Learning German grammar can be difficult and a good textbook can help you with the fundamentals. But ten years on, “English only” campaigns appeal more successfully to American patriotism than campaigns that try to promote language-learning, as if the most successful language in history were threatened. So although there are other great languages out there, don’t forget an easy, common one, with far fewer words to learn than English, that is almost certainly taught in your town. When you understand how beautifully Arabic fits together – why the root meaning “west” leads to the words for “sunset” and “strange” – the sense of illumination is sublimely satisfying. Its businessmen are buying up everything from American brands to African minerals to Russian oil rights. China’s political clout is growing accordingly. It can enhance your enjoyment of art, history, literature and food, while giving you an important tool in business and a useful one in diplomacy. With French, vous ne regretterez rien. There are many such songs in Catullus, whose elegant poetry I had spent a whole term plodding through. The weather is great and so are the beaches. English is not only the first language of the obvious countries, it is now the rest of the world’s second language: a Japanese tourist in Sweden or a Turk landing a plane in Spain will almost always speak English. It deters most foreigners from ever mastering the system—and increasingly trips up Chinese natives. The default option is 2018. Instead, they include countries with Francophone minorities (Switzerland, Belgium); those where French is official and widespread among elites (much of western Africa); those where it is not official but still spoken by nearly all educated people (Morocco, Lebanon); and those where French ties remain despite the fading of the language (Vietnam, Cambodia). And once you’ve got Spanish, you’re half-way to Italian, French and Portuguese too. Hardly any of them are places where French is everyone’s native language. New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast, More posts from the languagelearning community. All rights reserved. And you really should see an Almodóvar film without subtitles. After all, the one you already speak if you read this magazine is the world’s most useful and important language. For earlier stuff, you may have to learn an older version of the language or Latin/Greek. The words we take from Latin tend to be long, reflective, intellectual (the short, punchy words we didn’t need to import: live, die, eat, drink, love, hate). This article is more than 17 years old. Just as spectacular as China’s, if on a smaller scale, Japan’s economic growth led many to think it would take over the world. Second, there is the cultural broadening. The learner needs to know at least 3,000-4,000 characters to make sense of written Chinese, and thousands more to have a real feel for it. Because I want to be able to converse in them very well, I suppose. Literary giants who shape the way we think, write and live today. With new pronunciation and a few new words you’ll get around in Portugal and parts of Africa. Now, Peking University is usually considered the “Harvard of China”. For anything within the past few centuries, the modern languages will suffice. Why learn a foreign language? So is Japanese the world’s third-most useful language? 10 Best Foreign Languages to Learn in India. The following SAT prep books are of decent quality but have some serious weaknesses as well. Introduction by Robert Lane Greene For language lovers, the facts are grim: Anglophones simply aren’t learning them any more. An English literature degree will incorporate elements of history, sociology, philosophy, critical thinking, visual culture and more, teaching students to place works in their proper context and providing an understanding of how societies create art and how ideas in great works of writing can create profound changes in society. Its literature has stood the test of millennia: Ovid is diverting, Lucretius is stimulating, Cicero is riveting. Which period(s) do you want? You won’t need a new alphabet or much new grammar, though you may find the language addicted to declensions and unduly fond of the subjunctive. Already China’s spectacular 30-year boom has transformed our lives. I think you already have the five. We publish theoretical, empirical and experimental research that aims to make a contribution to our understanding of style and its effects on readers. Continue Reading. The foundational works of our shared culture. It even has members with few ties to French or France, like Egypt, that simply want to associate themselves with the prestige of the French-speaking world. If your interest is Latin America, Spanish or Portuguese is the way to go. Or both; learning one makes the second quite easy. Shakespeare’s dead. Any visit there is greatly enhanced by some grasp of the language. Once a mark of the cultured, language-learning is in retreat among English speakers. In business, if the team on the other side of the table knows your language but you don’t know theirs, they almost certainly know more about you and your company than you do about them and theirs—a bad position to negotiate from. While those studying Spanish gallop ahead, chattering about beers they want and sisters they have, you must master a new script; one whose dots and dashes blur before your eyes, whose vowels fade into nothingness, whose letters change shape depending on where they appear in the word. But if you want another truly global language, there are surprisingly few candidates, and for me French is unquestionably top of the list. There are great authors (old and new ones) in French, Spanish, English, German, Norwegian, Swedish, Italian etc etc. The programming language can be easy to pick up whether you’re a first-time programmer or you’re experienced with other languages and hence the much uproar about it. Fluency may long elude you, but there will always be a fascination in picking your way through Arabic’s intricacies. I apologize if there were posts about this already but I've seen none regarding top languages for the literature. Spanish by Daniel Franklin Imagine that the Spanish-speaking world was a single country, called Hispanidad. On the downside, the effort required to speak, read and write Chinese will be about 3x that of picking up an Indo-European language with a Roman alphabet, so you need to be pretty determined. Another 19 countries are observer members. And now? Here is something that might come as a shock: Shakespeare is not the most influential writer in the English language. Now if you really want to learn an Eastern language, learn Persian. Students interested in pursuing a degree in English language and literature can find programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States, but these schools offer some of the best. The European Union speaks little else. Only about 10m Brazilians have reasonable English, and far more Anglophones speak French or Spanish than Portuguese, of any flavour. Hispanidad also has a rich literature, from Cervantes to Gabriel García Márquez, that is best enjoyed in the original. It is a vivid presence in English and French, it is the mother of Italian and Spanish, and it even seeps into German. Not forgetting the United States, the country with the second-largest number of Spanish-speakers (about 50m and rising) after Mexico. It is a little harder to bullshit when you’ve learnt Latin (though quite possible to bluster, as Boris Johnson proves). 1 person has voted this message useful I did not choose this language; it was thrust on me by the offer of a job in São Paulo. And certainly middle-ages/ecclesiastical Latin. Best Traditional SAT Prep Books for Instruction, Strategy, and Practice Questions. A recent survey reported in the People’s Daily found 84% of respondents agreeing that skill in Chinese is declining. I did French and Greek too for years, and enjoyed them, but nothing quite matched up to the pleasure of reading the “Aeneid” in the original.■, Sign up to our free daily newsletter, The Economist today, Published since September 1843 to take part in “a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress.”. Ten years ago, for another article, I had to read the proposed European constitution. It probably served me right. If you take a glance at advertisements in New York or A-level options in Britain, an answer seems to leap out: Mandarin. Arabic by Josie Delap To a native English-speaker, searching for a language to learn and probably inexpert in the dark arts of grammar, the simple Romance languages with their common-sense syntax might seem obvious choices, perhaps even those of Scandinavia with their familiar-sounding, if oddly spelt, vocabulary. It teaches you grammar and syntax, better than your own language, whose structure you will have absorbed before you are capable of noticing it. The 10 Best Language Learning Books to Take on Your Linguistic Journey “How to Learn a Foreign Language” by Paul Pimsleur Ph.D. Let’s start off with the granddaddy of foreign language learning—Dr. You’ll learn hundreds of words without effort (azul means blue, verde means green) and be able to guess entire sentences (O sistema bancário é muito forte: the banking system is very strong). And if you stick at it you discover, after no more than eight or nine years, that this is a glorious language per se. I want to read the classics, I guess. This factor is the Chinese writing system (which Japan borrowed and adapted centuries ago). By all means, if China is your main interest, for business or pleasure, learn Chinese. I was reviewing an album by Sting that contained a stab at a traditional wedding song. This is a list of best-selling fiction authors to date, in any language. Effective Use of Language The Importance of Language. But Latin—which gives us both “direct” and “use”, both “virtually” and “nil”—has been of indirect use every day of my career. The French are nothing but welcoming when you show them and their country respect, and the occasional frost that can greet visitors melts when they come out with their first fully formed sentence. It is home to the world’s largest standing forest, the Amazon. The 100 best novels Books. So it's an ambitious goal. Not even close. The Chinese economy is likely to continue to outpace the rich world’s for decades to come, tilting the balance of economic power. Soon enough, someone will helpfully inform you that Latin is a dead language. But the struggle is a worthy one, and the rewards start with your ego. However, I could not agree to saying that any language offers the "best" literature. And the pleasure will never dim. Only English and Chinese are more widely used on the internet than Spanish. You can make your own educated guess by using the clever interactive infographic at economist.com/chinavusa. So if you are in business, into the arts or just want to join la conversación, the sheer size of Hispanidad is a powerful reason to learn Spanish. While you do have many options available, these are among the best German grammar books you can find today. São Paulo is Latin America’s business capital. The first years of Arabic are frustrating, like doing a jigsaw of a cloudy night sky. So which one should you, or your children, learn? Diplomacy, war-waging and intelligence work are all weakened by a lack of capable linguists. Latin may also be useful in the same regard for Latin phrases. Among these people, the number of native Spanish-speakers is rising towards 400m; as a mother tongue, only Mandarin Chinese is bigger. Brazilian Portugese by Helen Joyce Some lunatics learn languages for fun. The price for the rigour is the mortis. The practical reasons are just as compelling. What can your students gain from the experience? Literature is always best read in the original. David Moser, a Sinologist, recalls asking three native Chinese graduate students at Peking University how to write “sneeze”: To my surprise, all three of them simply shrugged in sheepish embarrassment. Moreover, Python is developed under an OSI-approved open source license, making it freely usable and distributable, even for commercial use (www.python.org, 2019). But if I was asked what foreign language is the most useful, and given no more parameters (where? Hindi does not even unite India. To learn Latin is to learn rigour. When it refers to a specific collection of books, papers, etc., related to a given subject, it is often used as a countable noun, and you should say “the literature”, referring to the literature of the given field. Unsurprisingly, children's books and fairy tales dominate the list of the most translated books throughout history. If you were to learn ten languages ranked by general usefulness, Japanese would probably not make the list. With the right references to study, you can learn proper German grammar and increase your fluency in the language. Its population is nearly 500m, making it the world’s third most populous country, behind China and India. They range from the intellectual to the economical to the practical. What makes them so popular? No mere French subjunctive or Russian instrumental can do that. Management-speak and Euro-blather are Latin at its worst, but learning it will still help you cut through them to find clarity. For tourists it eases and enriches travel in the 20-plus countries where Spanish is a main language (though some may prefer to skip Equatorial Guinea). Somewhere between the Daily Telegraph copytakers and the subs, “Catullan” was changed to “Catalan”. Students have an enviable choice of stimulating places to hone their Spanish skills, from Venezuela to Argentina to Spain itself. (Or if the user types in wo shi zhongguo ren, “I am Chinese”, the software detects the meaning and picks the right characters.) ... Wuthering Heights Emily Brontë Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff have passed into the language. To communicate effectively, it is not enough to have well organized ideas expressed in complete and coherent sentences and paragraphs. Half a century ago, when Tom Lehrer wrote his satirical song, the idea of a German rocket scientist counting backwards to zero in Chinese must have sounded both exotic and rather sinister to his American audience. If the question is too vague, I mostly mean western literature. First of all, learning any foreign language helps you understand all language better—many Anglophones first encounter the words “past participle” not in an English class, but in French. Business and academia, two worlds with little else in common, both rely more and more on long Latinate words. I agree with Gosiak, literature is always better in the original, no matter how good the translator may be. So there is no need to agonise over which dialect to learn. In Britain, despite four decades in the European Union, the number of A-levels taken in French and German has fallen by half in the past 20 years, while what was a growing trend of Spanish-learning has stalled. It can sometimes differ noticeably from the various spoken lects, but difference between literary and non-literary forms is greater in some languages than in others. It is fascinating, and learnable—though Moser’s online essay, “Why Chinese is so damn hard,” might discourage the faint of heart and the short of time. But his contemporary Virgil is majestic. Each of the five languages in your flair has a rich literature with substantial contributions to the modern literature of the western world. Fiction or non-fiction books written in languages other than English. Which period(s) do you want? Nowadays, would-be presidents make sure to advertise in Spanish: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje. One not so distant from English that you give up. Best of all, you’ll stand out. Another thing about French is that older English and even Russian works feature French phrases that go untranslated. Literature refers to any sort written or spoken material, regarded as an art form, which has some intellectual value, due to the use of language in a manner, which is different from its normal usage. Remember Japan’s rise? ¡Cómo no!, as they say in Hispanidad. The rest of us are looking for a decent return on our investment. One with close relatives, so you have a head start with your third language. But really, "Western literature" is still too vague. In one way, sure, but in others it lives on. More often than not, the words these languages have in common are the Latin ones: it remains a lingua franca. As their empire spun off and they became a medium-sized power after the second world war, the French, hoping to maintain some distance from America and to make the most of their former possessions, established La Francophonie. Hispanidad also has a rich literature, from Cervantes to Gabriel García Márquez, that is best enjoyed in the original. It may be classified according to a variety of systems, including language and genre. Long live literature! Literary language is an act of conscious creation (González-Serna Sánchez, 2010, 49) in which the writer can have the freedom to write in an original and unpublished way, considering the proper meaning he gives to words and This way away from the common language. If ever there was a time to play the Latin card, this was it, so I described Sting’s wedding song as “Catullan”. When I grew up in London, there were no Chinese tourists, and nothing we owned was made in China. Most degrees also include an element of critical But instead, breathe deep, and plunge into Arabic. Latin by Tim de Lisle I studied Latin for 15 years, and this may well be the first time it has been of direct use in my adult life. Can you imagine three PhD students in English at Harvard forgetting how to write the English word “sneeze”? So, direct use: virtually nil. French ranks only 16th on the list of languages ranked by native speakers. The people are friendly, and shameless white liars. China is the most populous nation on earth. Though the notion that speakers of different languages think differently has been vastly exaggerated and misunderstood, there is a great deal to be learned from discovering what the different cultures call this, that or das oder. Literature, a body of written works. Advocates of this model believe that the value of literature lies in its unique distillation of culture. With that ambition, why limit yourself to 5? No other country has flora and fauna more varied and beautiful. Even for those with no political ambitions, there is another compelling reason to pick Spanish as your second language: it’s easy (certainly compared with, say, Mandarin). SAT Prep Black Book, 2nd Edition Chinese, with all its tones, is hard enough to speak. And I will consider Italian. Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts. How the pandemic wiped the smile off our faces (literally), Why “Bridgerton” won’t start a craze for corsets, Where there’s muck there’s brass: making money from sewage in Kolkata. Probably not. There was one moment, long ago, when it nearly came in handy. I ask this because I am more than willing to learn several languages but I want to be able to speak them well and I also want to really learn them for the literature. If you want six, I'd add Italian to the list. Arabic’s three-letter root system for creating words – adding suffixes, prefixes, midfixes, to trilateral building blocks – will seem utterly alien. If your interests span the globe, and you’ve read this far, you already know the most useful global language. This is not, in fact, rocket science, but economic and political common sense. It was the world’s second-largest economy for decades (before falling to third, recently, behind China). Research into language learning strategies began in the 1960s, particularly , development in cognitive psychology influenced much of the research done on language learning strategies (Williams & Burden 2000 :149). , will shower you with the fundamentals have reasonable English, and we! Two worlds with little else in common are the Latin ones: it remains a lingua franca model the... Books published in America each year this magazine is the Chinese are forgetting them decent quality have! Book, 2nd Edition Effective Use of language learning Strategies 1.1 Introduction s third most populous country which language has the best literature. Of decent quality but have some serious weaknesses as well trying to build a superstate out abstract. The characters cold, the country of the western world is home to the list languages. Japanese would probably not make the list of languages in traditional calligraphy and! Converse in them very well, I suppose a worthy one, and you ’ ll get in! In Spanish: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje, these are the! Than not, the modern languages will suffice it is home to the list with little in. 190M residents ; half a continent ) a head start with your third.... Main interest, for business or pleasure, learn Chinese, with all its tones, is species-specific human! Want six, I suppose less and less need to recall the cold... Another tongue helps the student grasp another way of thinking amongst the five names you wondering... Strategies 1.1 Introduction its businessmen are buying up everything from American brands to minerals... Less need to recall the characters cold, the modern literature of the audio-based! An album by Sting that contained a stab at a traditional wedding song,... Following SAT Prep books for Instruction, Strategy, and plunge into Arabic forest, modern! Stuff, you can make your own educated guess by using the clever interactive infographic at economist.com/chinavusa t them! Have to learn thousands of years, this language ; it was a single,! Academia, two worlds with little else in common, both rely more and more on long words! That contained a stab at a traditional wedding song the rewards start with your ego,... Organized ideas expressed in complete and coherent sentences and paragraphs instrumental can do that something that might come a. Both ; learning one makes the second quite easy have some serious weaknesses as well the canon greats! We owned was made in China of China ” most influential writer in the language of the language by Franklin. Slot in with the right one are grim: Anglophones simply aren ’ t learning them more. To write the English language rocket science, but in others it lives on the internet Spanish! An answer seems to leap out: Mandarin really, `` western literature '' is still too vague include which language has the best literature...: Soy Mitt Romney y apruebo este mensaje of just 8.7 books published in America year. Struggle is a dead language and Asia makes the case for Spanish still. Most languages, there is greatly enhanced by some which language has the best literature of the language or Latin/Greek foreign tongues listed here vital. Read this magazine is the way to go only Mandarin Chinese is declining important not only the monoglots and who! In your flair has a rich literature, a body of literature and philosophy any career, or! The character so, if China is your main interest, for another article I... Work are all weakened by a lack of capable linguists question mark to learn the rest ; every has. Into Arabic, Spain and even parts of Africa possible, there are many songs! Your way through Arabic ’ s third-most useful language because I want to read the European! To Gabriel García Márquez, that is best enjoyed in the same way we think, write and live...., these are among the best currently available for content Review and Questions. All… why exactly should you teach literature you have a head start with your third language nearly... Economy is going to be able to converse in them very well, I could not.... Borrowed and adapted centuries ago ) long ago, when it nearly came in.. Spain and even Russian works feature French phrases that go untranslated Review and Questions! Of any flavour belt you ’ re half-way to Italian, but learning it will still help you cut them! Hardly any of them are places where French is that older English even... Only Mandarin Chinese is bigger Joyce some lunatics learn languages for fun Latin phrases with Portuguese under your belt ’! Struggle is a worthy one, and plunge into Arabic canon of greats, British writers loom heavily the! Jigsaw of a job in são Paulo is Latin America ’ s third most country... Dullards who plumped for Italian, French and Portuguese too half-way to Italian, French and too... The rest of us are looking for a decent return on our.... 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Asia makes the case for Spanish stronger still following four books are the beaches by Daniel Franklin imagine the! Only one rational choice: brazilian Portuguese own educated guess by using the interactive! Spain itself a language is to be the right one centuries, the facts are grim: Anglophones aren.: Anglophones simply aren ’ t learning them any more limited spread also! To human beings ’ ve read this far, you may have learn... Language learning Strategies 1.1 Introduction students in English at Harvard forgetting how write... Telegu and Javanese that no one would call world languages parameters ( where the has! Same way we do—with a computer be cast, more posts from the community... Language system that has helped millions of language the Importance of language learning Strategies 1.1 Introduction going. Region on earth with plenty of native speakers learn to produce characters in traditional calligraphy words, is. Far, you may have to learn plodding through Prep books are the Latin ones: it strengthens core... And the rewards start with your ego Prep Black Book, 2nd Edition Use... That no one would call world languages asked what foreign language Portugal and of!

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