Learning foreign languages is a passion or a hobby for some, while for others it’s a way to increase their employability or a fancy skill to add to their resume. Whatever your reasons for wanting to learn a foreign language, we’re going to help you decide which one to learn by breaking down the most important languages to learn in 2020.
There’s no question that as the world becomes more connected through technology, learning foreign languages is becoming more and more important for our development.
Having the ability to communicate with those from a foreign country and culture allows you to expand your mind and enhance your understanding of the world.
It’s really a shame then that more and more people (mostly English speakers) are not seeing the benefits of learning a foreign language. In the US, from 2013-2016, universities cut more than 650 foreign langauge programs. In another report, it was found that in the UK only around 30% of people can read and write in a foreign language.
It seems that English has become so dominant that the motivation to learn other languages is almost lacking amongst US and UK citizens.
If we look at various European nations, however, we find that the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany etc all have a very high level of English language proficiency, despite it not being their official language.
So, why is it that most of us native English speakers have deicded to ‘let the others learn our language’ instead of learning their languages?
I’m not really sure what the answer is, but it’s a real shame.
Anyway, if you’re reading this post, you’re likely one of the few who see the importance and beenfits of learning a foreign language. The only question that remains now, is which one should you learn? Keep reading as we list the most important languages to learn in 2020.
Most Important Languages to Learn in 2020
1. Mandarin Chinese
Yes, yes. We know what you’re thinking – we’re biased. Our platform is called ‘Teacup Chinese’ after all. Okay, we admit it, you’re right. We’re a bunch of Chinese language geeks and we couldn’t bare to see Mandarin Chinese anywhere other than first on the list!
In all seriousness though, Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language in the world with more than 1 billion native speakers, and thanks to China’s massive economy, it’s also one of the most important languages to learn for international business and trade.
If you need anymore reasons to learn Mandarin Chinese, how about these:
- Chinese characters are beautiful and knowing how to read and write them is a unique and very useful skill to have.
- Mandarin Chinese isn’t really that difficult. If approached in the correct way, learning Mandarin becomes a breeze.
- Knowing Chinese gives you access to the whole of China and Taiwan. China alone is a massive country and one of the most interesting places to travel to.
If you’re sold and you want to begin learning Chinese, check out our Chinese Language Resource Library!
There’s no question that Spanish is always going to be high on any list of the most important languages to learn.
Spanish is spoken not only throughout Europe but also throughout South America. Knowing Spanish gives you an upper hand when travelling to either of these huge continents.
Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the world after Mandarin Chinese with nearly half a million native speakers.
Spanish, being a romance language, is also closely related to English making it an attractive choice for English speakers to consider learning.
Another European Language, French is the second most widely-spoken first language in Europe and one of the United Nations’ six official languages.
French is also a romance language with similarities to both English and Spanish. French is usually deemed as slightly harder to learn than Spanish however, due to it’s complex grammar.
There are many non-native speakers of French spread across countries in Europe as well as Africa and Canada! A whopping 29 countries have French as an official language. It’s clear that knowing French increases your travel options greatly.
It may be a surprise to you that Japanese made it onto our list but with 127 million native speakers and Japan having the third largest GDP in the world, it was a clear to us that Japanese is one of the most important languages to learn.
Knowing Japanese also gives you access to a beautiful country and unique culture. Anime, manga, sushi, martial arts and art are reason enough for most people to begin learning Japanese!
Japan is also a top choice for English teachers as there are many hot job opportunities and salaries are generally quite high.
Japanese is also fairly similar to Chinese in that both languages use Kanji/Hanzi (Chinese characters) in their writing system. If you have already studied Chinese, then you’ll have an advantage going into Japanese.
Back to Europe for the fifth and final language on our list – German!
German in the most widely-spoken language in Europe and is used as somewhat of a lingua franca in the central and Eastern parts of the continent.
There are over 100 million native speakers of the language. German is also one of the official languages of the European Union.
Germany has the biggest economy in Europe and the fourth largest GDP in the world, just behind Japan. When you take all of these reasons into account it’s clear why German should be considered one of the most important languages to learn for 2020!
Special mention – Portuguese
Portuguese is a bit of a dark horse. It barely didn’t make our top 5 but we thought we would give it a special mention here at the end.
The Portuguese language is unique in that is spans three very different continents – Europe, South America, and Africa. Portuguese is an official language in 9 countries including Portugal, Brazil, Mozambique, and Angola.
There are over 250 million native speakers of Portuguese, mostly located in Brazil. The Portuguese language is another Romance language, meaning it has similarities to English, Spanish and French.
Now that you know which languages are the most important to learn, it’s time to start learning!
If learning Mandarin Chinese takes your fancy, then check our Chinese resource library (including FREE downloads), which is the perfect starting point for any beginner wanting to make rapid progress in the language.
Leave a comment below and tell us which language you’re going to learn!
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Check out our Chinese language resource library →