For a few years, the LV2 – or second living language – has been chosen from the 5th in France. In LV1 or LV2, English is compulsory. What about other languages? How to help your child to choose his second living language during his school career?
Generally, the second living languages offered are Spanish or German . Some establishments also allow you to learn Italian , while rare languages such as Russian, Mandarin or Arabic are increasingly offered.
Above all, it is important not to fall into traditional prejudices and to say to oneself “my child is useless in languages” or “languages are not his thing”. Languages become fascinating for everyone as soon as we take an interest in the culture they convey. There is at least one foreign language made for every child. Here is a small practical guide to choose the language best suited to your desires and needs.
Spanish : the preferred living language in college
As you probably already know, after English, Spanish is the favorite language of college students. A pleasing musicality, a structure close to French and the exoticism of South America are enough to explain this enthusiasm.
However, know that the fluency of Spanish is often overestimated . The conjugations are complex, more than in German for example! Your child will have to learn new tenses like the imperfect subjunctive, which has disappeared in French – or in any case very little used. Spanish is a language which is easy and quick to acquire the basics but which becomes more complex when it comes to mastering it to perfection.
Our advice: If your child mainly wants to focus on learning English and simply wants to acquire a few notions in an additional language, Spanish can be a very good choice.
German : the unloved living language
This language needs more arguments to be defended, because German suffers from a bad reputation. Language ugly , difficult and a priori not very useful if we compare to the opportunities offered by Spanish. However, there is no more serious competitor to the language of Cervantes.
Strangely, a holiday in Spain is more of a dream than a stay across the Rhine. Going on a road trip to Andalusia, a city trip to Barcelona or a bad trip to Ibiza, it’s always better than visiting the port of Hamburg or the remains of the Berlin Wall, right? That’s a lot of trips for those who don’t have the guts to learn German. But do you really have to learn Spanish for many years to hope to bask in the sun on the Mediterranean coast and exchange a few words with traders?
“Yes, but Spanish is a language of the future ! could retort ambitious parents, sensitive to the economic development of Latin America. And yes, the argument is valid! Outside of Germany, Austria, parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and a handful of remote Belgian villages, opportunities to speak German are limited. But let’s not forget that German is the language of the present in Europe . And she still has a bright future ahead of her!
While many London economists regret Brexit, Frankfurt – which hosts the European Central Bank – is already dreaming of a new European capital of finance. Speaking German could guarantee a bright future for your child. Learning Spanish for Argentina is a bit like learning English for New Zealand. How many Hispanic people actually plan to go to South America? Conversely, how many of these Hispanics will be required to go to Germany one day or another? Germany is our biggest neighbour. And our best friend too! Your child’s future will certainly be played out in Europe and on this continent, there are 100 million German speakers against 45 million Spaniards.
Our advice: If your child wishes to honor the Franco-German friendship, does not tend to take the easy way out and is possibly considering a career abroad, German is the perfect language!
Italian : the discreet living language
For the French, learning a Latin language is an easy choice. Too often, Spanish overshadows Italian . If we rely only on the numbers, then no hesitation: Spanish has around 500 million native speakers compared to 70 million for Italian. But numbers aren’t everything… Spanish is the second most studied language in France, while Italian speakers are rarer . Learning Italian is an axis of differentiation that requires little effort. Moreover, once Italian is acquired, understanding Spanish and even learning it becomes easier!
Our advice : Italian, an alternative to Spanish to be preferred when possible.
Rare languages: differentiation
Mandarin, Portuguese, Arabic… many other living languages are taught in college. But much less often than “the three classics” mentioned above. If given the opportunity, your child has every interest in choosing one of these rare languages.
The choice can of course be motivated by personal reasons. Thus, if you have Portuguese, Russian or North African origins but have little or poor command of the national language of the country, this can allow your child to reconnect with their roots. Either way, a rare language will give your child an indisputable head start . In a country where mastering English remains problematic, that of Russian or Japanese can surprise and come with interesting opportunities.
Our advice: A rare language represents an intelligent and differentiating choice which will help your child in his future, both professionally and personally.
Now it’s up to you to discuss it with your child. A living language is not chosen lightly. Finally, let’s not forget what matters most: motivation !