Learning a new language

While at least 80% of students across Europe learn a foreign language, in the US, just 20% of students do.


While speaking a second or even third language can come in handy when you’re traveling, to work internationally, or to communicate with your older relatives, it’s believed it also helps improve the brain’s cognitive ability, helps with multitasking and even delays the onset of symptoms of dementia.


So, if you’re looking to learn another language, which ones should you consider?


·       Mandarin: With China’s economy likely to overtake the US’s by the end of this decade, learning Mandarin is a smart choice to increase business opportunities in the future. While it’s considered one of the more difficult languages to learn in the West — Chinese characters and tones can be particularly challenging — the language’s grammar will be more familiar to English speakers, with simple sentence structure and few gender-based words, unlike many European languages.


·       Spanish: With nearly half a billion native speakers around the world, learning Spanish is a great idea for broadening your horizons all around Central and South America (except Brazil), in Spain of course, as well as with growing numbers of Spanish-speakers living in North America. Spanish pronunciation is straightforward — it usually sounds the way it’s spelled — and, because it’s a Romance language derived from Latin, English speakers will find many Spanish words familiar, for instance: bicicleta, elegante and futbol,


·       Arabic: Though it’s one of the top five languages in the world, Arabic can be hard for English speakers to learn. Not only does it have a non-Latin alphabet (which does share a common history with ours), like Hebrew, vowels are usually excluded, which can make it hard for beginners to decipher similarly spelled words. And, also like Hebrew, it’s written right to left, which can take getting used to. But with some 25 countries speaking one Arabic dialect or another, and Arabic speakers found throughout Europe and North America, it can be useful to learn.


·       Swahili: Considered one of the easier languages to learn (though not the easiest!), Swahili is widely used across eastern Africa and it’s a common second language for many Africans. Like Spanish, words are usually spelled the way they’re pronounced and it includes a lot of English loan words.


Have you learned a second or third language? How was the experience for you and do you find being multilingual useful? Share your experiences with the Shop Talk community – we always appreciate hearing from you!

Did you know? Norwegian is the easiest language to learn


Well, that’s if you’re an English speaker. Norwegian is related to English, shares similar vocabulary and grammar. With a little attention, it’s not hard to figure out that “Kan du hjelpe meg?” means “Can you help me?” Congratulations — you’re learning Norwegian. (Source)

35 thoughts on “Learning a new language

  1. I studied German in High School but remember very little of it. In college I took Spanish courses. I can still understand quite a bit of spoken Spanish but I can’t speak very much at all. I would like to be fluent in Spanish since I live in an area with a lot of Spanish speakers. It is also a very useful language to have for a career in California.

  2. No thanks for learning a new language. I use what I need like a tool. To use time to learn a language that I’ll never use is wasteful of my time.

  3. i am surprised at how much of my high school french i still remember. i don’t use it regularly. i am 75.

  4. I speak 2 languages, Spanish is my mother tongue. The fact that I was bilingual, leaving my country of birth, Cuba, when I was 20, made all the difference between surviving and enjoying the American Dream. Yes, I am retired now but was successful both as an marketing executive and small business owner.
    If I had to learn a new language, my choice would be Mandarin, given current political realities.

  5. Learning a new language improves your English skills too as you think more about grammar and make comparisons with the new language. I have studied five different languages and love trying to communicate with others in a different country.

  6. I come from a multi-cultural family. In my childhood I spoke, in addition to English, both Russian and Hebrew. I also picked up enough Yiddish from family members to be able to carry on conversations with relatives. I learned Spanish for 4 years in high school well enough to date Spanish speaking young men from other countries, who spoke no English.

    At the ripe old age of 29 I was in a car accident and lost a lot of language abilities, including for English. Though I can no longer speak Spanish, I understand it when it is spoken near me.

  7. Took French in high school ….useless. Took spanish in college….a little useful but not much.

  8. I teach German and Spanish. Today I told my students how many people speak Spanish throughout the world.

  9. I took French in high school. Three long years. I took Spanish online before I took a trip to Cancun. Recently I started a French refresher online but am not planning on using the language for a trip!

  10. I have not learned a second language but always wanted to learn Spanish or Italian.

  11. I have been studying Latin since the beginning of my pandemic quarantine. As the foundation of the romance laguages, Latin would open the door to my studies in Italian and Spanish. At least, that was my thinking. My Italian heritage drives my desire to learn Italian, while practicality and the desire to communicate with others leads me to Spanish.

    I studied French for six years in grade school, but I always wanted to learn Latin. Fortunately, my French studies taught me things like verb conjugation, which are really helpful with my current studies, particularly since I am studying from a language application (Duolingo). Duolingo is rather limited to teaching sentence structure through repitition of common phrases, everyday interactional words, etc., but I’m actually learning Latin! Woo hoo.

  12. Myself and a friend are interested in learning Spanish to stretch our minds and hopefully use this language to speak with others.

  13. An old joke goes: What do you call a person who can speak 2 languages? – Bi-Lingual! A person who can speak 3 languages? – Tri-Lingual. BUT what do you call a person who can speak only one language ??? -An American!!

  14. Spanish because I took 2 years and remember a little only because I never really used it.

  15. I took two years of French in high school – a long time ago! I have traveled to eight countries that spoke a language other than English, including Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Mexico and Denmark. I tried to learn the basics of the languages before I traveled, but each time I experienced that many people in these countries speak English – at least in the bigger cities.

Comments are closed.