One thing I enjoy doing is creating decision-making tools.
One such project has been itching in my mind for the past few months: a language-learning decision-maker: which language should I learn next?
Given a language L and a person P, we want to calculate P's costs and benefits in learning L.Costs:
Effort: how much work is this language for P? (P's talent, linguistic flexibility, knowledge of related languages)
Money: how much money would P spend in learning this language?
(different combinations of effort and money may work, but it will be a trade-off in any case)
Time: P's opportunity cost: what is the cost of not doing other things he could be doing?Benefits:
Economic: how much does knowing L improve P's job prospects? How much more business can P do by learning L? (what is P's area? what kind of person is P? where does P live? where does P intend to live?)
Social: would P make more friends by learning L? (where does P live? where does P intend to live?) be more attractive to the opposite sex? appease his partner's parents?
Entertainment: would P enjoy learning L? Would P enjoy the consequences of knowing L?
Are there any common reasons for learning a language that I am not covering here?Here
's a slightly bullshitty, yet comprehensive coverage of the whys and hows of learning a language. Here
is a guide to the difficulty of learning a language for a native English speaker (measured in hours required to achieve proficiency).
Here is the ACTFL proficiency scale
, a simple self-assessment guide. I am an "Advanced" in Dutch, in English and Portuguese I am "Superior" or "S-4" depending on my mood, and somewhere between "Intermediate High" and "Advanced" in French. I don't claim consistent S-4 level in any language, since there are times when I can't express myself very well at all.
In any case, it seems clear that I should learn Chinese. But first German, since I'm already halfway there. Having said that, it would only take me a couple of months to learn Spanish properly, so that might be the most sensible thing to do.Here are the world's most important languages, as measured by GDP:
Languages on the Internet may be a better measure of how many highly-educated people a language has, so you might prefer this measure:
More measures...( Read more... )
An interesting tangent, is that the BRIC4 countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) are predicted to economically surpass the G6 (UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA) before 2050.