Whether you’re looking to learn a language from scratch, or brush up existing linguistic skills, here are our top picks for the most important languages to learn this year.
It’s well known that Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages around the world, but it’s becoming more important for the UK too. According to the British Council, Spanish is the most valuable language for cultural, educational and diplomatic purposes. Also scoring highly on economic factors, it tops their list of most important languages worldwide.
The good news is that Spanish is also deemed the most accessible language to learn, with plenty of evening classes and tuition available around the country.
Approximately 15% of the world’s population is a native Mandarin speaker, and beyond China, it’s used extensively across the region, from Indonesia to Mongolia. While the US still has the biggest economy, China’s is growing at a faster rate, making Mandarin one of the most important languages for this generation to learn.
Learning Mandarin isn’t as tricky as it might appear either. The grammar is surprisingly similar to English – in fact, with no gendered or plural nouns you could even argue it’s simpler.
Although taught extensively in schools, French is sometimes overlooked in favour of more widely spoken languages. However, as the official language of 29 countries, French can take you surprisingly far. With the majority of these countries in Africa, where there’s still tremendous potential for growth, French will continue to play a major role in the global market.
It’s the official language of 20 countries, has over 375 million speakers worldwide, and is one of the official languages of the United Nations. The importance of the Middle East in international affairs is growing and trade with the Arab world is booming.
Yet relatively few westerners choose to study Arabic – making those that do all the more valuable. From banking to business, intelligence to interpretation, great opportunities await those versed in Arabic language and culture.
The official language of eight countries around the world, including the 200 million inhabitants of Brazil, Portuguese is fast becoming the major language of the Southern Hemisphere.
With Brazil already the world’s eighth largest economy, and tipped as a future economic powerhouse, Portuguese could be a smart choice for those with an eye on the emerging markets. Plus, with its relatively simple sentence structures and familiar pronunciation, it’s one of the easier languages to pick up.
Make sure you read this month’s interview with language tutor Timothee, for his top tips on mastering a new lingo. Then get in touch with the Figtree team to discover how we can help get the conversation started.