Great question! With over 7,000 languages worldwide, deciding which is the best language to learn is a challenge! Even if we reduce the options by saying we want to be able to communicate with at least 100,000 people that still leaves around 700 languages to choose from… how to decide which is the best?
At la Academia we have students who are learning languages for a particular purpose – business, social, family, career, and many who are learning a language for fun, and they may not get many opportunities to use their language skills for real.
The best language to learn for business:
Looking at population size and economic strength learning Chinese may seem like the best option. Chinese companies are investing in the UK, and UK businesses are exporting to China. The Chancellor, George Osborne , in Beijing yesterday, said “we are attracting more investment than Germany, France and Italy put together into the UK”. Certainly learning Chinese sets you apart from most other UK language learners, who tend to have studied French, Spanish or German.
On the same theme Portuguese is a great language to learn for business – Brazil is booming and there are many opportunities to trade with Brazil. There are also many IT jobs that are being carried out in Brazil – speaking the language could be very helpful in that sector.
Spanish covers the globe with speakers in South and Central America, Europe and don’t forget that there are many native speakers of Spanish also in the United States. For those working in the US in industries such as hospitality, Spanish is very useful.
Arabic could be considered a good choice with the Middle East booming, and plenty of job opportunities there. 280m people in the countries that have Arabic as their official language – that’s a very large market.
The best language to learn for holidays:
For UK residents the most popular non-English speaking destinations are pretty close to home. They are Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy, with France not far behind.
For holiday purposes, most local people in tourist resorts will have at least a smattering of English, so is it necessary to learn the language? It will certainly add to your experience and will be appreciated by the locals in any country. All of these languages have some commonality with English, making them among the easier languages for an English speaker to learn, so a little effort invested could more than justify your time.
The country most widely visited, not just in a few tourist areas but across the whole country is France, so perhaps the best choice is French, as you will be meeting more people who are not used to speaking in English. This deeper reach into France may explain the perceived reluctance of French speakers to engage in English.
The best language to learn for any country:
The language of the smile! Part of learning a language is developing an understanding of other cultures and also a respect for people who are trying to speak your language. By learning any language at all, you tune your ear to be more sympathetic to broken English, and to appreciate the efforts of people who are trying to communicate in what is a foreign language for them.
The rude, impatient people you sometimes see abroad complaining that locals trying to help them “should speak better English” are highly unlikely to speak any foreign languages themselves – if they did, they would know better!
La Academia can help you reach your goals in language learning, whether for business, holidays or sheer enjoyment – for us, the best language to learn is the one that you enjoy the most! Talk to us about how language learning can be fun on 0161 491 1444, and let us know via Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn which language you think is the best to learn!