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language teachers - Chinese Russian German

(18 Posts)
oppsupsideyourhead Fri 29-May-09 10:20:35

dd has the chance to do a taster course (at school) in Chinese, Russian or German. Already studying French and Spanish.

Her French and Spanish teachers say she is doing very well, above average, her teachers have given her a target of 5A at the end of year 8. I know that they don't usually meet these targets and she got a level 4A in both at end of year 7, so maybe optimistic.

Anyway I;m looking for some inside advice. If she does not decide to do a third language she will continue in a mixed ability class for French and Spanish. Which she is considering. However it would be a shame to miss such an opportunity to do a third language when the school is a language school.

Which language (Chinese, Russian or German) is
1. Easy?
2. Challenging?
3. More widely used in the RL world?


oppsupsideyourhead Fri 29-May-09 12:17:11

. shameless bump

MrsWobble Fri 29-May-09 13:33:07

I'm not a language teacher but didn't want to leave your question unanswered.

I think Chinese is difficult but potentially the most valuable for later employment.

I learnt Russian at school and once you've learnt the new alphabet (which isn't that hard - especially compared to the Chinese one) then the grammar is relatively easy and sentence structure is not that different to English.

I never learnt German - my dds are and find it easier than French.

ZZZen Fri 29-May-09 13:44:03

NEver tried Chinese but I found German straight-forward, it's pronounced the way it is written with the exception of some loan words from other languages (mostly English) so no big deal. It is a highly inflected language so articles change ending, as do adjectives and nouns - and of course verbs. There is a substantial body of detailed rules to learn, however when you have learnt them and practiced enough with a decent grammar workbook/exercise book, you can do it.

Russian has more exceptions, the pronunciation has some elements that English speakers can find harder than German like schtsch in the middle of a word and so on. Russian verb tenses I found more diff than German, obviously really since it is a different language family to English. German being the closest of your 3.

I knew a girl who studied CHinese and she told me that inflection plays quite a large role. So if you have a pretty good ear and you can hear whether a sound, say sooo (wild stab in the dark) rises at the end or rises and falls and so on, you will have less trouble with it. This is not something English speakers have to deal with, so people can find it hard to learn. Change in intonation can totally change the meaning of a word so you do need to master this for oral understanding and producing understandable oral Chinese yourself. (This is more or less how she explained it to me).

Seem to read everywhere that Chinese is THE language to learn for the future. How true it is I don't know. Don't they speak a lot of different dialects in CHina though?

ZZZen Fri 29-May-09 13:46:46

I seem to remember on youtube there were some introductory lessons to Chinese, so you could get an idea of the sound. I don't know about the sound so much, it seems to glide past my ear without me being able to pinpoint it really. I suppose that comes with time. I am fascinated by the Chinese characters though and I would love to be able to speak Chinese (not perhaps to actually go through the act of learning it). We tend to be quite ignorant of China here in Europe, their history, thought, literature, music, culture. Think your dd could enjoy discovering all that once she has a basis to work from.

foxytocin Fri 29-May-09 13:48:34

one language college i worked at teaches Mandarin. they use Pi-yin which is what foreigners use to learn Mandarin quickly.

the children get on fine with it.

Mandarin is the lingua franca of the chinese dialects.

i would love to learn it.

ZZZen Fri 29-May-09 13:49:28

can you explain what you mean with Pi-yin? Don't know the term.

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 29-May-09 13:50:21

Definitely Chinese (Mandarin) - fastest growing economy/population in the world.

Spanish very good as spoken widely round the world, German not so - where else is it spoken (although I believe it is used in technical contexts for some reason).

I'm learning Mandarin now, and it's true about the intonation. Each vowel sound has 4 different tones, and if you get the wrong one you completely change the meaning of the word.

e.g. 'ma' - means mother or horse, depending on the way you say it!

It's easy to master the tones though.

And if your dd is a linguist, then it won't pose more of a challenge than any other language.

It is also supposed to help develop the conceptual/creative part of the brain too.

Bucharest Fri 29-May-09 13:51:30

I would do Chinese as well, as I imagine it's a much harder do-it-yourself language, unlike, say German.

foxytocin Fri 29-May-09 13:52:08

if you go to bbc/languages you should find taster mandarin.

it gives an idea of the 4 tones which ZZZ spoke about.

let your dd try it out?

foxytocin Fri 29-May-09 13:53:33

[[ pinyin]

foxytocin Fri 29-May-09 13:53:54


ZZZen Fri 29-May-09 13:55:21

oh I see transcription in our alphabet. Thanks

ZZZen Fri 29-May-09 13:56:21

BecauseI'mWorthIt that's encouraging to hear you found those 4 different tones easy to learn. The impression I got from listening to that girl speak was that Chinese was totally beyond my capabilities! Good for you tackling it.

Frizbe Fri 29-May-09 14:03:31

Definately go for Mandarin, will be so useful in business in the coming years.
Personally I speak some Russian, courtesy of school, but have never had the opportunity to use it since!

BecauseImWorthIt Fri 29-May-09 14:18:30

It's vital that you get the tones right, so I would also find out who will be teaching them. Our teacher (Chinese) spent pretty much the first of our whole term doing nothing but this.

oppsupsideyourhead Fri 29-May-09 20:03:19

Thank you so much. Very informative.
dd has read the posts and is now thinking Chinese might be best.

I will go and have a look at the link.

ChampagneDahling Wed 03-Jun-09 13:12:40

Lucky girl to have the opportunity! Wish her the best of luck with it.

Much as I love German, I would recommend either Chinese or Russian - less Europeans speak these and therefore more useful for future - only 3 years to the Olympics smile

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