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French Vs German In The EU

Bain & Company BCG DACH French germany McKinsey switzerland zurich
New answer on Jun 08, 2024
10 Answers
160 Views
Anonymous A asked on May 19, 2024

Hi all, I recently got into an EU target MSc program. I do have the choice to choose a language to study there "on the side". I'm torn between French and German.

French:

Pro: I used to be semi-fluent in it so it would be easier to return to a B1-B2 level.

Con: I'm more interested in the Zurich area than the Geneve one. Also, the French are notoriously snobby around anyone who speaks even good French but with an accent.


 

German:

Pro: Casts a wider net in Europe throughout all of DACH, including Zurich

Con: Much harder language to learn let alone reach a B2, Germans are however more open-minded and speak better English anyway.


 

Would appreciate any insight as I'm kinda new to it. Thanks.

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Best answer
Charlotte Fay
Expert
replied on May 19, 2024
Senior Leader, former McKinsey engagement manager, CEO, passionate to coach you to succeed at leading consulting firms

dear candidate, congratulations. depending on your goals, choose more broadly. a) life goals, not just office; b) easyness and fun for you so you an focus on the program, c) travel goals. in europe french seems very universal and a bit easier than german.

however if you like both options, why not go for the one that is really easy or you? yiu can then leverage all your passion to network in that language.

best of success.

best regards

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Sidi
Expert
replied on May 19, 2024
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

Well, if it's “on the side” as you wrote, German doesn't make sense. It is a language that needs proper dedication to master at an acceptable level. And professional work proficiency is considered C1. So if you go for German, make sure you put in the effort required. Getting just to a B level is not very useful unfortunately (purely from a professional perspective and in the context of what top consulting firms require).

French can also be leveraged outside of France, where the “snobbishness” of French speakers tends to be less pronounced. But that's just my perception.

Hope this helps!

Sidi

_______________________

Dr. Sidi Koné 

(🚀 Ex BCG & McKinsey Sr. Project Manager, now helping high potential individuals join the world's top Strategy Consulting firms (McKinsey | BCG | Bain))


 

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

it's always easier to refresh and strenghten something you have learned before already than learning something completely new. Especially if you only intend to do it “on the side”. So French would be the clear winner here.

It also sounds like it is not yet clear whether you will end up in a German speaking region once you are done with your masters. So I would probably prioritize the skill aspect at this point - you will likely be able to have a general conversation in French after your program whereas with German you will probably not reach a level of being conversational in the allocated time you have for your studies.

A little piece of advice though: 
Careful with stereotypes and generalizations! You are effectively calling an entire nation of people “notoriously snobby”. This is something that better never happens to you again and it is a sort of reasoning that hopefully does not guide your general decision-making processes in life. 

Best

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: I do have the choice to choose a language to study there "on the side". I'm torn between French and German.

If you don’t have specific preferences, I would recommend picking the language that you can more easily bring to fluency (ideally at least C1 level). If you are not fluent in a language, it doesn’t provide many benefits in terms of professional opportunities.

Best,

Francesco

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Agrim
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 21, 2024
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

Good set of Pros and Cons.

Given that you have a jumpstart in French, it is a better choice.

But if you are intending to gain all your target benefits from the second language, then German ticks more boxes for you.

Regardless, if you are keen on reaping professional benefits - you need to upgrade your efforts from “on the side” to doing it properly.

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

It depends on where you want to work. 

There are also consulting firms in Germany that take non-german speakers or who are willing to take people in at B1-B2 level.

In that sense, if you pick German you could see this as the start of your German learning journey and invest in it over the long-term to get better and better. 

In short, work backwards from where you'd imagine you'd want to be in a decade from now and see which of the two options would make most sense.

Best,
Cristian

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Pedro
Expert
replied on May 20, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

In one year you are not going to become proficient in any of those languages. Honestly the question is between focusing on the language you already know to take to the next level (although B2 is not enough) vs. focusing on the language you won't be as good as… but you will be living in a country where they speak that language, and then you can build on that knowledge and your daily experience to take it to the next level.

I would always pick the language of the place I was planning to live in - in this case, German.

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 08, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

First of all, congratulations on the invitation to the Master's program!

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

  • First of all, one language course on the side won't make much difference unless you speak at least C1 level.
  • Moreover, I would highly advise you to opt for the option that better aligns with your professional (and maybe even personal) mid- to long-term goals.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare for your upcoming interviews, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Oliver
Expert
replied on May 20, 2024
Former BCG interviewer (75+ interviews for associates, consultants and MBA hires) | I will make your practice perfect

Hi,

 

Valid question. French is slightly more useful in a professional context as client engagements are more often in French. However, if you plan to live in Zurich (awesome city by the way) you'll learn that German is much more useful to connect with people locally. 

Best,

Oliver

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Florian
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Content Creator
replied on May 20, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

Depends on where you want to work later on and what your long-term plans are with using the language.

French clients often continue to speak French, whereas, in Germany, most client engagements' language is English.

Cheers,

Florian

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Charlotte Fay gave the best answer

Charlotte Fay

Senior Leader, former McKinsey engagement manager, CEO, passionate to coach you to succeed at leading consulting firms
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