Guidelines on How to Choose a Language to Learn

by Marek on May 17, 2013

How to choose a language to learn

How to Choose a Language to Learn


Learning a foreign language is always a worthy endeavor, regardless of one’s motivation for doing so. However, before you can start the process, the first step is choosing which language to learn. This decision is one that needs to be made after careful consideration of certain factors. Listed below are comprehensive guidelines as well as practical tips on how to choose a language to learn.

Consider the Practical Application and Intended Usage

People learn foreign languages for a number of reasons, but some of the most common inducements have something to do with employment, education, and travel. Asking yourself why you want to learn a foreign language would make it a lot easier to choose a specific one. For instance, self-starting entrepreneurs these days are keen on upgrading the status of their business to a global status, which entails having to learn major Asian and European languages, i.e. Mandarin, Japanese, German, French, Spanish, and many others.

The same principle applies if you are thinking of traveling or studying abroad. Some languages (Mandarin, Dutch, French, German, and Spanish) are used in many countries, which provides you a greater advantage since learning them would allow you to communicate well with a larger group of people.

Take Note of Your Native Language

It is necessary to consider one’s native tongue when choosing a foreign language to learn because it can affect the rate at which you absorb information. Native English speakers, for instance, usually have an easier time acquiring French and German since both languages are closely related to English. Conversely, English speakers normally find it harder to master Asian languages especially Tagalog, Mandarin, and Japanese due to their unique features (pronunciation, intonation, etc).

Available Resource Materials

Acquiring a new language would require the use of resources such as instructional videos, text-based and/or audio lessons, and other learning tools. While there are many language programs available today, it is in your best interest to choose a language for which there are unlimited learning resources. Some of the most comprehensive language programs offer lessons in the following languages:


Personal Timetable and Difficulty of the Language

It is important to determine how much time you have before you need to become proficient in your chosen language. The difficulty of the language you choose is highly relevant especially if you want to achieve fluency quickly. It is always best to have realistic expectations so as not to get disappointed or frustrated when you do not achieve fluent status within your targeted time frame.

Some languages are simply harder to grasp than others due to certain factors such as complicated grammar rules, words that are difficult to pronounce, and strange syntax. You also have to ascertain the amount of time you can devote to studying a new language since it will greatly affect the rate of your progress.

Many people require several months to learn and master one language, while others are quick learners. Knowing exactly which group you belong to would help determine which language is best for you to take up first. Once you become fluent in languages that are easy to learn, you can always move on to more challenging ones. Progression is an important learning technique that you should know, since it applies to almost all disciplines, not just in language acquisition.

You may also want to conduct a cost-benefit analysis before choosing a specific language. It is imperative to gauge the benefits of learning a foreign language based and compare it to the amount of time and money you are required to invest while studying it.

Tip: Some languages will better serve you in the future due to their widespread usage all over the world.

Your General Interest on the Language

The process of learning a foreign language is highly personal, regardless of whether you are to use the new found knowledge for employment, studies, or travel. If you lack any genuine interest in a specific language, it will seriously hamper your ability to learn it let alone become a fluent speaker. It is necessary that you have at least the slightest yearning to know and explore the language before you decide to start learning about it.

Choosing a language to learn should be done only after careful consideration of essential factors. Since you are going to put in a considerable amount of effort, not to mention financial resources to this endeavor, you have to make sure that it would be well worth it.

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