Which elective is better
Which foreign language should you learn?
Do you like foreign languages and would you like to learn a new language? Do you have to choose between several languages at school?
Today I am going to introduce you to some languages & language groups and what to expect.
In many schools, Latin is compulsory or offered as an optional subject. Latin is no longer spoken anywhere in everyday life, it was used in ancient Rome. Nowadays, Latin is a prerequisite for many subjects, e.g. if you later want to study medicine, biology, theology or law. Sometimes it depends on the country whether you have to know Latin.
If you can speak Latin, you will understand many foreign words that come from Latin better. The lessons are about translating old texts into Latin (e.g. by Cicero), you learn the grammar and many vocabulary. Latin is not spoken in class and is usually always translated from Latin into German, rarely the other way around.
Latin is suitable for you if:
... you later want to become a doctor, lawyer or the like or you need Latin for your dream job.
... it is not so important to you to speak a living foreign language, but you enjoy dealing with grammar, translations and history.
... you are interested in ancient Rome and would like to learn more about the language.
... you don't like to talk in a foreign language, watch films, etc., but prefer to learn the language in a purely theoretical way.
Living Romance languages:
French, Spanish, Italian (even more languages are included, but I cannot introduce all of them here)
French is learned in many schools. French is spoken in France, but also French-speaking Switzerland, parts of Canada and some countries in Africa. Italian is spoken in Italy and Switzerland, as well as in the Vatican and San Marino. Apart from Spain, Spanish is spoken in many countries, including most of the South and Central American countries.
If you already know one language from the language group, you will likely be able to learn and understand the rest of the languages more easily. For example, I can speak Italian and often at least partially understand written texts in Spanish.
The French pronunciation is not easy, the grammar is not always easy to learn, but it is doable. Spanish and Italian have simpler pronunciation rules, but Spanish has a lot of tenses.
The Romance languages are suitable for you if you find the respective sound particularly beautiful (it is easier to remember what you like!) Or if you are interested in a country where the language is spoken.
In addition, French is suitable for you if ...
... you don't mind that the pronunciation rules are more complicated.
... you have a hobby in which French foreign words are important, e.g. ballet.
Italian is suitable for you if ...
... you prefer a foreign language with clear pronunciation rules and without complicated grammar.
... you are interested in (classical) music or play an instrument, because many musical terms are Italian.
... you don't mind learning a language that is not spoken on several continents.
Spanish is for you if ...
... you would like to learn a language that is spoken in as many countries as possible.
... you have no problem with many different tenses.
Dutch is very closely related to German and English. As a neighboring country to the Netherlands, the language is more likely to be learned in the north of Germany. It is rather untypical as a foreign language in schools. The special thing about this language is that it is similar to the German language. You can understand many sentences without knowing Dutch. Like German, the language is not a particularly easy language.
Dutch is suitable for you if ...
... you are fascinated by how much and in what way Dutch is related to German.
... you don't mind learning a more complicated language.
... you like the typical sound.
... you may live in the north of Germany and go there more often.
Mandarin and Japanese
Both languages are spoken by many people in Asia, but Mandarin is the most common mother tongue in the world as China is very large. Both languages use characters instead of letters. There are characters for single syllables as well as whole words.
Since you have to learn the characters and both languages are very different from German, it is very difficult to learn Japanese or Mandarin - which, by the way, applies to most Asian languages. However, sentence structure and grammar are often easier once you know the vocabulary and the basics.
Many companies doing business with China and Japan require interpreters and translators for these languages.
While the emphasis on Mandarin can make a big difference (for example, depending on the emphasis and melody, "mo" can mean mom, milk, and a few other things), this is not an issue with Japanese. The emphasis is regulated quite simply in Japanese, usually the last, rarely (also) the first syllable of a word is emphasized.
Mandarin or Japanese are suitable for you if ...
... you are very interested in languages and find it exciting to learn a completely different language with a different writing system.
... you have a talent for learning foreign scripts.
... you are interested in Asia and have a connection to it.
Although Finland is part of Scandinavia, Finnish is very different from the other Scandinavian languages. The Finnish language is very easy to recognize in writing by the many ä, ö and ü, and there are also many long words.
The pronunciation is still not difficult to learn, but the grammar can sometimes be quite demanding. Finnish is known for having a single word for very unusual situations, which many learners of the language find particularly fascinating.
The language is mainly spoken in Finland, in countries like Sweden it is a minority language.
Finnish is suitable for you if ...
... you don't mind that the language isn't widely spoken.
... you want to learn an unusual language that not many people in German-speaking countries learn.
... you like the sound and / or the typeface.
... you are a fan of Scandinavia, but you are less interested in languages like Swedish or Danish.
This language is one of the most difficult languages to learn as a foreign language. The Thai script has a very distinctive appearance, and the accent and melody in pronunciation is extremely important as it can change the meaning - much like Mandarin.
Thai is spoken in Thailand, otherwise by minorities in nearby countries, e.g. Singapore.
Due to the high level of difficulty, it is only recommended to learn Thai if you have a good feeling for the language, a lot of patience and motivation.
Thai is also suitable for you if ...
... you feel like learning one of the most difficult languages as a challenge.
... you would like to learn a language with a different script and you have nothing against a more complicated script system.
... you have a personal connection to Thailand.
I hope you enjoyed this brief introduction to some languages.
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