The Best Second Languages To Learn (And Why)


There are many amazing benefits to learning a second language, for instance, it can keep your mind sharp, and it can help ward off the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Learning a second language can also help you become a better person because it can help you understand new cultures. But which one should you choose? Which one is the best to learn?

There are 15 of the little over 7,000 different languages all around the world that would be your best bet to choose from when seeking to learn a second language. They come from four of the seven continents (North America, South America, Europe, and Asia).

Here we will be going through some of the best second languages to learn and why each of them are important to learn. Many studies over many decades agree on the benefits of learning a second language. After reading this article, you should have enough information to help you make the final decision on which second language would benefit you the most to learn.

The Best Second Languages to Learn

Now we will dive into 15 of the best second languages to learn and why you should take the time to learn them. This list is not exhaustive or in any particular order. The one that seems to fit your situation the best will be the one that rises to the top of your personal list.

Mandarin Chinese

The Mandarin Chinese language is also called Northern Chinese and is the native language of two-thirds of the population of China. More people speak and understand it natively than any other language in the world.

Why

The reason you should learn Mandarin Chinese as a second language is that it is the most widely native spoken language in the world.

  • There are over one billion people all over the world that speak Mandarin Chinese.
  • Mandarin Chinese is especially great to learn if you are a business person since you could potentially tap into the vast Chinese market.
  • It is a lot easier to learn Mandarin Chinese than European languages for some, but for others it could prove to be quite the challenge.
  • If you like to travel, learning Mandarin Chinese can make it much easier to get around in China and Taiwan.

If you would like my suggestion on where to learn Chinese starting today, you can take a free trial with the program we use in our household. Start your free trial learning Chinese today at this link.

This Chinese for Kids Book Set is one of the biggest salers on Amazon for starting your Chinese language studies. In our opinion, my husband as someone who’s successfully self-taught another language and me as an EL teacher, using children’s books is one of the best tools!

Hindi

The Hindi language is most frequently used in India. Although Hindi is one of the more challenge languages to learn, it’s very useful. Hindi and Arabic also share some words, so it’s a great lead-in to even adding a third language. 

Why

There are nearly half a billion people all over the world that speak Hindi, which is one reason it is one of the top languages to learn as a second language.

  • India’s economy has been growing substantially, and it is becoming one of the biggest exporters of business, commerce, digital media, and other information-based technologies.
  • If you plan to travel to India someday to experience the landmarks, history, and culture, it is much easier to explore and be more intuned to the experience if you know the Hindi language.
  • There is a pretty high demand for people that speak Hindi as a second language since Hindi is the fourth most-spoken language in the world.
  • If you learn how to speak Hindi, then you will be able to speak Urdu with just a bit more time and effort as well since these languages are relatively similar.

My pick for the best program to learn Hindi would be to get in on the free trial at this link and start your journey to mastering Hindi today.

Spanish

Spanish is a great second language to learn, since it’s one of the most frequently spoken languages in the world. In fact, as far as native languages go, Spanish is number two on the list of most common. 

Why

If you live in the United States, then it is a fantastic idea to learn Spanish as your second language because Spanish is the second largest language spoken in the US.

  • There are over 400 million people in about 20 countries that speak Spanish as their native language.
  • Having the ability to speak Spanish can greatly widen your career options.
  • If you are wanting to travel to Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Costa Rica, Argentina, or Panama, then you should seriously consider learning Spanish before you visit these amazing places because Spanish is their official language.
  • If you are of Latino descent, but were born and raised in the United States, you might not have been taught to speak Spanish, so learning to speak Spanish as your second language can help get you in touch with your roots and take pride in your ancestry.

A truly great program to learn Spanish and one my husband is currently using to start his mastery of the Spanish language can be found at the following link. Follow this link to get started on your free trial to this great and comprehensive Spanish language course.

French

French is of course the official language of France, but there are tons of French speakers living outside of France, too. In fact, there’s a large French speaking population in Africa. 

Why

There are more than 300 million people that speak French within just five continents.

  • It is easy to find many resources to learn French because it is the second most learned language in the world.
  • Not only is finding resources easy but learning the French language, if you are an English speaker, is fairly easy as well.
  • French is ranked number three on the list of languages that are useful for business, behind Mandarin and English.
  • The French language is on the rise in Africa due to a Chinese investment in sub-Saharan Africa, so it is possible that the French language might become as popular as Mandarin someday.

To start today with an award winning program to learn French in a fun and very interactive way, follow this link to the French language learning system we would recommend.

Russian

Russian is an East Slavic language, and it is the official language in Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Kyrgyzstan. Still, it is also widely used in Central Asia and somewhat used in the Baltic states.

Why

Out of all the most widely spoken languages, Russian comes in eighth, and it is the most spoken language in all of Europe.

  • Russia happens to be the largest country in the world, so if you ever plan to vacation in Russia or even make Russia your home, then you should consider learning Russian as your second language.
  • Learning Russian can help you learn other Slavic languages due to their similarities.
  • If you like to have a bit of a challenge when learning a new language, then learning Russian as your second language is a fantastic idea.
  • The Russian language is a priority language in the United States.
  • Russia happens to be one of the largest producers of natural resources in the world, so if you have an interest in doing business with them, it is ideal for learning Russian first.

If you are truly serious about starting on your path the becoming fluent in Russian, here is our pick for the best way to dive into the Russian language.

Arabic

Arabic is a Semitic language that is named after the Arabs, and there are three different forms of Arabic which are Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic, and Dialectal Arabic.

Why

  • Once you learn Arabic, it will be easier to learn other languages in the region like Persian, Turkish, or Hebrew because they are very similar to Arabic.
  • There are scholarships and other programs that are provided by the United States government since Arabic has strategic importance in the United States.
  • You can open up a whole lot of new business opportunities if you decide to learn Arabic as your second language.
  • Islam is the most popular religion in the Arab world, and if you are a member of the Muslim religion, it is possible to learn more about your faith through the study of Arabic.

To start learning Arabic within minutes sign up for your free trial with the language learning program I recommend at this link.

German

The German language is the most widely spoken language in Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria, and it is a West Germanic language. It is one of the official languages of the EU and there are many scholarship and study abroad opportunities for both high school and college age students.

Why

German is spoken by over 130 million people worldwide, and it is similar to Dutch, English, Afrikaans, Scots, Yiddish, and a few others.

  • Of the Germanic language, German is the second most widely spoken after English.
  • If you are a native English speaker, then learning German can be simpler because German and English both use the same 26 letter alphabet.
  • If you are a business person, it is a good idea to learn German since it is a major business language, and it is used often in political discussions.
  • If you love to read about philosophy, music, art history, chemistry, medicine, theology and other important works, then learning German will allow you to read the exact words by the people who wrote them.

My husband strongly recommends using the German language learning software at this link. It is how he started and sustained his path to conversational fluency in German.

Our daughter also began with this program and went on to a minor in German and becoming the president of the German club at her university. This all happened after it helped her land a scholarship for a senior study abroad trip for her final high school year.

Portuguese

Portuguese is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula, and it is the official language of Angola, Brazil, Portugal, and some others.

Why

  • Portuguese is not as commonly studied as Spanish, French, or a few other languages, which can help you land a great job.
  • If you want to travel to Brazil at some point in your life, then learning Portuguese is a fantastic idea so you can experience more of what Brazil has to offer.
  • You can work in many diverse fields such as diplomacy, journalism, law, publishing, health, advertising, and many more if you know how to speak Portuguese.
  • Trade between the United States, Europe, and Brazil have been increasing, so being able to speak Portuguese can help you land a good job.

To get a free trial to start learning Portuguese today, check out this link to the language learning site that we recommend.

Italian

When paired with Sardinian, Italian is the closest language to Latin than any other language, and it is the official language of Switzerland, Vatican City, and Italy.

Why

Italian is spoken by a total of about 85 million people around the world, and it is also known as the language of music.

  • Italian is the fourth most studied language in the United States, making it the most studied language in the world for pleasure and culture.
  • If you absolutely love music or if you are a musician, then learning Italian as your second language can be great for your music enjoyment or your career.
  • Learning Italian as your second language is a great idea from a business standpoint because Italy is one of the top economies in the world.
  • Italian is the closest language to Latin than any other language, and learning Italian can help make learning French, Spanish, Romanian, and Portuguese easier.
  • The Italian language happens to be the most romantic of all the romance languages.

To learn Italian with the right foundation we recommend you sign up for the free trial at this link.

Japanese

Japanese is an East Asian language, it is the national language of the island nation of Japan.

Why

The Japanese language is spoken by roughly 128 million people all over the world, and it can help prepare you for a better future, especially in the digital and technical fields.

  • If you plan on working, visiting, or living in Japan at some point, then learning the language can be very beneficial.
  • With the Asian economy on the rise, you could find more work opportunities, and since Japanese is not a commonly learned language, you will have less competition when it comes to finding work.
  • If you enjoy watching Japanese anime but do not like to read subtitles or you want to be able to understand what the show is really about, then learning Japanese may be a good idea.
  • Getting into a great college can be easier if you know how to speak Japanese due to it being a less-common language.

Japanese is a notoriously difficult language to learn for speakers of Latin and Germanic languages. If you are setting your sights on it as your long term goal, you will want to start our with a solid foundation. I recommend signing up for a free trial of our choice for language learning programs hers at this link.

Korean

Korean is an East Asian language, and it is the official language of both North and South Korea.

Why

The Korean language is spoken by about 77 million people all around the world, and it is known as a language isolate or a natural language that does not have a relationship with other languages.

  • Learning Korean is a fantastic idea if you plan to visit Korea at some point in your life since Korea is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth regardless of the season.
  • Korean culture and language are said to grow in importance in the next few years, so learning Korean can help you understand economic and political issues.
  • Since Korea is one of the strongest economies in Asia, learning Korean can be great for your future career.
  • It is relatively easy to learn Korean as the alphabet only contains 24 letters, and Korean letters are written similar to the shape your tongue or mouth makes when you produce their sound.

With the popularity of KPOP bands such as BTS, music is an excellent way to learn Korean and practice new slang vocabulary. You can find the popular CDs at Amazon here.

For those wanting to tackle the Korean language, get in on the free trial here at our pick for one of the best language programs for learning Korean.

Turkish

The Turkish language is the national language of Turkey, and it is also somewhat spoken in Syria, Germany, Bulgaria, Iraq, and other parts of Europe and Central Asia.

Why

About 70 to 80 million people speak Turkish around the world, and Turkey is one of the most important countries on the planet because it is the only country located on two different continents.

  • Turkey happens to be the 16th largest economy in the world, and it is becoming more influential economically and politically, so learning Turkish can make you an important asset to various agencies and institutions in the region.
  • If you like to learn about history, anthropology, or archeology, then learning Turkish can open the door to a whole lot of knowledge that would not be available if you did not know Turkish.
  • There is not a lot of competition for finding jobs if you speak Turkish as a second language since not a lot of people are interested in learning the language.
  • It is quite difficult to find Turkish literature that has been translated into English, so learning Turkish means, you can enjoy original literary works from Turkey.

Bengali

Bengali is an Indo-Aryan language, also known as Bangla, which is widely spoken in Bangladesh.

Why

There are approximately 265 million speakers of Bengali in the whole world, and it is the seventh most spoken language in the world.

  • Bengali happens to be the second most spoken language in India after Hindi, and there are a lot of Bengali speakers in the United States, Italy, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.
  • Bengali is one of the 23 official languages spoken in India, and there is an exceptionally high demand for Bengali translators.
  • Like some other languages, Bengali is a critical language needed by the United States government, so it can be easy to find great work if you speak Bengali.
  • If you love to read poetry or literature in its original language, then you will really want to learn Bengali since there are a lot of amazing literary works written in Bengali.

Vietnamese

The Vietnamese language originated in Vietnam, where it is the official language, and it is an Austroasiatic language.

Why

Vietnamese is spoken by roughly 76 million people all around the world, making it the sixteenth most widely spoken language in the world.

  • If you are planning to travel to Vietnam someday to experience the breathtaking landscape or enjoy the delicious food, you may want to learn Vietnamese so you can better experience the Vietnamese culture.
  • Vietnamese is a very lively language, and it is said it will make you a happier person while learning it.
  • Vietnam’s economy seems to be on the rise, so learning Vietnamese can be a good move from a business standpoint.

English

If English isn’t your native language, it’s a great one to pick up as a second. The English language was first spoken in early medieval England, and it is a West Germanic language.

Why

With over 400 million native speakers in the world, English is the third most widely native spoken language in the world. It is the number one most widely spoken language when language learners picking it up as a second language are taken into account.

  • English is the official language of 53 countries, so at least one in five people all around the world can speak or at least understand English to some extent.
  • More than half of the content on the internet is written at least in part in English, a very large amount of television shows, songs, and films are produced in English.
  • Speaking English allows you to study all over the world because there are thousands of universities and schools that offer to teach English.
  • English is the official language of the United Kingdom, India, Canada, and South Africa and is the de facto language of the United States.

If you or someone you know are wanting to learn English with a rock solid foundation there are two programs the we recommend you try…

Here is the standard Rocket English program free trial link.

Here is the English for Spanish speakers free trial link.

Final Thoughts on The Best Second Languages To Learn

You always hear the saying “it’s a small world,” but these days, it really is true. Connecting with people across the globe is now easier than ever.

Learning multiple languages is essential for keeping up and communicating with those that speak other languages and choosing any one of these options would make a great second language. It really is up to you!

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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