Best language to learn for business major (Accounting)
Chinese is difficult to learn and, unless you have quite a facility for learning languages, will take a "western" person (ie one who has a Euro language as their "A" language) years longer to master than European languages, simply because it is so different from English and from the Romance languages.
Yes, China is enormous and it is going to grow more, but unless you are willing to move over there to learn the language via immersion, the reality is that you will not really learn enough at college to be useful to you in your job and there are many thousands of first- and second-gen Chinese-Americans studying business at colleges in the US and other English-speaking countries who already speak Mandarin at native o near-native-level fluency, as well as speaking native or near-native English.
That's not to say that you shouldn't bother. But I do think that the vast majority of people who choose to learn Mandarin are never really going to speak it with much facility and it will never really be of much use to them in their jobs.
If you already know some Spanish, why not keep on learning that? The Spanish economy, whilst in trouble, is reasonably large and, of course, Spanish is the language of much of South America and so I suspect that Spanish could come in quite handy and it's much easier to learn than Chinese. Don't forget that the better part of 400 million people speak Spanish worldwide, so it's a widely used language.
At the risk of having a rant, I'm frustrated by the way that foreign language learning is susceptible to trends, particularly with regard to Asian languages.
A lot of students at uni still learn Romance languages such as French or Spanish because a) they think that it's romantic and b) it might come in useful when they're travelling around Europe during summer vacation. Few people - at least in Australia where I am from - learn a Euro language for professional reasons and yet classes are still well subscribed.
Asian languages, however, are very susceptible to fluctuation based on perceived usefulness of the language. A few decades back, Indonesian was a popular language to learn in Australia as Indonesia is our closest neighbour and one of the most populous countries in the world. That fervour faded, to be replaced by Japanese for a couple of decades. Now, even though Japan is still Australia's largest bilateral trading partner, Japanese is no longer trendy because people see China as the next big thing and so Chinese classes at uni, long devoid of numbers, are now almost overflowing.
To conclude, whilst a language can be a great string to your bow, it's important to choose one that will not only be useful to you (so don't learn Basque, for example), but which you can also develop a reasonable level of fluency in without taking too many years. Chinese could meet the first criterion, but wouldn't meet the second.
But if it is so difficult for most Singaporean Chinese who mostly live in Mandarin speaking family, I would imagine it's a humongous task for you. And the Mandarin characters are not like alphabets, you can't guess your way through by pronunciation.
I would imagine French would be pretty good. Considering it is very versatile and is spoken in many countries such as various countries in Africa.
It seems to me that adding a language (other than English) is probably not the best investment of time for a business career, unless you have an actual need (i.e. you know you're moving to China).
I pursued French throughout my life and did a study abroad in France while in College. Very happy with the choice. I wish I could move to a french speaking- european country for a few years at least so I can become more comfortable with it.
Now that I live in the U.S. spanish would be more helpful but French was always my number one. I wish I knew German as well since I fell in love with the country (and their not recent history) not too long ago. Igbo would be nice since that's what my ethnic group speaks but it currently isn't helpful career wise (though that could change).
That may well be true, but the statement was "Don't do [X] just because it's good for your career, only do it if you truly enjoy it." Which is ridiculous, almost everyone who is successful has had to do a lot of thing they don't really enjoy because they're useful. I'm taking some class on the weekend and God knows I'd rather be doing something else, but it's good for me so I do it anyway.
My Vietnamese is OK, but despite the Romanisation of the alphabet, that was the dark knight of the underworld to to learn. Thoroughly useless unless you happen to live in Vietnam. I do.
Italian and Spanish were both easy, but again, forgotten them both. I'm pretty good with languages but can only retain one second language at a time.
in that order. you will never do real business in mandarin, and probably not in spanish, either. what you need is enough to get around in a taxi or talk to a waiter anywhere in the world, and to follow what people are saying, basically, in a meeting. you will always talk english in meetings, that is the way the world works. the above languages will allow you to communicate with the vast majoirty of the world.
. what you need is enough to get around in a taxi or talk to a waiter anywhere in the world, and to follow what people are saying, basically, in a meeting. you will always talk english in meetings, that is the way the world works. the above languages will allow you to communicate with the vast majoirty of the world.
This is actually very good advice, and quite true (in my experience). As well, I think it's a mistake to assume the "better" you become in a foreign language (especially a non-western one), the more you'll be able to advance. I actually found my prospects diminished by truly fluent non-western language status (it was threatening to many native speakers, in addition to being a hamper on various "expectations" they had of foreigners) Yes, it was useful in the USA for picking up random side-jobs to pay bills, but in the native country itself, it actually caused more problems than I realized.
Having done it, I now believe that the sole benefit was in giving my brain new pathways to learning; different languages utilize similar brain processes in totally different ways, even down to basic things like spatial/temporal perception and very basic structural categories of data . So, it's like being a soccer player and suddenly discovering tennis; you use new things in totally unexpected ways.
For the actual "practical" use of the language in real settings, though, it's been a washout... or at least a toss-up. That being said, until you are thirty years old I recommend learning, doing, and speaking every single thing you can. After that, become more selective and be willing to give things up.
Anyway, for accounting I don't think Chinese will help you. It's like somebody telling a poet that he ought to learn quantum mechanics. Give it a swing if you want, but I doubt you're going to be anything more than the "where's the bathroom" or taxi directions Globe describes above. Best just to have that as your goal instead of anything else; you don't pick up a language like you pick up a mixology degree.
I'm actually an accounting major and chinese minor. I wouldn't recommend taking the language unless you really want to know it. I'm taking an intro class but everyone is struggling to keep up with the pace the teacher is going (even the ABCs) and it will only get harder. To complete the minor I believe I need to take 4 more high level courses of it. I highly doubt that by the end of my college career that I would be sitting down with Chinese businessmen and be fluent enough to do business transactions all in Chinese. Small talk and greetings is definitely doable but unless you happen to live somewhere where everyone else around you speaks Chinese, you won't be able to practice it often enough after college to actually speak it well.
Trying to learn Mandarin for business reasons is dumb especially if you're trying to learn it in the US at a university.
Edited by why - 10/11/12 at 6:23am