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All of them.  But I have to say that within the states, ASL has.  I used to work in customer service positions and being able to converse even in basic asl with deaf patrons was invaluable.  I think anyone in a public position should have to learn signs associated with the service they offer - doctors, emts, cops, library workers, bankers...

Outside the states, the other languages I learned helped, but they both went back to knowing a Latin based language (I was able to make myself understood in other Romance languages and decipher writing), and the Greek alphabet, which was a gateway to Cyrillic based languages.  Again, if you can read and decipher, you can get around.

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I think it depends on where you live. In my area it would be Spanish. Globally I feel like Mandarin is the most useful and will be going forward. It is difficult to learn late in life so it is fantastic to learn it in childhood. ASL can be a fantastic one to learn to not only assist the deaf community but can provide career prospects that are lucrative if someone becomes proficient. 

Quite honestly though, it takes a lot to stick with a foreign language through proficiency. Going with a language the student enjoys, finds a connection to the culture and people and has access to speakers locally so they can gain practice if desired is probably best. I fell in love with the Korean language as well as the people and culture when I was in my early 20s. It spawned a desire to learn the language and I felt motivated to do so. It might not be a widely spoken language but I still have a deep passion for it and the culture it is connected to. If you can light a fire then your odds are better they will take it seriously. 

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I think it depends on what work you do. If you are interested in working in diplomacy, rare languages can be really valuable. If you work with public, learning the language of a predominant minority in the area (say Spanish in CA) is useful. People always say Chinese is useful in business, but I don’t buy it. Unless you are seeking a job that specifically focuses on that region, I don’t see much value there, or value any more than any other language.  Most research seems to be published in English, and most educated people speak English around the world. So my advice is usually just pick a language that interest you because you are interested in learning more about that culture. 

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1 minute ago, Roadrunner said:

I think it depends on what work you do. If you are interested in working in diplomacy, rare languages can be really valuable. If you work with public, learning the language of a predominant minority in the area (say Spanish in CA) is useful. People always say Chinese is useful in business, but I don’t buy it. Unless you are seeking a job that specifically focuses on that region, I don’t see much value there, or value any more than any other language.  Most research seems to be published in English, and most educated people speak English around the world. So my advice is usually just pick a language that interest you because you are interested in learning more about that culture. 

Chinese is super useful in my DH’s line of work, but not for hello how is the weather but some technical reading that one needs to fluent in, probably. ? I think it is true if one was going on pure utility, most languages are “useless” (we might as well all learn 5 programming languages instead ?) except perhaps mandarin. 

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3 minutes ago, madteaparty said:

Chinese is super useful in my DH’s line of work, but not for hello how is the weather but some technical reading that one needs to fluent in, probably. ? I think it is true if one was going on pure utility, most languages are “useless” (we might as well all learn 5 programming languages instead ?) except perhaps mandarin. 

 

I agree. And if you happen to really need it, you most likely have a professional interpreter and that person has a native ability. That’s what I meant. If you are negotiating business deals, you aren’t doing it with Chinese learned at high school.

Also very soon we will speak into a device and it will speak out in chosen language for those of you who need it to get along on the streets. 

I still think language learning is super useful because it opens up a person’s world to a new perspective because you are able to start seeing things through those new “eyes.” I think that’s why it mostly should be a cultural choice.   

So I would advice somebody who maybe wants to work in Europe especially in governmental organizations to pick up French. Teachers in CA could use some Spanish, but for the majority of us, just pick what your heart desires. It will be enriching.

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9 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

but for the majority of us, just pick what your heart desires. It will be enriching.

I agree. Learning a language to fluency and maintaining it takes a huge amg of effort.

People often dismiss the maintaining it part, but that is key. Our ds was completely fluent in Portuguese bc we lived in Brazil for several yrs and none of his friends spoke English. He even slept walked in Portuguese. But, we moved back to the States when he was 10 and without maintaining it, he lost it. He was able to pick up Spanish with a flawless accent in high school, but at this point at approaching 30, he has lost Spanish as well.

If someone studies a language bc they want to and really enjoy it, they are far more likely to continue to immerse themselves in it long term.

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