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What Language to study?

(54 Posts)
EthanDC Tue 29-Mar-16 19:23:09

My household only speaks English & I'm enthusiastic about us all learning a second language together as we have a baby boy on the way & I think it would be great if we could all learn together. Baby included.

What are the most useful languages to help get into a good school & further his education?

I'm currently considering Latin or Mandarin. Any experiences win these?

Thank you in advance for your help smile

MattDillonsPants Tue 29-Mar-16 23:41:52

Well the ten most spoken are as follows

Mandarin, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, Punjabi, and German

So what might help you to choose as a family is to perhaps along with your partner and any older children, watch a movie with subtitles in each language. One will appeal more than the others maybe....if you find that more than one is appealing, look into the culture of the country in which the languages are spoken and see which appeals most.

MeMySonAndl Tue 29-Mar-16 23:47:15

Sign language, the baby will be signing back to you much sooner than you can imagine smile

As for good languages for university, it would depend very much on what your children are interested in studying.

I think that if you really want the children and adults to learn, you need to invest in some classes to start with and get an au pair to practice your new language skills smile

caroldecker Wed 30-Mar-16 00:01:11

To learn together to speak? latin is useless and Mandarin is too difficult as tonal. Spanish would be the most sensible option. Your son will then have confidence in languages and can move onto Latin and, potentially, Mandarin.

BackforGood Wed 30-Mar-16 00:09:37

Bit confused why you've asked the same question in 2 different threads. Here

TheOddity Wed 30-Mar-16 00:10:17

I studied Latin to grad level and it has been pretty useful and made it a lot quicker in learning Italian, BUT it's not a spoken language anymore. No one even really knows how it was pronounced, so pretty hard to teach a baby!
I can really recommend Italian as a second language because you speak it exactly as it's written. I.e, once you know how Italians pronounce letter combinations, it's possibile to read it from the get-go, and because it came pretty much direct from Latin it very much follows its own grammar rules (not like English!). If you YouTube Zecchino D'oro there are lots of videos of songs for young children in Italian which is a nice way to learn. Also Peppa Pig in Italian is good!

MattDillonsPants Wed 30-Mar-16 02:20:55

BackFOrGood why are you confused? She's probably posted twice by mistake. It happens all the time on MN.

fatowl Wed 30-Mar-16 03:23:01

OP, I doubt learning a language as you are describing will help him get into a good school.
You might pick up some vocabulary, but you won't pick up any significant language by watching the odd TV programme with subtitles I'm afraid.

Think about why you want to do it. Is it to travel? Improve his chances of acquiring a second language later on? Unless you have some family context (eg a grandparent speaking to him in the second language, he is unlikely to pick up much)

I'd go for Spanish or French if you are in Europe, mandarin if you are in Asia.

Usbourne books do a lot of language resources such as flashcards for vocab building.

Latin is a language for academics. I'm an MFL graduate and can speak French, German, Russian and Welsh. I wish I'd learnt Latin from an academic perspective, but it not for fun family learning.
I still have a perverse love for French grammar, but I'm a bit odd.

MyFriendsCallMeOh Wed 30-Mar-16 04:23:38

I work as a translator in French and Spanish, have worked in German and learnt Latin to A level. My kids used to speak mandarin when we lived in Asia but we are in the USA now and have dropped it for Spanish as they have to learn that at school. The brain benefits greatly from language acquisition but unless you know you are going to be able to use it, there is little motivation in learning a second language (one of the reasons my kids dropped mandarin, they didn't see the point and had no one to practice with, couldn't use it in shops etc).

If you do decide to go ahead, Spanish is relatively simple, spoken by many, likely to get used on holidays in Europe and may help with acquiring other latin languages.

Having said that, it is likely that within your lifetime (and certainly within your kids'), humans will benefit from chips within their bodies that are able to translate from one language to another so don't force the issue if you think a second language will put your kids at an advantage in their future job market.

Atenco Wed 30-Mar-16 05:27:50

It depends how much effort you want to make. European languages, apart from Basque, will be relatively easy. There are a lot of words in common among European languages that will save you a lot of memorising. Whereas unrelated languages, like Mandarin or Arabic, will require a lot more effort but will open up huge vistas for you.

Gruach Wed 30-Mar-16 10:20:08

MyFriendsCallMeOh - could you say a little more about translation chips? I hadn't realised the technology was racing ahead quite so fast.

(I am constantly talking about how it will soon be compulsory to have an Apple device/chip implanted in one's body.)

MyFriendsCallMeOh Wed 30-Mar-16 12:10:53

Look up neuroprosthetics.

Gruach Wed 30-Mar-16 12:43:59

Thanks! Hadn't considered the possibilities for translation.

caroldecker Wed 30-Mar-16 13:38:43

Myfriends So far cochlear implants are rubbish compared to normal hearing. The next thing in languages will be an app which direct translates - ie you speak one language into it and it sounds out the translation through headphones, like a real translator.

EssentialHummus Wed 30-Mar-16 13:44:41

From personal experience, it's tough to find the motivation to carry on with a language unless you have a reason to learn / some connection with it / someone native to practice with. Do you have a (even tenuous) connection to a country/place/person to steer you towards any one language?

MyFriendsCallMeOh Wed 30-Mar-16 14:06:23

Simultaneous translation apps already exist and machine translation has been around for over 10 years. People are moving prosthetic limbs using thought and neuroprosthetics. It's not far away....

LauraF94 Wed 30-Mar-16 14:23:30

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Atenco Wed 30-Mar-16 16:18:14

What a boring suggestion, that instead of all the excitement and pleasure of learning a new language and being able to understand another culture and way of thinking, you should just wait until there's an app that will do it for you. No wonder the British are so insular.

Gruach Wed 30-Mar-16 16:32:34

Expressing an interest in future technology isn't at all the same thing as endorsing that technology to the exclusion of more traditional methods!

BackforGood Wed 30-Mar-16 16:47:48

MattDillonsPants - because it's confusing when you click on a thread you know you've posted a reply on, as you see it in active convo.s, to then find your answer isn't there.

ApocalypseSlough Wed 30-Mar-16 18:41:49

To get on in the world and have access to the best schools and communicate with the most people it's vital to speak a language. That language is English.
I'm bilingual, competent in a third language and can get by in a couple of other languages. I'm still a dumb foreigner if I go somewhere that doesn't have English, Spanish or French as the main or lingua franca.
That said I'm delighted that my children are competent linguists and I'd echo PPs who recommend Spanish for ease and maximum reach. Good Luck!

Mondrian Fri 01-Apr-16 21:08:30

Apparently most desirable second language for university entry is Mandarin followed by Spanish.

HocusCrocus Fri 01-Apr-16 22:38:37

Apparently most desirable second language for university entry is Mandarin followed by Spanish

Mandarin ? really? Not saying you are wrong but Ds did this in 2ndary school, never entered the equation in (UK) university admissions (he did not apply for oriental language type degree) .
Not sure I would recommend it for an English speaking family with small children to learn as a family. I would go for French, Spanish or German. If your purpose is to learn a language - learn one where you are likely to spend some time and they have the opportunity to speak it. IMVHO.

BertrandRussell Fri 01-Apr-16 22:40:51

"What are the most useful languages to help get into a good school & further his education?"

I have no idea what you mean by this.

BertieBotts Fri 01-Apr-16 22:43:56

I think this will be very difficult if you don't have a connection to the language e.g. relatives who speak it or without actually moving to the country. I would recommend doing that if you have the opportunity to, it's an incredible experience. DS is now completely bilingual two years in.

I agree something useful would be to learn sign language as babies can make signs much earlier than they can make the sounds for speech and it means you end up being able to communicate with them much earlier than you would have been able to which is amazing!

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