What Language Should You Take?


Sophia Bienkowski

Since the dawn of time, one question has continued to be debated. What is the best language to learn at Lake Forest High School? Is it Spanish, the second most spoken language in the U.S.? Or maybe it’s French, with the second most number of countries, behind English, where it has status. Some would argue it is Mandarin, the most native-spoken language in the world. But we cannot forget Latin; though no longer spoken, it is used more than any other in the fields of medicine, law, science, and religion.

Spanish and French are similar in that they, like English, originated from Latin. Latin is the foundation for more than 20 languages, so therefore shouldn’t it come out on top? Just remember, we cannot forget that Latin is considered a dead language and has been for a long time. That works against it.

An argument can be made for Mandarin. Mandarin is spoken in China of course, but many top CEOs have learned it as a second language. If you want to do well in Business, maybe you should follow Mark Zuckerberg’s lead and pick up some Chinese language skills. The issue with Mandarin is that for many people it is incredibly difficult to learn. If you haven’t started learning it yet, you probably would have a hard time succeeding in learning it now.

On the surface, Spanish seems like the obvious choice. It has the most students who take it, and other than English, it is used more than any other language in the U.S. Learning Spanish could help you communicate with the 38 million people in the U.S. who speak it as a first language, not to mention the 400 million outside of the U.S. But this is just the States- what about the rest of the world?

Outside the States, French is surprisingly important. It is the only language, other than English, that is taught in every country in the world. It is the official language of the United Nations, the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, and the International Olympic Committee. French is also the language of love and reason, need I say more?

There are 6,500 languages in the world today. Knowing that number, it seems strange that we only have the option to learn four. At the same time, over 2,000 of those languages are spoken by fewer than 1,000 people. Knowing what language to pick comes down to the likelihood of one using it in his or her life.

Spanish and French are both Romance languages, and are considered easier to learn than Mandarin. So if you’re looking for the easiest language to take (that isn’t dead), pick Spanish or French. If you plan on becoming a famous and successful CEO of a Fortune 500 company, Mandarin is the language to pick. And if you want to do really well on the grammar section of the ACT, you should probably choose Latin. At the end of the day, the language you choose should depend on what you like to do, what you want to become, the people you want to communicate with, and the countries you want to stay in.

If you don’t like any of these languages, I recommend you get really good at English.