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Best Language for Pilots

Old 8th Jun 2010, 22:21
  #1 (permalink)  
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Age: 25
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Best Language for Pilots


I'm new here at PPRuNe. I'm a high school student looking to "set myself up" for a career in aviation - either as a pilot or an engineer. I'm wondering what is the best and most useful language(other than English) to learn. What will be most useful on the job, and what will help you get hired? I'm leaning heavily towards German right now, but I can't graduate without 3 years of the same language and once you pick a language, there's no turning back. Thanks in advance.

rickyiad is offline  
Old 9th Jun 2010, 00:41
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Join Date: May 2000
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If you're really in the DC area, I suspect Spanish would be most useful, but there's nothing wrong with German. No one language can be predicted to be "better" at this point in your life, because you don't yet know where you might go for your career.

If you find you have an aptitude for Spanish or German, then learn as many as you can handle. From Spanish, Italian and Portuguese should follow easily. Chinese (Cantonese or Mandarin) will definitely be useful for international business in the future.
Intruder is online now  
Old 9th Jun 2010, 00:47
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 350
In terms of distribution worldwide, French is usually the best choice after English. This is so because it's the most popular second language for people to learn after English. So no matter where you go in the world, chances are that there will be someone around who speaks either English or French.

Spanish is useless outside the Americas and Spain, and in fact the language with the greatest number of speakers in South America is Portuguese, not Spanish.

Chinese has a huge number of speakers, but they all live in China, so it's also quite useless unless you'll be spending all your time flying into and out of China.

The useful languages are those that are very widespread geographically, and English is far and away the first on that list, followed by French.

Of course, if you are sure you'll be working only in certain parts of the world, you might want to learn languages that are widely spoken in those regions. If you're certain you'll be flying in and out of Germany, you could learn German, for instance. But if you don't know or aren't sure, or if you plan to fly worldwide, learn French.
AnthonyGA is offline  
Old 9th Jun 2010, 09:22
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I´m speaking German (native), English, French and Spanish - no Problems worldwide

French is very helpful in Africa, Spanish in South America - only China is sometimes difficult to handle
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Old 9th Jun 2010, 09:40
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Personally, I wouldn't go for German. It restricts you to Germany and Austria. The top languages to learn are French, Spanish and Russian, which is why they are all ICAO languages.
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Old 9th Jun 2010, 11:25
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Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: Hong Kong
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Nope - just Mandarin.

I think the languages that for business are attractive to learn are:

Chinese (Mandarin)
An Indian language - which dunno - Urdu??
Load Toad is offline  
Old 9th Jun 2010, 13:26
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Multilingual bla bla bla

Hola Ricky -
A multilingual ex-airline pilot has some language advice.
I flew worldwide from 1969 until 2008, I am now retired.
For your info, I am native of Belgium, lived 25 years in USA, now in Argentina since 1993.
In Belgium I got French and Flemish (a Dutch dialect) as basic languages.
I studied English (from age 10) - also had classes of German and Spanish.
I slept through classes of Latin/Greek (yet these helped me for other languages).
I introduce myself "fully fluent trilingual" English-Spanish-French.
My Dutch/Flemish is "rusty", but I can still have a "social conversation".
Forgot most of my German, but can ask my way around, order "ein bier bitte" and be polite.
Frequently in Brazil at the beach, I massacre Portuguese well by now.
Portuguese is quite similar to Spanish - I often confuse the two = "Portuñol"...!
I know a few sentences of Russian (and can read the Cyrillic alphabet).
I can read/understand Italian (yet unable to speak it, except a few words)
Also can read/understand other languages, which are derived -
Thanks to Dutch/Flemish, can read/understand some Afrikaans, the South African language.
My Dutch/Spanish/Portuguese helps me understand Papiamento (Dutch Carribean) -
With Dutch/Flemish/German I can figure many words of Yiddish -
Dutch/Flemish/German also helps me understand some Scandinavian languages...
Except Icelandic - Nobody can understand them...!
And with French, I surprised myself being able to read/understand Haitian "Créole"...
For your future career, I recommend study of Mandarin (official Chinese language)
By the year 2050, the entire world will only speak Mandarin and maybe English...
Forget the Cantonese - (as Load Toad mentioned correctly) -
Essentially, Spanish can be valuable for Central and South America...
If you hear "rumbo dos siete cero" it means "heading two seven zero"
In Africa, I would recommend French for North, West and Central Africa.
"Authorisé au niveau trois cinq zero" = "Cleared flight level three five zero"...
So, if you think you will travel these continents, you know which ones could be of help.
And another mention (outside languages) - for our American friends -
Familiarize yourself with the SI - "metric" measures.
You must think "meters, liters, kilos, and Celsius", the rest of the world does it...
When I arrived in the USA, I really had problems with Imperial measures...
How many "ounces" in a "pound" was a major problem for me -
If I heard "35º and sunny" on the radio, I thought I did not need a jacket.
Study vocabularies, learn sentences - don't worry about grammar.
A gender mistake, or saying "womans" instead of "women" is not important.
When babies learn to speak, no need to care about irregular verbs or grammar rules.
Good luck, Ricky -
Happy contrails

Don't forget to study proper ICAO English - "10-4" is not the same as "Roger"
And "one-two-oh-point-three" is questionable "Yanqui" tribal dialect for 120.3...

Last edited by BelArgUSA; 10th Jun 2010 at 17:02. Reason: small details
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Old 10th Jun 2010, 00:25
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Paris, France
Posts: 350
By the year 2050, the entire world will only speak Mandarin and maybe English...
This looks extremely unlikely right now, for reasons far too numerous to give here.
AnthonyGA is offline  

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