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Which language should I learn?

If you're not sure which language to study, here are some factors to consider:

Availability

Are materials and other resources available for the language you want to learn? Are there classes in your area? For the popular languages, like French, Spanish and German, this shouldn't be a issue, but it may be difficult to find resources and/or classes for the lesser-studied languages.

Usefulness

If you want to learn a language with a large number of speakers and which is spoken in many countries, the ones to choose in order of 'usefulness' are: English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin), German, Japanese, Portuguese and Hindi/Urdu.

This list is based on the number of speakers, the number and population of countries where the languages are spoken, the number of major fields using the languages internationally, the economic power of countries using the languages, and their socio-literary prestige.

For a breakdown of these factors see:
http://www2.ignatius.edu/faculty/turner/languages.htm

The languages with the most speakers are:

  1. Mandarin Chinese (720 million)
  2. English (480 million)
  3. Spanish (320 million)
  4. Russian (285 million)
  5. French (265 million)
  6. Hindi/Urdu (250 million)
  7. Indonesian/Malay (230 million)
  8. Arabic (221 million)
  9. Portuguese (188 million)
  10. Bengali (185 million)
  11. Japanese (133 million)
  12. German (109 million)

Notes

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