach business-travel proficiency.

Aug 27, 2016

Spanish would be good for banking since there is a market for Latin America IBD positions

What concert costs 45 cents? 50 Cent feat. Nickelback.

Aug 27, 2016

Yes, that's what i was thinking...
Though, I think French could be useful for Paris jobs / Canada (maybe english is enough there?)

Aug 27, 2016

Can French be useful if banks relocate jobs to Paris (as HSBC is doing)?

Aug 27, 2016

Go with Spanish. Will be easier since you already know Italian and you'll have more opps than with French.

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Aug 27, 2016

Thank you :)

Aug 27, 2016

Maybe I should reconsider German? Frankfurt looks strong for IBD

Aug 27, 2016

You should definitely reconsider German. Germany is EU's powerhouse economy and I believe there are lots of opportunities for IBankers.

Although, I'm not too sure about German bank policies regarding taking in non-native speakers; you might be put at a disadvantage here.

And another factor you should consider is how bad Deutsche Bank is doing right now, I'm sure you've seen the discussion where the bonuses are being cut this year.

I agree with everybody else, Spanish is a good language to master if you're planning to work in South American IB positions. Also helps in some parts of the USA.

Aug 27, 2016

I would second German. The DACH economies are powerhouses, (Germany, Switzerland, Austria). Not to mention there isn't that many German foreign speakers compared to French or Spanish so competition is lower yet you still have a chance of getting a well-paid job.

Not to mention Switzerland on average for their finance Jobs pay incredibly well, However cost of living is quite high in Zurich too.. but it's a nice life (in my experience). Spanish would be great for LATAM so it would depend on where your focus it. I'd only learn French if I was going into elite circles of Diplomacy/Law/Government in the EU region.

There is also the benefit of French being the language of use in many African neighbouring countries. Never been on the continent however it is said to be the next China/India int he next few decades so do some DD before considering. However I wouldn't consider French/(working in Paris) unless you were a native, You won't necessarily get promoted/very far up the ladder due to being a foreigner.

Quand on veut, on peut.

Aug 27, 2016

German.

Only two sources I trust, Glenn Beck and singing woodland creatures.

Aug 27, 2016

If you understand how to use torrents I would suggest searching for "pimsleur" at a torrent site and downloading whatever language you want to learn. I also wouldn

Aug 27, 2016

But doesn't knowing the language, even if business is conducted in english, make you more marketable both the BSchools admissions and IBanking jobs?

Aug 27, 2016
Aug 27, 2016

The best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the language, for egsample if you want to learn Japanese, there is certainly no better place than Japan.

Having said (written?) that, I would think that Pimsleur is a good way to learn basics with further immersion through radio or television if you cannot find someone that can mentor you in the language you want to learn.

BTW it would be strange to know how to speak a language with nobody to speak to in that language.

Aug 27, 2016

i'm crazy so i talk to myself

Aug 27, 2016

is knowing spanish a business advantage in today's america? i've thought for a while that the most useful language to know would be chinese, but the number of everyday scenarios i'm encountering where knowledge of spanish would be useful (like the super in my NYC apartment building) is big and growing.

Aug 27, 2016

Study and go. Immersing yourself in a language and culture is the best way to learn, but you need to have a foundation to build on first. Take a class or get some software...and then go. I don't see a 2nd language getting you an I-banking job. As far as Spanish goes, its useful to know it but not too helpful in biz (most affluent spanish speakers speak english anyway).

Aug 27, 2016

I think spanish can be pretty helpful if you work in an emerging markets field, like emerging mkts DCM, project finance or some kind of distressed EM debt investing. It's not that south americans can't speak English, but a lot of the meetings and documentation are in fact in Spanish.

If you want to work in Asia, knowing Japanese or Chinese is certainly a huge plus.

Aug 27, 2016

Mandarin is the way to go for the next while IMO

Aug 27, 2016

A second language could come in handy if you are working in/with Europe.

Aug 27, 2016

I'm learning Afrikaans, the language of oppression, I love oppressive languages, which one of you wants to go to South Africa with me and oppress Negroes?

Aug 27, 2016

I took a year of Italian at college, which got me pretty much nowhere. Living in Milan for six months made me semi-fluent, though the the formal base definitely helped. The dialogue in textbooks (and pimsleur) is far different from the way people speak on a day to day basis. Far eastern languages are considerably harder to master than romantic languages though. It depends on what level of proficiency you want, purely conversational, or business-oriented or written as well, but if you have a burning desire, I say go for it

Aug 27, 2016

Rosetta Stone software

Aug 27, 2016

Learning a new language is not that difficult, but it does require a significant level of devotion. The best way to learn a new language is to surround yourself by it every day. If you're trying to learn Spanish or French, Rosetta Stone is a good piece of software but very pricey. It won't teach you verb tenses which is a very vital part of understanding the language. Here is what I did to learn Spanish on my own:

1) Rosetta Stone
2) Books! You can buy books at Barnes & Nobles or wherever that are entirely in Spanish. They will be very difficult to read until you're quite proficient at the language, but try to read with a Spanish/English dictionary in your hands and write down the words you don't know.
3) Daily calender with a "Spanish Word of the Day" and it used in a sentence.
4) Get "Learn Spanish Behind the Wheel" tapes, listen to them while you drive and do the exercises.
5) Workbooks -- study the material and do the exercises. This may seem a lot like school but hey, you're learning a language.
6) Download Spanish songs and put them on your Ipod. Download the lyrics and translate them. Sing along in your car or whatever.
7) Google desktop! I have an RSS feed setup so I get daily news in Spanish as well as an RSS feed to a "Spanish Lesson of the Day." Spend 5 minutes a day reading these.
8) When in class, take notes in the language. This is harder when you're just starting out. I had a cheat sheet in one of my science classes that I made entirely in Spanish. It forced me to know the words cold otherwise the cheat sheet wasn't going to be of much use.
9) Watch movies with Spanish subtitles (this is actually a big help). Be careful of places where the translation was wrong or had a different meaning.
10) If your telephone has a "Spanish" setting, switch it over. Navigate and use your phone entirely in Spanish.
11) Expose yourself to foreigners who speak your language of choice. Sit back and listen to them talk and try to understand what they are saying.
12) Find a cute foreigner and date her (this is probably the toughest to do!) Write each other notes in Spanish. Talk in Spanish. Etc.
13) Go to a Spanish speaking country, but only speak Spanish. Do not fall into the temptation to speak English. Do not be afraid to make mistakes or embarrass yourself. Try to talk to people who don't speak English at all.
14) Lastly, just try to practice every chance you can. Try to learn the names of objects you see or use every day. Practice practice practice!

If you keep it up, I guarantee you will learn the language very quickly. You'll reach a point where the learning curve starts to flatten out a bit, but you have to keep pushing forward. It will be very fun at first as you can improve vastly in a matter of a week. Don't neglect vocabulary and try to vary the words you use. Take risks with complex sentences. You need to keep up a "can do" attitude and make sure learning the language is fun, otherwise you will burn out. Things will stick a lot better if you actually want to learn as well!

Suerte!

CompBanker

Aug 27, 2016

nice post man..

i will follow some of your advices.. i really will do it.

in school ive used to learn spanish but we had a really anoying teacher.. and actually i didnt liked the language... but ive changed my mind.

i will def learn spanish now

thanks again for the advices!

Aug 27, 2016

Goodluck and keep at it!

CompBanker

Aug 27, 2016

the girlfriend thing.. heh my gf is thai so i actually learnin thai by the way.. well less or more.. heh

have also to learn way more english as its not my mother tongue.

do you, CompBanker, or any1 else also know some other techniques to get into huge loads of information? e.g. a complex topic like fixed income or credit derivatives and so?

what i do by now:

ive read the article or the script once and underlined with one color words i dont know and with a second color phrases and keywords related to the text and even make some notices on a special sheet... if the text isnt that long (its problematic with book.. you just need more time) and re-read it and some things will be clearer then.

ive try to get a lot of information into my head lately... studying nearly all day from early to late.. but also some breaks for going out etc.

do you guys know tabs? over here we use them for learning and memorizing some keywords and definitions and so on... its really good i should use them more often.

ok.. any other techniques?

the reason i ask is.. yall doing your MBAs, CFAs and other exams... and you have to study and learn a lot for the goal.. you have really less time and huge loads of information.. you its smart to use tome special tactics for learning

thx

Aug 27, 2016

Patience, and devotion will help you master the language. I had to go to a foreign language school every wednesday for 14 years. And I spoke it at home as well with my mother. I even went to the country a few times. And I still SUCK at writing it. Any method is good, but if you don't have the interest and the patience, it's pointless to study.

I want to work now! No, really. I want those 100+ hours/week.

Aug 27, 2016

What language were you trying to learn disjoint?

Aug 27, 2016

You could try "Muffy", it's this cartoon character thing that PBS has, except that it's really good and if you get bored easily it's fun!

********"Babies don't cost money, they MAKE money." - Jerri Blank********

Aug 27, 2016

Living abroad is prob the best way if you have the time to do that

Aug 27, 2016

My daughter is three and she already is speaking in tongues. Wait, I mean she can speak a little Spanish. I took two years in undergrad, so I teach her here and there. My wife and I spent three months in Puerto Vallarta for our honeymoon just after undergrad, and that definitely enhanced my skillset, even though everyone there spoke enough English that one didn't really need to learn Spanish.

I second the girlfriend idea. I also took a year of Mandarin in undergrad, and nearly everyone in my class was Korean (still not sure about the correlation there), although there were three other white guys in there who had Chinese girlfriends and wanted to learn the language. I never quite got it, though that was probably the hardest class I ever had. I am re-thinking it now, and plan on starting Mandarin classes again in a year or so - but just at the community college level. CC classes are relatively cheap, and the campus is practically across the street from my office.

Good luck!

Aug 27, 2016

but there is one thinkg about spanish... if you ever heard natives speaking it.. i was like wtf u cant almost understand them because they are sooo fast speaking. in real world you cant ask them if they could speak slowly... so with all the learning i think its not done yet.

Aug 27, 2016

hey checbk, learn to write english first before you bother with your next language.

Aug 27, 2016

sternfox, i'm still in the process of learning:)

but i appriciate the reminder of my bad english! i'll have to learn harder i guess.

Aug 27, 2016

The more languages you master the easier it gets to learn new ones (even if they are unrelated languages)

It is shocking how in UK/USA most university Students are fluent in ONLY ONE language... Even Oxbridge and Ivy.

Aug 27, 2016

I'm going to use the summer to learn Swedish before going to Stockholm School of Economics. Should be an interesting challenge to say the least!

And it's even more demoralising when you see a guy like this...
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17101370

Aug 27, 2016

In that case you need learn more language so you must be as versatile as per other so keep it up and learn more languages in this world.

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We know you have questions as you prepare to apply to your target business schools. What are your chances of being admitted? How can you differentiate yourself from so many other applicants? What is the best way to showcase your accomplishments or mitigate your weaknesses? Start getting answers to all your questions by taking advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with an expert from mbaMission’s Senior Consultant team. Learn more.

Aug 27, 2016

Japanese is a pain in the ass you have to learn a whole new alphabet. I would advise against this unless you're seriously dedicated to learning the language

Aug 27, 2016

Given that China may have the largest GDP in the world in 10 yrs, maybe you should take Mandarin...

Aug 27, 2016

all the languages you want to learn are hard....ie chinese russian japanese arabic

Aug 27, 2016

Learning marklar is actually quite marklar, all you marklar is marklar the word marklar into your marklar so that other marklar can marklar what you're marklar.

Aug 27, 2016

Do Mandarin, it's a lot of fun and obviously incredibly useful. Chinese teachers assume foreigners are pretty dumb, so classes often aren't too hard.

Aug 27, 2016
asiamoney:

Do Mandarin, it's a lot of fun and obviously incredibly useful. Chinese teachers assume foreigners are pretty dumb, so classes often aren't too hard.

Hahahaha, starvin Marvin

I went with spanish - they're slated to become 1/3 of America soon.....

Get busy living

Aug 27, 2016

My friends who studied Mandarin found it incredibly time consuming and difficult. If you aren't looking to study the language to the point of fluency, it will do little to improve your business marketability. Also, if you aren't truly interested in learning the language, you WILL struggle to retain what you'll learn.

Based on the above, I suggest you go as simple as it gets. Stick with one of Spanish/Portuguese/French/Italian as it will likely be the most painless for you.

CompBanker

Aug 27, 2016
CompBanker:

My friends who studied Mandarin found it incredibly time consuming and difficult. If you aren't looking to study the language to the point of fluency, it will do little to improve your business marketability. Also, if you aren't truly interested in learning the language, you WILL struggle to retain what you'll learn.

Based on the above, I suggest you go as simple as it gets. Stick with one of Spanish/Portuguese/French/Italian as it will likely be the most painless for you.

If you intend on continuing this language till you are fluent,choose Mandarin,I believe it will give you a unique advantage.But if it is only for a few quarters,then its not worth it,its very difficult language,You should choose a european,much easier to learn.I would prefer spanish,the second most spoken language after chinese.

Aug 27, 2016

french. will also get you laid... spanish is annoying and ur gonna look like a mexican

Aug 27, 2016

russkiy yazyk and espanol are solid choices. You should be able to gain a basic fluency in spanish or portuguese within four semesters if you take it seriously. Anything not utilizing the latin alphabet is most likely going to require more time to learn.

Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art - Andy Warhol

Aug 27, 2016

I STRONGLY recommend German. It is very easy to pick up if English is your native language. It's also quite useful for finance. I became conversational in German in four months.

-MBP

Aug 27, 2016

Hmmmm... thanks for the input guys.

German sounds convincing but I'm thinkin Portuguese... I'll be going for computer sciences so I don't think I should pair that up with learning another hard ass language like Japanese/Mandarin/etc.

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough.

"There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.

Aug 27, 2016

German

If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses - Henry Ford

Aug 27, 2016

Do German. Incredibly logical and simple to learn. Basically I got fluent in high school to the point where I speak with my friends from Berlin in German only. I would highly suggest this.

Aug 27, 2016

Is German really that much easier than Portuguese? If so... I'm probably gonna do it.

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough.

"There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.

Aug 27, 2016

Arabic FTW haha

If I was in the same situation as you, I would probably choose German/French since they share the same alphabet with english language (almost). Chinese takes a really long time to be very fluent, just like Arabic.

Greed is Good.

Aug 27, 2016

You got to UM right? My friend has taken a couple German classes there so far and likes it.

Aug 27, 2016

Yeah I'll be transferring in the fall... It's kinda shitty how I have to factor in my gpa when making this decision but whatever... I'll just teach myself Portuguese if I want to bad enough. I'm mostly German anyways and Oktoberfest has been on my bucket list for a lil while now, so it'll be nice to know how to talk to the locals when I go haha

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough.

"There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.

Aug 27, 2016

BTW Germans speak impeccable English, maybe the best in Europe besides the Dutch. I haven't done business in Germany, but I feel like everybody just speaks English there anyway.

Aug 27, 2016

ROFLMAO at all the commentary on German.

German grammar is possible the most difficult of latin alphabet based languages.

Getting it to a conversational level is entirely useless since most ppl in Germany speak english at conversational plus level.

And you won't be able to get it to a business written level without doing some serious time. Like fkin loads of time.

I mean if you don't care about later uses of language then yeah go for german, similar enuff to english in speaking and easy to pick up.

But in terms of longterm use it's the most useless option brought up in this thread so far.

Aug 27, 2016

I agree that learning German as an English native is not too worthwhile. The German education system is brutal compared to the US system -- I believe students must pick up a 3rd language in the 9th grade or so. I've spent time in Germany and everyone did seem to know English very well.

CompBanker

Aug 27, 2016
CompBanker:

I agree that learning German as an English native is not too worthwhile. The German education system is brutal compared to the US system -- I believe students must pick up a 3rd language in the 9th grade or so. I've spent time in Germany and everyone did seem to know English very well.

complete hijack, am I correct in inferring from this that the US system is v. v. easy?

Aug 27, 2016

Well wtf... I'd like to be able to keep my gpa up but I don't want to learn something that's completely useless.

How's the difficulty of Portuguese vs. German?

If your dreams don't scare you, then they are not big enough.

"There are two types of people in this world: People who say they pee in the shower, and dirty fucking liars."-Louis C.K.

Aug 27, 2016

beside asian languages
french
portuguese
german
italian

i'd stay away from spanish (useless)

Aug 27, 2016

Yea German is not easy (without having learned it) cuz it has not only masculine and feminine, but also neuter.

French is not easy either, unless you're simply trying to speak at an elementary level.

Aug 27, 2016

As a French native speaker, I can tell you that French is not that easy to learn since many French ppl make grammar mistakes when they talk.

Basically, the vocabular parts / idioms etc are pretty much similar to those in Spanish / Italian & other Latin languages but the verb tenses and the conjugating system are pretty confusing even for us. Plus, there are so many ways to write the same syllab which makes it difficult to spell words properly.

It's still much easier than Japanese, Chinese or Arabic (I can relate on this since I'm intermediate in Japanese, beginner in Chinese and advanced in spoken Arabic)

Aug 27, 2016

Find yourself a French and/or Spanish wife and/or girlfriend.

Aug 27, 2016
olafenizer:

Find yourself a French and/or Spanish wife and/or girlfriend.

Or mistress.

Aug 27, 2016

I was looking to learn Dutch as I speak Deutsche almost fluently and I can tell you Rosetta stone is the best tool to learn a foreign language. Keep in mind though, you got to go through the sessions once everyday for a couple of hours to really master a language in say six to eighth months at best.

Aug 27, 2016

Read up at antimoon.com and alljapaneseallthetime.com

Sites built for English and Japanese learners, respectively, but the same tactics can be used for other languages.

Aug 27, 2016

Here is my way: On average though - it take 4-6months of serious study of grammar, where you spend 30 mins at least 5 times a week. At about 3 months start immersing yourself with radio, TV, music (both Spanish and French are easy in terms of good TV and Music). At 7-9 months pick up your first book - For Spanish choose Paulo Coelho, who uses about 200 words in Portuguese and translated to Spanish is very easy to read. For French its difficult to choose an easy book, since everything written in French is difficult. Maybe an Agatha Cristie translation could work. From 6 months on wards start stepping over the fear to speak in front of natives and this way by 10-12 months you will be speaking! Seriously works.

Aug 27, 2016

No but seriously, get yourself a girlfriend who speaks that language. Also, I would recommend Rosetta Stone, and/or taking classes at a community college.

Good luck!

Aug 27, 2016

Once you are over there, you should pick up the language in no time.

Aug 27, 2016

This is awesome! I forwarded it off to a friend of mine who teaches Spanish.

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Aug 27, 2016

Duolingo is amazing. So is LiveMocha

Aug 27, 2016

Also try Rosetta Stone via TPB.

"Those who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."- Benjamin Franklin

Aug 27, 2016

Just spent an hour on Duolingo brushing up on my french. Great resource!

Aug 27, 2016
BusinessSense:

Just spent an hour on Duolingo brushing up on my french. Great resource!

Definitely a great refresher tool for those rusty language skills! I hope more people discover it, these guys deserve the success.

Aug 27, 2016

Great post. Although, not sure its on the same level as Rosetta or anything but valuable resource.

Aug 27, 2016

I thought I'd bump this up - has anyone used DuoLingo to a great extent by now? I am wondering whether this is actually a viable source to learn a new language?

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Aug 27, 2016

I can't comment on it for learning a new language, but it was a GREAT refresher course for me in French (I'm fluent), and went far beyond what I expected it to be.

Aug 27, 2016

sounds good, thanks

I'm talking about liquid. Rich enough to have your own jet. Rich enough not to waste time. Fifty, a hundred million dollars, buddy. A player. Or nothing.

See my Blog & AMA

Aug 27, 2016

Also interested in this. If you were to learn another language - how would you go about doing this? Anyone have a successful way of self-teaching something like French?

Don't listen to anyone, everybody is scared.

Aug 27, 2016

I heard good things about http://www.codecademy.com/ (I think Eddie wrote a post about it) for programming and Duolingo (http://www.duolingo.com/) for learning a new language. It actually won app of the year.

Anyways, I wouldn't spend too much time and effort trying to learn a new language for work related purposes. Sure, it might help with simple client interactions, but at the end of the day when there are millions at stake for a deal who do you think will receive the edge. A native born speaker or someone who has been learning the language for a few years?