Let’s Learn a New Language
As one of the UK’s leading translation service providers, we’re in just the right place to give some tips on the most useful ones to pick. Whether you’re still a student or you’re just looking for a way to improve your career outlook, we’ve selected the top ten languages to learn.
The official language of China, Mandarin is already the most widely spoken language in the world. As per Wikipedia, 955 million people, 14.4% of the world’s population, claim it as their native tongue.
The demand for Mandarin speakers will only grow in the years to come, as China nudges the United States out of the top spot as the nation with the world’s largest GDP. According to Bloomberg, as of November 06, 2017 the Chinese economy is projected to overtake the United States economy in 2028.
Meanwhile, China is busy constructing a “New Silk Road” to connect the Chinese mainland with Europe, the rest of Asia, and emerging markets in Africa. Mandarin is also the second most popular language online. And according to Statista, while the US will probably remain the largest economy overall for a few years yet, by the end of 2018 China will be the largest digital economy in the world.
When you look at the facts, it’s easy to see why the British Council ranked Mandarin as one of the most important languages for the future of the UK. If you’re learning a new language this year and you’re up for a challenge, Mandarin is definitely one of the top languages to learn.
Want to learn more about the languages of China? See our beginner’s guide to Chinese translation services.
Difficulty level: High
Mandarin is considered a difficult language for English speakers to learn. According to the United States Foreign Service Institute, it takes an average of 2,200 classroom hours for English speakers to master. Are you up for the challenge?
To start you off here is some basic Mandarin to learn.
Learn Some Basic Mandarin
Try learning some basic Madarin, a little goes a long way.
- Hello– 你好- nǐhǎo, pronounced [nee how]
- What’s your name?– 你叫什么名字? – nǐ jiào shén me míng zì, pronounced [nee jee-ou shurn muh ming zi]
- Yes– 是 – shì, pronounced [sh]
- No– 不是 – bú shì, pronounced [boo sh]
- Thank you– 谢谢 – xiè xiè, pronounced [shie shie]
- You’re welcome– 不用谢 – bú yòng xiè, pronounced [boo yong shee-e]
- Goodbye– 再见 – zài jiàn, pronounced [zay jee-en]
Arabic is the fifth most commonly spoken language in the world, and it’s an official language for many of the dynamic, growing economies in the Middle East and Africa. As TheRichest.com puts it:
Because of the fast-growing market of eager consumers in the Middle East, businesses should consider making their products easily available to Arabic speakers, and enterprising businesspeople should consider taking a few lessons.
And it’s not all about oil or consumer goods, either. Look closely, and you’ll see the beginnings of a start-up boom in the Persian Gulf, where local startups raised €2.5 billion in 2017. Arabic is also the 4th most common language of internet users today.
Obviously, regional instability continues to be a concern in some Arabic-speaking countries. But that only adds to the demand for Arabic skills in intelligence and diplomacy. And as refugees flee unstable situations, they require language help, too. With that in mind, Arabic still one of the top languages to learn in 2018.
Arabic also made the British Council’s list of important languages for British language learners due to the potential economic and diplomatic benefits. Plus, according to the World Economic Forum, it’s the 5th most powerful language in the world.
Whether your desired career path is public sector or private sector, the Arabic-speaking world’s growing economic clout and complicated relationship with the west ensures bright job prospects for those who can speak this challenging language.
Difficulty Level: High
As with Mandarin, the US Foreign Service Institute classifies Arabic as a difficult language. You’ll need at least 88 weeks of class time to become proficient. To get you started we’ve included some phrases below.
Learn Some Basic Arabic
- Yes – نعم – pronounced [na”am]
- No – لا – pronounced [la]
- Thank you – شكرا – pronounced [shokran]
- Thank you very much – شكرا جزيلا – pronounced [shokran jazeelan]
- Pardon me – أرجو المعذرة – pronounced [arjul ma”therah]
- I don’t understand – لا أفهم – pronounced [la aff ham]
With 405 million native speakers, Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language after Mandarin. Learning Spanish opens doors in Spain, Latin America and even the United States. According to the British Council, 34% of UK businesses said that Spanish was “useful to their organisation.” Spanish is a language of high growth markets like Argentina, Chile, Colombia and other developing countries in Central and South America. And it’s now the 3rd most common language on the Internet.
And because Spanish is so popular as a second language, it’s a great language to learn if you want to be able to speak to as many people as possible around the world.
Difficulty level: Easy
More good news about Spanish? It’s a fairly simple language for English speakers to manage. According to the US Foreign Service Institute, it only takes around 600 hours of classroom time (less than six months) to achieve language proficiency in Spanish.
Want to learn more about Spanish? Read our guide to Spanish around the world. If you want to learn a few essential Spanish phrases read on.
Learn Some Basic Spanish
- Good morning – ¡Buenos días! – pronounced [bway-nohs dee-ahs]
- Good evening – ¡Buenas noches! – pronounced [bway-nahs noh-chays]
- Hello – ¡Hola! – pronounced [oh-lah]
- Goodbye – Adiós – pronounced [ah-dee-ohs]
- Thank you – Gracias – pronounced [grah-see-ahs]
- You’re Welcome – De nada – pronounced [day nah-dah]
- Welcome – Bienvenidos – pronounced [byen-veh-nee-dohs]
- I don’t understand – No Entiendo – pronounced [noh ehn-tyen-doh]
German has between 89 to 110 million native speakers. That may seem like small potatoes compared to most of the other languages on this list, but Germany is the largest economy in the European Union. As the British Council notes, it’s an incredibly important language for UK businesses:
“Germany is the UK’s most important trading partner, its second biggest export market in goods (worth £32 billion in 2012) and also its greatest source of imports. To these impressive export figures can be added those of Luxembourg and Switzerland (also in the UK’s top ten export markets) and Austria which boosts the UK’s exports by £1.5 billion.”
In fact, 45% of UK companies surveyed by the British Council rated German as “useful.”
Meanwhile, the German language is expected to benefit from Brexit alongside French. And Kiplinger notes that in 2014 there were 52,841 job postings for German speakers in Anglophone countries. Even better, these jobs tended to be well-paying.
If you’re still in school, the Goethe Institute notes that “Germany offers more scholarships for international students than any other country —and there are opportunities to study in English or German at both the bachelor’s and master’s level.” So learning German could boost your university career, especially if you’re interested in studying abroad.
Difficulty Level: Fairly Easy
Learning German comes fairly easily to native English speakers. That said, it’s a bit more difficult to grasp than Spanish. According to the US Foreign Service Institute, if you start today, you should be proficient after about 900 classroom hours, or a little over six months. So why not get started today?
Learn Some Basic German
- Hello/Good Day – Guten Tag – pronounced [goot-en tahk]
- Good Evening – Guten Abend – pronounced [goot-en ah-bent]
- Goodbye – Auf Wiedersehen – pronounced [owf vee-dair-zayn]
- Thank you – Danke schön – pronounced [dahn-kuh shurn]
- You’re welcome – Bitte schön – pronounced [bih-tuh shurn]
- Excuse me – Entschuldigen Sie – pronounced [ehnt-shool-dih-gun zee]
- Do you speak English? – Sprichst du englisch? – pronounced [shprikhst doo eng-lish]
- I don’t understand – Ich verstehe nicht – pronounced [ikh fehr-shtay-eh nikht]
Portuguese is spoken by around 215 million people in Portugal (naturally), Brazil and some parts of Africa. For businesses, Brazil is the main attraction.
But is Portuguese still one of the top languages to learn? Despite a deep recession, Brazil is still a big country and a big market. For now, at least, it’s the largest economy in Latin America, and there are some indications that recovery has begun.
The British Council listed it as the 8th most important languages for the UK’s future, citing potential opportunities in trade, science, education, and diplomacy. Although it declined in importance when the report was updated for 2017, it’s still in the top ten.
Most Brazilians speak English poorly or not at all, so if you want to do business there, you’ll need to speak the language or have an excellent Portuguese translation team.
Difficulty Level: Easy
Closely related to Spanish, Portuguese is also quite easy to learn. Expect to spend about 600 classroom hours before you’re proficient, we’ve added a few phrases below.
Learn Some Basic Portuguese
- Hello – Olá – pronounced [oh-lah]
- How are you? – Como está? – pronounced [ko-mo es-tah?]
- Good morning – Bom dia – pronounced [bom dee-ah]
- Good evening – Boa tarde – pronounced [bo-ah tar-deh]
- Good night – Boa noite – pronounced [bo-ah noyt]
- Goodbye – Adeus/Tchau – pronounced [a-de-us / chow]
- Please – Por favor – pronounced [por fa-vor]
- Thank you – Obrigado (m.) / obrigada (f.) – pronounced [ob-ree-gah-doh/dah]
- You’re welcome – De nada – pronounced [de na-dah]
- I don’t understand – Não compreendo – pronounced [naoum kom-preh-en-doh]
- Do you speak English? – Fala inglês? – pronounced [fa-la in-gles]
Why would Russian be one of the top languages to learn in 2018? First off, with 155 million native speakers it’s the eighth most common language in the world. Plus, its already formidable economy is on track to beat Germany’s by 2030. As TheRichest.com puts it,
“Russia is full of very wealthy people hungry for new arenas in which to do business. There are some great opportunities available for companies looking to expand to this affluent part of the world, but many Russian businesspeople do not speak good English. Because they don’t know much English, most may only do business with others who are Russian-speaking.”
There’s no doubt that Russia has been flexing its muscles in world affairs as of late. Falling oil prices and international sanctions knocked the Russian economy into a recession in 2014, but in 2017 the economy officially started growing again. And remember that new Silk Road China is building? Naturally, it goes through Russia.
Whether you consider Russia a potential friend, foe or something in between, Russian language skills are likely to remain useful and in demand.
The British Council notes that Russia contains extensive potential opportunities for British organisations in areas like trade, diplomacy, and education, but called the business climate there “difficult.” Being able to speak the language is a tremendous advantage!
Difficulty Level: Medium
Russian is quite different from English, and as such it’s more challenging for English speakers to learn. Expect to spend 44 weeks or around 1100 hours in the classroom.
French is spoken by about 74 million people in France and former French territories around the world. While it’s not as prevalent globally as it once was, there’s no question that France is and will remain one of the United Kingdom’s most important trade partners. French language skills are both necessary and important for businesses here, and it remains one of the top languages to learn.
In fact, according to the British Council, 49 percent of UK businesses are looking for employees who can speak French.
Post-Brexit, we can expect the European Union to begin using French more often, even if English remains an official EU language.
And the French-speaking world also includes Africa, which is growing rapidly and rich in natural resources. The top 5 fastest-growing African economies include Rwanda, Tanzania, Mozambique, Cote D’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. French is an official language in 3 of them.
In fact, according to Forbes.com, there will be 750 million French speakers in the world by 2050. It might even overtake English and Mandarin!
Difficulty Level: Easy
Like Spanish and Portuguese, French comes easily to native English speakers.
Japanese boasts 125 million speakers located primarily in Japan, which happens to be the third-largest economy in the world. The British Council calls Japan “a significant contributor to UK prosperity – both as an export market and as a major investor” and notes that Japan provides a wealth of opportunities, especially in terms science and technology.
As TheRichest.com points out, there’s also the fact that Japan is in the process of building our future robot overlords, so maybe we all need to get with the program:
According to Wikipedia, “Japan employs over a quarter of a million industrial robot workers. In the next 15 years, Japan estimates that number to jump to over one million and they expect revenue for robotics to be near $70 billion by 2025.” Robotics or anything else, revenue of that size might be something to consider being a part of.
Difficulty Level: High
Learning Japanese takes a certain amount of persistence and time, over a year and a half or 2,200 classroom hours to be exact. However, if you can stay the course and master the language, it will definitely help you stand out from the pack.
Why would Hindi be one of the top languages to learn in 2018? Hindi is the fourth most-spoken language in the world, with 260 million native speakers. India now has the 7th largest GDP in the world and the world’s fastest-growing big economy. In fact, according to Nasdaq.com, “India is the only trillion-dollar economy to rank among the top five fastest-growing economies in the world.”
And while many people in India do speak English, people often prefer to communicate in their native language when possible.
So, while learning Hindi may not be essential for doing business in India, it does give you an edge.
Difficulty Level: Medium
Hindi is not the hardest language to learn … but it’s certainly not one of the easiest. The US Foreign Service considers it to be about as hard as Russian. Expect 44 weeks in the classroom or 1100 hours to become proficient.
And while we’re on the subject of Indian languages, let’s not overlook Bengali.
With 205 million native speakers, it’s the 2nd most-commonly spoken language in India, and the 7th most commonly spoken language overall. It’s an official language in the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well of the country of Bangladesh.
According to the Washington Post, by 2050, Bengali will be the 3rd most commonly spoken language among people living in countries with emerging economies.
Difficulty Level: Medium
For English speakers, Bengali is about as difficult to master as Hindi.
Of course, economic factors are only part of the story. People learn languages for all sorts of reasons, and all language learning is beneficial in one way or another.
What languages would you like to pick up? Leave us a comment below… we’d love to hear from you.
101 thoughts on “The Top Languages to Learn”
I would hardly rate Russian’s difficulty as just “medium”.
Thanks, Joe! The difficulty ratings came from the US Foreign Service.
Difficulty is based on a number of factors, in this case Russian is nice enough to be medium. It uses an alphabet, where sounds match the letters, and grammar is relatively regular.
For comparison, Mandarin Chinese which doesn’t use an alphabet, and is tonal to boot.
Mandarin is hard, Spanish is easy (Latin alphabet, relatively similar to English, etc), and Russian is in the middle. So medium.
And in my experience I’d agree with that. Tonal languages are fun and all but the time I put into my Vietnamese is nowhere near that of my Spanish yet my Spanish is so much more advanced than my Vietnamese. Ukrainian is in the middle, it took a decent amount of time in the beginning adjusting to a new alphabet but the sounds are consistent so I get pretty good results for my time.
Nothing near Spanish of course, or the super easy languages like German and Dutch (water, wasser, man, mann, they’re the sort of languages which you can learn in your sleep), but far, far easier than Vietnamese or Cantonese.
Thanks for the informartion.
I am finding it a bit difficult to learn similar language group languages simultaneously. I’m hoping for a sort of mental breakthrough which will allow me to retain grammar, spelling and pronunciation. I speak English and German as a native. I don’t get confused about much there. When learning Spanish and Italian, French or Portuguese, the slightly variable grammar and pronunciation, and especially the wide use of idiomatic expressions has been confusing me. Also, every region of these Mediterranean countries has an inflection that you must get accustomed to. Perhaps the “easy” languages are not really easy when you want to achieve a highly proficient and flexible level.
Yeah, as a German simultaneously trying to learn Dutch and Norwegian … failing was inevitable. I just constantly mixed the two up and had to drop one for the time being.
“Super easy” do you speak German or Dutch? You are acting like you can pick all of these “easy” languages up in a day. You can’t. French is rediculously hard to learn because it is insanely hard to say the words. Also some people learn Chinese really easy and can’t learn Spanish, others speak Spanish real well but could never get the hang of mandirin. Learning a language is hard no matter which one it is. My advise would to not call it “easy” but rather list some pros and cons
Once i got past learning the Cyrillic alphabet, I’ve found Russian to be surprisingly easy, tbh. There are a surprising amount of cognates, and the grammar is pretty simple and consistent.
I would rate german as a medium as well
In my opinion any language is a medium it’s just how hard you try to learn the language
I must say Urdu should be including in the language blog.
Level is easy.
Thanks, Maheen! Perhaps we’ll revise it for 2016. 🙂
The level for Urdu would be Medium, just like Hindi. From what I understand, the languages are very similar, except they use different alphabets and have slightly different vocabularies.
Also, it is very useful to learn Urdu because it’s just a mashup of different languages. I know Urdu, and because of that I know a few words of other languages.
German fairly-easy and french easy?? This was a nice one xD
I also found that funny for German. I have been living in Germany for 4 months, came here with basic German. I can get around but being in a big group and discussing technical Issues is hard. I would like to learn Spanish next
I currently have the same goal as a native English speaker I wish to learn german and spanish. I have pretty basic german but being in a large group can be hard, even in English.
For a native English speaker? Absolutely. And if you know your Shakespeare as well then German, Dutch, all those Germanic languages (like English) will be pretty easy to learn. Germanic base, similar grammar and vocabulary, etc.
Der Mann trinkt Wasser.
What does that look like? Say it out loud, pretend you have a lisp, slur a little if that helps. If you can’t read “the man drinks water” then you’re just not trying. Or aren’t thinking properly, focusing too much on how it’s all weird and hard.
De man die luistert naar muziek. A Google Translate goodie.
How about that? Die, De, Der, la, Le, el, you should figure out pretty quickly that these are all variants of “the”. If you were guessing then “a” or “an” or “and” would also work, all those small joining words which we use and Germanic and Romance languages do as well. Next one is easy, man, man, we didn’t try to change that one too much. 😛
So “the man” something.
Let’s skip to the end. Muziek. Another hard one. 😛
Say it out loud if you really have to, it’s “music” of course.
So “the man die luistert naar music”. Can you figure it out from here?
Germanic languages you can learn in your sleep, because English is also a Germanic language and we didn’t change too much. Romance languages are mildly harder, but we’ve ripped off enough vocabulary to make them pretty easy as well. Germanic and Romance languages use the Latin alphabet courtesy the Romans so that shouldn’t throw you, they’re some of the easiest spoken languages you can learn outside of something like Esperanto.
Match the words you know then work it out from context. The man luistert naar music, the man listens to music. Fluency takes a little longer of course but hitting conversational really doesn’t take long at all.
Now if you aren’t a native English speaker then these ratings won’t apply, if you’re a native French speaker for instance then Spanish will be super easy and German will be easy. Though I’d still rate Russian as medium and Mandarin as hard for native Francophones as none of the reasoning changes.
I would disagree with your comments about German. Yes, gaining a basic understanding may be easy given some similarities to English vocabulary, but truly mastering German takes far more skill than for most Romance languages. German’s case system is completely foreign to an English speaker, and the fact that the gender of every noun is essentially unrelated to any attribute of said noun (with a few exceptions) makes for a lot of memorization. I would without a doubt rate Spanish or French as easier than German, for a native English speaker.
Well German is related to English more than French is and even comes from the same language family as German and Dutch. It’s the Norman invasion that changed the language to make it like French. For example. Not all plural words end with s like roof and rooves as that’s from old English. Take a look at old English and it’ll be super similar to German. Also German isn’t as hard as you think it, just stop saying it looks hard because it doesn’t look like English well neither does French nor Spanish. Plus Germany is way more modern than France and particularly Spain as it is safer and more modern. Look all I’m trying to say is that it will be hard if you tell yourself that.
Just because old English looks familiar to German does not mean you can compare their difficulty. In my opinion, if your mother tongue is only weakly inflected (like English), it will be a lot harder for you to learn a highly inflected language, like Latin, German or Spanish. I do not talk about the very basic stuff and simple sentences like “Er trinkt Saft”. I mean to correctly apply the rules of grammar and form correct and rather complex sentences like ” Nur ich wusste, warum dieser Mann nie mehr ein Schachbrett berühren würde, indes die anderen ein wenig verwirrt zurückblieben mit dem ungewissen Gefühl, mit knapper Not etwas Unbehaglichem und Gefährlichen entgangen zu sein.”
Of course understanding the German cases will be easy for someone who has some talent for languages. But this applies to every language and the way you approach it. A lot of students in my old class (my mother tongue is German) struggled very hard with latin, although it should supposedly be easy for a native German speaker.
Ah, I thought it would be “the man WHO listens to music”. Guess it is harder than you think.
De man die naar muziek luistert** FTFY
As an english native speaker who speaks Spanish and Dutch, Spanish was much, much easier to learn well.
Good article. Thanks a lot. How about turkish? Don’t you think it may be some geopolitical spot. Most of textile from there and it is a good and cheap place for tourism like in Georgia. So i agree with article and i would like to learn arabic, german and mandarin.
Russian is a very difficult language, furthermore the politics is very unstable and unpredictable. I mean, would you really recognise Russian as a serious partner? I wouldn’t (I’m a native Russian who fled to Germany for a good life)… furthermore, it’s much more easy for Chinese to master the English language as for the western people to master Chinese…i think it quite obvious
Well yes, since every Chinese character is different, and you sort of have to memorize all characters – I’m a native Chinese speaker and I still have problems with writing out words.
The last sentence makes me chuckle. Mandarin is my native tongue and first language, but I’m more proficient in my second language, English. But you can’t blame me, I’ve stayed in US for my whole life.
I think it’s useful to compare the difficulty but I think the timescale is very unrealistic.. You’ll be speaking Spanish fluently in less than 6 months is unlikely
That’s six months of study time, not just six months!
It depends on the resources at hand. If you have friends that speak Spanish, which is common in the south eastern united states, and you have the resources, then you will most likely become proficient in a quick amount of time.
Hey . Im very glad to see ur website . Im from Iran and I =m learning English and wanna to learn French . It really helps me to realize the chart of the best languages to learn . thank u alot .
Hi, I dont think if french is easier than german because as I heard french grammer is so complicated and different from english.anyway mandarin is hard but is the mother language of the buisiness in the world recently. Im gonna study in kang fu . Wow…. hoooo
but i can speak japanese fluently. see?
Haha Good one!
thats type, not speak.
Where’s Hindi? It’s more spoken than Arabic, Japanese, French… Fix up look sharp…..
Hindi? Arabic is much more important for business, diplomatic, and political purposes.
all hindis work for arabic richers Uae qatar ksa and others
Well, I’m from one of the GCC countries and what I see is that they get to learn Arabic not the other way around so.. .
I would disagree with you Kush. Hindi is not popular even in India.
Hindi is banned in South India. They use Tamil, Malayalam, Telgu. Kannada, and English. I have colleagues from there and they don’t speak a word of Hindi. They just know that its a language to translate and copy their movies into Bollywood hits with Urdu poetry as lyrics in music.
Banned from south India?? Really….
I dont know which south India you have visited.
Hindi is gaining popularity in South India as well. Thanks to social media and pop culture.
I just want to fill in on something. As I am learning Japanese, I read “Learning Japanese takes a certain amount of persistence and time, over a year and a half or 2,200 classroom hours to be exact.”
It says “over a year and a half” and of course the amount of time differs from person to person. But if someone masters Japanese in only a year and a half, it must be some kind of genius. I would say that it takes at least 3 years to be able to speak it somehow “fluently”, and at least 5-7 years to come close to speaking it as a Japanese person does.
I’d say you’re looking at more of a 10 year time frame for native-like fluency. That, or more. Japanese is often listed as one of the hardest (if not *the* hardest) language for native English speakers to become fluent in.
Look at the number of hours, not the number of years. It’s over a year and a half of full-time language learning. Spend most of the day in the classroom and then do assignments for homework. Basically cramming/immersion so they can start working as quickly as possible. And remember, this is “Minimum Professional Proficiency”, a 3 on a scale of 0-5, which probably means around a B2 (upper intermediate) level. If you want to get to C1 or C2, you will need a lot more hours/years.
Chinese is the easiest language in the world.
I hardly believe rate Hindi in Medium difficulty
I don’t know if it’s hard to learn… I picked it up from Urdu
no its easy but marathi is difficult
I agree. It can be extremely hard. Its mix with Sanskrit (extinct) makes it even more difficult.
Am I the only one who picked up that Arabic and Hindi are both the 4th most spoken language in the world??
Well spotted! We missed that when we updated the article. Thanks Bri
Having learnt a few languages. I have to say that to speak Mandarin or any other tonal language requires one to live in a country that speak a tonal language the tones alone are very difficult for most people to hear the difference. Languages that use tones: Mandarin, Cantonese, hakka, hokkien and all other Chinese dialects, Thai, Burmese, ect… The people of these countries have been learning English for a lifetime. But English people in general do not learn languages! Arabic is very difficult and to write is more difficult than Chinese in my opinion.
arabic is very difficult and to write is more difficult than Chinese!!!?
Yes I agree.Arabic is very difficult to learn but it’s the richest one in the world!
I’m learning Spanish and Chinese to become a foreign language medical interpreter and Haitian Creole “Kreyol” (which shares a lot of words with French, along with SPANISH, African and Taino) for volunteer work.
The question could be: what languages (first and second) are spoken by the people you are likely to come into contact with? We could look at this by looking at what are the most common second languages spoken by the speakers of the most common native languages. Or by asking what is the most common language spoken by people who don’t speak English.
Secondly, will you relate to these people on an individual or group basis?
For example, if you are relating mostly to Germans and on an individual basis, your need to learn German is minimal, as most of them will speak English.
If you are relating to Italian speakers on a group basis, then Spanish would be valuable.
Ofcourse, if you need to get to grips with a culture, then learning its language will give you unprecedented insight.
Charles you are wrong about Spanish being valuable if you are relating to Italian speakers on a group basis. It helps a little bit, but that’s it. I am a native Spaniard, and I have been to Italy a few times, and I can assure you that my Spanish did not help me that much there. Spanish and Italian may share a similar accent, but the grammars and vocabularies and structures of both languages are quite distinct.
On the other hand, I had no trouble at all understanding, and being understood in Portugal. The few times I was there I felt very much at home. The Portuguese and Spanish cultures and languages are very, very similar, like 89% similar. We are neighbour Iberian countries. We are practically the same people genetically speaking. We look alike and share identical first and last names. I can understand 95% of written Portuguese, and 80% of spoken Portuguese. But I only comprehend 65% of written Italian, and only 50% of spoken Italian, and that’s on a good day.
I speak 5 languages due to have lived in several countries in Europe and speak some of the languages above fluently and I am Portuguese and I must disagree with some of the timeframes they gave to become proficient! Both in the case of French and German, its simply impossible to someone who speak english natively to learn in 6 months to speak it fluently German! NOT POSSIBLE and the french with all those verbs… this times do not correspond to reality, at all.
I used estimates provided by the US Foreign Service Institute, but of course everyone is different. And remember, the times given are classroom hours, presumably as part of an intensive course of study.
Hii … Actually I want to learn foreign language but I am confused that which is best for learn to make bright carrier in language…Plzz suggest me about that…
You should start with learning Spanish and getting very good at it. I know both English and Spanish. Once you are almost fluent in Spanish you can learn easier other languages such as French and Portuguese, since they are very similar. For example:
This is true . . . although until you progress enough in language #3 you may find them getting mixed together in your head. That happened to me when I tried to give myself a crash course in Italian after having been fluent in Spanish. Made for an interesting honeymoon – I was never quite sure which language was going to come out when I opened my mouth!
Why isn’t English on this.
Because this very article is in English, so obviously the people reading this would already know English and are looking for other languages to learn.
Moreover English is an international language. 🙂
Pooja, no, EngLISH is from EngLAND and it’s not even claimed as the national language in the USA. English is ENGLISH just as Spanish is SPANISH and Italian is ITALIAN.
No, Pooja is right on both counts. I didn’t include English in the list of languages to learn because this article was written for English speakers. If you can read it and comprehend it, you don’t need to learn English because you already know it. 🙂
And yes, English originated in England. But it’s spoken around the world today, so I’d say that qualifies it as an international language, no? I’d say Spanish is an international language, too.
I can count to ten in Mandarin and Spanish
I can speak and understand Hindi
Je peux parle en Francais aussi
And I can read Arabic
I don’t mean to brag if you consider this bragging but I just wanted to share this.
Punjabi is the easiest language in the world and very clear to listen as its music songs and very polite than others ???
Haha, best language for swearing, does absolute justice.
Japanese is so EASY to learn. As long as you don’t get freaked out by the characters, it’s super easy and definitely a fun language to learn
I really want to learn Greek. Actually, I’m doing it at the moment and it’s really easy to learn!! It’s a bit like english – one letter for one sound (single sound, not like mandarin)!! σεφηαριστο!! (thank you!)
Where my Tamil language.
Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka
I think people who are native english speakers do not speak spanish as good as they think… I live in latin america and I think they are confident (which is good) when they speak… but actually, they don’t speak as good as they think… and they make a lot of mistakes. Just saying…
I think this also has to do with the many different Spanish dialects. So they may be fluent (and confident) in the dialect they were taught in, but it sounds incorrect in a different Spanish speaking country.
I am Also from Latin America, their problem is the grammar, since Spanish has much grammar, demasiado tilde, acento, etc, etc. So that dificults English speakers.
A good language to learn would be Malayalam; a South Indian Language.
People from the South Indian state Kerala, speak Malayalam. Now the thing is, Malayalees are everywhere (as said by many other Indians themselves).
A majority of the Indians living abroad (especially in the Gulf/ Middle East) are from Kerala, so it would cool to learn that language.
Moreover, it’s a pretty difficult language to learn (both in terms of pronunciation and understanding) so it can be quite a challenge for the people who love to learn languages for fun. :”)
I will let Arab princes know to master the art of Malyalam, Marathi, Bengoli and Tamil before they hire maids from there.
Hello , guys Currently I’m working in HR dept. As a executive, so I would like to learn and make my carrier brighter by one of foreign language so, pls suggest to me which language is should I select to for better in future. Thanks
I couldn’t desagree anymore with this. I have some experience teaching Spanish and I can assure you if it was as easy as you picture it for English speakers my grading wouldn’t have had to be so benevolent in order not to make my students feel totally miserable about themselves.
Yes, it’s easy in comparison to, say, Russian but that doesn’t mean it’s easy!
Think it depends on the individual generally.
We teach Chinese to students all over the world, opinions differ but many find it far more logical to learn than English where there can be many confusing exceptions.
Each to their own, I think giving a rating is incredibly general and will change from person to person
I would add American Sign Language to this. It is widely used in the US, and is very useful to know.
Or any signed language. It differs even between English speaking countries
Hats off to you sir!
In spanish did you mean “COLOMBIA” not “Columbia”, please correct this….we are in 21st century!!
Sorry for the typo, Sebastian! And thanks for the heads-up – it’s been fixed. 🙂
Punjabi and Hindi are very easy languages to learn
I am currently learning Spanish
plan on learning French, Italian, German, Esperanto, and Gujarati in the future
Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi are easy if you are a native speaker. For a person of different background (European/South American e,g;), these are the toughest languages to learn.
Not suggesting one shouldn’t try.
I’ve found the difficulty with Spanish is not the basics, but rather the diversity. I find it incredibly easy to read, and felt confident in my ability to get by on the street relatively quickly, but there are so many countries, spread across so much space that colloquialisms become really important. I’ve found that I literally need to learn to say the same thing 3 or 4 different ways, sometimes as many as 6 words for the same thing to really be able to talk and understand fluently in various countries. In addition some countries use more romance language roots, some are anglicized, and other countries use more words rooted in Arabic. On the otherhand a regularly used word can be offensive in one country, but completely fine in another. This is nothing to say about the diverse accents in different regions, which can be profound and mess up the ability to understand.
How about Korean?
Have you ever tried to learn the different dialects of Spanish? (Eg. European Spanish, Mexican Spanish, Argentine Spanish)
I find that to be the best thing when learning a language. The fact that once you learn one dialect, you aren’t finished learning that language fully.
Learning a new language is like learning a new culture.