“Which language should I learn after English?”
It’s one of the most popular questions we get from ESL students or native English speakers that don’t speak a second language.
The real answer will vary from person to person. To start, you’d need to answer a few basic questions.
1. Is English your native and only language you know?
The first step to answering ‘which language should I learn after English’ is answering… do you speak any other languages?
If the answer is no, then you’ll have just English to work with to make your decision. If you speak another foreign language, then you’ll have to take that into your consideration.
For example, if you want an easy language to learn as an English speaker, your best bet is to find similar languages. You don’t want to go down the rabbit hole of learning completely new vocabulary, accents, and grammar rules either if English is the only language you know.
Then comes the other important question…
2. How do you plan to use the second language?
Are you planning to use it for travel, business, personal relationships, or some other reason? We get that there may be more than one reason, but decide on the primary one. If you’re learning for travel purposes, you’ll have to take into consideration where you’ll be traveling to. If business is the reason, then you can look at which foreign language your company needs you to learn.
This one overall is straight forward for most of us.
3. What resources do you have at your disposal?
The last missing puzzle to answering this question is taking resources into consideration. You may be trying to learn Icelandic, but if you live in Japan, it’ll be heck of a lot harder.
In other words, your surrounding environment is a key factor in deciding what language you should learn after English. Even if you have a best friend or coworker that speaks your target language, you’re much more likely to succeed.
Without further ado, let’s answer the question you came here to ask.
Which Language Should I Learn After English? (Breakdown)
The 3 most common patterns that most new language learners seem to look for are: money, easiness, and reach. We’ve categorized this answer into 3 separate parts for this reason to give diverse answers for different people.
Make More Money
We’ve previously written several posts on the most useful languages to learn to make more money. From a pure data perspective, the Economist has come up with some of their own data.
Based on accumulated language bonuses, German seems to be most profitable language.
We should put a disclaimer on this however.
Learning German on its own doesn’t guarantee that you’ll make more money. You’ll most likely need to live in Germany or work for a German-based company to benefit from the foreign language skills you acquire.
This means that if you decided to learn a less profitable language like French (based on data), you could still earn more than German if you actually live in France.
Easiest Language to Learn
How about easiness? You’re in luck: we also wrote an extensive post on the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.
As we mentioned above, it mostly comes down to how similar your target language is to English. From vocabulary, accents, grammar rules, etc.
It’s like trying to learn rugby from football, instead of trying to learn baseball after playing soccer.
Based on the criteria we used: speaking, grammar, and writing, Spanish was the clear winner from the list of languages. Not only is Spanish fairly similar to English, there are overwhelming amounts of learning materials (and people) that you can leverage to keep up your momentum.
Most Spoken Language
And we’re left with the most spoken languages in the world.
If we’re talking strictly numbers here, Mandarin would take the lead with over 1B speakers. The good news is, there are native Chinese people that live all across the world. It’s likely that wherever you live, you’ll have plenty of Mandarin speakers that you can interact and practice with.
In our opinion, this is the least important factor to consider which language you should learn after English. The reason is simple. Let’s say you decided to learn Mandarin because of purely the reach it has globally.
None of us will ever have the opportunity to speak to 1B people. Nor will we even reach 100,000, if not 10,000. Using the top-bottom approach is rarely effective, including in business.
How many times have you heard someone say: ‘there’s over 1B dog owners around the world, if I can even sell to 0.1% of them, I’ll be a millionaire!’
Easy to say, hard to execute.
Conclusion: “So which language should I learn after English?”
When it comes to deciding what language to learn after English, go deeper.
What’s the true underlying purpose of why you want to learn another language? Is there a specific area in your life that could be improved as a result of learning this language? How much time do you have to actually dedicate to learning the language?
As long as you pick a language that’s not close to being extinct, you’ll find plenty of useful ways to leverage the foreign language.
Overall, taking your time to carefully consider your options will end up saving you more time and regret in the long run. Remember, there’s no one-size-fits-all answers to ‘which language should I learn after English’, but there is a right answer for you.
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