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do you think the additional languages you learn at school, are useless?
I was in school English as a foreign language. But I never needed it! Only here in L-iQ-UK, if I'm here.
asked in language

siasl74 answers:

It is very different for us British, as most folks abroad will speak English so there is not much incentive to retain/practice our language skills.

Saying that, if I went to france I'd get by. In Norway and Germany I could order drinks at a bar, and manage to battle my way through a menu to find something I liked.

Not sure I can get back to Ancient Rome to practice my Latin :-)

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xoloriib answers:

It depends on whether or not you are interested in languages. The only language I learnt at school was French. Since I left school I have followed courses in ten different languages. I haven't been able to practice them though so some are a little rusty : if you don't use it you lose it. For those who are interested extra languages are always useful.

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Redslap answers:

I don't think they're useless. No learning is ever a complete waste of time. Maybe I don't use the French I learned every day but on occasion it is useful. It helps with reading menu or two, and sometimes meeting someone French whose English doesn't cover the concept they're trying to get across - we can usually combine our knowledges to work it out.

Quite apart from direct usage, learning a foreign language was for me the only way to finally understand the structure of English. Things may have changed now, but I only understand English grammar properly because I studied Latin and French. For me studying English was more about dissecting poetry and writing endless compositions than learning about the grammar and structure of the language.

Also, with a basic grounding in Latin, you stand a much greater chance of understanding new English words that you come across. The more languages you know, the more likely you are to recognise the root of a new English word; but in general it seems that Latin has the widest influence.

I guess also that if you can already negotiate one foreign language, then additional ones come easier. For example, I was sent to Germany on my own on a business trip to Essen. I knew no German at all when I arrived, but could negotiate a menu and the transport system by the time I left.

So, useless? No.

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Messerwisser answers:

I think my lessons in English and German have been very useful.

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laratheangel answers:

not if you don't speak english becuase it is still the global language of business and the internet. for now... lara xx

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P-Kasso answers:

I am with Siasl on this...

I learnt (well, sort of learnt) German and Spanish at school - and, errm, Latin which I flunked merrily.

Now I actualy find that knowing the basics of Latin (not their twisted grammar though) is very handy when standing in garden centres looking at Latin plant names. I actually know what a Polyanthus etc means in Latin! Makes it easier to remember plant names.

As to my basic school German... I brushed it up with a very lovely German girlfriend for many years of multiple visits to Braunschweig. But, back then, it wasn't her extremely large vocabulary I was interested in. And she wanted to improve her English. So my German knowledge is still at 'tourist' level.

Spanish I must admit I have hardly ever used except to direct lost Spanish tourists in London. That's been handy for them and far from useless.

Otherwise, knowing that you CAN learn and actually speak another language is a brilliant thing because most English people don't bother either because they think they can't or because everyone in the world already speaks English.

If we English had been Polish or Dutch we'd have to learn another language when we travel. But we aren't so we don't.

I like languages so I learnt Norwegian when I lived there even though all Norwegians from five year old kids seem to speak perfect English as a second language.

Understanding and speaking another language is essential for vitally important things such as eavesdropping on other people's conversations, reading the literature of the country, and generally not interrupting the flow of the locals' conversations by speaking English when you are the only one of a group of friends in a room who is not Norwegian for example.

And even the little Spanish that I remember came in reasonably useful in Italia by bending Spanish into Italian. It worked pretty well but only on the basics in life such as ordering beer and food etc not when discussing the finer points of philosophy ;-)

Supplement from 02/05/2009 03:53pm:

I did meet a Turkish guy who spoke no English when I was in Turkey.

I don't speak Turkish but he spoke German (he had worked in Wolfsburg for VW).

We had a great time using my schoolboy German. Language was no barrier. In fact that, plus a lot of hand signals and more than a few beers, was reason enough for learning German at school.

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seacommander answers:

I have a basic ability in German and Italian with a smattering of French. I find all three to have their uses - especially on holiday in the more non-tourist areas where one can't reasonably expect English to be commonly known.
I also think that trying to speak the language of the country one is visiting shows a degree of respect. In the main, an attempt to speak the language is well rewarded.

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imfeduptoo answers:

Not at all useless.
Though I thought it was at the time.
I can remember every word of the French I learned at school and can communicate fairly well when I'm in France, but any language I've tried to learn since leaving school have been much more difficult and no-one understands me when I try to use them!

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ReginaTWerner answers:

Unless you speak the language of a people, you will never be able to fully understand the way they think (and not even then that's guaranteed). I for one would have led a life a lot less full and rewarding if I hadn't been able to communicate with the people I met in their native tongues. I wouldn't have been able to get by in my mother tongue (German) at all, and even English wouldn't have been enough.
By all means - learn as many as you possibly can - it is tremendously rewarding and enriching and it gets easier the more languages you accumulate!

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