Mandarin, not even a fucking choice.
Wife has been playing around with Duolingo recently. Does anyone here have any experience or thoughts regarding the value of being bilingual? Intuitively, I'm assuming it would expand one's choices but I'm not too familiar with how or the actual tangible value. For what it's worth, I'm pursuing a degree in CS and contemplating grad school.
Follow-up question: If you could speak an additional language fluently or near-fluently, which would you choose to benefit your career?
That said, I gotta be honest, as our resident linguist whose all about learning languages, immersing kids, blah blah hippy nonsense, the CAREER value is negligible.
There certainly are people who open more opportunities, but the if you're comparing it to virtually any other use of time(learning a new skill, getting a higher degree, intense self-study..anything), learning a new language is basically the absolute bottom of the barrel. Absolutely worthless in terms of time spent vs opportunities created.
Unfortunately as presumably an American, Canadian, UK or Australian since you speak English, you've won the linguistic lottery, there is virtually no one who can advance your career who doesn't already speak English, or whom doesn't have someone to speak it for them, therefore you already possess the near maximum amount of linguistic opportunity you can in our current society(mandarin being a distant second these days). Any additional time spent will have greatly diminished returns compared to say, someone from Sudan learning English, where for them learning English basically opens up an entirely new world for them of opportunities.
I speak 5 languages at pretty high competency and the only professional situations it's ever mattered a translator was available anyways if I wanted.
Last edited by Celestein; 08-25-2015 at 04:16 PM.
I agree with Celestein. Unless you're in a job where foreign languages are a vital part (such as working directly with immigrants), it probably won't make much of a difference if you're bilingual. In such jobs, however, being bilingual is awesome. I know for a fact that my ability to speak a foreign language was a huge selling point for me when I interviewed for my current job, and it played a role in beating out some other, monolingual candidates.
If you really want to learn a foreign language, I'd pick one that genuinely interests you and that you'd enjoy learning. The problem with trying to learn a language for purely professional reasons is that you'll likely lose motivation and never end up reaching a level where you can actually use it.
I speak a second language, English being the first, and in my opinion, there's far more opportunity for native speakers of "niche" languages who learn English than the other way around.
Having native skill in a language and being able to translate it into English, even if the English isn't perfect, is far more valuable than being able to either a) translate another language into English at a non-native level or b) Translating English into the second language. The former isn't as accurate and the latter doesn't have as many opportunities.
Interesting and it makes sense. Thanks guys.
I learned Arabic in the Army and became quite proficient at it after over 2 years in Iraq. Since I moved to Florida and then to Texas my Spanish is quite good now as well. Currently learning Russian for fun since learning languages has become... incredibly easy now.
But I also work with a lot of Slavic companies/people lately so it is a boon to me specifically and not overly complicated as a language (fuck Arabic grammar, to this day I can read/speak it but the nuance of its grammar is fucking bonkers). I've knack for memorizing many new words though. I honestly don't know what would be the most beneficial and I don't want to say just learn Mandarin, even though it is probably guaranteed to be helpful.
Last edited by TJT; 08-25-2015 at 07:16 PM.
B.Net: TJT#1179"Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty, and become wind."
I'd look at is as a leg up on competition for the same job rather than opening up a ton of new door ways. While a second language can do that, especially one you're fluent in and one that is fairly rare for Americans to know, I think the applications are bit more limited. Mandarin would be a good choice but you need to make sure your other qualifications would fit the doors that might open for you.
I speak several languages, and one of the greatest benefits is understanding how your "native" (or the language in which you work) functions. It allows you to use language better.
We speak two languages at home; my kids are all bilingual. I think that is nothing but positive. They can take math classes in school any time, but growing their understanding of language happens best as a child. It's not hippy bullshit.
I highly encourage people to expose their children to multiple languages and immersion, the personal and social benefits are amazing. It's only the career benefits that really don't exist anymore(which trust me, makes me sad to admit).
I was very happy to be exposed to French as a child, even though it was only for summers it allowed me to be a native speaker as an adult.
(even if you learn a language as a child, and then don't use it for 30yrs, you can easily gain native language proficiency, you understand the grammar intuitively, you just have a limited vocabulary).
Languages are actually quite useful in my industry. I work in a luxury hotel, and tons of our guests speak very minimal English if any. We just had 300 people from a Middle Eastern Embassy there for 2 weeks, and barely a single one could speak any English. Unfortunately, we only had one employee who speaks Arabic. Language proficiency is required if I want to try and go to a non-US hotel. For example, if I want to go to Monte Carlo to work, I need English, French, and Italian to be hired.
Unfortunately, as much as I love languages, I never seem to get to a useful stage of them.
Last edited by Fiyero; 09-17-2015 at 01:39 AM.
My general rule for learning ANY language is to actively use it in meaningful interactions. I think the negotiation for meaning when you're having a real conversation is what truly makes the language stick in your mind, whether it be a particular grammar rule, pronunciation of a certain sound, vocabulary word, or whatever. Just start speaking using whatever little you have, and it'll build from there. Obviously books and standard studying can supplement this.
Honestly most of you mother fuckers need to work on your English before you worry about learning other languages. Read a book, do toastmasters, take a speech class, learn to express yourselves without saying "you know" or "uhh" or any other repetitive bullshit while speaking. I'm not calling anybody out in particular because I obviously haven't heard you speak. But in general people don't speak their native languages all that well, and English is far and away the best one to know. So concentrate on knowing English 100%, get your phrasing perfect, and work on your writing skills and your verbal presentation.
How long did it take you to reach conversational or read a newspaper in Russian?My general rule for learning ANY language is to actively use it in meaningful interactions. I think the negotiation for meaning when you're having a real conversation is what truly makes the language stick in your mind, whether it be a particular grammar rule, pronunciation of a certain sound, vocabulary word, or whatever. Just start speaking using whatever little you have, and it'll build from there. Obviously books and standard studying can supplement this.
Cantonese over Mandarin. By far. At least in a health related field, there are way more Cantonese speaking patients than Mandarin. If I could easily learn languages, it would be:
Spanish -> Cantonese -> Russian -> French
But, it also depends on what field you're working in and where you're living. :-p
I self thought myself Mandarin and use it much more nowadays than Cantonese. There are more loaded Chinese investors and tourisrs going abroad to spend all that umm 'questionable' money they no doubt legitimately earned back at home.
You may not be like this, but I feel like a lot people (and I'm a language teacher, so I see this in my students, too) feel like they have to "gear up" on grammar and vocabulary before speaking a language, to use some MMO terminology. Speaking a language isn't a raid; you don't need to reach a certain language item level to step into the conversation raid zone and down the first boss. It's a gradual process of slow, incremental improvements. Start with the very basics of grammar (present tense, verb conjugation) and work from there.
It's been a long time, so I can't say for sure. I'd say after 3 or 4 months of starting studying I was chatting (text, not video) online (via Agent, if you know it) with Russians. Doing that for a few months and making heavy use of http://www.multitran.ru showed massive improvement in my abilities and helped me get to the point that I could converse in-person.How long did it take you to reach conversational or read a newspaper in Russian?
I agree with this. The nice thing is that good speaking skills will, for the most part, transfer over to your foreign language so you'll get extra benefit out of it.Honestly most of you mother fuckers need to work on your English before you worry about learning other languages. Read a book, do toastmasters, take a speech class, learn to express yourselves without saying "you know" or "uhh" or any other repetitive bullshit while speaking. I'm not calling anybody out in particular because I obviously haven't heard you speak. But in general people don't speak their native languages all that well, and English is far and away the best one to know. So concentrate on knowing English 100%, get your phrasing perfect, and work on your writing skills and your verbal presentation.
The best class I took in college was a speaking class. It had us giving a variety of speeches in front of the class--including a roast of a classmate--and recording them to analyze and fix things like "uhhh" and "you know." It really changed my life.
Last edited by McCheese; 09-17-2015 at 07:43 PM.
Last edited by Kuriin; 09-17-2015 at 09:28 PM.
Part of me eventually might want to learn an East Asian language to open up that side of the world. Would be a tough call between Mandarin and Japanese though.
As for spaced repetition, I hate it. I can't remember anything unless I have some sort of meaningful context surrounding it, which is why I prefer to just use the language.
The place I originally learned Arabic (DLI in Monterey) just really instilled in me the ability to remember many many words, phrases, definitions and grammatical rules without too much effort anymore. There are so many parallels in grammatical structure (generally, not higher nuance of literature and shit). I have no particular method other than reading lots of things, talking to some Ukrainians I know in Russian via Skype very often who are more than happy to put up with all my mistakes (don't be afraid to make mistakes, rule #1 IMO).
Example of the kind of parallels I am talking about. Arabic has very similar constructs in terms of plurality/gender agreements it is simply not a chore to wrap my head around it. I am bad at saying/recognizing soft sign. But I believe that just takes time, much like glottal stops and various emphatic letters in Arabic. Aspect and motion verbs are a bit of a curve.
Honestly, the grammar isn't that bad as the labyrinthine nature of Arabic grammar (it is completely batshit, utterly so) makes most things pale in comparison. I can read quickly already and converse reasonably well. But plenty more to learn!
B.Net: TJT#1179"Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty, and become wind."
Mandarin is nice. I've been learning it for ages it seems and lived in China for some time. Coming back to the States I did a bit of phone interpreting for a short while and occasionally translate documents in my current company. I'd say it definitely helped land my current job, but I don't use it very often really. It really depends on where you live and what your other skills are. I'm thinking about heading back overseas to work in an embassy/consulate as the need is pretty high with the State Department. Other than that, I'm still looking around to see what's available here with the skill. Most of the opportunities seem to be in the NYC/LA/SF areas.
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