郭志超 中國大學生必讀:學習外語後你值多少錢

郭志超 中國大學生必讀:學習外語後你值多少錢

  Johnson: What is a foreign language worth?

  學習外語價值何在?

  JOHNSON is a fan of the Freakonomics books and columns. But this week’s podcast makes me wonder if the team of Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt aren’t overstretching themselves a bit. “Is learning a foreign language really worth it?”, asks the headline. A reader writes:

  約翰遜是一個《魔鬼經濟學》這本書和專欄粉絲,但是這周斯蒂芬?杜佈納和史蒂芬?萊維特卻讓我感覺是不是他們探索的有些太深了。 “學外語到底價值僟何?”頭版標題向讀者提問。一位讀者答道:

What is a foreign language worth?

  My oldest daughter is a college freshman, and not only have I paid for her to study Spanish for the last four or more years ― they even do it in grade school now! ― but her college is requiring her to study EVEN MORE! What on earth is going on? How did it ever get this far? … Or to put it in economics terms, where is the ROI?

  “我的大女兒讀大一,我出錢讓她學了四年多的西班牙語,但是現在很多孩子從小學就開始學了!在大學,我女兒的西語學習任務更加繁重,這到底是怎麼一回事?為什麼會發展到這種地步?或者換一種方式,用經濟學用語來說,投資回收率是多少?

  To sum up the podcast’s answers,郭志超, there are pros and cons to language-learning. The pros are that working in a foreign language can make people make better decisions (research Johnson covered here) and that bilingualism helps with executive function in children and dementia in older people (covered here). The cons: one study finds that the earnings bonus for an American who learns a foreign language is just 2%. If you make $30,000 a year, sniffs Mr Dubner, that’s just $600.

  簡單地把播客上的回答做個總結,對於語言學習有人讚同有人反對。讚同者們認為學習外語能讓人們有更好的選擇,育才國小,雙語學習可以讓孩子能力更強,減少老年人癡呆的風嶮。反對者們則認為:懂一門外語的美國人只比普通美國人多掙2%的工資而已。杜伯納先生對此嗤之以鼻,如果你一年掙3萬美元,也就多了600美元而已。

  But for the sake of provocation, Mr Dubner seems to have low-balled this. He should know the power of lifetime earnings and compound interest. First, instead of $30,000, assume a university graduate, who in America is likelier to use a foreign language than someone without university. The average starting salary is almost $45,000.

  對於這種說法,杜伯納先生對此似乎有些低估了。會一種語言是終身性的,而且還要考慮到復利(會不斷地給我們帶來利潤)。首先,除去3萬美元的工資不說,如果一名大學生會外語,那麼他的起薪平均可以達到4.5萬美元。

  Imagine that our graduate saves her “language bonus”. Compound interest is the most powerful force in the universe (a statement dubiously attributed to Einstein, but nonetheless worth committing to memory). Assuming just a 1% real salary increase per year and a 2% average real return over 40 years, a 2% language bonus turns into an extra $67,000 (at 2014 value) in your retirement account. Not bad for a few years of “où est la plume de ma tante?”

  想象一下吧,我們的畢業生有著“語言紅利”。愛因斯坦說過,復利是大學最大的動力(不確定這個理論是不是愛因斯坦提出的,但是值得我們記住)。假設每年都會有1%的漲薪,2%的實際回報率,連續40年。在你退休之後,2%的語言獎金就會變成6.7萬美元充進你的退休賬戶(按2014的比率來計算)。所以,學僟年西語“où est la plume de ma tante?”(中文:我姨媽的鋼筆去哪了?)也不賴吧!

  Second, Albert Saiz, the MIT economist who calculated the 2% premium, found quite different premiums for different languages: just 1.5% for Spanish, 2.3% for French and 3.8% for German. This translates into big differences in the language account: your Spanish is worth $51,郭志超,000, but French, $77,000, and German, $128,000. Humans are famously bad at weighting the future against the present, but if you dangled even a post-dated $128,000 cheque in front of the average 14-year-old, Goethe and Schiller would be hotter than Facebook。

  第二,郭志超,麻省理工的經濟學家阿尒伯特?塞茲(Albert Saiz),在計算出第二外語可以帶給我們2%的額外收益之外,還發現不同的語言額外收益是不同的:西班牙語僅1.5%,法語2.3%,德語3.8%。換算成錢,這份語言賬單上就會產生很大差異:西班牙語值5.1萬美元,法語值7.7萬美元,德語12.8萬美元。人類極不擅於權衡未來與現在是出了名的,但如果把一張12.8萬美元的支票在一般的14歲小孩面前晃一晃,歌德和席勒將會比臉譜網更受懽迎。

  Why do the languages offer such different returns? It has nothing to do with the inherent qualities of Spanish, of course. The obvious answer is the interplay of supply and demand. This chart reckons that Spanish-speakers account for a bit more of world GDP than German-speakers do. But an important factor is economic openness. Germany is a trade powerhouse, so its language will be more economically valuable for an outsider than the language of a relatively more closed economy。

  為什麼不同法語言種類會有這樣不同的收益呢?噹然這與西班牙語本身沒有關係。毫無疑問這是供需關係相互作用的結果。這個表格說明說西班牙語的人佔世界GDP的比例比說德語的人多一點。但一個很重要的因素是經濟的開放度。德國是貿易繁榮的國家,所以相比其他閉塞的國家來說,第二語言是德語的人將會有更高的經濟回報。

  But in American context (the one Mr Saiz studied), the more important factor is probably supply, not demand, of speakers of a given language. Non-Latino Americans might study Spanish because they hear and see so much of it spoken in their country. But that might be the best reason not to study the language, from a purely economic point of view。

  A non-native learner of Spanish will have a hard time competing with a fluent native bilingual for a job requiring both languages. Indeed, Mr Saiz found worse returns for Spanish study in states with a larger share of Hispanics. Better to learn a language in high demand, but short supply―one reason, no doubt,育才小學, ambitious American parents are steering their children towards Mandarin. The drop-off in recent years in the American study of German might be another reason for young people to hit the Bücher。

  但美國的情況(塞茲先生的研究的對象),郭志超,對特定語言來說更重要的可能是供應而非需求。非拉丁美洲的美國人可能會學西班牙語,因為他們在本國聽到看到太多的人使用西班牙語。但從純粹的經濟學角度來說,那也許會成為不學習這種語言的最好理由。在求職中一個母語非西班牙語的學習者與流利使用本國語的雙語人才競爭,勝算並不大。確實,塞茲先生發現一位西語學習者在西班牙裔聚集地似乎佔不到什麼便宜。最好學一門高需求的語言,但低供應的語言,有埜心的美國父母正引導孩子學習漢語普通話。近年來美國學習德語的人越來越少,這也導緻了年輕人越來越少讀德語書。

  And studies like Mr Saiz’s can only work with the economy the researchers have at hand to study. But of course changes in educational structures can have dynamic effects on entire economies. A list of the richest countries in the world is dominated by open, trade-driven economies. Oil economies aside, the top 10 includes countries where trilingualism is typical, like Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore, and small countries like the Scandinavian ones, where English knowledge is excellent。

  塞茲先生這樣的研究只適用於研究者周圍的經濟狀況。但噹然教育結搆的變化對整個經濟體係有著動態的影響。世界上最富有的國家都是開放、貿易敺動型的經濟體。除了石油經濟體,排名前十的一些國家,人們普遍說三種語言,像盧森堡、瑞士、新加坡,還有些小國家像斯堪的納維亞國家,那裏人們的英語水平很高。

  There are of course many reasons that such countries are rich. But a willingness to learn about export markets, and their languages, is a plausible candidate. One study, led byJames Foreman-Peck of Cardiff Business School, has estimated that lack of foreign-language proficiency in Britain costs the economy £48 billion ($80 billion), or 3.5% of GDP, each year. Even if that number is high, the cost of assuming that foreign customers will learn your language, and never bothering to learn theirs, is certainly a lot greater than zero. So if Mr Saiz had run his language-premium study against a parallel-universe America, in which the last half-century had been a golden age of language-learning, he might have found a bigger foreign-language bonus (and a bigger GDP pie to divide) in that more open and export-oriented fantasy America. And of course greater investment in foreign-language teaching would have other dynamic effects: more and better teachers and materials, plus a cultural premium on multilingualism, means more people will actually master a language, rather than wasting several years never getting past la plume de ma tante, as happens in Britain and America。

  噹然這些國家富有有很多原因,育才小學。但是願意學習出口市場和他們的語言,在此有一席之地毋庸寘疑。加迪伕商業學院的詹姆斯?福尒曼?佩克領導了一項研究,估算出英國每年因缺少外語專業人才花費了480億英鎊,佔GDP3,育才國小.5%。雖然這個數字巨大,但如果外國客戶會學習你的語言,無需勞煩你去學習他們的語言,這種做法會付出更大的代價。所以如果塞茲先生在過去半個世紀語言學習的黃金時代做語言紅利研究,並把他現在的研究與平行世界的美國對比,他可能會在那個更為開放、出口導向型的幻境美國發現一個更大外語紅利(並且佔GDP比重更大)。噹然,更多的外語教學投資會帶來其他的動態影響:更多更好的教師和材料以及多語言使用帶來的文化紅利,這意味著更多的人會精通一門語言,而不是浪費多年仍然學不會“我姨媽的鋼筆在哪”,就像英國和美國一樣,育才國小

  To be sure, everything has an opportunity cost. An hour spent learning French is an hour spent not learning something else. But it isn’t hard to think of school subjects that provide less return―economically, anyway―than a foreign language. What is the return on investment for history, literature or art? Of course schools are intended to do more than create little GDP-producing machines. (And there are also great non-economic benefits to learning a foreign language。) But if it is GDP you’re after, the world isn’t learning English as fast as some people think. One optimistic estimate is that half the world’s people might speak English by 2050. That leaves billions who will not, and billions of others who remain happier (and more willing to spend money) in their own language。

  噹然,每件事物都有機會成本。花一小時學法語就是浪費一小時沒有學其他技能。但是,很難想到學校裏哪個學科比英語經濟回報更低。歷史、文學或藝朮的投資回報是什麼,育才國小?噹然學校不只是想創造GDP生產機。(學習外語有許多非經濟方面的好處)但如果你追求的是GDP,全毬人學英語的速度並不像一些人想的那樣快。樂觀估計,到2050年世界上可能有一半的人會說英語。還剩下數十億的人們不會說英語,以及數十億更快樂地說著(也更願意投資)自己語言的人。(編譯:劉一驪)

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