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Language Decision

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Compass, Aug 2, 2006.

  1. Compass

    Compass Squishy
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    OK, I have two choices as to which languages to study:

    1 - French.

    I will have to take FREN 104, a core review class (French-absent for 4 years) and FREN 201, a proficiency class.

    Pros - Not hard to write, I'm literate
    Cons - No one uses it. Besides Canada and France and some other countries that I don't think I'll be visiting in the near future, as travel is expensive nowadays.

    2 - Chinese.

    I may have to take CHIN 101 basic, I will HAVE TO take CHIN 102 for writing (I was supposed to have learned traditional in Chinese School, but I'm still illiterate, and this is Simplified anyways) and CHIN 201 proficiency.

    Pros - I can speak it, so no problems there. More people speak it.
    Cons - I might look really lame learning college Chinese and being Chinese at the same time? I'm bloody illiterate! GARGH! It's not that I'm stupid, it's just that they aren't letters anymore :mad:

    I really could go either way here.

    Opinions?
     
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  3. VPDcurt

    VPDcurt 2K Member
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    Screw both of those and take Spanish.
     
  4. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Depends on where you want to practice, but Spanish is easilly the most useful second language in the US for medicine.
     
  5. swim2md

    swim2md Ni.
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    if you could scrap 'em both and take spanish, i would do that... best choice for a pre-med by far.

    as for feeling stupid in chinese-- i had friends who felt that way in both spanish and japanese, but who took the courses anyway. it's a very common scenario if you were raised speaking multiple languages.
     
  6. Looque

    Looque Bob Loblaw
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    Of the two, I'd definitely go Chinese if you're looking for a language more likely to be useful to you in medicine.
     
  7. Robizzle

    Robizzle 1K Member
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    Chinese yo. Represent.
     
  8. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Seconded.

    But if you have your heart set on French or Chinese, I'd definitely do the latter. You'll be able to use it much more often as a physician and it's a much more challenging language.

    It wouldn't be "lame" if you're ethnically Chinese. Even if that's why you selected it, there's nothing lame about getting closer to your family history.
     
  9. Rafa

    Rafa headbutts like zidane
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    Between the two, if you take the language in school, all you're going to learn to do is to read and (if you're lucky) write in it. You won't learn to hear it or speak it under current methods in college. To learn those skills, you'll have to study the language on your own (or spend time in a country where the language is exclusively spoken). Since you already speak Chinese, and you have no desire to visit French-speaking countries, you might as well learn to read it.

    Out of the two, French is also widely spoken in Africa, if you have any interest in traveling there. Within the US, there are slightly more Chinese speakers (mostly Cantonese) than French speakers (2 mil to 1.6 mil). If you're looking for a useful second language for US life though, Spanish will be far more useful as a citizen of the US - and of the western hemisphere - than either of the two languages you're considering studying.
     
  10. NY Musicologist

    NY Musicologist Career Changer
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    If you were actually raised in China, the college Chinese language course will look odd on your transcript--as if you're shooting for an easy A. But if you weren't, I don't see any problem. There are now more than enough second, third, fourth, etc.- generation Asian families in the west to make it a dangerous assumption that anyone who is ethnically Asian is also culturally and linguistically Asian.

    Take what interests you.
     
  11. jillibean

    jillibean Senior Member
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    I'd vote for chinese. It is pretty useful on the west coast.
    I actually think it would be more useful than spanish in a hospital, since there is already a large population of bilingual spanish speakers, but harder to get a chinese interpreter.
     
  12. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    chinese is more useful- ull get alot of patients (moreso then french anyways) especially if you work in an urban area. but spanish is by far the most useful. I am chinese myself, and can speak it fluently, but cant write it. It ironic, however, that i can speak spanish fluently and can write and read it as well. I also probably know more spanish songs and culture then i do chinese (to an extent).
     
  13. Compass

    Compass Squishy
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    Well, I'm fluent in speaking Chinese, but proficiency for Chinese requires I write it, so if all I'm learning is writing, then HOOAH :D Take that, illiteracy!
     
  14. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    If i had the time to, i would learn how to write chinese, but the fact that its probably one of the hardest languages to learn how to write, since they lack an alphabet, makes it nearly impossible to learn given a constrained time budget.
     
  15. Compass

    Compass Squishy
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    We have a phonetic alphabet. 26 characters :eek: I know that fine. But there are so many characters, which is mostly the problem for me reading and writing, as I used to be REALLY good at them, but as I started caring less, I started forgetting them, to the point where I can read numbers and kiddy sentences in traditional.
     
  16. MercuryX

    MercuryX Member
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    Someone mentioned that most chinese speakers speak Cantonese in the US, if this is the case, most schools only offer Mandarin. I strongly reccomend you learn Spanish, if not then one of the two chinese languages. Good luck!
     
  17. Arpie

    Arpie Junior Member
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    I feel almost guilty taking French even though one of my majors is art history so it really is necessary. Will French really be that helpful for work in Africa? I assume there would be pretty major differences in dialect. Does anyone know of any French speaking study abroad opportunities in Africa?
     
  18. ltrain

    ltrain Senior Member
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    yes. it will be useful. we collaborate with french researchers who are funded by the french gov't to do lots of research in cote d'ivoire. maybe that's an obvious example, but there are lots of french-speaking countries, especially in western africa. of course there will be dialect differences, though.
     
  19. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Actually, Mandarin is probably the better way to go anyway. Cantonese is dying out in terms of the amount it's spoken in the U.S. with Mandarin becoming more common. It has to do with immigration patterns changing.
     
  20. MercuryX

    MercuryX Member
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    I'm totally biased to french, having done a minor. There are plenty of places you can use french in francophone west africa.
     
  21. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    hmm, idk if i would agree with this. if you go to any chinatown in the united states, the majority there are cantonese speaking. Mandarin (at least ive come to notice) are usually spoken by people who are wealthier and more educated (it is after all, supposed to the national dialect, or the poetic dialect). Ive noticed that alot of people who speak mandarin also happened to speak english as well, where cantonese speakers are usually, and i hate to use the word, "yokels" and commoners, speak cantonese. Hence, the odds are, cantonese might be more helpful for urban ERs where cantonese patients most likely doesnt speak english, while mandarin patients might. who knows though, spanish is still the best out of all of them.
     
  22. FujiApple

    FujiApple Member
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    Phew, from the other posts, I was getting the idea that my french classes were totally useless. Thanks. :)
     
  23. notdeadyet

    notdeadyet Still in California
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    Cantonese still is fairly dominant in most Chinatowns. But this will not be the case in another 10 years. And if you're going to go to the trouble of learning a tough language, you may as well do it for the long haul.

    Chinese immigration started in southern China where Cantonese was spoken and from Hong Kong. But a vast majority of immigration now is coming from Mandarin-speaking China and Taiwan. Even in Chinatowns, many Cantonese speakers are learning Mandarin to keep up for business reasons.

    Pesonally, I prefer the sound of Cantonese. But by most yardsticks, Mandarin is set to dominate chinese-speaking U.S. LA Times had a good article about it earlier this year.
     
  24. jocg27

    jocg27 Senior Member
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    Miami has a fairly large community of Haitians, who are French speakers. I'm sure there are communities in other cities as well, but I'm not sure where other large ones are.
     
  25. Compass

    Compass Squishy
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    Mandarin is taught at my college, and it is also the language I learned in Chinese school, though both were actually taught in local Chinese Sunday(no religion, just 2-3hr day) Schools.
     
  26. jocg27

    jocg27 Senior Member
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    Large US cities also have communities of African immigrants from French speaking countries.
     
  27. jocg27

    jocg27 Senior Member
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    Learning French will also make it easier to pick up Spanish somewhere along the line should you eventually choose to do that...Which, as posted above, is infinitely more useful than either.
     
  28. QuantumMechanic

    QuantumMechanic Avatar=One of the Greats
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    spanish, french or chinese.

    you are likely not to become very proficient and fluent at any of these languages without years of experience, especially outside the classroom. I hate how premeds rush to say how you need to take spanish, when for someone like me in TN, is pretty useless to learn since it is difficult to regularly come in contact with native speakers to practice real conversation and interaction with in that language. When I'm in school in Cali or FL or TX, then I'll make the effort to learn Spanish since it will actually be useful and relevant at the time I'm learning it.
     
  29. braluk

    braluk SDN Surgerynator
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    lol you are one of the few people ive encountered who prefers the sound of cantonese over mandarin. madarin is flowy, and rolls off the tongue, cantonese is pretty staccato. I rememer one of my good friends told me that it was the worst sounding language/dialect followed by German. For me, hearing cantonese just brings social comfort more then mandarin, which ive associated with news, poetry and anything formal.
     
  30. MercuryX

    MercuryX Member
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    Don't wait too long to start a new language, it becomes harder and harder for adult learners. It's harder if you only speak english too. Do it for fun if you can.
     
  31. Dr. Pepper

    Dr. Pepper Duffman in Disguise
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    I agree, but if you can't take Spanish, then go for chinese.

    1. Chinese is more useful (esp. on the west coast)

    2. You can easily play the "culture card" if necessary for apps. (not encouraging it but just saying).
    -Dr. P.
     
  32. Rafa

    Rafa headbutts like zidane
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    Unless you enroll in the FSI, you will *never* become fluent within the classroom. Proficiency comes from either self-study or immersion - preferably both. But just because you live in TN doesn't mean you have no use for Spanish. I guarantee you there are plenty of Spanish-speakers in Nashville, for example. You might as well start becoming more acquainted with the language now; it'll make it easier to pick it up later.

    To add to the general discussion, the three most useful languages for residents of the western hemisphere (based on population) are English, Spanish, and Portuguese. If you live in NA, it's English, Spanish, and French. If you live in the US, it's English, Spanish, and Cantonese (which is increasingly becoming supplanted by Mandarin).
     
  33. njcaldwell

    njcaldwell Mr. Banana-Grabber
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    Hey guys I am decdeding between arabic and spanish, give advice please.

    -Nolan
     
  34. Rafa

    Rafa headbutts like zidane
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    If you plan to pursue medicine in the US, Spanish. Arabic is about as difficult to learn to speak as Chinese, and it isn't spoken nearly as much in the US. I'd pursue Spanish first, and learn Arabic on my own.
     
  35. ltrain

    ltrain Senior Member
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    okay, smarty, this is the internet here, where we cite personal anecdotes as evidence of larger, all-encompassing truths.

    in addition to my earlier insightful comment, if you think about medical research, the french gov't does a lot more than most other developed countries.

    french is useful.

    ;)
     
  36. Compass

    Compass Squishy
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    I'm fluent in spoken Mandarin. I'm illiterate, however. Because I have had calligraphy practice, and I have learned, albiet very little, the harder version of written Chinese, I would have no problem really so much of learning how to write up to a "proficient" level as speaking is emphasized more, I believe :)
     
  37. Vox Animo

    Vox Animo Runs with Scissors
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    The only french worth learning is the phrase "I surrender."

    :D
     
  38. silkworm

    silkworm Senior Member
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    Dont' worry about looking dumb in Chinese class, plenty of ABCs are in those classes.

    Out of a whole year of volunteering in a large urban hospital, I got the opportunity to translate for a Chinese speaking patient only once, while there are hundreds of Spanish-speaking patients everyday.

    But don't let premed considerations be the only guidelines for your decision. You will have less and less opportunities and time to learn other languages as you graduate from college. Follow your interests and enjoy learning whichever language you pick.
     
  39. durfen

    durfen I see plans within plans
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    Take German. Hab' ich Ihnen geholfen?
     
  40. MercuryX

    MercuryX Member
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    durfen, dein Name gefällt mir :D

    Oh and voxanimo- ta gueuele et va en enfer. :smuggrin:
     
  41. Vox Animo

    Vox Animo Runs with Scissors
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    That's the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.
     
  42. durfen

    durfen I see plans within plans
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  43. akademiks1989

    akademiks1989 Senior Member
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    Another criteria for deciding: where do you see yourself practicing?

    I am an American with Iraqi roots (my parents are both from Iraq). I am fluent in Arabic, but formal Arabic is different (not a dialect, but standard for all Middle Eastern countries). My point is: I am taking Beginner's Arabic not as a blowoff course, but because I do not know how to read or write (BTW, Arabic is never, I mean NEVER, written in dialects. No one will be able to read it and they will think you are stupid and uneducated). In medicine in the Middle East, you need to know Modern Standard Arabic (the kind I described above). I plan on practicing in Iraq (please, don't advise me otherwise, I know of the dangers personally).

    Knowing a dialect and being able to write and speak formally are two different things.

    If you see yourself practicing in the United States, I'd take Spanish. If you see yourself practicing internationally, especially in France, North Africa, or Lebanon, then take French, but if in China, obviously take Chinese.
     
  44. PlasticMan

    PlasticMan Senior Member
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    Don't they speak Creole as oppossed to formal French?
     
  45. jocg27

    jocg27 Senior Member
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    French and Haitian Creole are both official languages.
     

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