Have you ever wanted to learn a new language? Maybe it was that Spanish song that always came on the radio, the flashing steel of the Japanese samurai, or the fried calamari at your family’s favorite Italian restaurant. Whatever it was, something called out to you, and now you want more. You aren’t alone. With an increasingly global market, languages – and the people who speak them – have never been more in demand. But of these thousands of languages, which should you spend your time learning?
If there’s a language you’re passionate about, then learn it. Don’t wait. Start learning today. If you aren’t sure, read on for some suggestions.
Mandarin: A Language on the Rise
Mandarin, often just called Chinese, is a language on the rise. Spoken by nearly two billion people, Mandarin is spoken in mainland China, Taiwan, and Singapore, with scattered groups in other countries. Increasingly, it’s the language of business in parts of Africa, East Asia, and Oceania. It’s a tonal language, which means that pitch changes the meaning of words. In fact, it’s commonly said that the Chinese sing when they speak, and while that’s an exaggeration, it’s not entirely wrong, either. The writing system has thousands of unique characters, each representing a single syllable. As you can imagine, that means that Mandarin has many homophones, words that sound the same but have different meanings. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Chinese grammar is as simple as the writing is complex, and it’s easy for native English speakers to master.
Spanish: A Practical Choice
Spanish, with half a billion speakers, is the common language of most of South America. It’s also widely spoken in the United States, particularly the southwestern states. If you live in the US, the odds are good someone you know speaks Spanish. Some southern states are so close to the border that they get Mexican television and radio. These make for great sources of language immersion for prospective Spanish learners. Spanish also has a largely phonetic alphabet, which means it’s pronounced how it’s spelled. Even better news for native English speakers, Spanish and English share 40% of their vocabulary. That percentage increases significantly when the most commonly used words are excluded.
Italian: A Gourmand’s Dream
Have you ever heard the saying “Italians speak with their hands”? But, just like everyone else, they speak with their mouths, too! While not as widely spoken as Mandarin or Spanish, Italian has a well-earned reputation as the language of warm Mozzarella cheese, bubbling pots of spaghetti, and sizzling carbonara. Many people in the culinary industry pick up bits and pieces of Italian, but some get a leg up and learn it from top to bottom. It’s not hard, either. Italian, like Spanish, has a great deal in common with English. In fact, of Italian’s huge array of obstacles and challenges, most native English speakers only find conjugations difficult.
A Willingness to Learn
Still uninspired? Maybe you’d rather learn Swahili, Nahuatl, or Russian. Go right ahead. The most important thing about learning a new language is a willingness to take the plunge. Those first few steps are the hardest. So pick a language, stop reading this article, and start learning today!
Author: Chuck Twain
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