Which language to choose? A Practical Point of View

European Day of Languages

 

Great! You have decided to learn a new language, but you still don’t know which one. What aspects you should reflect on?

Study Material / Schools

There are means to learn this language? If you use internet you can learn almost any language. But and others materials? It’s better to stop by at any large bookstore and see the available material, such as books, CDs and software. If you prefer to learn in a classroom will be hard to find a teacher in non-popular languages, especially in small towns. There is also the option of private lessons, which are usually very expensive.

Utility

Are there any practical reasons why should you learn this language? You can think in the numbers of speakers, here is the list of languages with more speakers in the world: Mandarin, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, French and Malay. This does not mean that these languages are the most important. For example, for Brazilian labor market, English and Spanish are the most important, but is a differential learn another language, such as Italian, Japanese and French. On the other hand, to learn Hindi or Bengali would not be so useful. Others instrumental reasons to study a particular language are: getting into a college, getting a work abroad, a salary bonus, etc.

I personally believe that any person should start with English, mainly because is much easier to find all kind of resources in this language. It’s also the “Franca” language of the world nowadays, making it easier to communicate with people abroad.

Difficulty

Another important thing to consider when choosing a language to learn is its difficulty’s level. Especially when you’re learning your first foreign language. If this applies to you, it’s better to start with an easier to learn. This is, of course, very relative. But imagining that most of the readers have Portuguese as native language, the easiest are those languages of Latin or Romance derivation such as: Spanish, Italian, French, Romanian and Catalan are the most similar.

If you are an English native speaker or fluent English speaker I believe these are the more close related languages: Scots, Afrikaans, Frisian, German and Dutch.

Besides the proximity between the languages, some tongues have inherent difficulties.

  • Students of German have major difficulties with the case system, the three word genders and complex grammar.
  • French language has a tricky orthography and spelling. Also, the adverbial pronouns are a little bit difficult to get used to.
  • Mandarin is a very hard language for some specific reasons like: the tones that can change a word meaning completely and the writing system is quite laborious. There isn’t any correspondence between the spelling and the writing. So, to be able to write and read you must learn every single character (ok, not every single one, that is quite impossible, but at least 2.000 to read a simple newspaper article).
  • Russian is a little bit harsh to pronounce and has difficult grammar, especially because the case system, that makes the words keep changing all the time according to their function in a phrase.

As I said before, there are several reasons to learn a new language; I hope this article helped you to decide which one.

One final advice for choosing your next tongue is to have a very passionate reason to learn. Difficulty and utility can help you to decide, but you must have some personal reason that motivates you to learn.

So which language are you going to learn?

About Nathalia

Polyglot Nerd creator, love foreign cultures and learning languages. Speak: English, Portuguese and Spanish. Learning: French
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