by Joan Herbert
Learning a new language is a great choice of activity if you want to challenge yourself to something new, expand your horizons and make life easier when you travel. Although the major languages of the world, such as Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic are obvious choices due to the sheer number of people who speak them, there are plenty of lesser-known languages which are spoken in a range of countries and which can act as a way into a new culture. These languages may prove highly beneficial in the future as they are spoken in countries which have emerging markets. Being able to speak the language of your company’s new big client could give you a nice advantage in your career. This is not to mention the cultural benefits of being able to chat with the locals when you travel.
Here is our pick of 5 languages which you should consider learning next.
Polish is a language with a much bigger reach than you might have thought. As you might expect, it is spoken in Poland where 38.6 million people class it as their main language. However, it is also shared as a second language in other countries in the region such as Lithuania, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Romania and the Ukraine. Polish is also now considered to be the second language of both England and Ireland as a result of mass migration over the past decade.
Although it may appear difficult to learn at first, Polish can offer a route into the vast number of languages spoken throughout Eastern Europe. Once you master Polish it won’t be so hard to pick up a range of other languages.
With Portugal the new reigning European Cup Champions if you’re a soccer fan, why not learn Portuguese?! But that’s not the only reason to consider learning this Latin-based language. Although the population of Portugal is relatively small at just 10.3 million, the language is spoken by many more people throughout the world as a result of the colonial expansion of the 1500’s.
Portuguese is the main language spoken in Brazil, which will host the Summer Olympic Games this year. The country has been labelled an emerging market over the past number of years but it is set to become one of the most developed countries in the world. The global population of Portuguese speakers is in the region of 202 million. This takes into account both Portugal, Brazil, and countries in Africa such as Angola and Mozambique who also speak Portuguese.
Indonesian is the national language of Indonesia, a country of some 260 million people which is home to the largest economy in Southeast Asia. Although many people in Indonesia speak English at a working level, having the ability to speak their language when you travel and do business here will stand you in good stead. As Indonesia is now the 10th largest economy in the world, it will certainly pay to learn to speak the language if your industry has counterparts in this part of the world.
Turkish is another language that travels. 75 million people around the world speak it as their first language. It is also recognised as the second language of Germany, for example. Not only does Turkey hold a key location in modern Europe in terms of connectivity with the Middle East and Asia, but it is also where the Ottoman Empire existed for hundreds of years. This makes Turkish a very historically rich language. Turkish is related to many of the other languages spoken throughout the Balkans and up into the former Soviet states which makes it valuable as a key to understanding this culturally and politically interesting region of the world.
If one was to consider learning one African language then perhaps the natural choice is Swahili. It is the national language of both Kenya and Tanzania and is spoken widely throughout East and Central Africa. It is common in countries such as Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, the Comoro Islands and in some parts of Somalia. It is a language that has borrowed from other languages over the years and so you will find a range of words from other languages, mainly Arabic, but including English and others dotted throughout the lexicon, which can make it a fun and exciting language to learn.
There are many reasons to consider learning a new language in your free time. These very different languages all offer the possibility of opening up a whole new world of culture, business, and excitement for you. As Nelson Mandela is quoted as saying, ‘if you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart’.
Joan Herbert is an Assistant Manager at Bank-Opening-Times.co.uk, a curious individual, avid reader and a passionate creative writer.