Top 10 Most Useful Languages to Learn

Script written by Laura Keating.

The list of reasons why you should learn a new language is a long one. But which language should you learn as a second language? The most useful languages in the future may surprise you. Whether it’s Arabic, German or Japanese, there are many foreign languages that will come in handy – in business or in life. WatchMojo counts down ten languages that are useful for English speakers to pick up.

Special thanks to our users Tannistha Patra and Lbello for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top%20Ten%20Useful%20Languages%20to%20Learn

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Script written by Laura Keating.

Top 10 Most Useful Languages to Learn


Now you’re speaking my language. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the top ten most useful languages to learn.

For this list, we’ll be looking at languages that provide the most utility to speakers globally, be it in academics, business, travel or otherwise.

#10: Portuguese


This Ibero-Romance language can be traced back to the Kingdom of Galicia, and is rooted in variants of Vulgar Latin with a splash of Celtic phonology for good measure. This thereby makes it unique from the language it is most often compared to, Spanish. While it is considered more difficult than Spanish, it isn't much harder than English or French and should not offer too much trouble to those interested in learning. With over 230 million speakers, and the official language of many countries across the globe – including the upcoming economic force of Brazil – it is fast becoming a very attractive language to master.

#9: Russian


Considered the "easiest" of the hard languages, Russian is spoken by over 250 million people. Understanding Russian and the Cyrillic alphabet can also aid in the learning of other languages, and is a great foundation to have. It is also considered a politically important language. Furthermore, if you’re into scientific and technical literature then Russian is for you, as some of the world’s largest collections on both those subjects is in this East Slavic tongue. Or you could stick with the works of Tolstoy, Bulgakov, and Dostoyevsky. Geographically the most widely spoken language of all the Slavic languages, you can find native speakers throughout Eurasia.

#8: Japanese


Spoken by 125 million people, Japanese remains useful not only for business and Asian studies, but also with the ever-increasing influx of Japanese media in western culture, and it has become an enjoyable language to learn. On top of all that, you’ll be able to watch your favorite anime and Kurosawa films with the subtitles off! There is a catch, however: Japanese is arguably the most difficult language going, so get ready to study. A lot. Mixing three complex writing systems, levels of formality in speaking, and complex grammar, there is much to know. Don’t let all that discourage you – ganbatte! That’s “good luck” to you!

#7: Hindi


Along with English, this Indo-Aryan language is one of the Government of India two official languages, and it is also one of the Republic’s 22 scheduled languages. Boasting over a 260 million native speakers, it is one of the top 10 most spoken languages in the world. So in short, you’d have a lot of people to talk to! While most commonly found in India, it’s Fiji’s official language and is spoken significantly throughout Mauritius, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. So if your travel plans see you venturing to any of those countries, Hindi suddenly becomes a useful language to learn, or at least to master a couple of its phrases.

#6: Arabic


This ancient Central Semitic language was first spoken in northwestern Arabia all the way back in the Iron Age. Arabic continues its robust tradition, and remains an important and well-used language, with up to 422 million speakers. It is in increasingly high-demand – especially in the energy and security sectors – however, with its difficult writing system and very complex grammar, and dialects varying greatly, it is an incredibly difficult language to learn. However, it’s not as foreign as you may think, having already influenced Spanish, and given loan words to English.

#5: German


While previously thought to be a language in decline, German is becoming more useful than ever as Germany gains a foothold as a major powerhouse in the EU. Spoken as a first language in several European countries, it is the most used native language in the European Union. After English, Spanish and sign language, it’s one of the most studied languages in the US. Furthermore, understanding German will help to increase your comprehension of other “Germanic” languages. It is considered on-par with English in terms of learning difficulty- its grammar is more complex, but then it's also more logical as well, so it balances in the end.

#4: French


Before English started to take over, French was the lingua franca of much of Europe. While the lion's share of the 80 million native speakers of the language of love are in France, others can be found in North America- such as the Canadian provinces of Quebec and New Brunswick- as well as Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of South America. It is also a very important language in the European Union. Outside of travel, it’s very useful to those studying philosophy, and for diplomats. On top of all that, it’s also just a very lovely language in general, giving any speaker a certain je ne sais quoi.

#3: Spanish


A must for travelers to Latin America, South America, southern United States, and Spain, this is the language of Borges, Marquez, and Cervantes. As a bonus, this language – with the second greatest number of native speakers after Mandarin Chinese – is considered one of the easiest to learn, with straight-forward grammar, pronunciations, and writing system. Of all the “Romance” languages, Spanish is thought to be one of the closest branches from the Latin roots – although it went through an evolution when the Moors brought over roughly 4000 Arabic loan words during the time of Al-Andalus. The official language of 20 countries all over the world, Spanish is a very accessible and desirable language to have in your repertoire.

#2: Mandarin Chinese


Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the People’s Republic of China, with over 950 million native speakers. With China on the rise as the next global superpower, Mandarin is becoming increasingly desirable as a language for both business and travel. Once you master the tricky tones – which can drastically change the meaning of a sentence – it is considered relatively easy to speak … with practice. Likewise, the grammar system is considered easier thea some of the other “difficult” languages. However, the writing system is notoriously tough. But, if you get this one down pat, you’ve earned some serious bragging rights.

#1: English


Nearly anywhere you go, anywhere in the world, most people will understand at least a little bit of this beautiful mess of a language. A true hodgepodge, modern English has adopted a little of everything. While Old and Middle English are almost incomprehensible even to native speakers, modern English is now THE language of international business, and in many countries it is hard to hold down high-level business and diplomatic jobs without knowing at least a little of this new lingua franca. Good thing it’s relatively easy to learn – if you ignore the nonsensical grammar and spelling rules.
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