If you’re reading this, you have quite a powerful language. There are 1.5 billion global English speakers – the most spoken language in the world. Why not make your linguistic skills even more powerful by learning other strategic languages? It’s always useful to learn aspects of a language while traveling – phrases in German, French, Italian, Greek and Romanian for your trip across Europe, perhaps. But there are a handful of languages that would be wise to learn, especially as a frequent traveler. Here are the three most useful second languages.
There are at least 315 million native and non-native speakers in the Arab world, making it the fifth most spoken language in the world. With it, traveling to the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia is so much simpler (especially since the written language is so different from English lettering). Arabic is the official language of Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and a few dozen other countries. It’s also the liturgical language of the Muslim population (around 1.5 billion people), making it highly important to religious scholars and those with an interest in the topic.
Every traveler likely knows a tiny bit of Spanish, but with so many Spanish-speaking countries, it’s a no-brainer to learn in an effort to make your trips easier and more rewarding. There are about 400 million nature speakers in countries around the globe: Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala and, of course, Spain, just to name a few. It’s universally recognized as useful, as it’s the third most studied language in the world behind English and French.
If you want to interact with 1.1 billion or so people, you’re going to have to do so in Mandarin Chinese, nearly a billion of which are native speakers. China is expected to become the world’s leading economy by 2050. If you’re in business, it’s a must-know language. It would at least be extremely useful as the country’s worldwide influence increases.