@mb: Awesome! I hope you feel bettered for it.
I hope to some day pick up at least a reasonable amount of Arabic so I can read some Quran passages in its original language, but it seems pretty challenging. Really anything with such a different alphabet and way of writing. But it's so fascinating too!
And speaking, as you were, of practical applications. I worked with a dude in a bookstore who got some kind of degree in Arabic. He went from stocking books making probably $9/hr, to working overseas for the US gov't in a 4 year $400,000 contract. (it was 2003, so "interpreters" were suddenly in very high demand)
Chinese. We'll all be needing it in the future. From a pure "how much money can I make if I learn <insert language here>" perspective, Chinese is the way to go I think. It is extremely difficult I'd imagine, but no more difficult than Japanese.
It's not the super hard task that everyone puts it up to being. I went to China with 0 Mandarin knowledge(or other language study) and worked really hard at it and picked up a lot. I'm moving to Korea in a week and I plan to work and study Korean there. I've already had more job opportunities present themselves because I could have a quick rally of Mandarin with employers and recruiters. I'll 100% be keeping up with my Mandarin study while I'm over there too.
But I guess it's the same with any language really. If you enjoy learning it and have the chance to use it on a daily basis it just 'happens'. Learning a language is the best decision I've ever made and I highly recommend everyone at least gives it a go.
For OP; hmm Japanese would open up a lot of doors to learning in SEA as the Kanji is similar to Chinese characters and from what I hear, Japanese grammar is similar to Korean. Buut Spanish is spoken by a TON of people too and transitions well into Italian (also just going on from what friends have told me)
I took 4 years of Spanish in high school and liked it, but I didn't fall in love with it or anything. I barely remember any of it now, although I could probably get by if the need arose.
In college, when I had my choice of what to take (because high school only really had two choices) I decided to take Russian. I love Russian. such a fun language and really beautiful. I think I learned more just because I loved it so much, even though I only took 3 or 4 semesters.
I guess my point is to really find something you love. Sure, you can take the one that is most useful, but what if you don't like speaking it? Russian really entranced me and I fell in love with it. I hope you choose a second language that does that for you.
@mb: You're disregarding how learning a language is beneficial on its own. When you understand a foreign language, you're learning fascinating bits of history and social structure that even visiting another country can't do. Not to mention that it also helps broaden your world view in general.
And discounting using it for gaming or movies seems out of place... on a gaming site. There are hundreds of great Japanese titles with either fucked up dubs or translations. If games are your passion, and you can better yourself by learning Japanese and improve your appreciation of video games, that seems like a vastly better reason to me than hypothetical business opportunities.
The reasons I've learned to speak the languages I have is purely out of a fascination for the study. The same reason why some want to play music, because they feel the waves of the universe through it. I'm glad you agree that learning it for a deeper enjoyment of video games is a good reason.
I always wanted to learn Japanese so my vote is that. It started out as a kid because I wanted to be able to play games, read manga, and watch anime/movies that never get translated, but it's also just because it's a lifelong goal of mine to be able to speak a second language and that's the only one that would be of use to me in any kind of way.
Fuck the douchebags that like to make fun of you for your reasons or try to put down your motivations to learn a language. If you have the passion no matter the reason go for it. Then in a couple years you can come back and tell them to go fuck themselves in a language they won't understand.
Hope you have better luck in your area finding a way to learn it though. I have been looking for years and there's nothing in my area being offered to learn and there doesn't seem to be any good resources to teach yourself. I tried Rosetta stone but it's god awful. All it does is teach you words by associating them with pictures but gives you no context of how to use them in a proper sentence or how to structure them.
@video_game_king: Not necessarily, because they may not have as much cognates as Spanish does.
No. Spanish & French are Romance languages. English & German are Germanic languages. Although English is bastardised because the whole viking conquests & then the Norman conquest. The closest language to English (aside from Scots) are the Frisian languages spoken in parts of the Netherlands & Germany. And then you get to German.
Go and learn the language you feel will be more fun and beneficial to learn for you personally. As lame as it sounds, I’ve been studying the Japanese language for a few years now just so I could watch anime and play Japanese video games without subtitles. Works for me.
The question to ask yourself is "why do you want to learn a second language"? If it's simply for self betterment, go with the one you want to be able to speak or "find sexy". The wost thing to do is to approach something like learning a new language, and realize half way through you have no desire to nor foresee yourself being in a situation where you will actually speak it.
Learning Japanese because of video games or anime seems like one of the biggest misuses of thousands of hours of study that I can imagine, but of course that's subjective.
If learning something for personal enjoyment is a misuse of time, then we are all fucked.
Spanish is easier I think, at least if you are a native english speaker. I myself have taken Spanish, German, French and Italian, and I'm about to start Japanese. Don't think I'm some kind of language savant, because I am not... I just had to take them in university as a music major. I'm taking Japanese now that I work at a university because I want to travel there, and because I do enjoy some Japanese games etc... but Italian and German are the most useful for my job. It all depends on what you want to use them for.
The question to ask yourself is "why do you want to learn a second language"? If it's simply for self betterment, go with the one you want to be able to speak of "find sexy".
If we're making decisions on sexiness, go with French. Maybe. From what I've studied of Japanese, it isn't particularly sexy.