Thursday, October 15, 2015

Survival Skills: Learning a second … or third Language

What do you think are important languages to learn? I'm currently
learning Spanish as I live in America, and would like to learn another
afterwards. However, I don't know what would be most useful and I
value your input. If you were to learn another language, what would it
As you probably realize I give great importance to knowing a second language. Not just babbling it but knowing it and truly being fluent. Thanks to our time in Ireland my children know both English and Spanish as well as any native speaker their age. This is a huge asset that will help them their entire lives.
I shake my head when I read about some of the “survival skills” people believe one should master. Lots of starting fires with a bar of chocolate and can of coke or carving spoons but learning a second language is rarely mentioned.
Clearly enough knowing Spanish in USA is a powerful skill to have and this will be even more obvious in years to come, putting those that don’t know Spanish behind those that can honestly ad it to their curriculums. It is valuable for work, but it is also very useful on the streets given the percentage of Spanish speaking population.
What 3rd language to learn?
Spanish is clearly a good choice. Especially for USA that has more Spanish speakers than Spain. It is also the second most popular language in the world, followed by English. With these two, youre pretty much set for the western world.
So what about the most popular language in the world?
That would be Chinese, by a wide margin, and that’s my recommended third language, especially so for younger generations that will have to learn to work with the East.


Drew Kelor said...

While I would most certainly advise Spanish as a second language for Americans, I believe German would be a more useful third language to acquire than Mandarin Chinese - most especially for Europeans; which I would place as a strong second behind English, even ahead of French, Spanish and Italian.

That is not to diminish the imperative importance of becoming familiar with the MC language and customs, as China's influence is indeed growing, and it is poised to be the dominant world power both in business and in military strength. I've invested in a few MC language tapes myself!

Anonymous said...


I believe that anyone considering a second language for preparedness reasons would be well advised to reference this list when choosing one. Languages spoken in countries near you may be useful depending on your country and its neighbors, but also consider ones spoken in a variety of places far away so that you have options for where to emigrate to long-term. On that note, it would probably help if you can pass as a native on first glance (if you aren't ethnically Chinese it's immediately apparent in China that you're a foreigner, for instance), or have at least some shot of being granted sanctuary. Finally, the ease of learning the language should not be ignored; for an English speaker, certain languages are much easier (Romance languages, German) than others (Chinese, Arabic)--there's a list of how these are ranked that the US State Dept released.

Places where you wouldn't mind living would be pretty solid! So with that in mind, Vietnamese wouldn't be a first round draft pick for me; but as a native English speaker I'd well consider Spanish, Portugese, or maybe French, for options in Europe + South America/Africa.