What language should I learn?
What language should I learn? Believe it or not, this is a question I get asked a lot, and it’s not that surprising. When you think about it, no matter how gifted you are, learning a new language is something that is going to take a large time investment. It’s natural for people to be worried about picking the “right” language. After all, they don’t want to waste thousands of hours studying the “wrong” language. Below, I’m going to give you several factors to consider when you’re thinking “What language you should I learn?”
1. Pick a language that you like
This one may sound obvious, but it is extremely important. Pick a language that you’re interested in. You may be interested in the sounds of the language, how the writing system looks, the “rythm” of the language, or you may like the culture in which the language is spoken. Whatever your reason for liking it, this is the single most crucial factor in determining whether or not you will stick with the language. If you don’t like it, then you probably won’t have the motivation required to study the language for months or years.
These following factors are other things to consider if you like several languages equally. Remember though, always go with what you’re interested in.
2. How widespread is the language?
If you’re learning a language for economic reasons, then this could be a big factor. Perhaps you need to learn a new language so that you’ll have a better chance of getting a good job. If that’s the case, then you’ll want to study a language whose speakers have big economies, such as Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese, etc. You may also consider this factor if you just want to talk to people from other cultures. If you want to be able to speak your new language just about anywhere you are, then Chinese or Spanish would be good options. If you really want to talk to people, then perhaps some rare language spoken only in the jungles of the Congo is not your best choice.
3. Ease of learning
This may determine your choice if you want to learn a language fast. While in reality, no language is “harder” to learn than another, there are some languages that are just really different from your native tongue, and so require some more getting used to. For example, if your native language is English, then Spanish, French or German have a lot of similarities with your native language: There are literally thousands of words that are similar. On the other hand, if you chooses to study Chinese, then there are barely any similar words, not to mention the difficulty of tones and the writing system. This brings us back to point number 1: if you really like the language, then it doesn’t matter how hard it is; you will stick with it.
These are several of the major factors you’ll want to consider when choosing to learn a new language. Some people choose Chinese because it is hard, while others choose Arabic because they think the writing is beautiful. Still others choose Japanese because they want to get a job in Japan. In short, to answer the question “What language should I learn?” the answer would be, “Whatever language you want to learn!”
If you haven’t already, check out my free book once you’ve decided on a language to learn.
I hope this helps you in your decision making process. If there are any important factors you feel that I have missed, feel free to post a response below.