As the world becomes more closely connected economically and socially, the ability to communicate and understand each other has never been as important as it is today. Whether you are traveling, engaging in business, or enriching yourself academically, learning another language is simply practical. With that, here is a list of the top 10 most essential languages to learn.
Often compared to Spanish, the Portuguese language actually has a separate, distinct history that includes influence from Vulgar Latin and Celtic. It is also much more difficult to learn than Spanish. While on the surface Portuguese might seem to be obscure, in reality more than 230,000,000 speakers claim it as their native language. In fact, it is an official language in 10 countries in such far flung places as Angola in Africa to East Timor in Pacific Asia. Naturally, Brazil’s status as an emerging economic power also makes learning Portuguese particularly useful.
With more than 250,000,000 native speakers, Russian is geographically the most widely-spoken Slavic language. Its use of the Cyrillic alphabet might seem a bit intimidating at first, but once you learn it, it serves as a nice foundation for understanding other Slavic-based languages such as Ukrainian, Serbian and Bulgarian. Furthermore, aside from being an important language in the business world, the Russian language boasts the largest collection of scientific and technical literature in the world, making it extremely practical for those who thirst for knowledge.
As an economic powerhouse, Japanese is an essential language to know. When traveling through Japan, you might be surprised to discover that few signs are written in English and most of the population does not know English. More than 120,000,000 people speak Japanese and it is regarded by some to be the most difficult language in the world, with three complex writing systems, levels of formality, a grammar structure that many might find puzzling. Nonetheless, those who study it find it to be a really fun language to learn.
Along with English, Hindi is the official language of the Indian government. It is a truly rich language that has adopted much of its vocabulary from Persian, Sanskrit, Arabic, Turkish and English. While most people associate it with India, it is also the official language of Fiji and is a regional language in Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mauritius. As the world’s 4th most-spoken first language (more than 260,000,000 speakers), you would have plenty of people to strike up a conversation with!