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Which language should I take in high school? (Asking for a friend)

His high school offers French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, German and Latin. He is going into Stuyvesant High School and does not know which to take. Please help! Thank you

June 4, 2017



Well, his interests are the most important thing, but I personally absolutely love Japanese, so maybe he'd like that.


Latin. It is almost like a father for most romance languages. It will only make it easier to learn other languages after. And plus, who wouldn't want to speak the language of the 1,000 year empire?


I would say spanish If you ask me


Okay. WHY? Why are you asking?

Why is he taking a language? Is he required to?

Okay, which language WILL he use in the near future? All those languages, except Latin, are spoken in NYC. So, what is HIS lineage? Does his family still speak a foreign language? Will he go overseas for college? Is he trying to get into a specific college, or program after high school?

What languages has he tried before? Can he take a language class this summer to get his feet wet?

Having said that, Spanish and Japanese tend to be the easiest for most people to learn - if the teacher is any good.

Russian then Chinese then German then Latin are probably the hardest, some will put Chinese over Russian. Unless he is good at languages I would not start with Russian or Chinese - unless those are the best teachers.




Japanese is considered very difficult for English speakers.

German is considered decently simple, since it's related. Just some new grammar and cases of course.

Russian is like German, but they're not closely related (except in PIE), so it's a little harder

Chinese is rated to be one of the harder languages to learn for English speakers, but personally I found it pretty simple; just memorize the characters and tones and meanings, no really hard grammar (e.g. no tense system)

Latin is also decently simple, as many words in English come from Latin. It'd mainly just be cases at first that would trouble someone, then the verb conjugations, but there are patterns everywhere so it's pretty simple.



Japanese is considered very difficult for English speakers.

I've been learning Japanese for about a year and a half now, and I wouldn't call it "difficult." I mean, learning any foreign language is difficult, and Japanese (in my opinion at least) is not necessarily more difficult than other languages. Is it very different from English? Absolutely. Does it take some getting used to? Yes. But it's not really that difficult, at least for me.

[deactivated user]

    You are absolutely right, It is a subjective thing :). Despite my years of studying german, i have found german harder than japanese, despite its grammar (writing, kanji etc) are totally different.i. It's always a matter of practice but geez, german is my exception ahahaha, it doesn't want to stuck in my head xD.


    True. But for the most part I've seen and heard that it is very hard.


    I'd say Japanese or French.


    If you live in a heavily Spanish speaking area, Spanish could be important.

    For business jobs, Chinese could be important (but really any of those could be)

    French is spoken worldwide (Spanish is really just spoken in the Americas and Spain)

    French, Chinese, and Spanish are my top 3

    Latin is good for learning other Romance languages, grammar in general, and it helps with becoming a doctor, or scientist, but it is a dead language. Taking Latin can be a bit questionable because it is a dead language though (from personal experience)

    [deactivated user]

      A question we cannot answer, we don't know his tastes but you can do an experiment: go to youtube and write for example "spanish introduction, chinese introduction etc" let him listen all the languages maybe without watching the video, then in a second moment after he decided what language he lke most, replay all the video but this time watching the video focusing on the written part.

      About the difficulties i put as "easy" languages (for a native english speaker): french, italian and spanish. French: french words are really close to english but its grammar can be difficult (for what i heard from various experiences of english people).French pronunciation can be tricky, many sounds are nasal that doesn't exist (or maybe they are hard to emulate). Spanish: for most of english speakers seems the easier to learn, but i cannot tell you how much because i'm not a native english speaker. Italian: i can tell you more because i'm italian.Let's say that italian is a sort of "bridge" language.What i mean?I mean that is a fusion between french and spanish.Italian words are similar to spanish ones (and the pronunciation is the same as spanish) while the grammar is really close to french (it share some parts of spanish grammar too) that's why i like to call it as a "bridge" language, it stays in the middle. These 3 languages follow the same pattern as english - S +V +O

      "Medium/hard" languages: german and russian.Many say that german is easy because is similar to english but it isn't, it can be easy at first, but when you have to memorize all the gender of each noun, memorize the different cases, the inversion of sentences...nope, it's hard! I put german in this category because compared to chinese and japanese, german can be surely "easy" but if you take it alone, it's hard.Russian is the same (it doesn't have 3 genders, but you have to learn cyrillic, the different cases).Fir what i remember, russian sentences are flexible, but german sentences can be a pain in the neck because they have to follow a certain order like: today i bought an apple, Heute habe ich einen Apfel gekauft ( today, have i one apple bought) and it is worse where there is a secondary sentence...it gives me an headache, despite i really like it because is stimulating...a true challenge xD.

      About latin, actually i don't know in which category to put it because i have never tried to study...probably in the second category.

      Surely "hard" languages: japanese and chinese.I cannot tell you much about chinese but i can tell you that it is a tonal language, you have to be carebul because of his several tones.For example, the word "ma" can mean different things if you use a certain tone.If i remember well, you have to learn around 6000 hanzi to read most of chinese stuff.Pronunciation is probably one of the most difficult things to learn, but i heard that its grammar is quite easy.About japanese is the opposite thing: easy pronunciation, difficult grammar.You have to learn at least 2200 kanji to read most of the japanese stuff (and it's not over) japanese has several way to read kanji (while chinese only one, sometime or rarely two) and, you have to learn the other two way of writing which are hiragana and katakana.They are easy to memorize, the most difficult thing remain kanji.


      Italian is nice for high schoolers


      I don't think we know enough to answer the question intelligently. Why does he want/need to learn a language? What are his career goals? Does he plan to go to college? Does he have any experience with a second language? How good a student is he? What other courses will he be taking?


      He is required to have 3 years of a foeign language, and he does plan to go to college. He speaks Korean, and is a great student.

      [deactivated user]

        Hmm if he speaks korean and want to do something "easy", japanese can be a possible choice. For what i heard (and did, because i did some korean for a while) japanese grammar has a lot in common with korean.

        I leave you this link i watched time ago but maybe he should check other of his video, they are all interesting:



        I'd say whatever he personally wants to take. I took French when I was in high school. And I took an introduction to Japanese class a year or two ago. If I had to pick out of those to take one soon I'd probably do Italian personally.


        I'd say Latin for versatility. Does he want to learn other romance languages? Latin will help. Potentially has an interest in a medical career? (doctor, nurse, EMT, paramedic, ect) Latin will help. Interest in science? Latin will help. Wants to be a lawyer? Latin will help. Of course learning any language is a plus, but each one can offer specific advantages from a learning point of view.


        Chinese there seem to be fewer people who are bilingual in Chinese/English than all of the rest. We deal with Chinese firms often and in many of them only one person speaks English and not very well


        A polygot on the internet once suggest "the one you really like". His reasoning was all languages become difficult, you strike plateaux, you have off days and if you are doing a language for aany thing other than passion you will give up. Next, I have dabbled in a number of languages. Mandarin is really, really hard (it makes Arabic look easy). Not only do you have a new writing system (which is not phonetic) but you also have four tones to cope with. Unless you/your friend is willing to put in a couple of years of solid work you won't get far. I tried Japanese with kanji which makes writing easier - but without passion gave up after two terms. Latin is useful to learn gramamr - and understanding the vocab of many Romance languages. Of the rest, French is the easiest (English might be a Germanic language but we have lost a lot of the grammar and use a lot of French vocab). Finally, consider if there are native speakers around - that can add zest to a langauge.

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