What Are The Best Languages For Travellers To Learn?
Travelling broadens your horizons, immerses you in new cultures, and helps you to step outside your comfort zone. It also has plenty of benefits, like promoting a healthy physique and raising cultural awareness. But one of the best things about travelling is learning new languages and expanding your knowledge.
English is the universal language that is widely spoken all over the world. With 1.132 million speakers worldwide, English has become the universal language of travel. Because you can hear it almost everywhere, it’s also easy to remember words and learn the language.
For a non-English speaker, it may be quite tricky to learn it, but it depends on your native language a lot. For example, if you’re a Spanish speaker, you’ll learn English faster than a language with a whole different alphabet, like Mandarin.
On the other hand, English is easier to learn than Chinese or Vietnamese, as it’s a non-tonal language. Such languages can be interpreted depending on the pitch; a word said in a high pitch can have a different meaning than in a lower pitch. So, overall, English is an accessible language to learn.
Spanish is the second most used language in the world and is also one of the easiest to learn. Like other languages, you can learn it slower or faster depending on your native language. Spanish belongs to the family of “Romance languages”, next to Portuguese, French, Italian, Romanian and Catalan. And because they all share the same Latin roots, it’s pretty easy for a Romanian, for example, to understand and learn Spanish.
Behind the language, Spanish culture is one of the richest and most interesting to learn. Plenty of Spanish writers and their stories are known worldwide, like Miguel de Cervantes, with his Don Quijote de La Mancha stories or Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature after writing One Hundred Years of Solitude. These stories have changed the world, and even if you’ve read them in your native language, you’ll get a better grasp of the stories after learning Spanish.
Spanish is also attractive due to its many different dialects. But when learning the language for the first time, you’ll probably get used to the most known dialect, Castilian. When you travel to Spanish-speaking countries and hear different dialects, just ask the people to repeat the words slowly; they’ll surely cooperate and help you.
French is also among the Romance languages, but it’s also a language of romance. Most people associate French with love, serene sights and good food. With around 77 million native speakers of French and 203 million non-native speakers, it is also one of the most known and used languages, mostly due to colonialism, through which the language spread so much, making it official in 29 countries on different continents.
Overall, French is not hard to learn, but because the pronunciation is unique, you might face challenges, especially due to stressed words, nasal vowels, silent letters and the known back of the throat “r”. You can overcome these issues by practising and speaking from the beginning of the learning journey.
But it won’t take that much to learn French because a native English speaker can acquire conversational skills and a rich vocabulary after around 18 weeks of study (or 600 hours). After this step, you can easily visit any French country and exercise your skills.
Arabic might not be the most used language in the world, but it is surely the most influential. It’s the official language in 26 countries where businesses thrive. It could be an enormous opportunity to work, travel and get a considerable amount of money as a translator, for example, or take your business in those Arabic-speaking countries.
There are two different types of Arabic: Egyptian and Standard, and it’s important to mention this because the Standard one is the “original” language and is much more formal and difficult to learn due to its over 30 Arabic dialects.
It would be best if you focused on learning Egyptian Arabic, which is used in day-to-day talking, while the other is used more for religious purposes and books. Learning the language can be difficult because the alphabet is unique, and the pronunciation is also tricky, but it’s not impossible.
The benefits of learning languages
Being a polyglot (a person who speaks multiple languages) has more benefits than you’d think. Sure, you’re enriching your vocabulary and are able to get the full experience when travelling, but here’s why you should learn more languages:
We know it’s easier said than done, but learning more languages isn’t as difficult as it seems. It may be challenging at times because each language has a different alphabet, pronunciation rules and grammar, but you can achieve your goals as long as you get more into the country’s culture.
The most important thing is to make peace with slower progress. You need to understand that it takes time; otherwise, you might get overwhelmed and give up. Then, it would be best to create a daily schedule to stick to. As long as you already know what you’ll learn and when you’ll make less effort on planning and more on learning.
Luckily, you have plenty of resources for any language you plan on studying, from online courses, YouTube videos or apps. And you can deepen what you learn by watching movies in that language, listening to music and getting to know more about the culture.
Finally, you’ll see that as time goes by and you acquire more knowledge, it’ll be easier to get from one language to another. You’ll also get more confident in talking to people and, therefore, you can visit more countries.