Question: What is the Best Foreign Language to Learn When Traveling the World?

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Ideally, when choosing a new language to learn you’ll want to pick one that you’ll get a lot of use out of.

When traveling, you want to be able to communicate with as many people as possible, so learning languages that are commonly spoken throughout the world (or in the places you want to go to) is a good idea.

For example, there’s no point learning Japanese if you’re planning on traveling to Africa.

Let’s take a look at the top 10 most commonly spoken languages in the world.

Most commonly spoken languages

(Source: Wikipedia)

Let’s take a look at the top contenders for the best foreign language to learn:

  • English – Fast becoming the standard and most recognized language in the world. Of course, if you’re reading this page than you probably already know how to speak English!
  • Mandarin – Although Mandarin is second on my ‘top 10 most commonly spoken languages’ list, in terms of native speakers it is a LONG way ahead of English (since many people who speak English learn it as a second language). Why? It is spoken in China (a country with a population of over 1.3 billion) as well as several other parts of Asia.
  • Spanish/Portuguese – I have listed these two languages together because they are fairly similar (in the way that if you know one you can usually understand the other one well enough to get by). These are the two most commonly spoken languages in South America. Spanish is the official language of most South American countries, whereas Portuguese is the official language of Brazil.
  • Russia – Being the biggest country in the world, Russia is bound to have a lot of native Russian speakers. Most people in Russia (and in some of the surrounding countries) don’t speak any other language, so if you don’t know it you might have a hard time communicating with them.
  • Arabic – Spoken primarily in the Arab states of the Middle East (such as Egypt and Iraq) and in North Africa. The ‘problem’ with learning Arabic is that there are so many different dialects that it can seem like it’s lots of different languages rolled into one.
  • French – Although French is not in the ‘top 10’ list, I have included it in here because it is spoken in France and in large parts of Africa and Canada – all three of which are very popular among travelers.

I only advise learning one new language at a time (since it’s difficult enough), so which one you decide to go for should largely depend on the place (or places) you’re most interested in visiting (and where you’re planning to spend the most time).

Related posts:

  1. How to Learn a New Language in 3 Months
  2. How to Prepare Yourself for Long-Term World Travel
  3. The Top 10 Airlines in the World (Voted for By You)

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