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Harry91

Learning a second language

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So if you were about to start your freshman year in college and had the opportunity to learn a second language, would you study spanish or french?

I considered an asian language (mandarin, cantonese), but they just don't seem practical enough.

Considering I want my career to in some way involve food, I figure spanish or french are the two most useful languages.

Any opinions?

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So if you were about to start your freshman year in college and had the opportunity to learn a second language, would you study spanish or french?

I considered an asian language (mandarin, cantonese), but they just don't seem practical enough.

Considering I want my career to in some way involve food, I figure spanish or french are the two most useful languages.

Any opinions?

Well, I would (and did) choose French, but Spanish would be an excellent choice. Even in the heart of the midwest (South Dakota) I work with a lot of hispanic people, many of whom know almost no English. The political question of who should learn who's language aside on a practical level it would dramatically improve my ability to communicate with the staff if I knew some Spanish.

That said, French is a beautiful language, and if you're going to be involved in high-end cooking, you're talking about French cooking.

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I agree with everything that Rob has said.

On the other hand, if you're going to be working in the U.S., Spanish may be much more practical. But if you plan to ever work in France (or Quebec), obviously...

On the other other hand, lots of good (high-end, cutting-edge) stuff is coming out of Spain these days, so there you go.

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If you're going to be working mostly in the United States, there's no contest: Spanish.

I don't agree that high-end cooking = French cooking. That might have been true 10 years ago, but today, while many French terms are still employed, it's highly arguable that French cuisine rules. Regardless, if you hang around good kitchens, you'll pick up culinary French whether you want to or not. They wrote it down first, so they got to name pretty much everything.

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While taking Spanish may seem more "practical" for the industry use...IMO and experience, it's so much easier to be used and learned while applying it on a daily basis. I.e. actually using it in the restaurant.

Learning a language in a classroom is deff. not the same as using it in real life. I'm currently taking my last semester of Spanish in college, and while it's nifty to learn all the proper conjugations, grammar etc...it hasn't helped me tremendously while in restaurants / outside. In my personal experience, once you know the basics you just have to keep using it and pick up vocab.

One way I helped kick start my Spanish is just asking coworkers how to say this and that in Spanish. Though have to be careful not to ask too much or they get annoyed. In return, they may ask me how to say it in Mandarin, and we would exchange words. Quite fun during prep or down-time.

Jim

Oh yes, you mentioned you want something practical for the food industry..If that you mean restaurants & hotels...then should prob do the Spanish thing. If you were speaking of more international overseas ventures, say import/exporting goods to Asia (for example) in regards to food trade...then perhaps an Asian language. Quite a large industry...


Edited by stealw (log)

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You don't say if you're Canadian or American, and I'm looking solely at practicality: I live in Montreal and have for most of my life. Americans find Spanish more useful as a second language and Canadians French, for the reason that it's simply more spoken.

Good luck! I speak English and French and am looking for a third language with which I can speak about food! :biggrin:

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You don't say if you're Canadian or American, and I'm looking solely at practicality: I live in Montreal and have for most of my life. Americans find Spanish more useful as a second language and Canadians French, for the reason that it's simply more spoken.

Good luck! I speak English and French and am looking for a third language with which I can speak about food!  :biggrin:

Is that true even in, say, Vancouver?

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You don't say if you're Canadian or American, and I'm looking solely at practicality: I live in Montreal and have for most of my life. Americans find Spanish more useful as a second language and Canadians French, for the reason that it's simply more spoken.

Good luck! I speak English and French and am looking for a third language with which I can speak about food!  :biggrin:

Is that true even in, say, Vancouver?

friends from out west seem to be a little less comfortable with French compared to people from Toronto who've taken the same number of years of French in school. But it's not a big gap. That said, unless there's a big specific enclave of Spanish speakers in Vancouver (or Calgary, or whatever) of which I'm unaware, I'd say French is still more useful. It still appears on all the packaging, many signs, etc..

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Yes, French would be more useful in Canada. It is, after all, an official language and you can find French communities in many places outside of Quebec.

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Americans find Spanish more useful as a second language and Canadians French, for the reason that it's simply more spoken.

Is that true even in, say, Vancouver?

That said, unless there's a big specific enclave of Spanish speakers in Vancouver (or Calgary, or whatever) of which I'm unaware, I'd say French is still more useful. It still appears on all the packaging, many signs, etc..

In Vancouver, Mandarin or Cantonese might be more useful than French or Spanish.

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I don't agree that high-end cooking = French cooking. That might have been true 10 years ago, but today, while many French terms are still employed, it's highly arguable that French cuisine rules. Regardless, if you hang around good kitchens, you'll pick up culinary French whether you want to or not. They wrote it down first, so they got to name pretty much everything.

I should've known I catch flak for that one! No slight was intended. I agree there are other fine culinary styles: Chinese (of all types), Sushi, American BBQ, Italian. I just got lazy. A better and longer way to say it would be that the root of Western culinary culture is French. Many, many terms used in almost all cooking have French names. It's sort of like how no matter the nationality of a classical composer, the convention was generally to use Italian names for the movements.

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I should've known I catch flak for that one!  No slight was intended.  I agree there are other fine culinary styles:  Chinese (of all types), Sushi, American BBQ, Italian.  I just got lazy.  A better and longer way to say it would be that the root of Western culinary culture is French.  Many, many terms used in almost all cooking have French names.  It's sort of like how no matter the nationality of a classical composer, the convention was generally to use Italian names for the movements.

Then one needn't study French when one can simply study food.

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How skilled are you at learning languages?

Both Spanish and French are Romance languages, so if you become fluent in one, it will be easier for you to learn the other. That being said, having studied both (but having become proficient at neither), I found Spanish easier to learn than French in terms of pronunciation (French has some weird vowel stuff going on). French is also heavily influenced by Germanic languages (English is a Germanic language), so the grammar sometimes strays from that of other Romance languages.

What's my point? I'd go for Spanish first, just because it's easier (to me) and it will be an easier segue to learning other Romance languages including French.

But you should also be thinking about your near future--will you be working primarily in the US at first? If yes, Spanish is probably more useful (especially in Florida, where iirc you're from).

Or are you thinking of going abroad to stage somewhere--and if yes, Spain or France? Yes, most people think of France first in terms of classical cooking, but Spain is producing a lot of great food now, too. Which are you more interested in?

Pick one, and then you've also picked the language you should study first.

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I should've known I catch flak for that one!  No slight was intended.  I agree there are other fine culinary styles:  Chinese (of all types), Sushi, American BBQ, Italian.  I just got lazy.  A better and longer way to say it would be that the root of Western culinary culture is French.  Many, many terms used in almost all cooking have French names.  It's sort of like how no matter the nationality of a classical composer, the convention was generally to use Italian names for the movements.

Then one needn't study French when one can simply study food.

Ouch! Tough crowd! :wink: Try studying Popper- the words we use for things are hard to disentangle from the things we use them for. No, that doesn't mean you can't cook French without learning the lingo but French names will continue to be used in Western cuisine. And I won't apologize for enjoying French culture and the pure beauty of the language. You can do as you see fit!

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