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Most "valuable" foreign languages?

jegan3jegan3 Registered User Posts: 701 Member
edited April 2009 in Other College Majors
If I hope to work in international humanitarian aid/public health/that kind of thing, what are the most valuable languages to learn? I'm already studying Spanish and French but would love to pick up a third later on.
Post edited by jegan3 on

Replies to: Most "valuable" foreign languages?

  • kyledavid80kyledavid80 Registered User Posts: 8,093 Senior Member
    Hm, I've heard Chinese is best these days, but that could be mainly for international relations stuff.
  • SungchulSungchul Registered User Posts: 1,498 Senior Member
    I would think that either Chinese or Arabic would be the most beneficial.
  • maributtmaributt Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    the critical need ones, duh

    chinese, arabic, hindi, farsi, persian, and maybe some others i forgot.

    just look up security languages initiative or something
  • sauronvoldemortsauronvoldemort - Posts: 1,094 Member
    yes, chinese seems to be the most useful for the future because of china's current economic rise.

    but, i think chinese will be too difficult. perhaps arabic will be more manageable.

    the least useful language is probably latin, a dead language. but it will help u learn romance languages and even improve ur english reading comprehension.
    greek is perhaps more useful than latin because u have access to ancient works (including the New Testament of the Bible, and works done outside greece stretching from alexandria to middle-east and roman empire), but also the modern greeks speak the similar ancient greek.

    in conclusion, greek and arabic is most useful for an INTELLECTUAL (especially for a classicist or historian)
  • jegan3jegan3 Registered User Posts: 701 Member
    sorry, maributt, maybe i should have been more specific. i was wondering specifically what the most valuable languages would be for someone who's primarily interested in working in humanitarian aid in extremely poor countries, not in security policy or business.

    thanks to everyone
  • maributtmaributt Registered User Posts: 404 Member
    actually, chinese, arabic, hindi, farsi, and persian - speaking countries are pretty poor.

    critical need languages - terrorists - poverty

    they all go together
  • kyledavid80kyledavid80 Registered User Posts: 8,093 Senior Member
    "the least useful language is probably latin, a dead language."

    Actually, Latin is probably the most helpful language for English and Romance language speakers -- whether you're in a related major or not. I've heard that Latin's very helpful in law, too and obviously biology.
  • Mr PayneMr Payne Registered User Posts: 8,850 Senior Member
    It's more useful to know 3-4 romance languages than Mandarin or Cantonese. That is the trade off you are looking at.

    You could be fluent in Spanish/French/Italian/Portuguese for the fluency in Mandarin or Cantonese. This shouldn't even be a choice.
  • nakedgirlnakedgirl Registered User Posts: 42 Junior Member
    chinese i'd say
  • shades_childrenshades_children Registered User Posts: 2,206 Senior Member
    For international humanitarian aid/public health/that kind of thing, where are you interested in working? What issues really interest you?

    Answer those questions, and you'll know what languages you'll want to learn. Spanish and French are certainly good ones to know.
  • r6miler6mile Registered User Posts: 228 Junior Member
    Yes, Chinese is spoken by 1.3 billion people, but only in one country!
    For humanitarian aid stuff, the most useful would be Arabic in my opinion. It depends on the region of the world you're planning to work in. If you're looking at the middle east, learn arabic. In North Africa, arabic will be also very useful, as well as French in the Maghreb. For sub-saharan Africa, I think you're set up with French and English (which act as linguae francae). In south Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc...), English, or a very rudimentary form of it, is spoken by many people (trust me, I live there), so you're fine. However, you might want to learn some Hindustani, it could be helpful.

    Conclusion, go learn Arabic, and perhaps the basics of Hindustani (Hindi-Urdu).
  • seaweedseaweed Registered User Posts: 100 Junior Member
    Yes, Chinese is spoken by 1.3 billion people, but only in one country!

    uhh..actually three. China, Taiwan and Singapore
  • cameliasinensiscameliasinensis Registered User Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    If you're interested in international development, this is what the World Bank likes to see in its interns (link):
    This Program typically seeks candidates in the following fields: economics, finance, human development (public health, education, nutrition, population), social science (anthropology, sociology), agriculture, environment, private sector development, as well as other related fields. Fluency in English is required. Prior relevant work experience, computing skills, as well as knowledge of languages such as French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, and Chinese are advantageous.
  • chewysweetchewysweet Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    Chinese is spoken in many countries.MAlaysia,Taiwan,Hong Kong and many more...
  • Mshed001Mshed001 Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Chinese, definitely, because if you do humanitarian work in Africa, most of them will speak English or French (so brush up of French). In Latin America, Spanish will get you everywhere (it?s much better to speak Spanish in Brazil or the Islands, since most will understand you, and you won?t look like an American tourist). But in Asia, Chinese will be your best choice!
This discussion has been closed.