Do you want to learn a new language? Are you on a study break? Do you wish to move abroad? Does the prospect of mingling with locals excite you? If your answer is yes to one or all of these questions, then consider learning the following languages. We will also explore the five easiest languages to learn, and what is the hardest language to learn.

Languages You Must Learn

There are a lot of languages that are extremely important to gain access to work, study or get a foot into the business world of a country. We feel that the below five languages are certainly the most important languages you can learn if you want to get a foothold in an emerging or busy savvy country:

1. Mandarin

China's economy continues to grow at a rapid rate, and the prospect of learning its national language can be invaluable in the near future. Almost 15% of the global population converses in Mandarin. As China aggressively pursues its vision to build the New Silk Road, escortgh connecting the country with Africa, Asia, and Europe, Mandarin is expected to compete with English as the global business language.

Studies have shown it will take approximately 2200 hours to learn Mandarin thoroughly for native English speakers. That means that if you do nothing but study Mandarin for 8 hours per day, it would take you 275 days or nine months to learn to a reasonably competent level. What makes Mandarin a hard language to learn is that it is not based on the Latin alphabet, so not only are you learning a new language, you are learning a new alphabet.

2. Spanish

Do you wish to learn a language that can provide you with the opportunity to speak with as many locals as possible?

Spanish may have fewer speakers than Mandarin, but it is spread across wider demographics, especially in three continents: South America, North America, and Europe. This language is noted for its presence in emerging economies like Colombia, Argentina, and Chile. Spanish has the advantage of being closer to English than other languages on this list.

With over 400 million native speakers, Spanish is a go-to language. And it turns out it isn't that hard to learn. If you put your life on hold and study Spanish for 8 hours per day, it would take you 96 days to learn the language to a competent level.

3. Arabic

Arabic is incorrectly considered to be limited to the Middle East. The language transcends borders and is spoken widely in many African countries. The success of the Gulf States has positioned the region as one of the most lucrative areas for job seekers and tourists. If you want to expand your employment prospects, then it will be a good idea to learn Arabic. You will have a step ahead on anyone else, as not that many people bother to learn Arabic when traveling to the Gulf states or other Arab nations. But how hard is it actually to learn and speak Arabic to a reasonably fluent level? According to studies, very hard. It will take an English speaker approximately 2200 hours to learn Arabic. So studying for 8 hours per day it would take you nine months to be fluent.

4. German

If you plan to pursue an educational program in Europe, then do not rely on English alone! German is quite common in many European countries. It is also one of the EU's (European Union) official languages and overall the most popular language in Europe. In recent times, the free tuition and quality of education in Germany has compelled many international students to learn it. German is spoken in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Liechtenstein, and parts of Belgium, so there are more than enough study and work opportunities here for anyone that speaks German. How hard is it though to learn German to a comprehensive level? If you manage to study for 8 hours per day, you will be able to learn and speak German in 94 days or just over 3 months.

5. French

If you want to learn a language other than German, then French is a good choice. There are currently over 220 million French speakers worldwide and the sixth most widely spoken language after Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic. French is the primary language in Quebec (Canada) and improves an applicant's score in Canada's points-based immigration system. But how hard is French to learn? If you study French for 8 hours per day, you would be able to speak French to a conversational level after 90 days. Or three months.

Languages That Are Easiest To Learn

Some languages are harder than others to learn. So what are the absolute easiest languages that you can learn quickly? Well, counting on the fact that you are a native English speaker and you have some experience in other languages, then the following are the five easiest languages to learn:

  • Afrikaans

One of the official languages of South Africa. This language is a Germanic language, so it has many words that come from English, or that are English words. This makes Afrikaans an easy language to pick up words quickly. Also, it is a gender-neutral language. There is no male or female form to words, so grammar is more straightforward as well. Afrikaans can be mastered by studying for 8 hours per day, in about 64 days. This makes it one of, if not the, fastest language to learn.

  • Dutch

Like Afrikaans, Dutch is a Germanic language that shares many similarities with English. A few examples would be Beast = Beest, Door= Deur, etc. So Dutch is a straightforward language to build up a vocabulary fast. One of the differences with learning Afrikaans is that Dutch has the Male, Female, and neutral word genders. If you want to learn Dutch, and can spend 8 hours per day studying, then you would be conversational in about 72 days.

  • Italian

Although Italian seems like a difficult language to learn to speak, this is mostly down to how many Italian movies and series portray the language. When Italian is spoken at extremely high speed, then it can sound like a jumble of words. However, Italians do not speak like this, and in fact, Italian is one of the easiest languages to learn. Italian is rooted in Latin, and as such, has many similarities with English, Calendar= Calendario, Foresta= Forest. Italian also only has 21 letters in the Alphabet, making it a highly readable and understandable language. To learn Italian to a reasonably fluent or conversational level, and you study for 8 hours per day, count on spending around 75 days of studying.

  • Portuguese

Although you might not think so at first sight, Portuguese shares many similarities with English, and as such, it is reasonably easy to learn. Portuguese also follows many of the same grammar rules as English. It is quite common that statements can be changed to questions by changing the syntax, similar to English. If you studied for 8 hours per day, you would be able to learn Portuguese in around 80 days.

  • Norwegian

Another odd one that people wouldn't think belongs in this list at first sight. However, Norwegian is derived from Germanic, like Dutch, German, and English. Norwegian has a consistent pronunciation and easy-to-learn grammar. The rules of general conjugation are also simple, requiring an "-e" suffix for past tense and an "-s" suffix for passive verbs. If you studied Norwegian for 8 hours per day, you would be able to speak Norwegian to a conversational level within 80 days.

What's The Hardest Language To Learn?

There is a consensus that Mandarin would be the hardest language to learn, but is that true?

The absolute hardest language to learn for an English speaker could be Icelandic. Often ignored, however, extremely difficult to understand and learn to speak. Why? Well, although the speaking part is challenging, the grammar is almost impossible to get through. There are hundreds of variations of words based on past, present, mood, person, gender, strong, weak, reduplicating, and irregular. Icelandic is an isolated language with a tricky pronunciation, wholly unfamiliar and irregular sentence structure, vocabulary, and grammar. Indeed the hardest language to learn.

Starting language lessons UK

Say you are not an English speaker, you don't know a single word and now you want to start language lessons for the UK. How long would it take you to learn English? If you never studied English and your native language is a non-Germanic language, it could take you up to 1 year to be conversational in English.