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What Your Second Language Says About You

What Your Second Language Says About You

Most high schools require you to studying a second language. It's just one of those joys of adolescence, along with algebraic equations and the sit and reach. Some students are stuck with their language (Latin, anyone?), but if you're lucky, you get to choose in which foreign tongue you will conjugate verbs until you cry. Here's what your choice of second language says about you:

If you study Spanish,

You are practical. You know that Spanish is the second most widely used language in the world and in the United States, where it's spoken by an estimated 35 million people. You are aware that many companies in the Western hemisphere are increasingly doing business in both English and Spanish, and you don't want to be left behind. Or you're just preparing for your spring break trip to Cancun. "No, eso no es mi padre. Es un hombre extraño que me sigue. Estoy en el colegio."

If you study French,

You are sophisticated. French used to be the lingua franca of diplomats and international businessmen, and you like to think speaking it gives you an air of mystère. Your ideal Saturday is spent discussing the existentialism of Camus at your local fair trade coffee shop, which you call le café.

If you study Chinese,

You are studious and motivated. You know that Mandarin is the most widely spoken language in the world (850 million people), and you believe learning it is simply an acknowledgment of the unstoppable tide of globalization. You are undaunted by the 3,000 characters you'd have to learn just to read a newspaper. You will be on the Fortune 500 someday.

If you study Italian,

You are a romantic. You're learning this language just because you like the way it sounds. You are also hopeful your crush will like the way it sounds. Your plan is to move to Tuscany, where you will eat grapes directly off the vine, bathe in fountains, and slurp unspeakable amounts of pasta with your prince/principessa.

If you study Latin,

You appreciate tradition. They say it's dead, but for you the language of ancient Rome is alive and well. Latin is the root of all Romance languages, so you figure, why not go to the source? You plan on going into biology or law.

If you study Arabic,

You are being groomed by the CIA... whether you know it or not.

If you study German,

You are German. Maybe Swiss.

If you study Klingon,

How did you get in here? Seriously. Go study something useful. Go on now.

If you study English,

You are compassionate, because you know that when Americans travel to your country, they will have no idea how to say "Where is the bathroom, please? It seems one of your lovely country's fine delicacies has not agreed with me, and if I don't find the facilities soon, there will be an incident that might be misconstrued as a bioterrorist attack, and your government will revoke my visa." So when we start to sputter and gesticulate, increasingly frustrated with our inability to speak Danish, you will smile politely, ask "English?" and help us in our time of need. For this, we are eternally grateful that you have chosen to study English.

What languages do you study?

Related post: All I Really Need to Know I Learned in India

Topics: School
Tags: second language

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About the Author

Kathryn Williams is the author of three YA novels but only one with an Oxford comma in the title. She is a Taurus and hates writing bios. Check out her website,, and follow her on Twitter @kathrynwauthor.

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