French or German?

So I've studied German approximately 2 years ago, did relatively well, and managed to get to a c1 level. I've been also studying French for the past 6 months, with not much success and now I'm kind of like at a crossroad. I'm at a UK target as an eastern-European and I feel that I should really master one additional language before graduating. The question is, should I perfect my german(got 2 years left) or try to get to a decent level in french? I enjoy both languages so it really comes down to which one is more useful. Would appreciate some industry insight, which one is more appreciated, has better prospects in the future? I also think that Germany's going to dominate the EU for the next decades and France is kinda dying so imo the prospects are better for German but curious about your opinions

Thanks guys!

(Btw. Wanna end up in a hedge fund, if that matters)

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Comments (27)

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Apr 29, 2021 - 3:05pm

I think Frankfurt is more of a financial HQ than Paris right? Could be wrong. I took french in school and every once and a while get to test it out

Apr 29, 2021 - 3:27pm

Where do you want to work and live? Are you looking to expand job opportunities? Or is the general use of language across the world what we are looking at here?

About 100 Million people of Europe speak German, and many millions more speak it as a second language or a dialect of it. English and German are the most popular languages in Europe.

French, however, is spoken in about 30 countries worldwide and almost 280 Million people use it globally. While it is "only" the third most popular in Europe, it has certain advantages English and German wouldn't give you.

If you are very fluent in English, it is up to you to see whether German or French would help you. Both languages are very useful, it just depends on where do you want to live and work in the long run. If you are a very international person, have an interest in global affairs, diplomacy and international organizations - I would pick French.

German is useful if you have an interest in either the German speaking regions or industry verticals (automotive, industrials, engineering, etc).

Here is another example, if you love Canada, it would be very useful to speak French. It would boost your points on the immigration test and you might get the ITA letter.
If, however, you are in love with Switzerland or Frankfurt or want to work in financial areas where most covered companies are from either German speaking nations or industries... then focus on German.

Apr 29, 2021 - 6:12pm

Thank you! Really insightful answer. As I'm studying everything in English at a uk uni, London is obviously the primary goal. After that come the US(highly unlikely due to visas and other difficulties, but still interesting), Switzerland,Austria(next to my home country so I would be close to family), and Germany. I would only work in Paris but the german speaking world offers many more options so that is definitely a plus for them. Your reasoning regarding french is mostly why I'm interested in it. Like it's internationality, culture, and just basically it's significance in the world.

Based on what you said German would be superior in Europe and basically most industries so I'll probably stick to that. Also, I find that much easier and French quite strange, yet beautiful. As far as I'm aware it's supposed to be the opposite. One big negative for french is that I find (unsurprisingly)French people at my uni quite arrogant.

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Apr 30, 2021 - 2:09am

Look at the countries and then look at what you really want. Also, a lot of these comparisons depend on many other personal choices.
Here is an abstract example. A person who might be from the African continent (ie Algeria), might believe in a religion that is not Christianity, and who wants to live in Europe might be a lot happier in France. France is way more culturally diverse and (most) French people don't freak out when they see a person of color.
If said person would move to a conservative village in Bavaria, everything might be OK. Or it might not be. (Not saying Germans have a problem with people of color, but a really good friend who lives in Germany is not very happy).


If you or your company is heavily involved in industry areas that have automotive, engineering, or comparable areas with a focus on the German language, then it would make a lot more sense to use that language. Aviation/aeronautics/aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering are a bit funny since it is both French and German.

It all depends on aspects like these.

Someone also mentioned accents. It is 100% normal to have an accent when you learn a language, we all have it. It only proves that we speak multiple languages. But accents are not accepted in the same way in every country. Having a slight accent in English is more accepted in the UK, than having an accent in German in Germany. People may judge you in different ways because of it.

Apr 29, 2021 - 5:39pm

I have a specific view - basic/medium proficiency in a language is of 0 help professionally - you are fluent or you are not. C1 is near fluent so I would focus on your German - be 100% fluent so you can work/cover DACH countries.

Both are useful languages eitherway - but french folks will always hate non native french speakers + their economy is absolutely fucked: high criminality, rising debt levels even pre-covid with record low interest rates (i.e. if rates rise just the debt will make it impossible for france to finance themselves without a rising pile of debt), structural lack or poor cultural/racial integration just to cite a few.

Apr 29, 2021 - 6:25pm

Thanks! Feel the same regarding fluency. That is how I've realised that with workload and uni life I just don't have time to "master" 2 languages in 3 years, even though I can get the hang of it quite quickly. Would be interested about more reasons why ther are fucked. I have the same opinion but haven't indulged to much so far in finding out why their economy is this horrendous. Just read Soros' recent book about the EU and he described that if the UK leaves, Germany's going to make basically each EU member their b*tch(including France) through dominating in nearly every industry and through the ECB. It was quite compelling. I'm also from Hungary which has close ties to Germany so that would also be a big plus too.

+I like Rammstein

So far, it's going back to good old German

Apr 29, 2021 - 6:57pm

Es ist ganz toll dass du Rammstein magst.

Yes that is broadly the consensus across economists for Europe - I am no expert on the topic but the way I have always thought about it is that Germany is a much more disciplined country that will perform regardless of conditions and is governed by people that are pragmatic and that have common sense, France is a much more "unreliable", socialist and less nible/flexible with its policies than Germany.

  • Analyst 1 in IB - Gen
Apr 30, 2021 - 6:39pm

You are a joke. Like seriously. Did you just advise someone not to learn French in a good part because France is a fucked up country? Not sure if you have mental health issues or if you just started friday drinks too early but think we'll do without our insights on this one...

the only valid point is that you need to be C1 for it to have professional value. However, I would just chose the language he prefers independently of professional advantages - he'll be more motivated and progress faster, enjoy travel in the country more, etc. 

Apr 30, 2021 - 2:50pm

100% Germany. Germany is in a better economic position than France out the gate so it has more tangible value there, the people (in my opinion) are friendlier to non-native speakers, and the women are more beautiful (in my opinion).


  • 1
Apr 30, 2021 - 3:43pm

PrivateTechquity 🚀GME🚀

100% Germany. Germany is in a better economic position than France out the gate so it has more tangible value there, the people (in my opinion) are friendlier to non-native speakers, and the women are more beautiful (in my opinion).

It's funny you say this about Germans being friendlier to non-native speakers. I have met a lot of French people in my life traveling and in the US and in France obviously, and many of them seem condescending to those who don't speak French and I feel are just snooty in general. 

I also lived with two French chicks in NYC and they weren't too condescending to me, but if we were ever hanging out with French people, they would overwhelmingly talk French even though they knew English and would keep me in the dark like a fool. This happened multiple times in multiple countries for me. 

On the other hand I find Germans to be extremely well traveled and polite to non-German speakers and they know English and use English. Much more respectful in general.

So my vote is for you to learn German. 

"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
Apr 30, 2021 - 5:59pm

Lots of good advice in here. It's interesting from a historical and geographic perspective, had Germany been in the position France is now and had an overseas empire (instead of just those random central parts of Africa), the choice would have been much more clear. Now, a lot of Africa speaks French, it's somewhat well-respected in Asia, but the French economy sucks at home. At least you know an eastern-european language though, whatever country that is could have some growth in the future, ale chuj wie.

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

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