Learning a new language has many benefits. It’s good for your health, it makes your travel experience much better and increases your career opportunities. The question is which language is worth the time and effort? Even if we choose from the most widespread and desirable languages, the list isn’t so narrow. On top of that, the world is changing very quickly these days. So a spontaneous choice might turn out to be a poor one in a few years time. That’s why we made a list of the best foreign languages to start learning today.
There are several factors that we took into account.
First is the popularity of the language and its recent growth rate.
Second is the desirability of the language as a skill in business.
Third is how easy or difficult it is to learn for an English speaker.
And finally, how the geopolitical and social situation might affect the popularity and desirability of the language in 2017.
We will start with the most obvious choices and finish with some less popular ones. Not that they’re worse. On the contrary, any of these languages might be a perfect choice for you. It all depends on your location and plans.
So, our first pick is a language that’s widely used in 3 different continents. Also called the language of love.
Yes, it’s French.
French is widely spoken in Canada and many countries in Europe and Africa. It’s an official language in 29 countries. However, all this wouldn’t matter if it weren’t for the fact that French-speaking population is increasing even further. It’s a global language. Even though former colonies of France (almost half of Africa) are slowly switching to English, it won’t lose it’s significance there anytime soon.
On the other hand, French is gaining numbers everywhere else in the world. This puts French on high demand in business, making it a desirable skill in many trades. Especially where French-speaking communities like those in Canada, France, Belgium, Cameroon, the Congo and others are involved. So if you start learning French now, you won’t regret it.
On top of that, French is very easy to pick up for English speakers. The two languages are closely related. French influenced up to one third of English. The difficult parts might be pronunciation, gendered nouns and the verb construction. Otherwise, it would be like a stroll in the park!
Next among the best foreign languages: Spanish!
You will need Spanish in the U.S. if you want to aim for the top job opportunities. Those who lack skills in Spanish simply won’t be regarded as well as those who are bilingual these days. The Spanish-speaking population is very large over there. No political inclinations will make the significance of this language drop anytime soon. Outside of the U.S., Spanish is still among the most popular languages in the world. It’s spoken in many regions around Spain as well as most of the countries in Latin America.
Spanish isn’t very easy for English speakers to pick up. However, you pronounce it just like it’s written, so that won’t be a problem. Learn the rolling letters ‘r’ and ‘ñ’ and you’re pretty much set to go! As for grammar, the gender and many irregularities make it quite a challenge. However, no challenge is too difficult if you approach it the right way!
The next language is among the most difficult ones for English speakers. However, it’s popularity might make the effort worth it.
We’re talking about Chinese Mandarin.
Mandarin is the third most popular language in the United States (if we don’t count American Sign Language). It’s the most popular language in the world. And that’s not it. China is one of the greatest economic powers in the world. Which means that they create lots of positions worldwide which require Chinese language skills.
Chinese will require a lot of effort to acquire if your native tongue is English or another European language. However, there is another side of the coin. Many people don’t even try learning Mandarin precisely because it’s so difficult. Meaning that the competition is much smaller compared to many other languages. So if you want the best job opportunities in the near future, Chinese is one of the best foreign languages for you.
Want something easier? Try Swedish!
Swedish has syntax and other grammar rules that remind English. They also share many similar words. Although Swedish has many dialects, their pronunciation is really clear, which also makes it somewhat similar to German. So any English speaker can learn the Swedish language much faster than Chinese.
This isn’t the main reason why Swedish is in the best foreign languages list. Nor is the popularity of the language. It is spoken by no more than 11 million people in the world. However, there are promising job opportunities available for Swedish speakers living in various countries in Europe. By the way, Swedish isn’t very popular as a second language. This means that if you can speak Swedish, putting this knowledge to use is really easy. Besides, Sweden has a great economic power, so it’s well worth the effort! Try the fun way to learn Swedish in 2017!
Not in Europe? Then Japanese is the way to go.
Japan has one of the most powerful economies in the world. While you may not benefit from that in Europe, you can always go to Japan and start a career there. Alternatively, there are lots of positions to apply to as a Japanese speaker in the United States. Since Japan has many international companies, you will always know where to offer your skills. And those skills are valued much more appropriately if you can communicate them in Japanese.
The obvious downside is the difficulty of the language. Learning Kanji might seem like the most intimidating challenge. However, it shouldn’t discourage you from trying. you can break the ice in merely 30 days.
How about Arabic?
Another language on the rise is Arabic. Already in the top 5 of the most popular languages, it is getting even more important in the world today. There are many Arabic-speaking countries with rising economies. Yet the popularity of Arabic as a learning language is not that great. For example, it’s less than 1% in colleges of the U.S. This means that the demand for it is far greater than the supply. The same reason contributes to the fact that salaries of Arab-speaking professionals are relatively high. Difficult to learn, but guaranteed to pay off. A perfect reason to start learning it in 2017!
You may think that regional instability in Arabic countries might decrease the importance of Arabic. However, it’s quite the opposite. Arabic is now an important diplomatic language. Not to mention all the other job opportunities in government and, to a lesser extent, in private sector. That’s why it is among the best foreign languages for 2017.
This sums up our list of today’s best foreign languages. Start learning in 2017 and you may reap the rewards in a few years time. Or maybe even faster! And if you want to ensure fast and exciting learning process, try Bliu Bliu. Learn any mentioned language for free!