The Most Useful Languages to Learn (by Category)

Learning a new language is never a bad decision. Even if a new language doesn’t help you get a new job or get into your favorite university, it will open your mind and help you with a myriad of other skills. That said, some languages are more useful than others; it all depends on your end goal. So, what are the most useful languages to learn? Read on to find out!

Most Useful Languages for Business

English is the international language of business. So, if you want to get ahead in the business world and you’re not fluent in English yet, there’s no time like the present! Taking English courses or just studying English on your own can help you communicate effectively in the workplace.

However, not all businesses use English. So, when it comes to the most useful languages to learn for business, you need only look at some of the most spoken languages in the world for guidance. Here are the top 10 most spoken languages in the world:

  1. Chinese — 1.35 billion native speakers
  2. Spanish — 543 million native speakers
  3. Hindi — 528 million native speakers
  4. English — 460 million native speakers
  5. Arabic — 315 million native speakers
  6. Portuguese — 258 million native speakers
  7. Bengali — 228 million native speakers
  8. Russian — 153 million native speakers
  9. Japanese — 128 million native speakers
  10. Western Punjabi — 118 million native speakers

While these are all the most spoken languages in the world, they may not all be the best languages to learn for business. English, Chinese, and Spanish are all excellent choices, as these are the languages spoken at a majority of the largest businesses around the world. Conversely, a language like Japanese or Western Punjabi is mostly spoken in a very specific region. So, unless you plan to look for a job in Japan or Pakistan, you’re better off learning a language that is more common in an international business environment. 

Best Languages to Learn for English Speakers

So, you already speak English fluently, but you want to add another language to your repertoire. If so, the most useful language to learn will largely depend on your goals. Again, moving abroad may require you to learn the language spoken in a specific country or region. Therefore, you will need to do some research to find the best language for you.

One of the great things about speaking English fluently is that you can become an English teacher. In many parts of the world, working as an English teacher is a coveted position that commands respect and high salaries. Additionally, learning a second language can help you understand the needs of your students and communicate as effectively as possible!

To help you find the best languages to learn for English speakers, let’s first look at some of the best places to teach English in the world:

  • Taiwan (most useful languages to learn: Mandarin Chinese, as well as Hokkien and Hakka)
    • Average teacher salary: $2,000 USD per month
  • South Korea (most useful language to learn: Korean)
    • Average teacher salary: $2,400 USD per month
  • Japan (most useful language to learn: Japanese)
    • Average teacher salary: $3,300 USD per month
  • The Middle East, including Dubai, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE (most useful languages to learn: Arabic, as well as Urdu and Farsi)
    • Average teacher salary: $4,000 USD per month

Best Languages to Learn for Jobs

Learning a common language like Spanish or Chinese can help you communicate with people in dozens of countries. Thus, some of the best languages to learn for a job also happen to be some of the most common. Having both English and another common language in your arsenal will make you a prime candidate for a variety of jobs.

However, if you are looking for a job that is specific to language or translation services, learning a less common language could be a better option. For example, with companies looking for candidates who speak English and Farsi (a language spoken in Iran and Afghanistan), you could be one of a select number of people who qualify. Not only will this help you secure unique jobs, but it could also help you command a much higher salary.

Finally, it’s important to note that the most common language required by jobs has nothing to do with spoken words. In fact, some of the best languages to learn for the future are not human languages — but computer languages. If you want to get a more technical job, learning the most useful programming languages like JavaScript, Python, or C++ can really help you stand out from the competition. In many cases, you will need to know some or all of these languages just to apply! Here’s a more comprehensive list of some of the best computer languages to learn:

  • JavaScript
  • Swift
  • Scala
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • C++
  • Java
  • C#
  • Go
  • PHP

The Most Useful Languages to Learn for World Travelers

Do you dream of becoming a digital nomad? Do you want to hop from country to country, enjoying everything that the local culture has to offer? If so, you will probably need to pick up a few words (or more) in multiple languages. Since English is the international language of business and is spoken — to one degree or another — in nearly every country on the planet, it’s still one of the best options. 

However, it’s always a good idea to make an effort to learn the local language. If you are a native English speaker who expects everyone to speak the same language as you, people may not react well. So, let’s look at some of the best languages to learn by region. Even if you only pick up some common phrases, it could really help you communicate with the locals!

The Most Useful Languages in North America

  • English — 317 million native speakers
  • Spanish — 165 million native speakers
  • French — 9 million native speakers

The Most Useful Languages in Central and South America

  • Spanish — 255 million native speakers
  • Portuguese — 218 million native speakers
  • English — 15 million native speakers

The Most Useful Languages in Europe

  • German — 95 million native speakers
  • French — 80 million native speakers
  • English — 70 million native speakers
  • Turkish — 70 million native speakers
  • Italian — 70 million native speakers
  • Spanish — 45 million native speakers
  • Ukrainian — 45 million native speakers
  • Polish — 40 million native speakers
  • Romanian — 24 million native speakers
  • Dutch — 22 million native speakers

The Most Useful Languages in Africa

  • Arabic — 150 million native speakers
  • Oromo — 37 million native speakers
  • Hausa — 34 million native speakers
  • Yoruba — 28 million native speakers
  • Igbo — 27 million native speakers
  • Fulani — 25 million native speakers
  • Amharic — 22 million native speakers
  • Malagasy — 18 million native speakers
  • Somali — 16 million native speakers
  • Berber — 16 million native speakers
  • Swahili — 15 million native speakers

The Most Useful Languages in the Middle East

  • Arabic — 268 million native speakers
  • Western Punjabi — 118 million native speakers
  • Turkish — 83 million native speakers
  • Farsi — 70 million native speakers
  • Kurdish — 45 million native speakers
  • Hebrew — 5 million native speakers

The Most Useful Languages in Asia-Pacific

  • Chinese (Mandarin) — 1 billion native speakers
  • Hindi — 550 million native speakers
  • Bengali — 228 million native speakers
  • Russian — 153 million native speakers
  • Japanese — 128 million native speakers
  • Marathi — 83 million native speakers
  • Chinese (Wu) — 82 million native speakers
  • Chinese (Yue) — 62 million native speakers
  • Tamil — 77 million native speakers
  • Vietnamese — 76 million native speakers
  • Korean — 76 million native speakers
  • Malay — 71 million native speakers
  • Gujarati — 57 million native speakers
  • Thai — 50 million native speakers
  • Hokkien — 48 million native speakers
  • Filipino — 45 million native speakers
  • English — 25 million native speakers

Conclusion

As you can see, there are dozens of useful languages to learn. Most of them help you communicate with other people, but some of them even help you speak with computers! In any case, finding the most useful languages to learn for you will depend on your specific goals and lifestyle. That said, learning any new language is always a good choice!

If you’d like to start improving your English now, be sure to subscribe to the Magoosh Youtube channel or join our Facebook Group!

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones

Matthew Jones is a freelance writer with a B.A. in Film and Philosophy from the University of Georgia. It was during his time in school that he published his first written work. After serving as a casting director in the Atlanta film industry for two years, Matthew acquired TEFL certification and began teaching English abroad. In 2017, Matthew started writing for dozens of different brands across various industries. During this time, Matthew also built an online following through his film blog. If you’d like to learn more about Matthew, you can connect with him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or his personal website!
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *