Sorry Angela, crowdsourcing school language options means Spanish not German

We all agree that modern languages are important subjects at school even if the British notoriously lack the motivation to remember anything they are taught.

At secondary school in London, my daughter has some choice in which languages she learns. French is compulsory. So is Latin.  But she now needs to decide between German and Spanish for a second modern language. She can’t do both.

How’s a girl to make up her mind? The wisdom of crowds seemed useful so we asked Twitter/ Facebook/ LinkedIn .

Angela Merkel may be in London this week but the response (even from the Germans) was overwhelmingly to recommend Spanish. We did also get a couple of helpful suggestions of Chinese and a less helpful one for woodwork.

My daughter will make her own mind up but thanks everyone for your advice.  I’ve posted all 29 comments below so as to help anyone else facing a similar dilemma.

  • Spanish – more broadly used across Europe, parts of North and South America. I studied Latin and it ties in well with learning Spanish, not so much with German. Better holiday/food options too!
  • German is beautiful, and can help you through central and Eastern Europe. And having nobody to talk to in Minsk or Kaliningrad is a bit rough. But Spanish will take you across Latin America. Buenos Aires is warmer than Minsk.  And the rum tastes much better on the beach in Mexico than on the beach in Kaliningrad. Plus: with Latin and French, Spanish will be a doddle. Leaving more time to do the washing-up and ironing.
  • Chinese
  • Spanish =heart, German = head!! ??
  • Spanish for both heart and head. It marries well with French and is massively in demand in business I am told (my daughter is reading French but has kept up Spanish)… But it also depends which she enjoys more…
  • Spanish. Coz German boys just aren’t as attractive.
  • Spanish. German *was* useful, but Spanish just sounds nicer… sorry…
  • Maori. She could come out to NZ and try it for a year or two. Not much use in the northern hemisphere (or anywhere but NZ really!). I enjoyed German and did use it to order beer and that was about it!
  • I did Spanish which hasn’t been that useful but on top of French and Latin was easy to learn, no trouble to pronounce and when I did use it I was understood.
  • If going by number of speakers, then Spanish, but you can learn Spanish on the plane there. Spanish is closer to French/Latin so your choice is between breadth vs simplicity.
  • Spanish is easier to learn & many kids choose that. I had German first  & also lived there. Today I would perhaps pick Spanish first.
  • Spanish… and this comes from a man with a German degree. Problem is that most German professionals are so good at Eng that there is limited value add if you’re British.
  • Drop Latin. Do business studies/computing/woodwork.
  • For international trading it surely has to be Spanish.
  • German. Makes you think harder.
  • If she’s doing Latin, there’s no need to duplicate it with Spanish. German would add to her “Modern” Language bag.
  • German, she’ll be able to pick up Spanish anytime
  • “My daughter had the similar dilemma.She was marginally better at Spanish but had visited France and enjoyed it more French. She decided to go with her heart and is now studying French A level. She has just now returned from a weeks trip to France learning the language.  She loves it and really works hard at it. So follow the heart. Life is long and winding path.
  • Given changing demographics and how economic power is shifting I would choose Spanish but only if Chinese is not available.
  • In my view as a German speaker, I think she’ll find Spanish a lot easier if she’s doing French and Latin already, Latin is the base for all three whereas German is totally different. German is also really tough to learn the basics of thanks to the grammar structure. Hope that helps
  • Official vote from the Point-Blank office: SPANISH denn, wer spricht denn schon deutsch ausser uns? 😉 cheers from Berlin
  • Mandarin instead if taking into account population proportions!
  • 10 plus years ago there was a huge demand in City for German speakers but I honestly think Spanish is of more use nowadays and easier to learn. Not sure what SHHS German department is like.
  • As a German speaker who is currently learning Spanish I would probably go for the latter especially as she is also studying French and probably Latin. Would make more language sense and whilst I love German, Spanish is spoken by many more people than German therefore more useful in that sense and also means not only visits to Spain but also the adventures of South America
  • Spanish. Rather useful in South America for one thing
  • Why not try both? It all depends on her interests. If she wants to be an enterpreneur, Mandarin might be the way to go, but perhaps she is more oriented towards a creative career, ending up mastering in Modern Western Literature for example, in which case it would be wise to learn a bit of both. Hard to tell of course at her age. Good luck with your/her decision!
  • What about getting curious about who she wants to become? What could you create with her so she could go on a fulfilling path either way? Maybe she will need both or none and still be grateful for you having wanted the best for her… Bon courage!
  •  I studied German at school and later at University, later while working I took a break and studied Spanish in Argentina (although it was only beginners course). As I have not met her it is difficult to give meaningful advice but would say: pick German if she is up for a challenge; as she already speaks French and studies Latin she can learn Spanish on the side/later. On the other hand, as I think she will find studying Spanish a lot easier which could be good for confidence and her grades / freeing up time for other studies.
  • I would say Spanish. More countries to visit and more opportunities to practice the language.

Greggs? GREGGS!!

There’s a clear case for high frequency/low ticket value retailers to offer customers a pre-pay mobile wallet. Starbucks has blazed the trail but a few eyebrows were raised when Greggs (not normally an early adopter) announced that it would be next.

Greggs is a UK based traditional retail bakery chain. It is so ubiquitous on every high street that it’s become the subject of a Barraclough family game. The first person who sees a Greggs, says “Greggs.” Everyone else then shouts “GREGGS.” That’s it. We make our own fun.

There’s no longer any money in bread  so Greggs is repositioning itself within the the “food on the go” market. Stores are being relocated/refitted with the product mix moving  to sandwiches, pizza and warm beverages. Opening hours have been extended to catch breakfast traffic and seating areas  introduced.  You can read the detail in Greggs’ results deck.

A key thrust of the new strategy is to introduce a loyalty scheme. Greggs has chosen to bypass plastic and paper and move straight to a modern mobile-based system which combines payment and loyalty in a single app. I sneaked a VIP invitation to the programme and was one of the first to try it out.

The app is available on iPhone and Android. The home screen looks nice and friendly although is a bit difficult to navigate around. To register you hit the Account button,  to pay, you hit the Rewards button. Not obvious.


Registering is quite straightforward and Greggs very cleverly hits you with a great offer before you begin. Load £20 in your wallet and you get a free breakfast.


Fired up with enthusiasm about the free breakfast, you then need to create an account complete with email and password. Heaven knows why Greggs needs to know my date of birth. It also asks for your address which is necessary if you want to put a payment card in the wallet but superfluous  if you choose the Paypal option.


At this point, you have two options for loading your wallet. Either the traditional card route – enter your 16 digit PAN, CVV etc – or set up an auto-load with Paypal. Greggs is offering a £5 bonus if you use Paypal. For the shopper, that’s what Kevin Bacon would describe as a no-brainer. Whether it makes so much sense for Paypal (who are presumably funding this) is a different matter.  Assuming they make 1% margin on transactions, Paypal would need to clear £500 in purchases to break even on the offer. That’s a lot for a typical Greggs customer.




With £25 in my wallet, I was now ready to find the nearest Greggs. That’s not normally a challenge as there are more Greggs in the UK than you can shake a stick at. But the app does have a helpful store locator.


The Great Portland Street store is a re-fitted Greggs, complete with strip wood floor and seating area. I picked my lunch, approached the counter and asked if I could pay with the app. The staff had never come across the app before but I explained that the app produced a barcode and then it was pretty straight forward.  They rang up the transaction. I hit the Rewards button on the app.


The app then produces a one-time use barcode. I can’t be certain, but I suspect the barcode is actually a gift card and the transaction runs on the same rails as Greggs’ existing gift card scheme. Very sensible, if true.


The barcode scanned first time and the transaction was completed. I wasn’t offered a receipt but I’m sure the till could have produced one of I’d asked. I asked the staff what they thought. They were pretty excited and thought this way of paying felt like the future.

The app recorded the purchase immediately, updated my balance and reminded me about the free breakfast.


Within the Account tab, my puchase history had been updated including basket details. This is one of the key advantages of retailers investing in their own loyalty apps rather than using a third party solution which doesn’t offer integration with the EPOS transaction log.

Greggs App

Greggs has given some thought to the point of sale experience and the technology is well laid out, neat, tidy and clearly signed for the customers. There’s a contactless option too.


I then sat down to eat my lunch.



Credit to Greggs for being so early to introduce a mobile loyalty/payment app. The initiative is strategic for Greggs and supports its need to learn more about its customers. The retailer is clearly willing to invest in the technology and in the offers necessary to make this a success.

Setting up the app requires shoppers to do some work but £5 + a free breakfast is fair recompense.  Paypal integration works well and the point of sale experience is well thought through. The only area to work on is the wording on the app home screen which often isn’t intuitive.

It will be interesting to see what the take-up is like. Starbucks customers love its payment app despite the relatively unexciting offers. Greggs brand is not as strong so it will need to work harder to maintain the reasons to use the app. Contactless remains the quickest, least hassle payment option for the shopper and customers will revert to cash/cards if the momentum of offers and communications is not maintained.


The nice folks at Greggs got in touch to say that there is a very good reason why they collect the date of birth. I’m not going to tell you why as that would spoil the surprise.