5 Languages You Should Consider Studying

Which languages will help me get a job? Which languages are going to become globally relevant? Which languages are the most useful? Which language should I learn? 

Unfortunately, the only real answers to these questions are going to be entirely dependent on your own personal motivations and interests and should not be limited to those that I have listed. Regardless of your thoughts on these languages it never hurts to learn some facts that might nudge you in one direction or another.

Knowing which languages will be key to global communications in the years to come is an advantage that many of us seek to have. I’ve heard from countless language learners who always have a short (and sometimes not so short) list of languages that they plan on learning one day. Others simply want to accumulate new languages but have no idea how or where to begin or what to choose.

It’s not my place to tell you which languages you should or should not be interested in for doing so might seem to imply that I believe in the superiority of certain languages over others – and let me assure you that I do not. In this post I’ll attempt to share with you a few suggestions worth mulling over and looking into if you’re up in the air about what to pursue, or teetering on the fence about taking up one or more of these already.

English: Knowledge of German language in EU wi...

1) German, as one of the most influential languages in Europe now plays an incredibly crucial role within the spheres of global economics and science. Germany has one of the world’s strongest (and growing) economies, ranking as the world’s second largest exporter. German is the 2nd most relevant language today within the scientific community and a huge amount of international science professors recommend that their students pursue the German language.

According to the University of Portsmouth, 40% of American scientists make this recommendation and over 70% of Polish and Hungarian scientists suggest likewise (though proximity to Germany and EU membership is probably a strong influence).

Also of significant importance is the long history of literature, poetry and philosophical works to have been written in German. An estimated 18% of the world’s books are written in German, the vast majority of it never having been translated into English.


No matter how you slice it, German is an excellent choice for those uncertain of what to study and the potential value that it could bring a new speaker is only likely to increase..

2 ) French may seem to many of us Americans like more of a historical language on its way out the door, and indeed the unfortunate trend of language and humanities budget cuts in schools and universities does seem to indicate the steady decrease in apparent value that we place on the French language.

A recent statement by prominent linguist John McWhorter titled “Lets Stop Pretending that French is an Important Language raised a lot of controversy and Francophone backlash when it was published in February. McWhorter’s statement was in response to New York City’s new initiative to emphasize French instruction in its schools, a move that was both praised and decried by residents of the city.
In any case, a fair amount of recent data indicates that French may in fact be more important than we are giving it credit for. While the obvious trend in the US right now is Spanish -the 2nd most widely spoken language on Earth by speaker count – it may not stay that way. French may in fact be poised to become a linguistic superpower in the coming decades.

A recent article from Forbes suggests that French is experiencing widespread growth in former colonial nations – particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. These countries are experiencing or are expected to experience a increase in growth and global interaction.

One study by investment bank Natixis suggests that by 2050 French could be spoken by more than 750 million people worldwide, with the potential for being much greater a number, surpassing English and potentially even Mandarin as the most widely spoken language on Earth.

So how’s that for useless McWhorter?

In case a language being widespread isn’t sufficient reason to learn a language for you – and perhaps it shouldn’t be the most important factor – there’s a plethora of other reasons why French is a great tongue to know.

France has a long history of being a center of arts and culture. The French film industry is revered the world over for being the birthplace of cinema and the creator of some of film’s greatest early legends.

Furthermore – it’s easy. Well, okay it isn’t easy. No language is especially easy, but compared to many others French isn’t nearly as bad as it may seem up front. Sure, the pronunciation may seem at first glance like the stuff of nightmares, but you may find yourself surprised at how easy it is to grasp after a day or two of choking on your own tongue.

Due to the heavy influences of Norman French on the English language you may be shocked quickly by the number of words that aren’t all that different from their English counterparts.

Give it a try, you’ll see what I mean.

Flags of all the countries in which Portuguese is a national language.3) Portuguese may come as a surprise to many readers – but it shouldn’t. As the 6th largest language by speaker count, Portuguese boasts almost 260 million speakers – most of whom reside in Brazil. Let me tell you – Brazil’s economy is no joke. As the country firmly cements itself as an international business power, bringing in foreign investors like nowhere else, we find that the need for Portuguese language skills increasing exponentially.

But it’s not just about Brazil. Portuguese is the third most commonly spoken European language, behind English and Spanish and along with its Iberian neighbor (I’m talking about Spanish) is growing faster in the EU than any other language – including English.

Another language with a long history of colonialism and exploration, Portuguese can be found on four continents – South America, Africa, Asia and of course Europe. It is an official language in 9 countries and is commonly found in many others, including Luxembourg of all places, despite lacking official status.

Spanish and Portuguese are quite close as far as languages go – with some speakers claiming mutual intelligibility. If you already speak Spanish you’re going to have a strong advantage going into a Portuguese learning project, and I imagine the reverse is equally true as a Portuguese speaker learning Spanish.

Speaking the two languages offers you the awesome ability to travel – and speak – throughout all of Central and South America, as well, as we said, in other countries around the world.

Furthermore it is said that Portuguese speakers love hearing foreigners attempt to speak their language. The consensus seems to be that some of the friendliest countries in the world are Portuguese speaking. Brazil ranks quite high as one of the most welcoming countries to foreigners, good news for the flocks of tourists and investors. But Brazil still falls far behind Portugal, ranked 7th overall in the world for friendliest nation towards visitors. That’s pretty high.

However, if you visit Brazil, you may consider staying away from Spanish speaking neighbor Bolivia. According to this, Bolivians are among the least welcoming.

4) Indonesian probably isn’t the first language that many of us think about when we consider learning a second language either, but that oversight might be misplaced. Indonesian is spoken by over 300 million people in Southeastern Asia and is said to be mutually intelligible with the languages of Malaysia and Singapore, further increasing the number of speakers with whom a learner of Indonesian could unlock communications.

Again I have to state that no language is especially easy to learn, and the language difficulty relies on too many things to make it easily quantifiable. That said, Indonesian doesn’t appear to be an especially difficult language to learn by English speaker standards.

With no tenses, genders, or tones, and a simple SVO word order, Indonesian instantly ranks in my opinion as being easier than many other Asian languages – most of which are famous for being especially difficult for English speakers to learn.

Not going to visit Indonesia any time soon? That’s not really an issue. Indonesia’s internet culture is bigger than ever! Finding people to speak to via Skype or Google Hangouts would be a snap!

As English is becoming increasingly popular as a 2nd language in Indonesia and the number of speakers and foreign investors increases, finding individuals interested in language exchange has never been easier. LATG can also boast a significant Indonesian fan base, Jakarta in particular is one of the cities with the most fans on our Facebook page!


Check out this infographic from techinasia.com for more information about Indonesia’s Internet and social media growth.

Infographic of Indonesia's Internet and Social Media Increases and digital boom.

5) Esperanto is probably one you don’t hear every day, and it’s not a huge surprise considering the low speaker count, lack of official status -anywhere- and the common notion that it has no culture. But before you start doubting the validity of this; the world’s most spoken conlang, allow me to explain the merits that learning this language may have in store for you if given a chance to prove itself. It may not become key to future global communications like some of these other languages, but I figured it was worth the mention for other reasons.

Esperanto is a constructed language based heavily on European languages – particularly Romance languages. It was created in 1887 by one Ludwik Lazarus Zamenhof, a Pole, looking to create a politically neutral language that could help the world by fostering unity and peace.

Obviously it didn’t work, at least not how Zamenhof intended. The language never really took hold on a mainstream or political level. Despite this fact, the language has had something of a cult following ever since and has grown to potentially include around 2 million speakers. Not bad for a conlang.

Anyway, enough with the history lessons. Esperanto is interesting because the creative process allowed Zamenhof to pool together all of the bits and pieces of Europe’s languagL.L. Zamenhof, the inventor of Esperanto, the world's most successful auxiliary language.es that he liked, and weed out all of the bits he didn’t like.

This resulted in a language that is (relatively speaking) incredibly easy to learn. It excludes all of those nasty little conjugations, is phonetic as heck and is painfully logical. In fact many have claimed to have become conversational in the language in a matter of just a few weeks.

Esperanto – because of its linguistic lineage – may also make learning additional languages (particularly European languages) significantly easier. .

So there you have it.

And before you start angrily spouting off about how your favorite languages aren’t listed – this is anything but a complete list. Just a couple suggestions, some food for thought. I’m not discounting the continued value of language giants such as English, Spanish or Mandarin, all three of which are also excellent choices and do – and will continue to – play an enormous role in the international job market, within social media and research and development around the world.

The list of languages goes on and on and no disrespect was intended to the languages not listed.

It’s important that despite these languages’ potential value that no language is without import to its speakers. Endangered languages with only a handful of speakers are no less “important” or “worthwhile” and their loss is damaging to the human experience as a whole – not just the cultures in question. Admittedly, speaking Igbo may not land you a job as quickly as Russian or Swedish could, but hopefully we aren’t weighing a language’s value by it’s potential for profit.

It would be extremely foolish of us to ignore and marginalize indigenous and “smaller” languages and the cultures they embody. Preserving the world’s knowledge is a global concern.

So the bonus suggestion is to give some serious thought to learning a much smaller, obscure language and discovering the potential benefits for yourself.

Perhaps the key to global communication in the future does not lie in the next dominant world language with billions of speakers but in the sharing of ideas and world knowledge contained within that which might otherwise remain hidden. 


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Brian is the creator, owner and Apex Editor of Languages Around the Globe. When he’s not hanging around with linguistics nerds and learning languages, Brian works full time at Kolibri Online, a Hamburg based international content marketing and translation agency as a copywriter, human dictionary and general doer of great things.

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Brian Powers

Brian is the creator, owner and Apex Editor of Languages Around the Globe. When he's not hanging around with linguistics nerds and learning languages, Brian works full time at Kolibri Online, a Hamburg based international content marketing and translation agency as a copywriter, human dictionary and general doer of great things.

  • Daisy Wiguna

    Indonesia is easy to learn, but the difficulties are found in daily conversation. Limited words had caused indonesian to be creative in creating idioms, slangs, and broken grammar to express the unspoken words, mixed with local language, thus no doubt will give some headache to inexperienced foreigners. Hence… even indonesian could get confused as well

  • Fay Swan

    Glad you included Esperanto. It is a great language to learn. A very good foundation for other languages and a great experience

    • Believe me, it has earned me no end of scorn. People seem to either love Esperanto to the point of zealotry or despise it in ways that seem unreasonable. I’m not sure why people are so polarized over a language.

  • Eric BENECH & Danie SOTTAS

    In your article “5 languages you should consider studying” you write that “obviously it [Esperanto] didn’t work”. According to an estimation of the UNESCO in 1985, this language is spoken by 10 million people all over the World. And China is the first country that included it in its education system in 1910. Etc.

    • Hi Eric,

      When I state that Esperanto didn’t work, I didn’t mean to imply that it totally failed. It has been relatively successful, it simply never reached quite the level of global prominence that I think was originally hoped for. I didn’t know that China incorporated it! That’s cool.

      As for the figures, I haven’t been able to find any resources anywhere that indicate it having more than 2 million speakers. I do realize that languages – especially ones such as Esperanto that are not really “contained” within national borders, can be hard to track. Not to mention the fluency of the speakers ranging dramatically. Nearly all Esperanto speakers are L2 speakers, which is fine, but it makes it hard to quantify them. If you have a source or two that indicates your figures I’d be happy to update the article.

  • anon325

    Languages are dying all over the world and most adult learners may learn another language for fun or even jobs in chosen language country but overall, will not be teaching it to their children. Rather than learning some random language, I think it’s better to re-learn ones own heritage language and think to infuse that back to one’s own children. For example, the Irish language is dying. It would be a worthy pursuit for Irish-Americans to take an interest in learning Irish/Gaelic again and re-teaching it to their own children.

    • I think you’re absolutely right. While I am an enormous supporter of endangered language documentation and preservation it’s really out of my hands. Even if I were to choose to learn a moribund language, the decline or rejuvenation of a dying language is in the hands of its own speakers.

      Yes, you could make an argument that if you could somehow convince thousands of people to learn an obscure language they have no personal ties to, you could somehow revitalize a language that way – but you kinda can’t.

      In cases like Irish, as you mention, the possibility for a major Irish language revival is there. Irish Americans are tremendously proud of their heritage and maybe with a nudge in the right direction -who know?

      Thanks for your comment.

  • Eric BENECH & Danie SOTTAS

    Esperanto, only 16 grammar rules with no exceptions at all and 10 times easier to learn.
    Lev Tolstoï said he learned it in a few hours.

  • Pedro Cferreira

    There’s a lot of portuguese and brazilians people working in European countries like Germany, France, Switzerland, Luxenburg, UK and Ireland. That’s why “Portuguese is the third most commonly spoken language in Europe”.

  • Thanks Enrique,

    It’s hard for Esperanto to shake off the misconceptions that surround conlangs. It is stigmatized as being ‘inorganic’ and thus less useful or deserving of interest.

    It’s really great to have someone back it up here among the comments that decry it!

    Thanks again for reading and for your comment.


  • Only Esperanto users know the value of Esperanto. I have used Esperanto during 55 years. I spoke Esperanto in 21 countries, with Esperanto speakers from more than 100 countries.

    It is easier to find English speakers. It is more difficult to find English speakers who would like to spend time with you, and even invite you to their houses. It is easier to find Esperanto speakers who would do that.

    People learn Esperanto to contact other cultures, other countries. They want to speak with you!

    Added value: after learning Esperanto, other languages became easier to learn. Learning Esperanto takes a small fraction of the time required for other languages.

    20 Reasons to learn and use Esperanto

  • Hi Mangap! I absolutely agree that these languages are vital, and increasingly so.

    The point of this list is not to exclude Mandarin and English – I feel like they’re obvious choices. The point was to illustrate why some languages that are not English and Mandarin are vital or could become vital in the near future.

    Thanks for your comment and for reading!

  • Mangap

    I my opinion :
    1. English
    2. Mandarin
    3. German

  • Yes Brian, I speak Hokkien (local), Indonesian (national), and English (international)

  • GoAlverAllez

    H! Panglossa…it’s better late than never. There are many sites to learn bahasa Indonesia….or it will be my honour to introduce my mother tongue. Have a nice weekend 😉

  • Thanks a lot for your great comment and for reading!

  • Hi Chandra, thanks for your insightful comment!

    It’s true that many of these are regional languages and I didn’t mean to indicate that Spanish and Mandarin *aren’t* worth learning, simply that they are very common choices with very obvious value – even among non enthusiasts.

    As for Esperanto, It may not be your cup of tea, and it’s not really mine either, but the propaedeutical effects cannot be denied among language learners with fewer languages under their belts.

    It is said that if you learn Esperanto you’ll never spend a holiday alone – the online community, while relatively small, is extraordinarily welcoming, active and vibrant.

    Thanks again for the really awesome comments and for reading!

  • Hi Loopeen, thanks for the clarification!

  • Hi Zend, thanks for commenting!

    I actually did a second post titled 10 More Languages You Should Consider Studying due to the popularity of this article. I included Urdu and Hindi in that article.

    As for Chinese: I omitted the Chinese languages because they are not uncommon languages and their value is seldom questioned. This is not a list of “Most important languages”, no such list should exist.

    All of the languages on this list are either languages that aren’t paid much attention – such as Indonesian – or are former giants that many folks believe are losing relevancy – such as German and French.

    If we were to include every large language the article would be 50,000 words long and resemble an encyclopedia. 🙂

    Thanks again for reading!

  • zend

    How about chinese or indian that is spoken by at least 1 billion people int the world. Each languagr.

  • Loopeen

    no, English is THIRD language for Indonesian.

    The First one is Local (mother) languages, vary from east to west, south to north. Example : In one island of Sumatra, you will hear : Batak, Aceh, Padang/Minang, Melayu, etc (There are 21 languages on SUMATRA ONLY!)
    While in Java, you will hear : Sunda, Jawa, Betawi, etc.
    and Kalimantan, and Nusa Tenggara islands, and Papua and so on.

    The Second one is Indonesian as National Language.

    So, Indonesian speak Local, National, and then International. 🙂

  • Chandra

    Depends a lot on what you want to do. I speak German, but have found it to be useful almost exclusively for living in German speaking countries, given that most Germans speak pretty good English (English is sufficient for occasional business deals, academic conferences, etx.). Not widely useful beyond Europe (except to hang out with germans and austrians abroad – I can tell you I almost never spoke German while living in singapore). Spanish opens up most of a continent, and also one where most people don’t speak much in the way of foreign languages. Bhasa is awesome and easy to learn and applicable to communicate with millions and millions of people… but only good if you live in the region or do much business with indonesians. Mandarin opens up billions of potential communication possibilities, but again, only useful if you are personally or professionally connected. Basically….. if you live or work in a specific foreign country, learn the language, even if it has only 4 million speakers. If you move around a lot, pick languages that are widely spoken and easily learned. And don’t waste your time on esperanto… learning french made learning spanish, Portuguese and Italian a snap. German is helpful with dutch.

  • Elga

    As (another) Indonesian, I don’t think that one language is more important than the other, it really is a personal choice and you only make this list based on your experience, Brian. Having a great number of citizen, Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) still haven’t widely spoken in my country because too many ethnic languages too! What a challenge 🙂
    At some point, I agree that learning other foreign language is important and satisfying too to open communication. I’d love to learn Spanish, German, French, Mandarin, Russian, Japanese just because I want to talk to their native if only I have all the time in the world 😉 For now, I’ll stick to polish my English and perhaps someday try German/Spanish.

  • Hi, I am an Indonesian teacher and I taught Indonesian to foreigner who lives here and I agree that it is easier to teach Indonesian as there are no grammar to it like English, French etc. I am also English teacher as that was my study in my bachelor degree so I know the differences between the two and how Indonesian is easy for foreigner to study it. I I am also currently studying now Mandarin, and French. I am just wondering, between German and French which you consider most important? Because I did study 3times for German and decided to leave it and trying to focus on French and Mandarin instead. Because quite frankly to study and memorise vocabularies of French already taken so much time and I am afraid of mixed it with German as I study both of them at the same time. Indonesia is a very large developing country and is growing quite rapidly and I believe that there are many business opportunities and the way of living is also cheaper than in Europe and I heard from my friend who is French he said that many of his colleagues in France move to Indonesia, and live here instead due to the difficulty in finding jobs in Europe and cheaper way of living the in Europe etc. Yup I will definitely seek Indonesian as the international Language. C’est bon! Such a nice article..

    • Hi Fany,

      Anything that I might say about German or French being more important would be purely subjective.

      Both languages are incredibly valuable but I’d say that the ‘value’ of the language will depend more on your own circumstances than anything inherent to the language.

      As an Indonesian, you may find French to be more geographically widespread than German, but perhaps not if you were to spend a lot off time in Europe.

      I would recommend sticking to what you’re working on already – French and Mandarin – but leaving the door open for German later on. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment and for reading!

  • Thanks Brian Powers for your valuable article. I am an Indonesian, ever stayed in the USA for 3 months id the end of 2012 and had travelling in some states. You are right, Indonesian language will be one of the world future language because of some factors such as the language is easy to learn, economic growth of the country, the more Indonesian people go and stay in other countries, also the culinary and culture of Indonesia (culture and cuisine of Indonesia is one of the best in the world) . More international people learn culture of Indonesia and the language through internet as well as through Indonesian people living in other countries.

    • Thank you, rian, for your comment, and for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Esperanto. Not really. Where’s spanish? Where’s Mandarin chinese?

    • Again – this is not a list of all of the world’s valuable languages. It’s a list of five languages I think you should pay attention to and consider learning.

      Mandarin and Spanish are undeniably important languages. I didn’t think I needed to convince anyone of this.

  • i am indonesian. yes. indonesia’s internet is a growing bigger n bigger. and i can tell you that indonesian language is easy! thanks for this nice article.

    • You’re welcome Miftahul, always nice to get some validation from a native speaker. 😉

      Thanks a lot for reading and for your support!

  • Anonymous

    Brian, thanks for your awesome article:-) -Trizie-

    • No problem! Thank you for reading and for your support! It really means a lot to me to read comments like this. The internet is not always so kind 😉

  • Anonymous

    Indonesian… important perhaps for lecturers in Asian Studies departments of Australian universities seeking academic promotion, but other than that? Most Indonesians take little pride in having a good command of Indonesian…

    • Anonymous

      This contrasts markedly with speakers of English, almost all of whom take great pride, and invest serious purpose, in mastering their native language. Just listen to your TV and radio for proof, or read any odd page of Americans drivelling on the interwebs.

  • Anonymous

    Indonesian is one of most critical language now..

    • I agree that it’s important, but I’m curious as to why you think so?

      Thanks for the comment! 😀

    • Anonymous

      Indonesia has more than 13,000 islands with so many culture backgrounds and dialects (Indonesian Language to unite them). It is also knowns as the Big 5 biggest population in the world. This country is very competitive in business as well, wondering what it doesn’t have. No wonder each person has 3 mobile phones! Known as Tourists heaven. It has Borobudur ( one of the World Wonders). An many more….

    • Anonymous

      from Edwin N Joyce

  • Good insight! Makes me want to learn some Indonesian now – which is bad, as I’m already late in my Albanian schedule 🙂

    • Hi Panglossa! I’m thrilled to hear that what I had to say had an impact on your interests, pretty flattering.

      There is always enough time for more language learning. One day you’ll be comfortable enough with your Albanian to start a new one!

      Thanks for your comment and for reading!

  • Anonymous

    As an Indonesian, I’ll say that whoever wrote this article is right. With no tenses, genders or tones, this language is easy to be learned. The only thing you should remember is the vocabulary. Once you know it, you’ll be soon a master.

    • Thank you for your comment! Really glad to hear that this is true. Indonesian is sadly not a language most of us in the US ever consider learning. They don’t really offer many classes, there aren’t a ton of resources, yet it manages to have one of the highest speaker counts in the world.

      Hopefully this changes!

    • Anonymous

      As a scholar of languages, and Indonesian in particular, I can say that it is easy for most native speakers of English to make a quick start in Indonesian (or Malay or Malaysian). I can also say that I know men and women who have studied or used it for decades who still sound shockingly unidiomatic. The basics are straightforward enough. It will still take immense time and effort to acquire native-like fluency.

    • I agree with your statement that Indonesian is easier to be learned because there are no tenses, genders, or tones, compared to English. And I see some of the social media statistics as an Indonesian-English translator working on a social media project. Indonesian is my first language and English second.

    • I’m Filipino (whose language is heavily influenced by Spanish and English) and I agree. I have plenty of Indonesian friends who are currently teaching me the basics. It’s quite easy to learn.

  • Anonymous

    Append Spanish to the list, replace Esperanto & Indonesian with Russian & Mandarin… then, the article would have more ground

    • I do mention in the article that the point was not to make a list of the world’s most spoken languages. This article is not intended to list off the world’s most widely spoken languages nor is it intended to imply that these are the only languages worth learning.

      Spanish and Mandarin are incredibly important languages, and have the largest native speaker count, so of course they’re worth your time. The point seems to have been missed. This is nothing more than a few reasons to consider learning *these* languages.

  • Anonymous

    All but one had to be european laguages? seem you threw indonesian in just to save face. This article presents a very eurocentric position my friend. Most of all, stating that german conforms 18% of world literature is utterly ridiculous. It may be that german claims 18% of european literature but taking various millenia of asian literature into account it seems absolutely impossible to me.

    Maybe you are not being eurocentric you are just stating that these languages are the most interesting ones for L1 anglo-speakers. But the you should have stated that, taking into account that english is now the worlds lingua franca and people from all over the world are going to read this.

    Also if you want to learn a language for cultural gain you wont care about its economy or how widespread it is and viceversa if you are learning a langua for the job market you wont care about its culture. This two objectives are not compatible and should be separated in a list of this kind.

  • Lily Pond

    Esperanto, as well as other artificial languages, cannot be expected to reach a lingua franca status.

  • There is no easier way to meet thousands of people in several countries ON AN EQUAL BASIS than learning Esperanto. Next to nobody can master several “natural” languages without spending decades abroad.

    • Well I’m not sure that I agree that you can’t master other languages without spending decades abroad – but everything I’ve observed of Esperanto and its speakers does indicate that its simplicity is a truly beautiful thing. There are *so* many naysayers out there railing against Esperanto for one reason or another, but I have never, ever heard someone who did learn Esperanto show the slightest sign of regret. I think it’s sad how misunderstood the language is, and the more I read about it and speak to those who have learned it, the more I look forward to spending some time this summer learning Esperanto.

  • Anonymous

    Can’t take this article seriously without spanish being included. Did you leave it out in an attempt to be ‘controversial’ or ‘different’. The reality is the article loses credibility and seriousness

    • So did you read the article or just glance down the list? I addressed this.

  • Anonymous

    “Portuguese is the third most commonly spoken language in Europe”
    Portuguese is a beautiful language, and worldwide it has an impressive number of speakers, but third most commonly spoken in Europe? Certainly not in the number of native speakers, and, next to English and Spanish, as a second language German, French and Russian have a wide distribution, being taught at secondary and even primary schools around the continent (e.g. in my own country, the Netherlands, most kids get at least some exposure to French and German at school, and English is throughout their secondary school).

    • Thanks for your comment.

      I appear to have written that line slightly incorrectly, and it has been fixed. What I meant to say is that it is the third most widely spoken European language. It is the 6th (or 5th depending on who you ask) most widely spoken language on Earth.

      I thought about including Russian on this list but ultimately decided against it. It wasn’t included because despite still being a very important widespread language, and one of my personal favorites, it is sadly on its way out. With the fall of the USSR the countries that were once forced to speak Russian in Asia and Eastern Europe are steadily returning to their native languages. Some figures indicate that by mid century the native speaking population will dwindle considerably.

      Does that make it not worth learning? Not at all, it’s not like it will die out any time soon, but it didn’t really fit the criteria of this post.

    • Anonymous

      I would have switched Esperanto for Russian on this list because Spanish which is widely studied can serve as a great base for learning other European languages. I don’t see many major benefits from learning Esperanto. I would put it in similar category with Catalan, which I would love to learn. Other languages will serve me better considering that I don’t live in Barcelona anymore. It all depends on where you live for the utility of some languages. Most important you have to be passionate enough about the language to dedicate the time. One argument in favor of Russian is the wealth of great literature. Pushkin, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are much better in Russian. This provides a good means of practice. I practice my Spanish even less than my Russian for the sole fact that there is less great Spanish literature out there.