How to decide which foreign language you should learn

So you’ve read up on why you should learn a foreign language and you’re finally convinced that it’s time to join the ranks of the billions of polyglots around the world. Now the big question is which language should you invest all that time and energy in? Consider the following to help you narrow down your options:


Do you want to learn another language for professional reasons?

Some languages are more useful in certain professions than others. Anyone working in fashion, for example, would benefit from learning French, since so much of the industry works out of Paris. Mandarin happens to be an excellent language to learn if you’re interested in international business. Do some research on your individual career to see if any particular languages pop up as being especially important. Having the right foreign language skills in the right industry can really propel your career forward in exciting and unexpected ways.


Think about whether or not one region of the world interests you more than others:

Mastering a foreign language takes years of practice and a lot of grit. The best way to work through those challenges is to have an authentic passion for language learning. Think about places in the world that you’re deeply curious about and follow that intrigue. Or if you have any favorite poets or writers who speak a particular language, you may want to let that steer you in a certain direction. Use these passions to motivate your language learning.


Which languages will be easier to learn?

Learning another language is difficult, but there are definitely some languages that present a much steeper challenge than others depending on your current language knowledge. Latin languages like Spanish and French are easier to pick up for English speakers because they share a lot of vocabulary and use nearly the same alphabet. Languages like Arabic and Mandarin, on the other hand, use completely different symbols and alphabets and share almost no vocabulary or words with English. Starting from zero with a new language is a bigger challenge, but that also makes it a greater accomplishment when you finally do learn the language.


which foreign language should I learn


Who do you know that speaks this language? Is there a place where you could practice the language?

It’s nice to know that once you learn a foreign language, you’ll have a place to speak it. Think about your geographical region and whether or not you have people around you that you could practice this language with. Consider immigrant populations in your area and different cultural centers that may be nearby.


Are you able to learn these languages? Are there people available to teach them?

Though some people swear by online and computer teaching methods, there’s really nothing compared to learning in the classroom or, even better, through immersion. Languages need to be spoken and utilized to truly sink in.


Consider future travel plans:

If you have a region of the world that you would love to explore, why not learn how to speak to the locals? Knowing the native language is a great inside track into understanding and discovering another culture.


which foreign language should I learn


If you want to live abroad, let that affect your decision.

The best way to learn a foreign language is through immersion. That’s one of the great advantages of living abroad in a country where you don’t speak the local tongue – you get to learn a new language! Internships abroad are an excellent way to attain that immersion experience in a professional context, while also gaining industry experience in your field.


Apply now for an international internship to boost your career.




1. based on chinese is hard, by Bridget Coila, CC-by-SA 2.0

2. based on 스페인어 학습 시작… 공부가 제일 쉬었어요 #Spanish #Lecture #Textbook, by Jude Lee, CC-by-2.0

3. by Elizabeth Trovall


The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.
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