Learning Chinese or Spanish?

<p>For a person who is already fluent in French and English and wants to learn a third language in college, which would you recommend: Chinese (Mandarin) or Spanish?</p>

<p>What I’ve gathered so far:</p>

<p>*Spanish – a virtual second language in America several people speak it. Useful in South America, Spain, some parts of Europe. For a French speaker, learning Spanish shouldn’t be hard and it may even be possible to self-teach. How much of an asset is it to be able to speak Spanish in America? Abroad?</p>

<p>*Chinese – difficult for non-native speakers to learn. Challenging and involves memorizing an entire new set of characters. Many businesses and multinational corporations in America are trying to move into the Chinese market, but how much of an asset is it to be able to speak Chinese? Do many people in China speak English anyway?</p>

<p>So of the two languages, which would you choose and why?</p>

<p>for you i'd say spanish.</p>

<p>a white person knowing chinese would be priceless. TONS of (white)people know Spanish, and if you are interested to go into international business stuff, China is the place to be. Mexico has been tramped on by China and South America is running on China's fumes.</p>

<p>I know some Hong Kong people speak English (more than mainland China anyway). Chinese is good for business and Spanish is good for leisure. If your schedule is lax, take Chinese. If it's not, take Spanish.</p>

<p>munkee- a lot of people in china speak english. however, it doesn't mean that everyone who does business speaks english, not to mention that knowing Chinese could be valuable in a trade deal (lets say the Chinese are saying things in Chinese that are not being translated, or not being translated right, im sure everyone here has seen Lost in Translation). I'm not too sure how Spanish is good for leisure... what is the use for Spanish exactly? You may be able to talk to many more latinos and such, but is that your goal in learning a new language? Chinese is a high demand language right now for corporations. Not to mention that if you are to do Science or engineering, tons of research are being done in China and the quality of the research is improving every moment.</p>

<p>Yes, i know a lot of people in china in speak English but I don't think most of them do. I definitely know Hong Kong knows some English because when i was attending school there, I was taught some English. The only problem is I don't know if it's effective (like in Japan, English is taught but is still a bit iffy there) or not as I left at age 5. </p>

<p>The last time I went to China (mainland) which was 8 years ago, it didn't seem like most people knew English.</p>

<p>gianievve,</p>

<p>i think the question would be, WHY do you want to learn your 3rd language? what are you looking to get out of it?</p>

<p>if you could answer those, then we could better help you narrow down between spanish and chinese, because i could go on and on listing positives for almost every major language in the world. </p>

<p>that being said, in terms of business, chinese is in high demand right now. and people in china who have the opportunity to learn a second language will usually pick english over french. but that goes for many spanish-speaking countries too.</p>

<p>most english-speakers in china may not be fluent in english but they will really want to practice their english with you. </p>

<p>english is a given second language in hong kong. in fact, it's cool to insert several english words into your sentences or say greetings in english rather than mandarin/cantonese.</p>

<p>kfc4u - in casual conversations, definitely. but when it comes to business, thats a different story.</p>

<p>Thanks for the great responses guys!</p>

<p>kcfu - apart from the fact that I love learning languages, I am studying international relations, business and policy making in college and my future career will hopefully involve much traveling (or I'll become a globe-trotter on my own ;) ) I want to learn a language that opens many possibilities. World cultures are of great interest to me and I would love to learn more about Spanish and Chinese traditions. Aesthetically, both languages are beautiful - Chinese is beautiful to write, Spanish is beautiful to speak. I'm just unsure which language to start learning in college.</p>

<p>munkeegirl - I am open to the challenge of learning Chinese, but my schedule will be busy so I won't be able to master both languages... hence the reason why I need to choose one or the other.</p>

<p>im sorry i dont have any input that hasnt been said...but i have a parallel for you</p>

<p>i am fluent in english and spanish, and am thinking about learning french or mandarin</p>

<p>i know the business-related arguments for mandarin, but why french (from any perspective, not just business)?
i am mostly interested in it only because of how it sounds and how much easier it would be to learn than mandarin, but i am concerned from a pragmatic standpoint...</p>

<p>i am interested in business and am not sure when i would use french, although i too love learning languages and learning about cultures</p>

<p>also, how difficult is it to learn two languages simultaneously if the languages are not similar and one has time to do so? (i am, of course, referring to learning french and mandarin in college) does anyone have any advice/experience with trying something like this?</p>

<p>thanks in advance and sorry for stealing the op's thread!</p>

<p>gianievve,</p>

<p>like irock1ce said, chinese will definately be much more advantageous for you in the near future, because china is becoming such a global power, politically and economically. so if you're looking at international relations or business (as i am myself), i would highly recommend mandarin. though the US does do business with many other spanish speaking nations, they are not the emphasis of US foreign and economic policy. china, on the other hand, is the golden untapped market of the world... and a budding world superpower. another reason why i suggest chinese over spanish is that you already have english and french under your belt. those are the two most versatile languages when it comes to international relations and business. adding spanish won't achieve the same additional advantages as adding chinese will. however, mandarin is not easy to learn if you aren't asian, so i hope your college runs on a semester system so you have more time to actually LEARN the language. </p>

<p>doctorrobert, french is very useful if you intend to go into international relations. many parts of the world have french as a secondary language, and french is often considered as one of the two most desirable official languages of the United Nations and other world bodies (the other is english). however, your goal is to go into business, and mandarin will serve you a lot better since many businesses have china in their future plans. </p>

<p>i would not advise learning both languages at once only because mandarin is so difficult to grasp for those who have never been exposed to it.</p>

<p>I recommend Chinese, even though I'm definitely biased as I'm Chinese. ;) You'd best start it early, or you'll be sorry as a middle-aged businessman or whoever.</p>

<p>Thanks kfc4u, you raised some really good points.</p>

<p>If the primary usefulness in learning Chinese is for business interaction, would that mean I would have to be based/live in China? Do corporations send employees to permanantely work in Asia, or do you just travel there often for dealings and such but are officially based in the US?</p>

<p>Kilini - Approximately how many semesters of Chinese do you estimate it will take for a non-native speaker to become adequately proficient (to the extent that you could interact with native speakers, negotiate, understand general business deals, documents etc)? How about fluent (to the extent that you could live in China with ease, read a mandarin newspaper, understand tv broadcasts, grasp cultural/linguistic nuances etc)?</p>

<p>I can't tell you exactly, as I've never tried learning by that route. It also depends on what you mean by adequately proficient.</p>

<p>EDIT: And because I don't know anything about how you learn languages or if you have a "natural talent" for them.</p>

<p>Okay thanks. Does anyone else know how long Chinese is generally studied before becoming proficient? My college does run on a semester system, and their Chinese department is quite good.</p>

<p>1 - 2 years i'd say. DO study chinese. I'm chinese and i've been to china 3 X for vacation... </p>

<p>english is like a "required" subject... just like how here you generally are suggested to take a 2nd language like french or spanish... they are required to all take english... and it's part of their system of exams for college entrance and such... like they would have</p>

<p>1) chinese
2) math
3) history/political science
4) geography/science
5) biology/physics
6) english</p>

<p>as their college/highschool entrance tests</p>

<p>but chinese people hate english. they dread the subject and they aren't that good at it except some who are equivalent to the "ambitious nerds" here, but most are just like people in my french class who knows "comme ca va?" "je m'appelle marguerite" and nothing more... </p>

<p>and i love chinese too... its visual</p>

<p>"If the primary usefulness in learning Chinese is for business interaction, would that mean I would have to be based/live in China? Do corporations send employees to permanantely work in Asia, or do you just travel there often for dealings and such but are officially based in the US?"</p>

<p>both. but i think mainly based in US and travel to china. </p>

<p>"Approximately how many semesters of Chinese do you estimate it will take for a non-native speaker to become adequately proficient (to the extent that you could interact with native speakers, negotiate, understand general business deals, documents etc)? "</p>

<p>2 years minimum (4 semesters). that will be adequate enough to smoothly interact with native speakers. but in order to get to the point where you can negotiate business contracts and stuff... you're gonna need some more advanced chinese. i mean, even a random college student might not be able to make a good contract in english unless he/she had additional training on english in terms of negotiation and contracts and business-emphasis. </p>

<p>"How about fluent (to the extent that you could live in China with ease, read a mandarin newspaper, understand tv broadcasts, grasp cultural/linguistic nuances etc)?"</p>

<p>ADVICE: start reading mandarin newspapers and start watching chinese tv broadcasts. hopefully you'll have access to those (if you live in major chinese populated areas like SF, NY, LA then you probably will). but that's the best way to see how good you can read the mandarin newspapers, and how well you understand the chinese tv broadcasts. most chinese tv broadcasts have subtitles in chinese characters too, so you can do both listening AND reading at the same time! listening to the radio is also good cuz its more challenging... its not as scripted and theres no subtitles/it's more "natural." at first, you will have tons of trouble and won't understand anything. that's okay... just look for a few words that you know. eventually, you'll be able to string sentences together and it'll snowball from there. since you know french already, i'm sure your french teacher told you something similar when it came to mastering french. if you don't live in a major chinese area, then ask your chinese department for films or documents that you can look at. renting chinese films is also a good way to learn. heck, even "House of Flying Daggers" was released in the US in Chinese!!</p>

<p>BEST ADVICE: DO GO TO A STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM.
i cannot emphasize this enough. this is where you'll figure out how lacking your mandarin really is haha jk, no but IMMERSION is the best way to learn mandarin. i'm sure if your school has a good chinese department, then it probably has partnerships with some universities in china where you can study abroad and learn chinese, or even do a summer chinese immersion program. this is THE BEST way to learn about culture, to learn mandarin IN china, etc etc. plus, businesses are more impressed if you've done study abroad. they know you have experience interacting with chinese people and that you're capable of sufficiently handling yourself if they send you on a business trip to china.</p>

<p>NO QUESTION AT ALL...</p>

<p>Do Spanish...
My friend actually does the opposite. He is fluent in Spanish and learns French. He finds many parallels..</p>

<p>As an East Asian, I know how difficult Chinese. SO HARD!! do you that chinese characters change in meaning according to your voice pitch?</p>

<p>chinese.</p>

<p>white american that knows chinese....$$$
go to china and get rich</p>