Our instructors, relatives, and friends urge us to study a second language. If you’ve never studied a language before, the standard advice is to start with one and work your way up until you’re comfortable with the process. But, what if there are several that have piqued your interest? How can you pick amongst them? Compare the languages you’re interested in to see which one is the best fit for you right now.
To make sure you know what you’re expecting from the language, start by asking yourself a few questions about the languages you’re considering.
If it’s easy to understand
Consider how closely the language relates to your own tongue in terms of sound, structure, and vocabulary. There are parallels and connections between languages. For example, the vocabularies of Italian and French are very similar. It may be simpler for a speaker of one language to learn another. If you want to learn a language that is similar to your mother tongue, it is a good idea to conduct some research on languages that are similar to your mother tongue.
If it is favourable to your prospect
Choose a language that will benefit you in your future plans. Determine the fields in which you want to work. Employers’ preferred languages vary by industry. If you want to develop your dream company’s market in China, you need to learn Mandarin. Consider where you want to be in five years. Will this language assist me in achieving my objectives? Consider your future objectives to ensure that the language you pick will benefit you in the long run.
If it piques your interest
When learning a language, you learn a great deal about the culture. You’ll have a better chance of meeting individuals who speak the language and going to places where it’s commonly spoken. It is critical to ensure that the language you are learning fascinates you in order to have a positive learning experience. If you are interested in European culture, Indo-European languages such as German, Portuguese, and Italian may be of interest. Identify your passions and let them guide you to a language that you will enjoy learning.
If it’s a widely spoken language
Some languages are more commonly spoken, increasing your chances of utilizing them on a daily basis. If you want to choose a language that will be beneficial to you regardless of your own preferences, you should conduct some study on the volume and distribution of speakers for that language throughout the world as a starting point. Mandarin, Spanish, and Arabic, for example, are the most widely spoken languages on the planet and are thus always viable alternatives. You should also consider regional differences. For example, learning Mandarin is more advantageous if you are situated in Asia because more people speak this language; but, if you are based in the Americas, Spanish may be a better choice.
What employment prospects are there?
Depending on your professional ambitions, certain languages are more in demand than others. If you wish to work in a certain industry, you may find that the primary employers are headquartered in a country other than your own. In this scenario, it would be advantageous for you to learn which languages these firms use for the majority of their company operations and from which places you would most likely be working if you joined them. Travel, hospitality, and international relations are just a few of the key industries looking for multilingual employees. It may even be a need for some positions, rather than merely a plus or benefit, to speak well in more than one language.
Are there suitable learning resources?
You must be able to get study resources such as pronunciation guides, video lectures, and phrase books in order to learn the language. There will be a lot of books and courses available for popular languages, but there may not be as much for regional or minor languages. If you’re learning a language for the first time, it’s typically a good idea to pick one with a lot of learning materials. That way, you may try out different learning tools to see which ones work best for you.
How much time is required for you to study?
If you don’t have a lot of spare time to study, pick a language that sounds similar to your original tongue. If a new language includes linguistic elements or terminology that you are already acquainted with, it will take you less time to get comfortable with it. Something from the same language family or one that is closely related is a good choice. Languages that are vastly different from your original tongue will take you more time and effort to learn the basics, and becoming proficient will take much longer. Mandarin would, for example, take native English speakers longer to master than French.