I'm a university student and next year I would like to learn another language. I am a native English speaker, I'm fluent in French and I have intermediate knowledge of Swedish. I've always been told that I pick up languages quickly. Of the languages offered at my university, I am debating between Russian, Chinese (Mandarin) and Arabic.
The important factor for me is the usefulness of the language:
1 - as a politics student (international relations), I'm interested in its global political importance. Personally, I rank them as Arabic most useful, Chinese a close second, and Russian a more distant third.
2 - the likeliness that I would learn enough of the language to actually use it. I have no delusions about achieving fluency from one class, but just being able to put it to some amount of use .
These are the class details:
They are all taught as 3 1-hour lectures, plus a 1-hour seminar/lab, each week, from Sept-April (with a break for most of December). Russian is also available as a distance education class.
Arabic description: Introduction to Arabic language and grammar with emphasis on its relationship to semitic cognates.
Chinese (Mandarin) description: An introduction to modern vernacular (Mandarin) Chinese in spoken and written form. Grounding in pronunciation, basic grammar, vocabulary, and some written characters.
Russian description: Basic grammar, conversation and reading with emphasis on communication skills. Cultural content is introduced through a range of audio-visual materials.
So, which language to you think I should learn?