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French or Spanish?

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WSUCougar2012

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Hi,

I know I want to major in a language (along with a major in Neuroscience).

Would you think it would be more useful to learn french (which I love and I have high school experience) or should I do spanish (I don't know much about it, but I heard it's a huge plus for medical schools, especially UCLA)?

I'd appreciate anything you guys would like to say.

Thanks.

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I say you study something you enjoy.
I'm a Biology and French double-major, and I love it. I get a lot of questions, like "why not Spanish, it's so useful" but honestly I think it's a matter of preference.
You can always learn a little Spanish later. I don't think medical schools will hold it against you, in fact I think they'll appreciate that you enjoy other things besides science and are good at them. You have personality! :)
 
I totally agree. I really like French, but I always feel like it's "useless".

I'm not sure if I would be at a disadvantage for liking one language over the other, but there's a little part of me that reminds me that Spanish > French.

It's really bugging me!
 
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You can't argue with preference. If you love French, study it. In terms of medical utility, consider what part of the world you'd like to practice medicine in. Spanish is an obvious plus in areas like California, parts of Texas, etc. French can be useful anywhere with a big Caribbean population--New York, Florida.
 
Spanish tends to be helpful everywhere. However, it's horrible to study something you don't like.

I majored in bio and minored in German and Spanish (and chemistry). I had Spanish because I studied it since 7th grade and only had 3 classes until I had a minor, and I added German because I had always wanted to take it. My Spanish classes were annoying, but German was fun.

Go with what you want to do.
 
A vote for Spanish.
 
Last thing I want to do is end up majoring in a language that may be similar to French, but one small difference might ruin it for me.

What suggestions do you guys have in order for me to get introduced to the language to see if I really like it or not? How did you choose Spanish?
 
What suggestions do you guys have in order for me to get introduced to the language to see if I really like it or not? How did you choose Spanish?

How much time and money do you have on your hands? If your short on both I´d recommend Rosetta Stone. If you´ve got a decent bit of both take a Spanish class at a college. If you can pull together a decent amount of money you can join me in Chile/Peru/Argentina over this Summer and get semi-fluent in one semester: www.ecela.com . There are significantly cheaper places in Mexico and Guatamala, though you probably won´t get college credit for going to them.

I got started in 7th grade, and made the choice based on the practicl "Spanish is more useful" criteria, but those would be my suggestions.

You could also do a double minor in French and Spanish, rather than a major.
 
Last thing I want to do is end up majoring in a language that may be similar to French, but one small difference might ruin it for me.

I don't really know what you mean by this.

What suggestions do you guys have in order for me to get introduced to the language to see if I really like it or not? How did you choose Spanish?

I vote for majoring in Spanish, largely due to its utility.

In terms of liking a language, I think most people are referring to how it sounds. If they think it sounds pretty, they like the language.

Probably the best thing to do is take a Spanish class freshman year in college. This way you can get an introduction to see if you like it or whether you would prefer to continue studying French in college. Often times if you have advanced standing in one romance language (did you take French AP to possibly get college credit?), you are eligible to take the advanced beginners class in another romance language. It is still a beginning level class, but it moves a little faster since there is so much similarity.
 
Spanish is exponentially more useful and if you can speak it fluently I am sure it will be a major plus applying to medical school.
 
I don't really know what you mean by this.

Someone posted earlier than the romance languages were all similar. I don't want one small difference between Spanish and French to give me a negative impression of the language. I'm not sure if I'm saying this clearly; it's hard to explain.

The majority of the people say Spanish because of its utility. That's a huge plus. I'm just afraid I might end up hating Spanish, majoring in French, and have medical schools look down upon that.

I hope I've cleared things up.
 
The majority of the people say Spanish because of its utility. That's a huge plus. I'm just afraid I might end up hating Spanish, majoring in French, and have medical schools look down upon that.

I hope I've cleared things up.

Medical schools don´t care how many times you change your major. In fact they won´t know if/when you´ve changed your major. As long as you don´t actually fail the Spanish classes trying it out and then maybe changing to French will in no way affect your chances. They won´t look down on you for choosing French over Spanish, either.

Do they really say "Go Cougs?" Is it really that hard to say "Go Cougars?" I mean it´s one extra syllable. My school was the Yellow Jackets and we managed to say the whole friggin thing. No one was in the stands saying "Go Yell"
 
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Someone posted earlier than the romance languages were all similar. I don't want one small difference between Spanish and French to give me a negative impression of the language. I'm not sure if I'm saying this clearly; it's hard to explain.

The majority of the people say Spanish because of its utility. That's a huge plus. I'm just afraid I might end up hating Spanish, majoring in French, and have medical schools look down upon that.

I hope I've cleared things up.

They will NOT look down on you for majoring in French.

Spanish will just be infinitely more useful, and it could be a plus for med schools.
 
First of all, a medical school is not going to look down on you b/c you choose French over Spanish.

Secondly, there is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to study French.

Thirdly, look at where you want to work and base your language study on that. If you have no idea if you would ever use a second language (other than for fun) then study what is fun for you b/c it will make it easier to pick up a 3rd language later on if you need to.

My vote for you is for French.
 
It's definitely good to know that majoring in French will not be looked down upon, but it's unsettling to know that majoring in Spanish would be a plus for med schools whereas majoring in French essentially isn't a plus or a minus. I'd definitely like to work in the Northeast, East Coast or in Southern California. Looking at it that way, Spanish would be the way to go, right?

Do they really say "Go Cougs?" Is it really that hard to say "Go Cougars?" I mean it´s one extra syllable. My school was the Yellow Jackets and we managed to say the whole friggin thing. No one was in the stands saying "Go Yell"

Yup, it's "Go Cougs!". "Go Cougars!" seems too proper to be a college chant. Plus, "Go Cougs!" gets the same message across as "Go Cougars!" (Not sure if you actually wanted to know or if you were poking fun, but I'd thought I'd share anyway). Let me know if it's too tacky.
 
It's definitely good to know that majoring in French will not be looked down upon, but it's unsettling to know that majoring in Spanish would be a plus for med schools whereas majoring in French essentially isn't a plus or a minus.

Um, don´t take that as a fact. You´re listening to premeds and Med Students here. Spanish is definitely a plus if you end up with a residency in Southern Texas and you get to sleep an extra hour every night on call because you don´t need to wait for an interpreter. I´m not at all sure it´s a plus getting in to medical school. What matters for getting in is you MCAT, GPA, and ECs. LizzyM? Could we have an ADCOM member weigh in on the value of Spanish language skills in admissions?

I'd definitely like to work in the Northeast, East Coast or in Southern California. Looking at it that way, Spanish would be the way to go, right?

For Southern Cal, particularly.

Also I think that was enough English for one day. Good luck with your decision.
 
That's true, I didn't think about that fact.

I'm new to SDN so I'm not sure how to ask an ADCOM member to talk about the issue.

Does anyone else know how to ask an ADCOM member?
 
Spanish is spoken quite widely in the US so it is a very useful second language in many states. Some adcoms will consider fluency in Spanish to be a plus. However, depending on the city the same could be said for Russian, Polish, Arabic, etc, etc.

Keep in mind that once you've mastered the basics in a foreign langugage, the coursework is going to be similar to being an English major, you are going to be reading and interpreting literature including plays, novels, and poetry. You may be reading 16th century texts as well as modern lit. If that floats your boat then go for it but don't expect it to make the adcoms swoon.
 
Spanish is spoken quite widely in the US so it is a very useful second language in many states. Some adcoms will consider fluency in Spanish to be a plus. However, depending on the city the same could be said for Russian, Polish, Arabic, etc, etc.

Keep in mind that once you've mastered the basics in a foreign langugage, the coursework is going to be similar to being an English major, you are going to be reading and interpreting literature including plays, novels, and poetry. You may be reading 16th century texts as well as modern lit. If that floats your boat then go for it but don't expect it to make the adcoms swoon.

What about medical schools like UCLA? They recommend Spanish. If an applicant not only took the recommended courseload, but they are actually fluent in the language, wouldn't that stick in the adcom's minds a little bit? or am I overestimating the power of fluency in a language?
 
come on now... SPANISH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and this is coming from someone who took French in school.
 
Spanish if you plan on living in the US.
French if you plan on living in Canada.

One poster is right about both of them being Romance languages. They are very similar, but French is the harder one to pronounce and learn (between the two). My parents speak French occasionally but I find myself knowing Spanish better than French. But that could also be because I live in South Florida.

That said, I think the faster way to learn any language is to be in an environment where that language is spoken, not by sitting in class. I took 5 years of Spanish and I could barely speak a lick of it. I admit sitting in class gave me some foundation. But I learned more from watching Spanish soap operas and hanging around Hispanic people. Anyway, everyday Spanish language and what you learn in class (Spanish literature) are two different things.

I do agree that Spanish is more "useful" in this country (or this hemisphere, for that matter). But because Spanish is relatively easy to learn, and you can probably pick it up on your own if you end up studying French because its REALLY similar. So if you really like French, I say go for it. The fact that you'll be bilingual is always an asset, and its particularly unique, since Americans are notorious for not knowing any other languages. :thumbup:

Sorry for the long post.
 
That's no problem at all. It was great to know your opinion.

I think the consensus is Spanish is the most useful.

Question is: Will that really make a difference when it comes down to the application cycle?

LizzyM said probably not, but there has to be some sort of advantage right? I think I'm trying to overanalyze this. Sorry if I'm being repetitive or quite frankly, stupid :confused:.
 
Spanish - it will make you a better doctor if you need to use the language with patients...
 
Spanish - it will make you a better doctor if you need to use the language with patients...

I wasn't aware of this.

It says you are an Attending. How often do you come across patients who are only fluent in Spanish? French?
 
I wasn't aware of this.

It says you are an Attending. How often do you come across patients who are only fluent in Spanish? French?

Spanish, a lot. I was a pseudo-translator on morning rounds on a lot of rotations and when translators weren't available in clinics.

I've seen 1 patient who spoke French fluently, but the mom was a high school French teacher, and the kid was bilingual.

I've seen more people who are bilingual in German and English than French bilingual.
 
I wasn't aware of this.

It says you are an Attending. How often do you come across patients who are only fluent in Spanish? French?

It depends on where you live. The Southern and Southwestern parts of the United States have large immigrant Hispanic populations. I think Chicago too, and some parts of NYC. And many of them can't speak or aren't comfortable with English.
 
Spanish, a lot. I was a pseudo-translator on morning rounds on a lot of rotations and when translators weren't available in clinics.

I've seen 1 patient who spoke French fluently, but the mom was a high school French teacher, and the kid was bilingual.

I've seen more people who are bilingual in German and English than French bilingual.

German.. really?? Interesting to know its that common. That's news to me. I've only met a handful of German speakers in my life.
 
That's actually interesting. More German bilinguals than French.

Location matters as well, I guess. I remember shadowing a ER pediatric physician in Seattle and the family only knew Spanish (although the kid knew english, it was important to convey the information to the parent as well).
 
Spanish is more useful in medicine, which is why a lot of places offer medical Spanish.

Do what makes you happy.
 
What's medical Spanish?

Learning all the medical terminology in Spanish?
 
I hate to ask this and I am probably going to sound like a total idiot, but what's H&P?

Human and Patient?
 
German.. really?? Interesting to know its that common. That's news to me. I've only met a handful of German speakers in my life.

I'm in Milwaukee -- the city's got a lot of ethnic diversity in pockets where they tend to speak their own language. Those who speak German are usually bilingual. I've had Russian only, Polish + some English, Hmong, German, and more Spanish than I can keep track of. I speak German to the people who speak it, just to kinda keep up some practice.

The Russian only patient was hard (Russian dialect actually), her family translated when they were around, but they weren't around except for in the ER. Post-op and morning rounds were charades.
 
I'm in Milwaukee -- the city's got a lot of ethnic diversity in pockets where they tend to speak their own language. Those who speak German are usually bilingual. I've had Russian only, Polish + some English, Hmong, German, and more Spanish than I can keep track of. I speak German to the people who speak it, just to kinda keep up some practice.

The Russian only patient was hard (Russian dialect actually), her family translated when they were around, but they weren't around except for in the ER. Post-op and morning rounds were charades.

That's pretty cool... How many languages are you familiar (moderate/proficient/fluent) with anyway? Would you say German is particulary difficult to learn. I've heard some things about it.....
 
That's pretty cool... How many languages are you familiar (moderate/proficient/fluent) with anyway? Would you say German is particulary difficult to learn. I've heard some things about it.....

I used to be fluent in Spanish (in college), was really good at German (I can still get by and watch movies/read stuff). I speak Hawaiian pidgin (the US government counts it as a language). When I'm in Romance language countries, I can get by, by understanding the languages, especially Italian or Portuguese, but I can't speak them; I can understand a little French. I can read some Swedish (since it's fairly similar to German).

I had fun with German. It was a lot easier to study that after learning Spanish, but I started Spanish when I was 12 and German when I was 18. For 3 semesters, I took German and Spanish at the same time, so I'd have language confusion during class... got laughed at a few times.

Now for Spanish in med school, a lot comes back when I speak it a lot; I don't know medical terminology, but for morning rounds, basic H&Ps that's fine. If there's a chance something'll get complicated, I get a translator. Typically, people can tell me stuff, and I'll understand, but I can't always respond quickly or with correct grammar. But not knowing medical terms forces me to not use jargon when speaking to patients in Spanish.
 
I am a hospital based IM doctor from Austin, Texas and I have worked all over the state. Fully a third of patients that I see speak spanish, maybe a third of those speak spanish only. Everything here is written bilingually - "medical spanish" is a part of our professional lives and we don't give a second thought. Also, 80% of all Texas students take spanish sometime during the 8-12 grades.

Of course, French should be studied if you plan to work in Canada, New Orleans, etc.
 
Spanish would be far more useful than French, there are many patients that do not speak English or French, many speak spanish only. IF you want something that will be benificial later on through medical school, then I would think the choice is obvious.
 
I used to be fluent in Spanish (in college), was really good at German (I can still get by and watch movies/read stuff). I speak Hawaiian pidgin (the US government counts it as a language). When I'm in Romance language countries, I can get by, by understanding the languages, especially Italian or Portuguese, but I can't speak them; I can understand a little French. I can read some Swedish (since it's fairly similar to German).

I had fun with German. It was a lot easier to study that after learning Spanish, but I started Spanish when I was 12 and German when I was 18. For 3 semesters, I took German and Spanish at the same time, so I'd have language confusion during class... got laughed at a few times.

Now for Spanish in med school, a lot comes back when I speak it a lot; I don't know medical terminology, but for morning rounds, basic H&Ps that's fine. If there's a chance something'll get complicated, I get a translator. Typically, people can tell me stuff, and I'll understand, but I can't always respond quickly or with correct grammar. But not knowing medical terms forces me to not use jargon when speaking to patients in Spanish.

You're in a WAAAAAY better position than I am. I am barely familiar with Spanish, Haitian Creole, and French, with Spanish being my strongest. My goal for this year is to really work on and get comfortable with my conversational Spanish and Creole.
I just think its absolutely amazing how versatile you are and I hope to get that way someday. :)
 
You're in a WAAAAAY better position than I am. I am barely familiar with Spanish, Haitian Creole, and French, with Spanish being my strongest. My goal for this year is to really work on and get comfortable with my conversational Spanish and Creole.
I just think its absolutely amazing how versatile you are and I hope to get that way someday. :)

Haitian Creole? Awesome. Good luck. =)

I've just always found languages incredibly interesting, and generally easy to pick up conversational stuff. One of my friends was working on teaching me Armenian phrases. I also have an issue where I don't like going places where I can't speak the language. I attempted to double major in German and Spanish, but that semester was torture without any sciences, I was so bored.
 
I am actually fluent in spanish, would like to take Latin in college. Since it is very useful for understanding medical terms. I actually tried to teach myself Japanese and stopped after three weeks, lol. I am going to take Japanese as well, being able to speak four languages will be awesome.
 
Haitian Creole? Awesome. Good luck. =)

I've just always found languages incredibly interesting, and generally easy to pick up conversational stuff. One of my friends was working on teaching me Armenian phrases. I also have an issue where I don't like going places where I can't speak the language. I attempted to double major in German and Spanish, but that semester was torture without any sciences, I was so bored.

Haitian Creole actually isn't hard. Believe me... I think someone like you could pick it up in 6 months or less. There are no masculine/feminine articles, the grammar is so simple, and if I remember correctly, you don't have to change the verb for past/future tense. I just understand it better than I can speak it. Since it's like a slang version of French, the pronounciation is similar to French, which is difficult for me.

I could never major in a language. I'm very pessimistic about sitting in any class to learn a language unless it was hard-core, intensive.... not just memorizing vocabulary or verb lists, or reading literature that I will never use with normal people. I've done it for 5 years and it does almost nothing for me. So props for anyone who can do it!
 
Haitian Creole actually isn't hard. Believe me... I think someone like you could pick it up in 6 months or less. There are no masculine/feminine articles, the grammar is so simple, and if I remember correctly, you don't have to change the verb for past/future tense. I just understand it better than I can speak it. Since it's like a slang version of French, the pronounciation is similar to French, which is difficult for me.

I could never major in a language. I'm very pessimistic about sitting in any class to learn a language unless it was hard-core, intensive.... not just memorizing vocabulary or verb lists, or reading literature that I will never use with normal people. I've done it for 5 years and it does almost nothing for me. So props for anyone who can do it!

Cool. I can't pronounce anything in French. I like looking at the wikipedia languages pages, they have random phrases, the alphabets... yeah, I'm a geek.

My sister majored in Spanish, she's an M2, and she's doing I think a bilingual track at her school.

Good luck with improving your language skills. It seems to get way easier the more language basics you know. I even learned more about English grammar by taking foreign langauges.
 
I am actually fluent in spanish, would like to take Latin in college. Since it is very useful for understanding medical terms. I actually tried to teach myself Japanese and stopped after three weeks, lol. I am going to take Japanese as well, being able to speak four languages will be awesome.

I was supposed to go to Japan this year so I also tried to learn a little. The grammar is CRAZY hard! I like the way it sounds though even though it takes some time to get a hang of it. Very clear and the way its spelled is the way is said, apparantly. Unlike my arch-enemy, French.... or, omg, VIETNAMESE!!!

On that note, I think I like French better now. No offense to my Viet friends.
 
What about medical schools like UCLA? They recommend Spanish. If an applicant not only took the recommended courseload, but they are actually fluent in the language, wouldn't that stick in the adcom's minds a little bit? or am I overestimating the power of fluency in a language?

You can be fluent in a language without majoring in that language. If UCLA wants students who can communicate with patients in Spanish, then UCLA may give "extra credit" to applicants who list Spanish on their AMCAS (there is a place to list languages in which you are fluent). There are stories of people being interviewed in a language other than English if the interviewer is fluent so be careful about listing languages in which you are not particularly comfortable.
 
I picked up Japanese. Been doing it since high school. I found no interest in Spanish, though I did take a quarter of it in college (which further reinforced my distaste). I just saw it as something everybody does.

Do something you'll enjoy. You're going to hate to take classes in something you're feeling "forced" to take. If you're fluent in French, you're going to be an interesting candidate just as if you were fluent in Spanish.
 
Why not both? I'm minoring in both French and Spanish. Do what you enjoy :D!!!
 
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