First Choice of Second Language

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Lourdes Luna, Mar 28, 2006.

  1. Lourdes Luna

    Lourdes Luna Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Spanish México
    Hi Foreros

    How everybody knows in Mexico the first language is Spanish but the second language that you would have to learn is English, in almost all schools teach english, it could be because Mexico is border with USA and we are the commercial partners.

    I would like to know which is the second language in others countries, also if you can choose it or not.

    Thank you all
  2. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi Senior Member

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    In Canada we're bilingual English/French, so our second language (mandatory in school) is one or the other.

    Exceptions are native children, who have the option of studying their native language (ie, Mohawk, Cree, Inuktitut) as a second language instead.
  3. Lourdes Luna

    Lourdes Luna Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Spanish México
    Thank you Chaska Ñawi

    Could someone know about Europe, Asia or Latin America???
  4. Suane

    Suane Senior Member

    We in Slovakia (Europe, next to the Poland, Czech, Ukraine, Austria, Hungary, if somebody doesn't know yet) theoretically don't have second language, everybody can choose mostly between English, German, French, Russian or maybe Spanish, but practically everyone is studying English (because it is "necessary" nowadays) and as the third language he/she usually chooses German or French. I remember in my primary school there were 3 first grade (6 years old kids) classes, in two of them you study English and in one German. And then in the fifth grade (10 years old kids) you take also the second one (so almost everyone has English and German). But I remeber also classes with Russian-German and no English. But in the high school (15-18/19) we have English and then you could choose German or French. I don't know about the other schools but it should be pretty much similar.
    In the past (in the socialist era) we had to study Russian, but I missed it. :)
  5. ronanpoirier

    ronanpoirier Senior Member

    Porto Alegre
    Brazil - Portuguese
    Here in Brazil mostly school teach English since 1st grade.
    Now the spanish language is obligatory in high schools.
    It depends on the school you study the second language... when I was at elementary school I had spanish in grades 5 and 6, and english in grades 7 e 8. I heard that it teaches french in grades 3 and 4 nowadays.
    At high school I "studied" (believe me, it's impossible to learn a language at schools... the basic maybe, but a higher level... maybe in some private schools) english, but there was the spanish option too... now, as I said, it's obligatory.

    Some schools have a bilingual curriculum, so they teach, besides portuguese of course, english and german. And in some little towns, german and italian are spoken! So portuguese is their second language.

    PS.: I'm tlaking about what I know from the state I live, Rio Grande do Sul.
  6. Ilmo

    Ilmo Member Emeritus

    In Finland, the Swedish used to be the obligatory second language in the secondary school, because there is a minority of some 5-6 % Swedish speaking Finns. However, nowadays, the English can be chosen instead as the secondary language, but in any case the Swedish is obligatory before you can begin your university studies.
    The Finnish and the Swedish are both official languages of the Republic of Finland, determined in the constitution.
  7. Zakalwe

    Zakalwe Senior Member

    In France, we do not have to choose one but two second languages (at least it was like this 8 years ago).
    At the age of 10/11, we have to choose between english and german for the second language. Then at the age of 12/13, we have to choose between english, german and spanish (if you have chosen german, you have to choose english) for the third language. But at the age of 14/15, you will be able to choose if you want to continue your third language or not.
    Nowadays it looks like children start to learn english before the age of 10 and that it is possible to choose a different third language like chinese or japanese.

    In Spain, it seems that there is only one second language that is english. I don't know if you can choose a third language. But it is special there because people also learn the local language (catalan in Barcelona, valenciano in Valencia, ...).
  8. Ilmo

    Ilmo Member Emeritus

    Lulú, sugiero lo siguiente: As everyboy...
    Or: Like everybody..
    Cómo = how
    Como = as, like

  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I believe English has recently started to be taught as a second language from 1st. grade on, in Portuguese schools. Until now, in most schools, you only had to choose a foreign language in the 5th grade. You could choose between English, French and German, but I think most people picked English.
  10. Lourdes Luna

    Lourdes Luna Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Spanish México
    Gracias Ilmo lo tomaré en cuenta...

  11. Lourdes Luna

    Lourdes Luna Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Spanish México
    Thank you Suan, Ronanpoirier, Ilmo, Zacalwe and Outsider...

    It's very interesting to see that in Europe children have to learn two, three or more languages, for this reason many European people are multilingual.
    In México the goverment schools only teach basic english, if you want that your children learn a good english you have to pay for a private school but private schools are expensives and many people can't afford to pay them.

    Thanks again
  12. maxiogee Banned

    Do teachers not offer what we in Ireland call "Grinds" - private lessons in just one subject?
    A pupil in a school which wasn't providing a particular subject, or who wasn't doing well in a particular subject, can find a teacher who takes a few pupils a week and tutors them in his or her home.
  13. Span_glish Senior Member

    New York
    Guatemala, Spanish
    Although Spanish is the official language in Guatemala, 23 distinct Mayan languages are spoken and for many Spanish is a second language, but this is in the rural area.
    The second language is English, some private schools offer a third one such as German and Italian, not so much French.
  14. Andrutzu Member

    Romanian - Romania
    In Romania the first foreign language taught in schools is usually English. It starts in the second grade (7-8 years old); than in the 6th grade (11-12 years old) it's introduced the second foreign language, usually French or German. So we continue to study 2 foreign languages until the end of high-school and further it depends on the profile of the university. Of course, French or German (or maybe even Italian and Russian, but rarely) can be the first choice of a scool as a first foreign language, but English is usually what the majority kids start learning in the elementary school.
  15. Lourdes Luna

    Lourdes Luna Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Spanish México
    Thank you Maxiogee, Span glish and Andrutzu (welcome to WR)

  16. aa92 New Member

    i live in england i dont really have a second language that i can speak fluently, but in my school, we can learn lots of different languages. At the moment i'm learning german and french and for gcse we can do spanish as well. At A-level we can study italian. I have cousins that live in Wales they speak english and welsh.
  17. Annwn New Member

    Skåne, Sweden
    Swedish - Skånska;Portuguese - Portugal
    In Sweden there are 5 minority languages considered by the government as "second" laguage, but neither of them are taught in school as mandatory subjects, unless the student so requires. These are Meänkieli(also called Tornedalfinska), Finnish, Yiddish, Romani and Sami languages, spoken in the far north of the Scandinavian peninsula.

    But I guess everybody, when in school, picks English as second language, even if later on, when you´re older (13-17) you can choose to learn Spanish, German, Italian or French.:)

    Outsider, you said that in Portugal, english has started to be taught in 1st grade, is that public, state schools? Is it a part of the educational program?:)

    I guess it depends on which school you apply to (this when you´re on the 5th grade), some don´t have for ex., enough staff to teach german, so you only have the choice of english or french...No?
    What I mean is, does the availability of active teachers (for there are many unnemployed..) affect the way the subjects are scheduled and put in practice?
    I´m just wondering:rolleyes:...


  18. weirdgirl Member


    In Northern Ireland you start to learn a second language in the first year of secondary school (at the age of 11/12) usually French but some schools also have German, Spanish or Irish. Depending on the school you may start 2 languages then (ie French and Irish). There are also some schools (both primary and secondary) which teach everything through the Irish language although they still study English and in secondary at least one other foreign language, usually French.

    In Japan (I teach English there) English is taught as a second language from the beginning of Junior High School (12/13) and is compulsory right through Junior and Senior High Schools. English is part of the exam students have to pass to get into university. Some schools also have some English classes in elementary school but this not compulsory and there is no assessment for it.

  19. Lourdes Luna

    Lourdes Luna Senior Member

    Mexico City
    Spanish México
    Thak you Maire, aa92 and Annwn

  20. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    Hi, Lulú!
    I just wanted to comment that, here in the States, the official second language that you must learn depends on the state in which you live!
    Weird, no?
    It's not common knowledge (sometimes even the natives themselves don't know it) that the USA has no official language, and each state chooses which language is their official language. Some states even choose official second languages, so there you are!
    Cool, no?
    Bueno bye.
    Dan F :)
  21. Juri Senior Member

    Koper, near Trieste
    In Slovenia teaching English begins in kindergarten, and is obligatory in all
    grades of school.
  22. stevea Senior Member

    UK English
    :warn:Moderator note: Two threads on the same subject were merged.:warn:

    In the UK, choosing a second language to learn is a bit hit and miss. Back in my school days we had to learn some Welsh but without having Welsh speakers in the family it is truly difficult.

    Next came high school and everyone did French for while.

    I wonder why Spanish wasn't more available as it is so widely spoken. In the UK we tend to think that choosing English as a second language is an easy decsion because it is spoken all over the world.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2008
  23. Teena Senior Member

    Uzbekistan - Russian
    In Uzbekistan they taught us (aside from russian) uzbek and english as second language. In Canada the 2nd language was french.
  24. epasf Senior Member

    Madrid/ España
    Spain/ Spanish
    In Spain, we do not have to choose one but two second languages. Usually English and French. But when i was little only one language was mandatory. Besides some areas has two oficial languages and clindren have to take both.
  25. Earth Dragon Member

    USA- English
    In the United States:
    The south (particularly in and around California and Texas) starts Spanish in middle school (ages 11-14)
    Northern states tend to learn French in high school (ages 14-19).
    Those of us in the middle have a much larger selection. Most pick Spanish, but French is available in most high schools. German is available in a lot of schools as well.
  26. kruthskins Senior Member

    Austin, Texas
    United States- English
    I went to school in a middle state (Colorado) so we had Spanish, French and German. I had just assumed that all states had at least those 3. Is Spanish really not a common language to teach in the northern states? That seems odd. Although native Spanish speakers aren't extremely common in those states (or at least not as common as in the Southwest), it still seems like they'd be much more common than native French speakers.
  27. danielfranco

    danielfranco Senior Member

    Unless one considers that Canada is right there, and there's a lot of francophones around…

  28. Miguelillo 87

    Miguelillo 87 Senior Member

    Mexico City
    México español
    Lulú you are right in your state that private schools in Mexico are so expensive, even I have to say English schools are the most cheaper in comparision with French, japanese or german schools.

    But I have to say I dont agree with the state, public schools are only basic, It's true the english given as a subject in secondary and high school is really basic, but we have some public schools where obly languages are taught; and They're really good, I'm talking about the Languages Centers which are part of the UNAM and IPN; We have to rememeber the UNAM is one of the best universities in the world and the first in Hispanoamerica; so believe me languages taught there are really good level.

    And extremly cheap!!!!
  29. Lugubert Senior Member

    I don't think there's even a choice for 2nd language. It's English, which is required for University studies. In the 60's, the compulsory sequence was English - German - French, addding Latin and/or Greek for one stream and possibly just adding Spanish for others.

    On 3rd language, German now has declined and French seems to be more en vogue. Some schools usefully offer Chinese. Any language when asked for by x pupils and where teachers are available will do.
  30. trance0 Senior Member

    Well, it is sort of understandable that English is the most studied language in most countries since it has become the new lingua franca of the modern world. In the future this title might go to Chinese, Spanish or even Arabic. In Slovenia, English and Serbo-Croatian are the most widely spoken foreign languages, followed by German and Italian. Among other languages Spanish is becoming increasingly popular and French is also gaining in popularity again.
  31. Welshie

    Welshie Senior Member

    England, English
    In the UK it is no longer compulsory to study a second language after the age of 14 (what we call year 9). Given that we only start studying a second language at the age of 12, this means our foreign language skills are not the best. Typically the second language studied is French, although in schools in Wales it's commonly Welsh. Most schools also offer German or Spanish as a third language.
  32. LaReinita

    LaReinita Senior Member

    East Coast, USA
    USA (Northeast Coast)-Inglés
    In my high school, we had a choice between Spanish, French and German, but you weren't required to take a second language at all. I took Spanish from 7th-12th grade and French from 9th-12th, but I never really liked French class due to my teacher. It is probably required now. I know that a lot of schools are starting Spanish classes early now, which is a good idea. I am in the Northeast and there are tons of Spanish speaking people around here, not just in the south.
  33. sifueratica Senior Member

    upstate New York
    English - United States
    Here in New York most larger public high schools offer French and Spanish and the students get to choose. Sometimes Chinese and German are available as well.

    Mi amiga chapina estudió en una escuela alemana y ahí aprendió alemán, pero no creo que sea muy común en Guatemala. Más bien había mucha gente que hablaba inglés, o un dialecto, como segundo idioma.
  34. Giorgio Lontano

    Giorgio Lontano Senior Member

    Nova Guatemala da Assunção.
    Guatemala - Español
    It's like Span_glish said above:

    These private schools are often far more expensive than the "regular" private schools, not to speak of public schools. Most people will choose English as a second language (or third in the case of the mayan languages speakers), due to the influence of the US in the region.

  35. fragile1

    fragile1 Senior Member

    In Poland the first foreign language in schools is practically English.
    In the past Russian was obligatory same in Poland like in other socialistic countries around. So now, very many Poles still can use Russian.
    Teaching second language starts in Poland in age 4-5 in kindergardens, paying by parents. So taht is a kind of privet lessons, but usually everybody pays for it. Than, in the school, since 7 years old childern have to learn English. There are some other possibilities, but if a child learn another language than English is like a third. English is usually what the majority kids start learning in the elementary school. Very many people learn German, French, Spanish, Italian and other European languages.
    The interesting thing is, that many teenagers learn Japanes, Chineese, Koraen and other Asiatic languages what 10 or 15 years ago was quait impossible.

  36. phosphore Senior Member

    In Serbia, some 70-80% of primary and high school students study English as the foreign language, some 15-20% study Russian, 10-15% French and 5-10% study German. I heard that now Italian can be chosen too.

    This is different than the situation from some 10 years ago when 60% of students studied English, 25% Russian, 10-15% French and less that 5% German, and far different than the situation from some 40 years ago when more than 60% studied Russian, 20% English, 15% French and just above 10% studied English.
  37. Stumpy457 Senior Member

    North Carolina, USA
    In America, there are many Spanish-speaking people (especially where I live, in North Carolina), so all high-schools teach Spanish and nearly everyone takes it. NOOOOWWWW, that is NOT to say everyone can speak it. Oh, no. I'm in Honors Spanish 3 and I'm one of the few people who are decent at the language. You should HEAR the stupid things people say! Oy...

    I go to a small-ish private school, so we can only afford to offer 1 language right now, but most public schools offer French and Spanish, and I've heard German offered, too.
  38. Toadie

    Toadie Senior Member

    I've not heard of a public high school in America that does not offer Spanish. That said, I've also not heard of anyone learning a language at a proficient level relying solely on what they've learned in school.

    In my county, the requirement to graduate is to have taken two years of the same foreign language--obviously there is not a huge stress on the ability to speak foreign languages. Most people take Spanish. We also offer French, German, and Latin, but they don't compare to the number of students in Spanish. Personally, I take French and German, though I don't really learn much in either, and most of what I know in both (especially German--I haven't really learned any German from school at all, and it's coincidentally my best foreign language), I learned at home in my own independent studies. A huge number of people quit taking language courses after that second year, so the first two years really were a joke. They have a very low, if any, level of proficiency in the language they "studied".

    @ Danielfranco: That's very interesting that each state picks the official language! Thanks for posting that. I thought I had heard something a few months ago about a Texas vote about making Spanish an official language, or something, and it kind of confused me.

    In the North East, I would say French is more prevalent than Spanish due to the close proximity of Québec. I know a few people from Maine and they know much more French than Spanish.
  39. elirlandes

    elirlandes Senior Member

    Dublin & Málaga
    Ireland English
    In the Republic of Ireland, the final set of school exams taken at the age of 17 or 18 is called the Leaving Certificate. To enter university, you are expected to have passed exams in English & Irish (usually, English as a first language, and Irish taught as a second language), as well as one modern European language.

    There are about 60,000 students every year taking these exams, of which about 50,000 take French, 15,000 take German and a few thousand take Spanish. That said, Spanish is growing very quickly.

    When I took the Intermediate Certificate (public exams taken at age 15), I was one of only 4 people in the country who took the Italian exam that year... (!)
  40. Basaloe Member

    In Sweden you have to learn english at the age of 10, at the age of 13 choose between french, german and spanish, and at the age of 16 you normally can choose to study russian and italian also.
  41. Pas de Mai Member

    American English
    In Pennsylvania (at least in the area that I live), students in 5th and 6th grade take compulsory nine-week courses of Latin, German, French, and Spanish.

    Then, from 7th grade and on (up to 12th grade), students choose one (or more) of these languages which they are required to study during 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grade.
  42. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)

    In the US most students, unfortunately, don't get to study a foreign language until secondary school. When I was that age, French was the most widely chosen language (at least in the area where I lived) but nowadays I would say Spanish is the preferred first foreign language in most places--it is becoming a de facto second "official" language in our country and in cities with large Hispanic populations many signs, information, newspapers, etc. appear in Spanish as well as English.

    Other options--often depending on the region and the immigration patterns of people living in a given region--include German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, etc.
  43. SaveTheManatees

    SaveTheManatees Member

    United States/English
    At my school (California, USA) we have a choice between Spanish, French, Japanese, Russian, and American Sign Language. Spanish is the most popular for obvious reasons. Followed by French and Japanese. Other schools in my area offer German and Mandarin. No school preference is really forced on us, we can take whatever is offered.
  44. DominicanGirl239 Member

    Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
    Dominican Republic, spanish
    Yo sugeriría "as everyboDy" jeje xD

    Respecto al segundo idioma en mi país, República Dominicana, también se enseña inglés, pero también francés, desde segundo grado de primaria. Incluso se critica que muchas empresas de acá, siendo dominicanas, desarrollan todo en inglés, desde el nombre de las mismas hasta los formularios y publicidad. Considero útil aprender otros idiomas, pero sin olvidar cuál es el original. ¡¡Saludos!! :)
  45. ahshav Senior Member

    English, Hebrew
    In Israel, Hebrew is obviously the first language - and early on (I believe in third grade), English becomes a mandatory class until graduation from high school.

    Some changes have been made recently, but there is some limited addition language requirement in high school. Usually Arabic is taught, and sometimes French. Somewhat recently, more languages are offered in certain areas - Russian where there are large Russian communities, Spanish for Argentinians and Amharic for Ethiopians.
  46. IDK Senior Member

    Texas, United States
    Amr English
    Many have already said the same things, but students are allowed to choose, though Spanish or French is a required "course" for many elementary school students. Usually, French and Spanish are the main options, but German is available as well, but only in some high schools. Nowadays, some schools, especially in California, have started Chinese courses due to the increased demand for Chinese speakers in business and requests made by Chinese parents.
  47. Polizón

    Polizón Senior Member

    En el Perú, por amplia mayoría, el inglés; aunque en algunas ciudades hay colegios donde se aprende francés, alemán o italiano como segunda lengua.
    Ahora bien, el castellano es el idioma oficial, y el quechua, el aymara y las otras lenguas aborígenes lo son dende se hable predominatemente. En ese caso, el segundo idioma es el español.
  48. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russia, the most popular foreign language to learn is English. The reasons are obvious, it seems. :)

    I had English as my first foreign language, and German as second. A friend of mine had French as her first and English as second foreign language. We went to different schools, though. And, generally, children don't choose the language to study: they just learn what they're taught at schools. At most schools, English is taught as first foreign language.

    As for second foreign languages, it depends on the region. For example, here in St. Petersburg, many schools offer Finnish or Swedish - we're located very close to the Finnish border, and it takes some 5 hours to get from St. Petersburg to Helsinki, so Finnish is quite popular here.

    As for adults studying foreign languages, they, too, choose Engish most often.
  49. brian

    brian Senior Member

    AmE (New Orleans)
    I went to a private, Catholic school in New Orleans and studied Latin for 5 years and Ancient Greek for 4 years. It depended on the "track" you were in as to whether you took 1 or 2 foreign languages. Everyone could choose Latin, French, or Spanish in 9th grade, but only those who started Latin in 8th grade (advanced track) could choose Ancient Greek in 9th grade.

    So I didn't start my first modern foreign language until my sophomore year of college a few years ago.

    Most people, however, took Spanish or French (more Spanish than French, I think). But I think that in general, in southern Louisiana, because of the huge French/Cajun influence, most people take French. My stepmother's family is Cajun and speaks Cajun French, and they all took standard French in high school.

    After Katrina, we had a huge influx of South American immigrants come to New Orleans (lots of work opportunity), which is great because for the first time we have wonderful, authentic Mexican, etc. restaurants. :D But our Spanish-speaking population has really grown, so I expect more people will start learning Spanish here than ever before (also because Cajun and Creole French is dying out).
  50. chifladoporlosidiomas Senior Member

    San Francisco
    English (US)

    Here in California, we have almost every language imaginable! I have friends in San Jose who take Vietnamese and even Hmong!
    Here in the Bay Area (San Francisco, Oakland, Richmond, Hayward, etc.) students can choose from Spanish, French, Latin, German,Tagalog/Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, Hindi, and/or Arabic (among the most common)! Quite amazing!!!
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2009

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