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Choosing another language?

CygneCygne Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
edited July 2009 in Smith College
Hi everyone,

I am currently considering my course choices for the fall semester (as an incoming first year, I can't register yet, but I want to have a plan!). I'm definitely sure that I want to take a French course, as I am fairly advanced in French and considering a major.

I also would like to pick up another language, and I am attempting to decide which one. Spanish seems logical; it is widely used and should be easier to pick up than a non-Romance language. The problem is, I have taken 3 semesters of high school Spanish, and though I'm a bit rusty, I'm sure it will come back quickly. I don't think that this is enough for me to place out of anything, but I am afraid that I will grow bored. I know from experience that I tend to pick up languages very quickly.

Alternately, I have thought of taking either another Western European language (German, Italian) or Arabic. Though the last might be a stretch to learn, it is a critical language, especially in this day and age... The others would be useful for travel in Europe and to my interest in literature.

I would appreciate any advice, both on the Spanish issue and general commentary on the departments that I have mentioned.

Post edited by Cygne on

Replies to: Choosing another language?

  • anechkakithanechkakith Registered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    The Spanish placement test is actually online right now, so maybe you could do a quick grammar review and try it out? If you just polish it up a bit you could probably place out of the beginning class. If you're interested, I can PM you all the info to take it.
  • anechkakithanechkakith Registered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    Also, something to keep in mind is that, this fall at least, beginning Arabic has only one section that meets at 8:30, which may or may not be doable for you.
  • CygneCygne Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    Thanks, I'd love to hear more about the Spanish placement test! If I could place out of the first level, that would be ideal...I might actually get somewhere with it. :) As for the 8:30 class time for Arabic, that probably wouldn't bother me much unless I ended up with late-night dance rehearsals or something.
  • anechkakithanechkakith Registered User Posts: 161 Junior Member
    I PMed you. Forgot to mention that when I visited Smith I stayed with a French major who was taking Italian for the first time as a senior and she was very impressed with the intro Italian class.
  • LaMariposaAzulLaMariposaAzul Registered User Posts: 379 Member
    Cygne, I'm having the same pre-first-year predicament, except I've taken 4 years of high school Spanish. The problem is, I'm not sure how useful all that Spanish will be if I do something humanities/literature-related, like I'm thinking right now...anyone out there want to comment on how useful continuing with Spanish vs. switching to another language (like French or perhaps German) is for a potential English/humanities-oriented person? I don't want to waste all that Spanish, but I'm starting to think that exploring another language that could be more relevant to my interests might be a good idea. Thank you!
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    If you are considering going to graduate school in English or most of the other humanities, you must have reading ability in two other modern languages. Make sure your transcript documents both languages. For instance, if you've taken Spanish but want to switch to French, then take at least one Spanish class at Smith.

    Unfortunately, there's no way to predict where you'll place until you take Smith's test. My daughter had AP French as well as Japanese through intermediate at a college. Her high school French tested her out to over 260 level French, but she had to take intermediate Japanese again because she did not have the knowledge of the same kanji characters that Smith taught. Speaking-wise, she was much more adept at Japanese. She fully expected to be placed in advanced Japanese and lower in French. You will know, however, before you officially register for classes.

    A lot depends on your high school language preparation.
  • CygneCygne Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    I think that I will probably be applying to graduate programs in French literature, so I've been doing some research about requirements. Unfortunately, they're not very consistent--some want 1-2 other modern languages (beyond English), some want Latin... At least most allow you to study up to meet the requirements during the first year of enrollment.
  • salycasalyca Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    Hey Cygne. I'm an incoming first year as well and I'm fluent in French because my parents are from France- but I wanted to take another language as well. I've also taken Spanish in high school. But I'm pretty sure I want to take an advanced French class in the fall... and Greek. This is because I want to study abroad in Greece junior year. So the whole point of this is that I have doubts about taking Greek and I'm not sure what to take. So basically I'm in the same boat as you haha
  • mythmommythmom Registered User Posts: 8,305 Senior Member
    I have a PhD in English and French is the most useful language, without a doubt. Next comes German, followed by Latin and finally Italian. Spanish is really not of much use, but oh well. It will still count as one of your languages.
  • CygneCygne Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    Hi salyca! I have thought a little about taking Greek, because it would be fun and good for reading the classics...However, given my general educational path, I think that its usefulness would not be as great as some other languages. I think it would be fun to go to Greece, but right now my plan is to do JYA in Paris. I don't have the advantage of having French-speaking parents, but I am working on my fluency. :)

    Thanks for the insight, mythmom; I will take that under advisement. I am considering German, Latin, AND Italian, so...I guess we will see. I think I need to do some more research on requirements for grad schools.
  • MomwaitingfornewMomwaitingfornew Registered User Posts: 5,821 Senior Member
    Mythmom, what if one wanted to study Latin American fiction?
  • Lost in translatLost in translat Registered User Posts: 394 Member
    Cygne, if you change your mind and want to switch to Comp Lit, German is a must. On the other hand, for a Ph. D in French, Latin is maybe not compulsory but certainly highly recommended as medieval French is very close to Latin. The good news is that if you are fluent in French and have a good grounding in Latin, you will find Italian quite easy.
  • CygneCygne Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    I am feeling myself rather torn between "literary" usefulness and "real-world" usefulness--what a dilemma! I suppose that it makes the most sense to focus on the literary side in formal education, as that is where I am hoping that all this will lead. I do love academia. :) And I expect that it would be far easier to gain a practical knowledge than an academic knowledge of a language through self-study.
  • CygneCygne Registered User Posts: 147 Junior Member
    I also find Spanish to be linguistically boring. So predictable! I like a little excitement, a little mystery in language learning. "Discovering" a new rule can be oh so satisfying... As you may have guessed, I am a grammar junkie. ;)
  • SubwayMomSubwayMom Registered User Posts: 35 Junior Member
    Mom Waiting for New has a great point!

    And I think you can't underestimate the real world usefulness of Spanish.
This discussion has been closed.