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What language should I learn? Here’s how to decide.

Knowing a second, third or even fifth language is awesome, but how do you pick which one to learn (next)? There are over 6000 languages out there, so it can be overwhelming to make a decision: Some languages look beautiful or sound like pure magic, while others are particularly useful for a certain occupation or pastime.

Before you buy textbooks, enroll in classes, and download apps, it’s important to have a good reason to study – the more motivated you are to learn, the easier it will be to become fluent. We put together some tips to help you decide what language you should learn next.

Learn a language that advances your career

One of the most gratifying reasons to learn a language is for your education or your career: You can get better grades, earn a higher salary, and increase your chances of studying or working in another country. If you decide to study the language abroad, you will also come equipped with international experience and priceless soft skill that can open career doors left and right.

Learn a language that interests you

Combining a hobby or passion with language learning is the perfect incentive to study. If you have a favorite TV show or band, learning their language can be a great motivation to enjoy seeing or hearing them even more. Plus, singing along to lyrics or watching TV shows or movies in the original language can be an easy and fun way to practice your vocabulary. Picking a language that is just plain beautiful is also a good starting point (and will keep you motivated as you practice it.)

Learn a language that you can use a lot

Learning a language is all about practice, so the more you say, hear, or read the words, the better. If you have a friend or coworker who speaks a certain language, practicing can become much more convenient. If you have to go out of your way to get access to the language, progress might be slower. Of course, nothing can stop a determined language learner, but keep in mind that practice makes perfect and the more varied, available, and convenient the exercises are, the better. For inspiration. check out our article on the most spoken languages in the world.

Learn a language that works for you

Learning a language takes a lot of time and stamina, so you will need to be able to invest some resources in the endeavor. One way to choose the language you want to study can be to figure out how much time it takes to get to a certain level – and then compare that to your schedule. A language that is closer to your native language will take less time to learn, while a language with a new alphabet will take more effort. If you’re used to studying grammar and memorizing vocabulary, you will probably also be faster than someone who’s learning their first new language. Check out our article on the easy languages to learn for inspiration.

Learn a language that you can use on the road

Traveling is one of the most useful and rewarding reasons to learn a language: You will be immersed in the local culture, talk to people, ask for directions, and maybe even haggle or negotiate better deals. Being able to understand what people are saying can also give you a sense of security, which means that your time abroad will probably be a tad more relaxed. Additionally, people usually appreciate the effort of someone learning the local language and there’s a good chance that they will be more welcoming and friendly if they see that you made the attempt to learn some basic expressions.

Learn a language that you have the tools for

This might not be the most important factor when it comes to making an initial decision, but it could become crucial once you step up your game: It’s best to study a language where you have your favorite learning tools available. If you like apps, make sure your new language is supported. If you want to tandem with someone, find someone who’s up for the task. The easier it is to access your study tools of choice, the faster you will make progress.

Learn a language that’s unique

Another way to choose a language that you want to learn is to pick one that very few people learn. That way, you will stand out and get people’s attention. Be aware that the whole process might become slower and more difficult, but swimming against the language tide might just give you the edge you need to stand out.

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