I want to study a second language... what should I choose?I want to study a second language "in a specialized institute": What are the most common language in the world? Of non-English, of...

I want to study a second language... what should I choose?

I want to study a second language "in a specialized institute":
 What are the most common language in the world?
 Of non-English, of course.
  "French, Spanish, Arabic, Turkish, Japanese ..."
 Why did you choose this language?

thanxxx for helping.... ^_^


Asked on by loraaa

51 Answers

billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I studied French in college myself, but if I had it to do over again I would positively study Spanish. I might even major in Spanish. Because of the enormous increase in the percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. population, there is a great practical advantage in being bilingual in English and Spanish. I don't believe it is sufficient to take a few semesters of any language in order to meet college requirements and then quit. I had four semesters of college French--and then I went to France and found out how totally incompetent I was. There are many beautiful languages in the world, but I believe that Spanish is not only beautiful but exceedingly practical for any American student. It also has the virtues of being very consistent and not at all hard to pronounce. Actually, a lot of us are surrounded by people speaking Spanish, so the pronunciation should come even easier if we listen. My daughter majored in Spanish and spent a year as an exchange student at the University of Madrid. She is now a speech pathologist with an M.A. teaching in the public schools, and she is much sought after because she is bilingual.

vangoghfan's profile pic

vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Spanish will probably become an ever-more-useful language to know in the United States. At one time, Japanese was increasingly emphasized, but the decline in the Japanese economy has probably reduced that emphasis.  Many students today seem drawn toward the study of Chinese, since they assume that trade with China will continue to grow.  Still, I think that if I were learning another language today, I would choose Spanish, not only because it is useful in the present day but also because knowing Spanish provides access to a very rich literary tradition, not only in Spain but in Central and South America.

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think the question is definitely what you want to do with the language. If you want to learn a language for business purposes, which business? Chinese might be your best bet for an international corporation, but if you want to open a corner market you might want to try the local tongue. I'm in California, where Spanish is highly useful. Yet my school teaches only one language: French. The reason? It helps them better understand the English language.
pacorz's profile pic

pacorz | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I would echo the thoughts of others and say that first, you need to think carefully about what you want ot do with the language. Are there foreigners who are at the cutting edge of the field you want to work in? If so, what language do they speak? Also consider that there is quite a difference between being able to speak a language with fluency and being able to read and write in it fluently; depending on what kind of learner you are, one of these might be much harder for you than the other.

That said, American students looking for a general language should be encouraged to study Spanish or Chinese, which are very commonly spoken in the world.

wannam's profile pic

wannam | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

I agree with the suggestion above that your choice may depend on what you want to do with that language. If Latin is an option, you might want to consider it as well. Latin is a dead language (which menas no one speaks it anymore), but it is highly useful. Many languages are based on Latin. With a Latin language background, one can easily understand many of the romance languages (like French and Spanish). If you are entering the medical field, Latin will be extremely helpful because many of the terms are based on Latin prefixes, suffixes, and roots. The only other consideration might be the type of language you enjoy studying. French and Spanish will be very similar to English, but Japanese or Chinese will be totally different. Both Japanese and Chinese are concept languages. Symbols represent whole words or entire concepts. If you are a conceptual learner, this might be a great language for you to learn.
lmetcalf's profile pic

lmetcalf | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

I think your choice depends on what you want to do with that foreign language. If you want to teach, then you should choose a widely spoken second language, like Spanish. If you want to have this as an asset in business, then Chinese may be more useful language, seeing as how China is such an important producer of goods for the world.

bullgatortail's profile pic

bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Here in Florida, Spanish would be the best possible foreign language to know, since many jobs require Spanish-speaking employees. Nationally, there is a lack of Arabic speakers, and jobs--mostly Federal--requiring English-Arabic bilingual speakers command top dollar. Making this choice probably depends in part on where you live, but right now you can't go wrong learning an Arabic dialect. 

bigdreams1's profile pic

bigdreams1 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Well, if you are seeking to study the most widely spoken language (numbers of native speakers), then, according to the Summer Institute for Linguistics Ethnologue Survey from 1999, the top choice would be Chinese, followed by Spanish, English, Bengali, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese, German, and French.

However, practically, I would say Spanish would be your best bet as you will most probably come in contact with more Spanish-speaking people in the region of the world in which you live.

Personally (being a certified German Instructor) I would say take German as it is the basis for much engineering and technical writing, and it is a relatively easy language to learn with much history.

But whichever language you choose, it is wonderful that you are seeking to become bi-lingual. It is not only good for the synapses in your brain, it shows us to be part of the world community.



francais307's profile pic

francais307 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

French is the second most studied language in the world. It is spoken not only in many European countries, but also in Cambodia, Korea, and several countries in Africa. And don't forget Canada! I chose to study French because it is, and has historically been, a global influence, both linguistically and culturally. It is also a beautiful language to speak and to listen to. 

falterzan-32's profile pic

falterzan-32 | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

Wow, it is really nice to see many ppl admiring Arabic Language.

As it's my first language I dont need to learn it fortunately but I am starting German because it is the most widely spoken in Europe and for my Medical practice as well.

iamkaori's profile picture

iamkaori | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) Salutatorian

Posted on

I speak and learn quite a few languages, and here are some suggestions:

If you started with English, Spanish would be a smoother choice for you if you are considering staying in the United States for your lifetime. Spanish is the second most common language spoken here, and I see no reason why you should not take it. I am currently in the course of studying this language and it is helping me tremendously in life.

If you are planning to go international, pick up some Chinese. Chinese I assume is the second most popular language spoken in the world, and it is commonly said that Chinese industries would come to overpower the United States' one day. Chinese letters are completely different obviously as compared to the English alphabet, but its sentence structure is most similar to the English language out of the Asian languages, as far as I know. (Subject + verb + object etc.)

These are two of the languages I know and I know for sure that they have helped me a lot in my life. Good luck!

clyoon's profile pic

clyoon | Student, Grade 12 | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted on

I believe Spanish and Chinese are the two biggest languages besides English in this world. If you learn and are able to speak Spanish, you can talk to so many people in so many countries, such as America, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, etc etc. Pretty much you can speak to everyone in South America, Central America, many people in North America and in Europe. Spanish is a very popular language and it is fun to learn in my opinion! I took it in high school for 3 years and I enjoyed it. It's not too difficult to learn. 

Chinese is also a popular one because the Chinese population is big in this world. Also there are many Chinese immigrants and Chinese families in America and Canada. If you're interested in Chinese, however, there is actually no language called Chinese. The Chinese speak either Mandarin or Cantonese. I would suggest Mandarin because it is more popular than Cantonese. Mandarin is more popular because a greater population speaks it. 

eli468's profile pic

eli468 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

For a job in the medical field one of the languages that is considered of highest importance in the U.S. to learn is Spanish. It is the," primary second language learned and spoken in the United States." 

Chinese and French are also good languages to learn, but it really does depend on your job field, if you plan to travel, where you will be living, etc.

One of the best ways to learn a language is to pick a language that you enjoy learning. It can be very easy to not retain what you learn if it isn't a language you are passionate about. Also, it is said that after learning another language, learning any after that gets easier and easier so you could always start with a language you enjoy even if it is used less and then learn a more used language in the medical field such as Spanish.

Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

Posted on

I chose to study Spanish because so many people speak it in the United States. I've found it immensely helpful in my local and Church community. It enabled me to set up play dates for my sister and make friends with my neighbors (trivial, I know). Learning Spanish opened a new world of music and culture that I've grown to love and appreciate. These might seem really trivial reasons but I love them anyway. 

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