Which Language to Learn Next?

Language Learning

Which Language to Learn Next?

If you are just starting out, and are new to languages, then I suggest learning Spanish, or possibly taking a look at learning French… and you can certainly take a look at my tips on how to learn a new language.

I was back home studying business, and in it for the long haul… a whole year at home. I knew that in order to keep my itchy feet from walking out the door I’d have to be doing something that kept me in the traveler’s spirit… and it struck me… learn a new language. I mean I had already stated that I wanted to speak 5 languages by my 30th birthday, and that was about two years away… might as well get started.

Language Learning

These itchy feet were made for walking

The first question was of course, which language to learn. Being influenced by my awesome time at school, I had a sudden incentive to draw up a decision matrix whereby I give each criteria a certain weighting, and each prospective language a score and figure out which language is best suited to be my next challenge… and then I realized that I have absolutely no desire to draw up any other decision matrix, so I might as well just daydream and see which languages pop to mind… After all, languages are supposed to be more right brained right? I should use more of my right brain to make this decision, right?

Sitting in our Honours class the profs start talking about Qualitative vs Quantitative studies… perfect time to start daydreaming. I figure my next language should be based upon a few principles: (apparently even my right-brain daydreams in lists… damn!)

1) Travel

How useful will the language be whilst traveling? Countries that are spoken in more than one country that I plan to visit will receive high scores here.

2) Marketability

Both traveling and at home, will the language be able to help you get a new job? It should be noted that the top countries where I would like to work at the moment are Canada, Madagascar and Indonesia

3) Easy to Learn

Is the language easy to learn? This may be either due to it being closely related to a language already spoken (English, French, Spanish) or due to the actual composition of the language.

Language Learning

Learning a language is a thing of beauty caught behind a scary mask

4) Family Matters

Will learning this language open doors to understanding and learning other languages?

5) Access

How easy is it to find materials and maybe a teacher to learn this language?

6) Cool Factor

Does this language come from a culture much different than your own? Will it force you to think in ways entirely foreign to you thus pushing you to grow? Is it starting to die off and you could help promote it in order to push for cultural diversity and the value of indigenous rights… Really, how cool would it be to be able to speak this language?

7) Country Factor

Is this language spoken in a country where you intend to spend much time by people who cannot speak your other languages very well?

8) Usability

Will you be able to use this language after/while you learn it and therefore not lose it and the point of the exercise therewith.

Unbelievable! I realize that even daydreaming I’m going to end up coming up with a decision matrix… Professor Cartier, you have no idea how upset I am with you right now for changing the very way I daydream…

I tune back into class to listen to a prof speak the proper sample size in order to be representative of the total population and something about validity and reliability of statistics… time to zone back out, might as well do a mental decision matrix.

Language Learning

No time like the present to daydream away

So the decision matrix of learning a new language works like this: down the left side are the 8 decision criteria that I’ve just stated, each given a weighting (subjectively by me) in order to show their importance, the combined weighting must be 1. Than each language is given a score for each of the criteria… multiply that by the weighting in order to get a score (in brackets), combine the scores for each language and voila… the language the scores the highest is the one I should pursue…

Yes I realize I have too many decision criteria (should max at 5) and too many choices (should max at 3, though I actually have 13 but I believe only about 7 show up in this post)… Deal with it Prof. Cartier, I’m not following your rules this time… so ha!

I can’t say I’m overly impressed with myself for drawing up a decision matrix, but this is what it looks like:

Wt. German Portuguese Italian Quichua Swahili Indonesian Malagasy Arabic Russian Mandarin Polish Greek Korean
Travel .1 8
(.8)
9
(.9)
4
(.4)
5
(.5)
8
(.8)
9
(.9)
9
(.9)
10
(1)
7
(.7)
6(.6) 4
(.4)
5
(.5)
3 (.3)
Market- ability .1 10(1) 8
(.8)
5
(.5)
2(.2) 3
(.3)
9(.9) 9(.9) 7(.7) 7
(.7)
10(1) 4
(.4)
3
(.3)
3 (.3)
Easy to Learn .15 7(1) 10
(1.5)
10
(1.5)
5
(.75)
5
(.75)
9(1.35) 7
(1.05)
5 (.75) 3
(.45)
3 (.45) 4
(.6)
4(.6) 6 (.9)
Family Matters .1 5(.5) 5
(.5)
5
(.5)
4(.4) 6
(.6)
8
(.8)
7
(.7)
9(.9) 10
(1)
10
(1)
10(1) 10 (1) 10 (1)
Access .2 9
(1.8)
10
(2)
8
(1.6)
2(.4) 4
(.8)
6(1.2) 4(.8) 6 (1.2) 6(1.2) 8 (1.6) 8
(1.6)
5
(1)
6 (1.2)
Cool Factor .15 2(.3) 5(.75) 3(.45) 8
(1.2)
9
(1.35)
7
(1.05)
10
(1.5)
5 (.75) 2(.3) 4(.6) 8
(1.2)
6(.9) 6 (.9)
Country Factor .1 3
(.3)
8(.8) 3(.3) 8(.8) 9
(.9)
10(1) 9(.9) 5(.5) 3(.3) 4(.4) 4
(.4)
6(.6) 3 (.3)
Usability .1 10
(1)
8(.8) 6(.6) 2
(.2)
3(.3) 5(.5) 5
(.5)
5(.5) 5
(.5)
7
(.7)
7
(.7)
3(.3) 4 (.4)
Total 1 6.7 8.05 5.85 4.35 5.7 7.7 7.05 6.2 5.15 5.35 6.3 5.2 5.3
Language Learning

A closer inspection of the matrix… Am I a bit of a geek at times?!

Okay, so that took me a ridiculously long time to draw up and is really probably not that useful to look at… but the main takeaway is this, Portuguese with the highest score of 8.05 is the language I will be putting the most effort into followed by Indonesian, German and Malagasy.

Whew… looks like we’re getting to the end of class… made it through another one.

Guess that means that it’s time to get going, hope I didn’t bore you too much with the little insight into how business school has screwed up my ability to make any sort of non-rational and whimsical decisions… stupid business school… with your rational thought, logical reasoning and decision matrices… I miss the days of just finding a random country or language and going with it… Argh!

But then again, a good chunk of my decision is based on access in which case I was referring to the ability to find a teacher or possibly be in the country… so really, I’m still using the same reasoning and have just found a way to use a very random skill set for totally different purposes…

At the end of the day, at least I wasn’t too bored in class… hope you weren’t too bored reading this I know it’s a bit different than my typical posts.

But enough about me, what about you… what sort of criteria do you consider when deciding on which language to learn? Or what to study? Which major? Which School? Which Ashram? Which Guru? Which Shaman? Does anybody else make decisions like this?

4 thoughts on “Which Language to Learn Next?

  1. Pingback: Learning Nepali - The beginning of learning the Nepalese language

  2. Pingback: Arriving in Angers, France - Step Up... Dive In

  3. Pingback: Why You Should Learn to Speak French

  4. Pingback: 5 Reasons to Learn Spanish | Step Up... Dive In

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *