All too often I hear people say “you must learn English if you want to get a good job” or “Mandarin is the language of the future” and so on. That is more or less what I was told some years ago when I finished high school and announced my decision to study foreign languages at university.
As most of teenagers, at that time my life was governed by chaos and confusion. So despite the fact that my two big loves were German and Modern Greek, I took a different path. Everybody in my family and at school started bombarding me with the mantra “China, Chinese, markets, economy, crisis”, so that at the end of the day I was completely brain-washed and wrote my name on the Mandarin course sheet, saying goodbye to German and Greek.
I have studied Mandarin for five years, I never skipped one class or forgot to do my homework, I even lived in China, but right after graduation I decided to go back to German and Greek, and to devote myself completely to my old flames. And guess what? A month of Greek classes was more fruitful than a year of Chinese.
Having said this, my advice to everybody who is considering to start learning a new language is not to read financial magazines – because of course they will tell you that Greece’s GDP is down by 5,2% while China’s is up by 2,4% – but to choose the language you like.