JeanLuc

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A recent poll about foreign language got me thinking about my personal situation. Over the coming summer I will have some free time that I would like to spend towards developing language skills in either Spanish or French.

I would prefer learning French over Spanish because I imagine that in my life not relating to work, French will be of far greater use than Spanish. E.g. when visiting in Quebec or traveling elsewhere. Also, there's the wonderful world of French contemporary culture/entertainment that could then be accessed.

The other reason for this is, of course, trying to slightly enhance my appeal to an adcom.

Relevant personal data:

- native speaker of Ukrainian (and English)
- spent most of my life in Florida, currently studying in south FL, plan on applying exclusively in-state
- vast majority of my direct family lives in Ottawa; some of my family has lived there for over 25 years (since emigrating from Ukraine)
- I lived in Ottawa for five consecutive years and spend most of my summers there
- I am not required to take a foreign language to graduate
- I am a citizen of the US, Canada, and Ukraine


My major concern is that if I do choose French over Spanish, then the adcom will question my dedication to staying in Florida given my personal circumstances.
On the website for the French consulate in Miami there are only 21 Francophone physicians listed in Miami-Dade yet nearly 6% of Miami speaks French/French Creole. Certainly there are more than 21 francophone physicians, but it does look like the Miami francophone community has difficulty in accessing physicians they can easily communicate with.
So, if it comes to me having to defend my dedication to staying in the state, would using something like the Miami francophone example help in alleviating their doubts? Or would the doubts still be there given my other ties to Canada? On a side note, I honestly don't know whether or not I would stay in Miami or move elsewhere.

Thanks for your time and replies.
 
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violet7

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If you plan to apply exclusively in-state, I would definitely choose Spanish over French. I remember some Florida schools specifically asking questions in their secondaries about Spanish proficiency. In my opinion, this will give you a much greater advantage and increase your chances of acceptance in Florida and elsewhere in the country.
Considering your ties to Canada, choosing French over Spanish will raise serious questions in adcom minds about your commitment to practicing in state...
 

Law2Doc

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If you plan to apply exclusively in-state, I would definitely choose Spanish over French. I remember some Florida schools specifically asking questions in their secondaries about Spanish proficiency. In my opinion, this will give you a much greater advantage and increase your chances of acceptance in Florida and elsewhere in the country.
Considering your ties to Canada, choosing French over Spanish will raise serious questions in adcom minds about your commitment to practicing in state...
Yeah, I think it's pretty simple. If you plan to practice in the US then spanish is by far the most useful language. A large percentage of some states' populations are spanish speaking and this number is predicted to grow fairly significantly over the next couple of generations. French isn't very widely spoken in the US, and any patients you have in the US who speak french will also know english. If you plan to practice in Canada, then french is probably the more useful language... for now.

I wouldn't bother learning french for purposes of "visiting Quebec" -- in my personal experience you can get by quite well in all major cities in quebec with only english -- the population is quite bilingual.
 
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JeanLuc

JeanLuc

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I guess my concerns of appearing as lacking in loyalty to the state are not unfounded then. So, I'll avoid adding to this problem and postpone French for some later point in life. It is great that Spanish-speaking community is helping to bring multiculturalism to the mainstream US society; and maybe by joining this demographic I could help further that effort. I think that will be my personal justification for postponing French in favour for Spanish.

Thanks for your replies.
 

pianola

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...PMed you.

If you want to learn French, I say go for it! :D

Talk to DrZeke, though. She's from French-speaking Canada (and is currently a student at UMiami) and maybe can give you a better perspective.
 

RUc10

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Spanish by far should be your choice as far as usefulness. There are only a small number of places in the U.S. where there is a major french speaking population. It really depends on what you see yourself doing though. Only learn something if you really want to, not just for how it might look. So if you want to learn French because you intend to travel to countries where that's the native language, do it. Being bilingual is always a plus and eventually no matter what your second language is it may come in handy.


I'd assume that giving your example about the other francophone physicians in FL will help. It proves that you've done some research and know why your choice makes you an attractive applicant.
 

JackInTheBox

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In my experience, nobody who is a native speaker of French speaks only French. Maybe the older generations (people born pre-WWII), but to to any major city in France, and 90% of the people you'll interact with will also speak enough English to hold a conversation. They just choose not to, although they'll be more inclined to do so if you make a good faith effort to speak a little French first.

In Quebec, it's the same thing, although the Quebecois can be even more defensive about their language than the French. Just look up stuff about Canadian signage laws and the "sign police." For the rest of Canada, they are much more likely to speak English, and a lot of them don't think too highly of the French-Canadians.

On the other hand, a huge percentage of the population in the US speaks only Spanish, making it a much more useful language if you're going to practice in this country. You mention that 6% of the population in Miami speak French/Creole, but what percentage only speak that language? I'd put money that the percentage that only speak Spanish is MUCH higher.
 
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Ashers

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Take both. It's generally doable, and since they're both Romance languages learning 1 will help learn the other. It seems as though you may know some French already. If that's the case, Spanish should be pretty easy.

I did advanced Spanish and beginning through advanced German in college. It can get tricky though, if you start speaking in mixed languages in class. In my case, it was Spanman and Germañol. If I was really tired, it'd morph to Spanglishman.
 

nontrdgsbuiucmd

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Why does an adcomm need to be told of your foreign language study plans? I'd strongly doubt this would come up in an interview unless you steer it that way.

Are you planning on taking formal classes at a university, given there are many other types of language immersion entities that would stay off your transcripts? I'm not seeing this as something that must be overthought or addressed during an interview. If it comes up, my answer (presuming you choose french) would be that you speak several languages and were interested in french due to your heritage (hey, if you're a Canadian citizen, I'd say that counts)

That said, as a spanish speaker I like that I can practice the language just about anywhere, in about any city I've visited I've encountered spanish speakers. Not so much with french (which I took in college & largely forgot). And in my clinical volunteer experience I've frequently used Spanish but only used French once or twice. But I'm interested in learning French due to a great travel experience; I'd like to vacation and better interact with french speakers in that city and at some point will pursue more French classes or CD/DVD instruction in French.

To me this is apples & oranges regarding the choice of which language to study, depending on the intended use of the language skills.