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I'm interested in pursuing a new language to learn, to develop, and to use in the future. I think it would be important to use a language that is highly marketable. I'm able to speak Spanish minimally having practiced it for some time now. But i'm looking at expanding my ability to speak just two languages to three or more, and It's a difficult decision to make, of course. I think that Japanese would be an excellent language to learn. But i'm curious, has anyone here chosen to speak a new language, put a lot of effort into it, and can now speak it, and how did you choose that language in particular?

Thanks in advance!

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But i'm curious, has anyone here chosen to speak a new language, put a lot of effort into it, and can now speak it, and how did you choose that language in particular?

Thanks in advance!

[/quote

I learned to speak Italian between 1997 and 2000. I did it by living there. I was completely new to the language when I moved there to teach English. I'm not sure that I put a lot of effort into it, because when you move to a country where you must learn a different language, you pick it up naturally. I never studied a book or listened to tapes. I had a poket dictionary handy and spoke with Italians as much as I could.

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I'm not fluent in a second language yet, but I've spent a lot of time thinking about my language goals. I started by listing my reasons for wanting to learn them. I came up with two, and split my list of languages according to them: Business (I want to be a businessman) and National Security (I want to work for the CIA).

There are tons of languages that fit those categories, so the second step I took was to narrow the list down according to motivation. I took out all European languages because I find them boring (too similar to English) and as a businessman it would be relatively easy to hire a European translator.

Thirdly, I set proficiency goals for each language, rather than wanting to learn them all at the same level. I decided to reach basic conversational level with some, and advanced level with others, according to which I expect to use more.

From there, I just made my list. For Business languages, I focused on the Capitalist Jewels of East Asia -- Japan, Hong Kong (Cantonese), and South Korea. The rest of the East is rather under-developed, except Russia, which is misdeveloped (I added it to my list too). For National Security languages, I focused on Iran (Farsi) and the rest of the Middle East (Arabic) as well as China (Mandarin). To constantly motivate myself to look at the big picture, I made a memorable acronym for all of them: JERCKAF (I had to tuck in an E for English to get another vowel, and squish Cantonese and Mandarin into C for Chinese).

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absolutely fascinating! have you chosen which one you want to study first? I myself am the same way. Am greatly interested in conversational skills more than reading and writing at this point in time, and am confident that those two communication skills will develop over time. I definitely want to nail japanese, russian, and greek myself.

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I'll be starting my fourth Japanese course tomorrow, so that's the first one I started working on. I've also started learning Russian at home. I probably won't work too hard to master speaking the National Security languages -- I just want to be able to read them.

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Colonel Rebel, you need to define your goals more clearly. Why are you interested in studying a language? Business? Literature? On what area of the world do you want to focus?

French and German are excellent because they are marketable, spoken throughout Europe and (French) in some parts of North and South America, have great literature, and a tremendous amount of scholarship (most graduate and PhD programs in the humanities require knowledge of one or both of these).

Arabic (which I recommend for Oakes) is highly marketable if you intend to work in the Middle East or with Middle Easterners. Japanese or Cantonese (or Mandarin) are also useful languages but I am not sure are absolutely necessary for commerce because of the emphasis in that part of the world on learning English. I also don't know about the literature in any of these languages.

But, you can never go wrong with Latin or Ancient Greek. Not only will you be able to read some of the greatest works of Western literature in the original, but they will improve your knowledge of English, serve as a basis for all other Romance languages, and are very prestigious. Did you know the British foreign service requires knowledge of Latin? There is a thread somewhere on this forum on the question of studying Greek and Latin.

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I agree that you need to relate your interest in learning a language to a purpose. For general utility in business, I suggest Spanish, French, Portuguese, Chinese, Russian and German. That's based on a tradeoff between the likelihood that you'd have to do business in the other guy's language and the likelihood that you'd do business with someone speaking that language. [Example: there is little point in learning Dutch for business purposes since it's most likely that anyone you'd be dealing with in business would speak English anyhow. But of course if you speak Dutch, that might give you a small advantage]. If you want to read literature, Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese and the big Euro-languages are good choices -- but do you want to read Chinese literature. For general world-wide utility, I would suggest French if you want to deal in Africa, and Spanish if you want to deal in the New World. If you want to successfully take a cab from point A to point B in Korea without driving around a lot, I would suggest learning Korean. If you want to stretch your brain with a challenge, I'd suggest Arabic (especially Classical) or Greenlandic. If you want to sound cool, try Hottentot. !Xu sounds even cooler, but it might be impossible for you to learn.

If you want to learn something strategically useful, I would suggest Kurdish and Farsi. With foresight, I would have said, a dozen years ago, "Learn Somali", but there was little concrete reason to think that would be a useful skill. And yet one day, we found ourself in trouble because nobody had a clue about Somali. That, however, is a thing of the past. I think that Kurdish and Farsi will become an emergency need, but that's based on a perhaps over-optimistic view of the future in that area. The main problem with guessing about strategic needs is that stuff happens out of the blue.

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I'm interested in pursuing a new language to learn, to develop, and to use in the future. I think it would be important to use a language that is highly marketable. I'm able to speak Spanish minimally having practiced it for some time now. But i'm looking at expanding my ability to speak just two languages to three or more, and It's a difficult decision to make, of course. I think that Japanese would be an excellent language to learn. But i'm curious, has anyone here chosen to speak a new language, put a lot of effort into it, and can now speak it, and how did you choose that language in particular?

Thanks in advance!

I think you'd do best of find a way to spend a year or so in a Spanish-speaking country to learn Spanish well. You should at least get to the point where you can read Spanish literature reasonably comfortably.

My own experience has been that languages were much easier to learn after I'd spent a year abroad really learning a language that I had studied in school (German).

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