Monday, February 18, 2013
This article in French from Le Figaro is a good read. It touches not just on the numbers of students learning German in France but also the jobs that are going unfilled between the two countries: English is the first language students learn in both countries and those that choose a second will usually go for Spanish, in spite of its greater distance and smaller economy. Mandarin also gets a mention here. There is a definite silliness found in the vague idea among students that languages such as Spanish or Mandarin promise a future full of well-paid employment when the language of the economic power next door remains ignored. Personal preference should be the primary (if not only) reason to learn a language, and if personal preference is irrelevant then proximity is another important factor.
Language usefulness almost seems to work like gravity with the usefulness dropping by the square of the distance, except that it eventually reaches a certain baseline instead of fading into nothingness.
For the average French student, most likely located in the north of the country, Spain and its centre of population is actually quite distant:
And for a student in Germany, even more so. Spanish should be learned by students who truly want to learn it, not those with a vague notion that it is somehow the language of the future when there are well-paying jobs to be had now through knowing the language of the country next door.